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Posts Tagged ‘Charles Grey 2nd Earl Grey’

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.

Sir Charles Elliot
15 August 1801 – 9 September 1875

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Charles Elliot

Sir Charles Elliot was born in Dresden, Saxony, on 15 August 1801 to Margaret and Hugh Elliot. He was one of nine children. His uncle was Scottish diplomat Gilbert Elliott, 1st Earl of Minto, and Gilbert Elliott, 2nd Earl of Minto and George Eden were cousins. He was educated in Reading, Berkshire, England. On 26 March 1815, Elliot joined the Royal Navy as a first-class volunteer on board HMS Leviathan, which served in the Mediterranean Station. In July 1816, he became a midshipman on board HMS Minden, in which he served in the bombardment of Algiers against Barbary pirates in August 1816. He then served in the East Indies Station for four years under Sir Richard King. In 1820, he joined the cutter Starling under Lieutenant-Commander John Reeve in the Home Station, and HMS Queen Charlotte under James Whitshed.

In 1821, Elliot joined HMS Iphigenia under Sir Robert Mends in the West Africa Squadron. On 11 June 1822, he became a lieutenant while serving in HMS Myrmidon under Captain Henry John Leeke. He again served in the Iphigenia on 19 June, and in HMS Hussar under Captain George Harris in the West Indies Station. There, he was appointed to the schooners Union on 19 June 1825 and Renegade on 30 August. On 1 January 1826, he was nominated acting-commander of the convalescentship Serapis in Port Royal, Jamaica, where on 14 April, he served in the hospital ship Magnificent. After further employment on board HMS Bustard and HMS Harlequin, he was promoted to captain on 28 August 1828.

After retiring from active military service, Elliot followed a career in the Foreign Office. In 1830, the Colonial Office sent Elliot to Demerara in British Guiana to be Protector of Slaves and a member of the Court of Policy from 1830 to 1833. He was brought home to advise the government of administrative problems relating to the Slavery Abolition Act 1833. In a letter to the Treasury in 1833, Prime Minister Lord Howick wrote:
Lord Goderich [Secretary of State for the Colonies] feels himself bound to acknowledge that His Majesty’s Government are indebted to him [Elliot], not only for a zealous and efficient execution of the duties of his office, but for communications of peculiar value and importance sent from the Colony during the last twelve months, and for essential services rendered at a critical period since his arrival in this country … Elliot has contributed far beyond what the functions of his particular office required of him.

In late 1833, Elliot was appointed as Master Attendant to the staff of Lord Napier, Chief Superintendent of British Trade. His position was involved with British ships and crews operating between Macao and Canton. He was appointed Secretary in October 1834, Third Superintendent in January 1835, and Second Superintendent in April 1835. In 1836, he became Plenipotentiary and replaced Sir George Robinson as Chief Superintendent of British Trade. Elliot wrote to Foreign Secretary Lord Palmerston in December 1839, “No man entertains a deeper detestation of the disgrace and sin of this forced traffic on the coast of China. I have steadily discountenanced it by all the lawful means in my power, and at the total sacrifice of my private comfort in the society in which I have lived for some years past.”

During the First Anglo-Chinese War, he was on board the Nemesis during most of the battles. In January 1841, he negotiated terms with Chinese Imperial Commissioner Qishan in the Convention of Chuenpi. Elliot declared, among other terms, the cession of Hong Kong Island to the United Kingdom. However, Palmerston recalled Elliot and, accusing him of disobedience and treating his instructions as “waste paper”, dismissed him. Henry Pottinger was appointed to replace him as plenipotentiary in May 1841. On 29 July, HMS Phlegeton arrived in Hong Kong with dispatches informing Elliot of the news. His administration ended on 10 August. On 24 August, he left Macao, with his family for England. As he embarked on the Atlanta, a Portuguese fort fired a thirteen gun salute.

