KS3 > Political Reform > MPs > Sir Richard Vyvyan
Sir Richard Vyvyan was born to an old, landowning Cornish family. He became one of the leaders of the ‘Ultra-Tories’ – a group who opposed reform.
In the 1820s, no Catholics were able to vote. Yet the Duke of Wellington’s government changed this in 1829. For Vyvyan and the other Ultra-Tories, this should not have happened. They believed that Catholics had a greater loyalty to the Pope in Rome than the British Parliament (a view that many people held in Britain since the seventeenth century).
Vyvyan did believe in a small amount of slow reform, but believed the Reform Bill introduced by Lord Russell went much too far. It was not ‘safe at any time to attempt an entire change’ in the system. He believed reform was a ‘fearful experiment’. He felt that the unrest in the country was due to economic difficulties, not a desire for political reform, so these would remain.
Vyvyan lost the support of his own constituents at the 1831 election. Luckily he had friends who could use their influence to help get him elected in another seat! He continued to oppose the Reform Bill right until the end. In June 1832 he wrote that if the bill passed: ‘I do not believe that any earthly power can save this country from a social revolution.’
After the 1832 'Great' Reform Act Vyvyan kept his seat, but he lost many of his political allies who re-joined the Tories. He remained in Parliament until 1851, and died in 1879.