Posts Tagged ‘Richard Lalor Sheil’

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 Hyde Villiers
24 January 1801 – 3 December 1832

Thomas Hyde Villiers was the second son of George Villiers (1759–1827), who married, on 17 April 1798, Theresa, only daughter of John Parker, 1st Baron Boringdon. George William Frederick Villiers, 4th Earl of Clarendon was their eldest son, Charles Pelham Villiers their third son, and Henry Montagu Villiers their fifth son.

Thomas Villiers was educated at home; he was then sent with his eldest brother to St. John’s College, Cambridge. There he mixed with Charles Austin, Edward Strutt, John Romilly, Thomas Babington Macaulay, and others, most of them followers of Jeremy Bentham. In 1822 he graduated B.A., and in 1825 he proceeded M.A. On taking his degree in 1822 he entered the colonial office, where Sir Henry Taylor became early in 1824 his subordinate and then a close friend. The brothers lived during the earlier years of their lives with their parents in a part of Kent House in Knightsbridge, but from 1825 Thomas Hyde Villiers and Taylor shared a house in Suffolk Street.

Villiers joined in 1825 a debating club called “The Academics”, where several of his college friends and John Stuart Mill discussed political and economic topics. A speech of his, aon colonisation, attracted the attention of the chancellor of the exchequer. Not long afterwards Villiers gave up government service to embark on politics. His chief source of income at that point was from the agencies for Berbice and Newfoundland.

At the general election in June 1826 Villiers was returned to parliament for the borough of Hedon in Yorkshire, and sat for it until the dissolution in 1830. In 1830 and 1831 he sat respectively for Wootton Bassett (a family borough) and Bletchingley, and voted for the Reform Bill.

Villiers travelled in Ireland in 1828, and set out his views in long letters to Taylor. A letter written by him in February 1829 was shown to Richard Lalor Sheil, who then brought about the suppression of the Catholic Association. He suggested in 1831 the formation of the commission that laid the foundation of the new poor law, and assisted in its preliminary inquiries. On 18 May 1831 he became secretary to the board of control under Charles Grant. Later in the year (2 November 1831) Villiers and Taylor entered as students at Lincoln’s Inn. On 22 August 1831 he made a long speech in the House of Commons on the Methuen treaty with Portugal. The committees on Indian affairs were organised by Villiers, with the assistance of Lord Althorp. The renewal of the charter to the East India Company at this time preoccupied him.

At the time of his death Villiers was a candidate for the constituency of Penryn and Falmouth in Cornwall. After three months’ suffering from an abscess in the head, he died on 3 December 1832 at Carclew, the seat of Sir Charles Lemon, near Penryn, where he was staying. A monument was placed to his memory in Mylor church.

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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 Lalor Sheil
17 August 1791 – 23 May 1851


Richard Lalor Sheil

Richard Lalor Sheil was an Irish politician, writer and orator, was born at Drumdowney, Slieverue, County Kilkenny, Ireland. The family were temporarily domiciled at Drumdowney while their new mansion at Bellevue, near Waterford was under construction.

His father was Edward Sheil, who had acquired considerable wealth in Cadiz in southern Spain and owned an estate in Tipperary. His mother was Catherine McCarthy of Springhouse, near Bansha, County Tipperary, a member of the old aristocratic family of MacCarthy Reagh of Springhouse, who in their time were Princes of Carbery and Counts of Toulouse in France. The son was taught French and Latin by the Abbé de Grimeau, a French refugee. He was then sent to a Catholic school in Kensington, London, presided over by a French nobleman, M. de Broglie. For a time he attended the lay college in St Patrick’s College, Maynooth. In October 1804 he was removed to Stonyhurst College, Lancashire, and in November 1807 entered Trinity College, Dublin, where he specially distinguished himself in the debates of the Historical Society.

After taking his degree in 1811 he was admitted a student of Lincoln’s Inn, and was called to the Irish bar in 1814. His play of Adelaide, or the Emigrants, was played at the Crow Street theatre, Dublin, on 19 February 1814, with success, and on 23 May 1816 it was performed at Covent Garden. The Apostate, produced at the latter theatre on 3 May 1817, established his reputation as a dramatist. His principal other plays are Bellamira (written in 1818), Evadne (1819), Huguenot, produced in 1822, and Montini (1820).

In 1822 he began, along with W. H. Curran, to contribute to the New Monthly Magazine a series of papers entitled Sketches of the Irish Bar. These were edited by Marmion Wilme Savage in 1855 in two volumes, under the title of Sketches Legal and Political. Sheil was one of the founders of the Catholic Association in 1823 and drew up the petition for inquiry into the mode of administering the laws in Ireland, which was presented in that year to both Houses of Parliament.

In 1825 Sheil accompanied O’Connell to London to protest against the suppression of the Catholic Association. The protest was unsuccessful, but, although nominally dissolved, the association continued its propaganda after the defeat of the Catholic Relief Bill in 1825; and Sheil was one of O’Connell’s leading supporters in the agitation persistently carried on until Catholic emancipation was granted in 1829. He was married to a widowed lady, Mrs. Power in July 1830.

In the same year he was returned to Parliament for Milborne Port, and in 1831 for Louth, holding that seat until 1832. He took a prominent part in all the debates relating to Ireland, and although he was greater as a platform orator than as a debater, he gradually won the somewhat reluctant admiration of the House. In August 1839 he became Vice-President of the Board of Trade in Lord Melbourne’s ministry.

After the accession of Lord John Russell to power in 1846 he was appointed master of the Mint, and in 1850 he was appointed minister at the court of Tuscany. He died at Florence on 23 May 1851. His remains were conveyed back to Ireland by a British ship-of-war, and interred at Long Orchard, near Templetuohy, County Tipperary.

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