Historian George Endacott wrote, “Elliot’s policy of conciliation, leniency, and moderate war aims was unpopular all round, and aroused some resentment among the naval and military officers of the expedition.” Responding to the accusation that “It has been particularly objected to me that I have cared too much for the Chinese”, Elliot wrote to Foreign Secretary Lord Aberdeen on 25 June 1842:
But I submit that it has been caring more for lasting British honour and substantial British interests, to protect friendly and helpful people, and to return the confidence of the great trading population of the Southern Provinces, with which it is our chief purpose to cultivate more intimate, social and commercial relations.

On 23 August 1842, Elliot arrived in the Republic of Texas, where he was chargé d’affaires and consul general until 1846. He served as Governor of Bermuda (1846–54), Governor of Trinidad (1854–56), and Governor of Saint Helena (1863–69). In the retired list, he was promoted to rear-admiral on 2 May 1855, vice-admiral on 15 January 1862, and admiral on 12 September 1865.

In Sir Henry Taylor’s play, Edwin the Fair (1842), the character Earl Athulf was based on Elliot. Taylor also mentioned Elliot in his poem, “Heroism in the Shade” (1845). Elliot was made Knight Commander of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath in 1856. He died in retirement at Withycombe Raleigh, Exmouth, Devon, England, on 9 September 1875. He is buried in the churchyard of St John-in-the-Wilderness, Exmouth. The weathered headstone inscription to his grave reads in worn lead lettering “To the memory of/Adm Sir Charles Elliot KCB/Born 15th August 1801/Died 9th September 1875/The souls of the righteous are in the hands of God”. This is the only known memorial to him anywhere in the world.

During Elliot’s naval service in the West Indies, he met Clara Genevieve Windsor (1806–1885) in Haiti, where she was born and raised. After marrying in 1828, they had two daughters and three sons:

  • Harriet Agnes Elliot (1829–1896); married Edward Russell, 23rd Baron de Clifford, in 1853; four children.
  • Hugh Hislop Elliot (1831–1861); Captain 1st Bombay Light Cavalry; married Louise Sidonie Perrin on 15 March 1860 in Byculla, Bombay; no known children; died at sea and memorialised in St James Cathedral, St Helena.
  • Gilbert Wray Elliot (1833–1910); Bombay Civil Service; married three times, one child to each marriage; studied at Haileybury; weightlifter Launceston Elliot was his son by his third marriage.
  • Frederick Eden Elliot (1837–1916); Bengal Civil Service; married in 1861; four children.
  • Emma Clara Elliot (1842–1865); married George Barrow Pennell in 1864 in St Helena, where her father was governor; one child. She died in St Helena where she is memorialised in St James Cathedral.

Elliot’s wife accompanied him to Guiana from 1830 to 1833, and to China from 1834 to 1841 as well as to all of his subsequent postings around the world. After ten years of widowhood, she died on 17 October 1885 aged 80 years at the home of her husband’s nephew Capt (RN retired) Hugh Maximilian Elliot, The Bury, Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire. She is buried at the Heath Lane Cemetery, Hemel Hempstead where a stone cross bears a worn inscription to her memory.

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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.

Robert Grosvenor 1st Baron Ebury
24 April 1801 – 18 November 1893

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Robert Grosvenor

Robert Grosvenor 1st Baron Ebury was the third son of Robert Grosvenor, 1st Marquess of Westminster and his wife Eleanora, daughter of Thomas Egerton, 1st Earl of Wilton. He was the younger brother of Richard Grosvenor, 2nd Marquess of Westminster and Thomas Grosvenor Egerton, 2nd Earl of Wilton, who had succeeded their maternal grandfather in the earldom of Wilton 1814, while Hugh Lupus Grosvenor, 1st Duke of Westminster and Richard Grosvenor, 1st Baron Stalbridge were his nephews. He was educated at Westminster School and Christ Church, Oxford.

In 1821 Grosvenor was returned to Parliament for Shaftesbury, a seat he held until 1826, and then sat for Chester until 1847. When the Whigs came to power in November 1830 under Lord Grey, Grosvenor was appointed Comptroller of the Household and admitted to the Privy Council. He retained this office also when Lord Melbourne became Prime Minister in July 1834. The Whig government fell in November the same year. Grosvenor did not serve in Melbourne’s second administration which lasted from 1835 to 1841. However, when the Whigs returned to office in 1846 under Lord John Russell he was made Treasurer of the Household, which he remained until his resignation in July 1847. The latter year Grosvenor was returned to Parliament for Middlesex, a seat he held until 1857. However, he never returned to office. In September 1857 he was raised to the peerage as Baron Ebury, of Ebury Manor in the County of Middlesex.

