LAWLEY, Sir Robert, 5th Bt. (1736-93), of Canwell Priory, Staffs.
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Family and Education
bap. 22 Mar. 1736, o. surv. s. of Sir Robert Lawley, 4th Bt., of Canwell Priory by Elizabeth, da. of Sir Lambert Blackwell, 1st Bt. educ. Westminster 1748; Emmanuel, Camb. 1753. m. 11 Aug. 1764, Jane, da. of Beilby Thompson of Escrick, Yorks., sis. and h. of Beilby Thompson, 3s. 4da. suc. fa. 28 Nov. 1779.
The Lawleys came from Shropshire and represented Wenlock in Parliament in the 17th century; Sir Robert Lawley was the first to sit for Warwickshire. The English Chronicle wrote soon after his election:
This Member is the peculiar favourite of the Whig interest in this county, and succeeded to the honour of the representation he now enjoys through the influence of that particular description ... Sir Robert, who had given the most incontrovertible indications of a sincere zeal in their cause, was unanimously selected as the voluntary object of their unbiassed preference, and an intimation being conveyed to him of the honour done him, he accepted the invitation, and at the county meeting, held a short time afterwards, he was named and accepted without any opposition. He is not likely to prove a speaker in the House, but ... it is supposed that he has no superiors in integrity ... It is not known for certain under which of the grand parliamentary banners he means to enlist himself, but it is believed by those who know him best that he will be a zealous and steady oppositionist.
He voted against North’s Administration, and for Shelburne’s peace preliminaries, 18 Feb. 1783; was absent from the division on the second reading of Fox’s East India bill, 27 Nov. 1783, but on 1 Dec. voted against going into committee on the bill. In December 1783 Robinson wrote that his ‘sentiments are not well known’,1 and in January 1784 classed him as ‘doubtful’. He was a member of the St. Alban’s Tavern group of country gentlemen which tried to bring about a union between Fox and Pitt. In Stockdale’s list of 19 Mar. 1784 he is classed as an opponent of Pitt.
In 1784 he was returned without a contest, and was listed by Adam with the Opposition. He appears in none of the division lists 1784-7, but in 1788 voted with Pitt on the Regency. Only two speeches by him are recorded, both on subjects of Warwickshire interest: 17 June 1783, against a bill to allow the exportation of brass; and 12 May 1785, supporting a petition of the iron manufacturers against Pitt’s Irish commercial propositions.2
He died 11 Mar. 1793.