Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.
1770 – 15 April 1808
James Gillray’s High Flying Candidate, James Paull is the man being flung by Admiral Hood and Richard Sheridan
Born at Perth, Scotland, he was the son of a tailor and clothier. Educated at the University of St Andrews. When 18 he went to India, in the ship of Sir Home Popham. In 1790 he settled at Lucknow. Paull was involved in a duel with Michael George Prendergast in 1795; he was wounded, and in later life lost the use of his right arm. In 1801 he left Lucknow and came to England for a time, but returned again to India.
Prominent in commerce life at Lucknow, Paull was sent to Lord Wellesley as a delegate of its traders. For a time they were on good terms, but they quarrelled.
In the latter part of 1804 Paull returned to England. He was elected Member of Parliament for Newtown in 1805. He had many friends, among whom was William Windham, and William Cobbett. Paull supported the Whigs and Prince George; but when the Ministry of All the Talents was formed, it was impossible for the new government, which included Lord Grenville, to support him in his opposition to Wellesley. The Prince of Wales asked him, through John McMahon to desist from any further proceedings.
Paull instead spent the session of 1806 in moving for additional papers and in formulating his charges against the viceroy Wellesley. He supported the parallel campaign against Wellesley by Charles Maclean. The friends of Lord Wellesley tried in July 1806 to force his hand, but, through the interposition of Sir Samuel Romilly, were prevented from carrying out their purpose. Paull widened his parliamentary interests, and succeeded to a limited extent in getting extra-parliamentary support from the direction of the East India Company. But he also touched on other areas, and began to associate with troublemaker MPs, Thomas Jones and Richard Bateman-Robson. A dissolution of parliament then intervened.
Paull, now was disappointed in his obtaining a seat for one of Prince George’ boroughs, stood for Westminster against Sheridan and Sir Samuel Hood. Sir Francis Burdett had met him at Cobbett’s, and had introduced him to John Horne Tooke. Burdett had himself been asked to stand for Westminster, but declined in favour of Paull, supporting him with all his influence and subscribing £1,000 towards the expenses of the campaign.
The poll lasted fifteen days, when Hood and Sheridan were elected. On one occasion, when the candidates were on the hustings, a stage was brought from Drury Lane, with four tailors seated at work, a live goose, and several cabbages.
The defeated candidate, who polled 4,481 votes, petitioned against the return, and the matter came before the House of Commons in 1807, when the allegations were voted “false and scandalous”.
Paull stood again for Westminster at the election in 1807 with even less success. Horne Tooke was now estranged. Cobbett was still his friend and praised him in his Political Register, for his beliefs; but finally changed his mind thinking Paull wanted to be rich rather than a true representative.
Paull had a falling out with Burdett, and a duel ensued at Coombe Wood. On the second exchange of shots, both were badly wounded.
As a consequence of the duel, Burdett got much support. At the close of the election Burdett and Lord Cochrane had 5,134 and 3,708 votes respectively, while Paull obtained only 269.
Paull neglected his wounds, and suffered for three months. His election expenses had exhausted his resources. For some weeks he showed signs of mental derangement. He lost over 1,600 guineas at a gaming-house in Pall Mall on the night of 14 April 1808.
On the following day Paull deliberately attempted suicide, by piercing his right arm, and then by cutting his throat. He died at his house on 15 April 1808.
(DWW-The life of Paull seems to be tied up in trying to implicate Wellesley which did not come to fruition, and in duels. I believe that were you to see such a person in any literature you would cast him as a comic tragic figure.)