Apart from his political career Lord Ebury was an active campaigner for Protestantism in the Church of England, and was the founder and President of the society for the “revision of the prayer-book”. He was also involved in the movement led by Anthony Ashley Cooper, 7th Earl of Shaftesbury for the improvement of factory working hours. In later life he came to oppose William Ewart Gladstone on the issue of Irish Home Rule. In September 1893, at the age of 92, Lord Ebury voted against the Second Home Rule Bill, by far the oldest peer to vote in the matter.

Lord Ebury was also a fervent supporter of Homeopathy, the medical doctrine introduced by the German physician Samuel Hahnemann. He was a patron of both Dr Curie’s short-lived Homoeopathic Hospital in Bloomsbury Square and Dr Quin’s London Homoeopathic Hospital. Lord Ebury served as Chairman and President of the London Homoeopathic Hospital from its foundation in 1849 and during that time even defended the practice and the institution against its opponents in Parliament.

In 1860 Lord Ebury led a business venture with the Great Western Railway to build a 13-kilometre (8.1 mi) railway from Watford, near his mansion at Moor Park, to Uxbridge in Buckinghamshire. The scheme failed and the line, the Watford and Rickmansworth Railway, only reached as far as Rickmansworth, 7.2 kilometres (4.5 mi) south of Watford. The railway never operated at a profit and eventually closed in 1952, but has since been converted into a cycle path which bears his name, the Ebury Way.

Lord Ebury married the Honourable Charlotte Arbuthnot Wellesley, eldest daughter of Henry Wellesley, 1st Baron Cowley, in 1831. They had five sons and two daughters. One of the sons, the Honourable Norman Grosvenor, represented Chester in Parliament. Lord Ebury died in November 1893, aged 92, and was succeeded in the barony by his eldest son Robert.

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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.

John William Ponsonby 4th Earl of Bessborough
531 August 1781 – 16 May 1847

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John William Ponsonby

John Ponsonby 4th Earl of Bessborough was the eldest son of Frederick Ponsonby, 3rd Earl of Bessborough, and Lady Henrietta Frances, daughter of John Spencer, 1st Earl Spencer. Sir Frederick Cavendish Ponsonby and William Ponsonby, 1st Baron de Mauley, were his younger brothers, while Lady Caroline Lamb was his younger sister. Ponsonby’s mother was Lord Granville’s lover prior to his marriage to Lady Harriet Cavendish, the Countess of Bessborough’s niece. Lord Granville fathered two illegitimate children through her: Harriette Stewart and George Stewart. Lord Bessborough was educated at Harrow and Christ Church, Oxford.

He was First Commissioner of Woods and Forests under Lord Grey (1831–1834) and served under Lord Melbourne in that office (1835-1841), briefly as Home Secretary (1834), and as Lord Privy Seal (1835–1839). Later, he served as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland under Lord John Russell from 1846 until his death on 16 May 1847. He was made a Privy Counsellor in 1831 and in 1834, ten years before he succeeded his father, he was created Baron Duncannon, of Bessborough in the County of Kilkenny. He was Lord Lieutenant of Kilkenny from November 1838 until his death.

His political career was hampered by a noted stammer, which made him a very reluctant public speaker: as Lord Duncannon he was unkindly nicknamed “Dumbcannon”. In private on the other hand he was a valued colleague, due largely to his ability to keep his head in a crisis. He was one of the so-called Committee of Four who drafted the Reform Act 1832.

