Sackville, Lionel (1688–1765), 1st duke of Dorset , lord lieutenant of Ireland, was born 18 January 1688, the only son of Charles, 6th earl of Dorset, and his second wife, Mary, daughter of James Compton, third earl of Northampton. He was educated at Westminster School, and was identified with the whig cause from his youth. In 1706 he succeeded his father as 7th earl of Dorset, and was a member of a mission to the elector of Hanover; in 1714 he was sent as envoy to notify Queen Anne's death to the elector, now George I. The new king appointed him to positions in the royal household and to the privy council, and created him 1st duke of Dorset in 1720; during the absence of the monarch he served on seven occasions as a lord justice of Britain between 1725 and 1752.
Dorset was appointed lord lieutenant of Ireland in 1730 and was instructed by the ministry in London to investigate the prospects for a repeal of the sacramental test (introduced in 1704, it effectively excluded protestant dissenters from most official posts). He took soundings in the first two parliamentary sessions after his arrival (1731 and 1733), but on each occasion he and his advisers were forced to conclude that there was no possibility that the Irish parliament, a jealously Church of Ireland institution in its membership, would agree to such a measure. The initiative was dropped. In 1732 the speaker of the house of commons Sir Ralph Gore (qv) died; filling this position was a matter of great moment for the viceroy, particularly since the office had come to be associated with the ‘undertaking’ of government business in the commons. Henry Boyle (qv) soon emerged as the prime candidate and, with government backing, was elected; yet his official endorsement was at the instance of the Irish members rather than the viceroy, and relations between Dorset and the new speaker were mixed.
In 1737 Dorset was removed from office, but was appointed again in 1750. His second term was dominated by the recurrence of a revenue surplus, a situation which had already arisen under one of the intervening lords lieutenant, William Stanhope (qv), earl of Harrington. This apparently happy circumstance caused much political tension. The disagreement was not over how to dispose of the surplus – all were agreed that the reduction of the national debt was a worthy purpose. The issue hinged rather on a single phrase in the bill implementing this: the government wanted the bill to acknowledge the king's prior consent to the use of the money, while the commons wanted merely to state that it was agreeable to the king's intentions. The background was a history of friction between executive and commons over prerogatives in relation to finance. In the 1751 parliamentary session the bill with the government's preferred wording was passed, but in 1753, by a narrow majority, the commons rejected it, a number of important office-holders opposing the government. In the midst of an intense public debate over the constitutional issues, it fell to the lord lieutenant to dismiss those who held office at the government's pleasure, including Henry Boyle (from his post as chancellor of the exchequer, though he held his elective office of speaker until 1756), Anthony Malone (qv), and Thomas Carter (qv). The issues involved were to reverberate for the remainder of Dorset's viceroyalty (he was replaced in 1755) and beyond.
He married, in January 1709, Elizabeth (d. 12 June 1768), daughter and co-heir of Lieutenant General Walter Colyear, and a member of the households of both Queen Anne and Queen Caroline. Dorset died 9 October 1765 at Knole in Kent; there are portraits of him there, and in the National Portrait Gallery in London. He and his wife had three sons and three daughters. The youngest son, Lord George Sackville (from 1770: Germain ) (1716–85), soldier, was educated at Westminster School and (having come to Ireland on his father's first appointment) at TCD, graduating BA in 1733; he was created MA in 1734, in which year he was also called to the Irish bar. His reputation in Britain derives mainly from his later prominent military career, which ended in a controversial dismissal and court martial for failing to pursue the fleeing French at the battle of Minden (1759). He was a member of the house of commons in Ireland (1733–60) and in Britain (1741–82). In 1751, after his father's second appointment to the viceroyalty, he was appointed chief secretary, sharing the task of political management with the worldly archbishop of Armagh, George Stone (qv), who had first come to Ireland as his father's chaplain in 1730. Sackville, who enjoyed a number of sinecure appointments in Ireland and was grand master of the Irish freemasons (1750–53), took the surname of Germain in 1770, and was created Viscount Sackville in 1782.