Francis Blake Delaval (1727–1771)

Francis Blake Delaval (1727-1771) (after Joshua Reynolds, 18th century)

Sir Francis Blake Delaval KB (16 March 1727 7 August 1771) was a British actor, soldier and Member of Parliament. He had a privileged and aristocratic education at Westminster School, Eton College and then Christ Church at Oxford University.[1]

He was the eldest son of Captain Francis Blake Delaval RN of Seaton Delaval Hall, and succeeded to the estate in 1752. He added to it by building the folly known as Starlight Castle, overlooking Holywell Dene which leads to Seaton Sluice. It was allegedly built in a single day to win a wager. Little survives of it now apart from a single stone arch.

Francis was an actor in a group of Samuel Foote. He was a gambler but could not afford that lifestyle. He married the wealthy (and much older) Isabella, daughter of Thomas Tufton, 6th Earl of Thanet and widow of Lord Nassau Powlett, but it was not a happy marriage. His wife filed a lawsuit against him because of adultery with an actress, Miss La Roche, for which Isabella unknowingly forked out ₤1500.

His military career was of short duration. He took part in the Raid on St Malo, and received a knighthood for his bravery when storming the Brittany beach, although there were no French troops present to offer resistance.

He represented Hindon in Wiltshire in Parliament from 1751 to 1754, and Andover in Hampshire from 1754 to 1768.

His London townhouse was 11 Downing Street,[2] now the official home of the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

He suffered a stroke, and was memorialized by his obituarist as "'the very soul of frolic and amusement (who) overbalanced a few foibles by a thousand amiable qualities". He left four illegitimate children but none legitimate, and was succeeded by his younger brother John Hussey Delaval, later Baron Delaval.



  1. Roger Burgess, Those Delavals! (1972), p.9
  2. Survey of London online


Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
Valens Comyn
Bisse Richards
Member of Parliament for Hindon
With: Bisse Richards
Succeeded by
Bisse Richards
James Dawkins
Preceded by
John Pollen
Sir John Griffin
Member of Parliament for Andover
With: Sir John Griffin
Succeeded by
Sir John Griffin
Benjamin Lethieullier
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