John Ponsonby married Lady Maria Fane, daughter of John Fane, 10th Earl of Westmorland, and Sarah Anne Child, on 16 November 1805 at Berkeley Square, London. They had eight sons and three daughters. The youngest daughter, Emily Charlotte Mary, remained unmarried but she wrote a number of novels which were published without attribution. The Countess of Bessborough died in March 1834, aged 46. Lord Bessborough survived her by thirteen years and died in May 1847, aged 65. He was succeeded in the earldom by his eldest son, John, and subsequently by his younger sons Frederick and Walter. Bessborough Gardens in London is named after Lord Bessborough.

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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.

General Robert Ellice
1784 – 18 June 1856

General Robert Ellice was the son of Alexander Ellice and brother of Edward Ellice, Ellice was commissioned as an ensign on 8 November 1798. He saw action at Buenos Aires in 1807 before becoming Deputy Adjutant-General in Canada in 1809. He went on to be General Officer Commanding Western District in 1840 and General Officer Commanding the British troops in Malta in 1847.

He was also colonel of the 24th Regiment of Foot.

He was buried in Kensal Green Cemetery.

He married Eliza Courtney, the illegitimate daughter of Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey and Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire. Their son General Sir Charles Ellice was Adjutant-General to the Forces. Their daughter Eliza married Henry Bouverie Trevor, 23rd Baron Dacre, later Viscount Hampden.

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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.

Richard Whately
1 February 1787 – 8 October 1863

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Richard Whately

Richard Whately was born in London, the son of the Rev. Dr. Joseph Whately. He was educated at a private school near Bristol, and at Oriel College, Oxford. Richard Whately obtained double second-class honours and the prize for the English essay; in 1811 he was elected Fellow of Oriel, and in 1814 took holy orders. He married Elizabeth Pope (third daughter of William born 7 October baptised 22 December 1795 at Hillingdon, Middlesex) at Cheltenham 3 Jul 1821. She later authored some Christian literature herself, dying 25 April 1860. After his marriage he settled in Oxford.

In August 1823 he moved to Halesworth in Suffolk, but in 1825, having been appointed principal of St. Alban Hall, he returned to Oxford. He found much to reform there, and left it a different place. He was initially on friendly terms with John Henry Newman, but they fell out as the divergence in their views became apparent; Newman later spoke of his Catholic University as continuing in Dublin the struggle against Whately which he had commenced at Oxford.

In 1829 Whately was elected to the professorship of political economy at Oxford in succession to Nassau William Senior. His tenure of office was cut short by his appointment to the archbishopric of Dublin in 1831. He published only one course of Introductory Lectures (1832), but one of his first acts on going to Dublin was to endow a chair of political economy in Trinity College.

Whately’s appointment by Lord Grey to the see of Dublin came as a political surprise. The aged Henry Bathurst had turned the post down. The new Whig administration found Whately, well known at Holland House and effective in a parliamentary committee appearance speaking on tithes, an acceptable option. Behind the scenes Thomas Hyde Villiers had lobbied Denis Le Marchant on his behalf, with the Brougham Whigs. The appointment was challenged in the House of Lords, but without success.

In Ireland, Whately’s bluntness and his lack of a conciliatory manner caused opposition from his clergy. He attempted to establish a national and non-sectarian system of education. He enforced strict discipline in his diocese; and he published a statement of his views on Sabbath (Thoughts on the Sabbath, 1832). He lived in Redesdale House in Kilmacud, just outside Dublin, where he could garden. Questions of tithes, reform of the Irish church and of the Irish Poor Laws, and, in particular, the organisation of national education occupied much of his time. He discussed other public questions, for example, the subject of transportation and the general question of secondary punishments.

His scheme of religious instruction for Protestants and Catholics alike was carried out for a number of years, but in 1852 it broke down owing to the opposition of the new Catholic archbishop of Dublin, Paul Cullen, and Whately felt himself constrained to withdraw from the Education Board. From the beginning Whately gave offence by supporting state endowment of the Catholic clergy. During the famine years of 1846 and 1847 the archbishop and his family tried to alleviate the miseries of the people. He was the first president of the Statistical and Social Inquiry Society of Ireland between 1847 and 1863.

On 27 March 1848, Whately became a member of the Canterbury Association.

