BECKFORD, Richard (1712-56).
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Family and Education
b. 1712, 3rd s. of Peter Beckford, and bro. of William. educ. Westminster, July 1721, aged 9; Balliol, Oxf. 15 Jan. 1728, aged 15; Univ. Coll. Oxf., B.A. 1731; M. Temple 1730, called 1736. unm.
Alderman of London 1754.
Richard Beckford was one of the biggest planters in Jamaica, with an estate of 9,242 acres,1 and was there at the time of the general election of 1754. The campaign at Bristol, where he stood as a Tory on a joint interest with Sir John Philipps, was managed for him by his brother William, whom he followed in the House.
During his short term in a poorly reported Parliament, three speeches by him are recorded. About the first, on the army estimates, 27 Nov. 1754, Walpole writes:2
The younger Beckford, who had been announced for a genius, and had laid a foundation for being so by studying magazines and historical registers, made a tedious harangue against standing armies.
His second speech, during the debate on the Bristol night-watch bill, 17-19 Jan. 1755, dealt with the government of Bristol and the ‘arbitrary power’ of its magistrates’ filling up vacancies by co-option;3 while his third speech, on the Oxfordshire election, 23 Apr. 1755, drew arguments against the claim of copyholders in a county election from the composition of the Saxon armies which had conquered the country:4
I have troubled you with so much of our ancient history to show how far we have already departed from the wise maxims of our ancestors; and the inconvenience of our having done so, is now felt by every gentleman who stands candidate at a county election.
Beckford died at Lyons 24 Jan. 1756.