From 1856 onwards symptoms of decline began to manifest themselves in a paralytic affection of the left side. Still he continued the active discharge of his public duties till the summer of 1863, when he was prostrated by an ulcer in the leg, and after several months of acute suffering he died on 8 October 1863.

During his residence at Oxford Whately wrote his tract, Historic Doubts relative to Napoleon Bonaparte, a jeu d’ésprit directed against excessive scepticism as applied to the Gospel history. In 1822 he was appointed Bampton lecturer. The lectures, On the Use and Abuse of Party Spirit in Matters of Religion, were published in the same year.

In 1825 he published a series of Essays on Some of the Peculiarities of the Christian Religion, followed in 1828 by a second series On some of the Difficulties in the Writings of St Paul, and in 1830 by a third On the Errors of Romanism traced to their Origin in Human Nature. While he was at St Alban Hall (1826) the work appeared which is perhaps most closely associated with his name—a treatise on logic entitled Elements of Logic. In the preface to the Elements of Logic, Whately wrote that the substance of the treatise was drawn from an article written by himself, entitled Logic, which had already been published in the Encyclopædia Metropolitana. The Elements of Logic gave a great impetus to the study of logic throughout Britain and the United States of America. Whately also contributed an article to the Encyclopædia Metropolitana entitled Rhetoric. This article was also adapted into a book, called Elements of Rhetoric, which was published in 1828.

In 1837 Whately wrote his handbook of Christian Evidences, which was translated during his lifetime into more than a dozen languages. At a later period he also wrote, in a similar form, Easy Lessons on Reasoning, on Morals, on Mind and on the British Constitution. Among his other works may be mentioned Charges and Tracts (1836), Essays on Some of the Dangers to Christian Faith (1839), The Kingdom of Christ (1841). He also edited Bacon’s Essays, Paley’s Evidences and Paley’s Moral Philosophy.

  • 1822 “On the Use and Abuse of Party Spirit in Matters of Religion” (Bampton Lectures)
  • 1825 “Essays on Some of the Peculiarities of the Christian Religion”
  • 1826 “Elements of Logic”
  • 1828 “Elements of Rhetoric”
  • 1828 “On some of the Difficulties in the Writings of St Paul”
  • 1830 “On the Errors of Romanism traced to their Origin in Human Nature”
  • 1832 “Introductory Lectures”
  • 1832 A view of the Scripture revelations concerning a future state: lectures advancing belief in Christian mortalism.
  • 1832 “Thoughts on the Sabbath”
  • 1836 “Charges and Tracts”
  • 1837 “Christian Evidences”
  • 1839 “Essays on Some of the Dangers to Christian Faith”
  • 1841 “The Kingdom of Christ”
  • 1845 onwards “Easy Lessons”: on Reasoning, On Morals, On Mind, and on the British Constitution
  • 1849 “Historic Doubts relative to Napoleon Bonaparte”

Whately was a great talker, much addicted in early life to argument, in which he used others as instruments on which to hammer out his own views, and as he advanced in life much given to didactic monologue. He had a keen wit, whose sharp edge often inflicted wounds never deliberately intended by the speaker, a healthy appetite and a wholly uncontrollable love of punning. Whately often offended people by the extreme unconventionality of his manners. When at Oxford his white hat, rough white coat, and huge white dog earned for him the sobriquet of the White Bear, and he outraged the conventions of the place by exhibiting the exploits of his climbing dog in Christchurch Meadow.

Whately was a devout Christian, but opposed to mere outward displays of faith. While sharing the Evangelical belief in Scripture as the sole instrument of salvation, and also like the Evangelicals being a Biblical literalist, he disagreed with the Evangelical party on the applicability of the Mosaic laws to Christians and generally favoured a more intellectual approach to religion than most of the Evangelicals of his period. He also disagreed with the Tractarian emphasis on ritual and church authority. Instead, he emphasised careful reading and understanding of the Bible and a sincere attempt to follow the precepts and example of Jesus in one’s personal life. He offended Tractarian and Evangelical parties equally in his insistence that imposing civil penalties for religious beliefs led to a mere nominal Christianity. He fully supported complete religious liberty, civil rights, and freedom of speech for dissenters, Roman Catholics, Jews, and even atheists, a position that outraged many of his compatriots.

He took a practical, almost business-like view of Christianity, which seemed to High Churchmen and Evangelicals alike little better than Rationalism. In this they did Whately less than justice, for his religion was very real and genuine. But he may be said to have continued the typical Christianity of the 18th century—that of the theologians who went out to fight the Rationalists with their own weapons. It was to Whately essentially a belief in certain matters of fact, to be accepted or rejected after an examination of “evidences.” Hence his endeavour always is to convince the logical faculty, and his Christianity inevitably appears as a thing of the intellect rather than of the heart. Whately’s qualities are exhibited at their best in his Logic. He wrote nothing better than the luminous Appendix to this work on Ambiguous Terms.

Whately was perhaps the single most important figure in the revival of Aristotelian logic in the early nineteenth century. He was also important in the history of political economy, founding what is now known as the Whately Chair of political economy at Trinity College, Dublin. His Elements of Rhetoric remains widely read by rhetorical scholars in English and Communication Departments, especially in North America, and he continues to have a significant influence on rhetorical theory, especially in thought about presumption, burden of proof, and testimony.

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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.

William Ponsonby 1st Baron Ponsonby
15 September 1744 – 5 November 1806

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William Brabazon Ponsonby

William Ponsonby 1st Baron Ponsonby of Imokilly was the grandson of the 3rd Duke of Devonshire. He was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge. He represented Cork City between 1764 and 1776 and thereafter Bandonbridge between 1776 and 1783. He was the leader of a powerful family grouping of between ten and fourteen MPs, the second largest in the Irish House of Commons. During the regency crisis of 1788–9 he gave his support to the Prince of Wales in opposition to William Pitt the Younger. As a consequence he was dismissed from the Post Office. Thereafter he permanently aligned himself with Charles James Fox and together with his brother George gathered together the various small groups of Irish whigs into a unified opposition. As with their English counterparts, their ultimate objective was to re-establish the influence of the landowning classes at the expense of the crown. Ponsonby became committed to the cause of Catholic Emancipation, as a means of securing a loyal population at a time of radical agitation and potential foreign invasion.

Pitt’s coalition with the Portland whigs in July 1794 and Earl FitzWilliam’s consequent appointment as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland gave Ponsonby and his allies an opportunity to regain office. He was on the brink of becoming Irish secretary of state and had sat on the Treasury bench. In 1795, however, he appears to have persuaded FitzWilliam to dismiss John Beresford from his post as first commissioner of the revenue on the grounds of alleged corruption, apparently in revenge for earlier political dealings. The subsequent political crisis led in 1795 to FitzWilliam’s swift removal from office, Beresford’s re-instatement, and to Ponsonby’s humiliating return to opposition.

Ponsonby was a leading opponent of the union between Ireland and Great Britain. In 1783, he stood for Newtownards and Kilkenny County. He chose the latter constituency and sat for it from 1783 until the Act of Union came into force in 1801. He became then part of the Foxite Whig opposition in the Westminster House of Commons, voting against the Addington and Pitt ministries and in favour of the Prince of Wales and Catholic Emancipation. His influence was declining, however, and by 1803 effective leadership of the Irish whigs had passed to his brother George.

By the time Fox regained office in 1806 as member of Grenville’s Ministry of All the Talents, Ponsonby’s health was poor, with the result that his wife urgently pressed his claims for a peerage, arguing that it was merited by his opposition to the Regency Bill and the Union, and by his staunch support for the Foxite whigs at Westminster. As a consequence he was raised swiftly to the peerage of the United Kingdom on 13 March 1806. He was gazetted as ‘Baron Ponsonby, of Imokilly in the County of Cork’, although other sources generally refer to him as ‘Baron Ponsonby of Imokilly’. He died in Seymour Street, London, on 5 November 1806, and was buried in Ireland.

At a personal level Edmund Burke described Ponsonby in a letter to Lord Charlemont as “a manly, decided character, with … a clear and vigorous understanding.” He was as interested in sport as he was in politics and was said to have kept ‘the best hunting establishment in Ireland’ at Bishopscourt, his seat in County Kildare, where it was also reported that he lived ‘in the most hospitable and princely style’ (GEC, Peerage). In addition, he was easily irritated, especially if his status and pretensions went unacknowledged. Thus, although he took a leading part in creating a whig opposition in Ireland in the 1790s, he overplayed his hand under FitzWilliam, and his effectiveness was thereafter limited.

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Louisa, Baroness Ponsonby of Imokilly

In 1769 Ponsonby married Louisa Molesworth (1749–1824), 4th daughter of the 3rd Viscount Molesworth, and his second wife, Mary Usher. They had five sons, three of whom were men of note: the eldest John Ponsonby, 1st Viscount Ponsonby of Imokilly was a diplomat; the second, Hon. Sir William Ponsonby, a major-general in the army, was killed at The Battle of Waterloo; the third, Richard Ponsonby, became bishop of Killaloe and Kilfenora in 1828, Derry in 1831 and Derry and Raphoe in 1834. Their only daughter Mary was married to the Prime Minister, Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey. Ponsonby’s descendants include Sir Alec Douglas-Home and Prince William of Wales.

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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.

Thomas Denman 1st Baron Denman
23 July 1779 – 26 September 1854

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Thomas Denman

Thomas Denman 1st Baron Denman was born in London, the son of Dr Thomas Denman. In his fourth year he attended Palgrave Academy in Suffolk, where his education was supervised by Anna Laetitia Barbauld and her husband. He continued to Eton and St John’s College, Cambridge, where he graduated in 1800. In 1806 he was called to the bar at Lincoln’s Inn, and at once entered upon practice.

His success was rapid, and in a few years he attained a position at the bar second only to that of Henry Brougham and James Scarlett. He distinguished himself by his defence of the Luddites; but his most brilliant appearance was as one of the counsel for Queen Caroline. His speech before the House of Lords was very powerful, and some competent judges even considered it not inferior to Brougham’s. It contained one or two daring passages, which made the King his bitter enemy, and retarded his legal promotion. Unfortunately he made a notable gaffe when he compared the Queen to the Biblical woman taken in adultery, who was told to “go away and sin no more”. This suggested that her counsel had no belief in the Queen’s innocence, and produced the mocking satire:

“Most Gracious Queen, we thee implore
To go away and sin no more
Or if that effort be too great
To go away at any rate”.

At the general election of 1818 he was returned Member of Parliament for Wareham, and at once took his seat with the Whig opposition. In the following year he was returned for Nottingham, which seat he represented until 1826 and again from 1830 until his elevation to the bench in 1832. His liberal principles had caused his exclusion from office till in 1822 he was appointed Common Serjeant of London by the corporation of London. In 1830 he was made Attorney General under Lord Grey’s administration. Two years later he was made Lord Chief Justice of the King’s Bench, and in 1834 he was raised to the peerage as Baron Denman, of Dovedale in the County of Derby. As a judge he is best remembered for his decision in the important privilege case of Stockdale v. Hansard.

In 1841 he presided, as Lord High Steward, over the trial in the House of Lords of the Earl of Cardigan for attempted murder. In O’Connell v the Queen, in 1844, he led the majority of the Lords in quashing the conviction for sedition of Daniel O’Connell. This is a tribute to his integrity since O’Connell was regarded with aversion by the British ruling class; but Denman, as he made clear, could not accept that he had received a fair trial. In 1850 he resigned his chief justiceship and retired into private life. He was a Governor of the Charter House, and a Vice-President of the Corporation of the Sons of the Clergy. He also strove with great energy, both as a writer and as a judge, to effect the abolition of the slave trade.

Lord Denman married Theodosia Anne, daughter of Reverend Richard Vevers, in 1804. His Derbyshire seat was Middleton Hall, Stoney Middleton. He died at Stoke Albany, Northamptonshire aged 75, and was succeeded in the barony by his son Thomas.

One son, Joseph Denman, was a British Naval officer and another, George Denman, was an MP and High Court Judge.

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