BERESFORD, John Poo (1769-1844), of Bedale, Yorks.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer



26 June 1809 - 1812
10 June 1814 - Jan. 1823
17 Feb. 1823 - 1826
1826 - 1832
1832 - May 1833
1835 - 1837

Family and Education

b. 1769, illegit. s. of George de la Poer Beresford, 1st Mq. of Waterford [I]. educ. Catterick Bridge. m. (1) 22 June 1809, Mary (d. 1 July 1813), da. of Capt. Anthony James Pye Molloy, RN, 1s.; (2) 17 Aug. 1815, Harriet Elizabeth (d. 28 Feb. 1825), da. of Henry Peirse* of Bedale, Yorks., 2s. 4da.; (3) 26 May 1836, Amelia, da. of James Baillie, wid. of Samuel Peach, s.p. Kntd. 22 May 1812; cr. Bt. 7 May 1814; KCB 12 Aug. 1819; GCH May 1836.

Offices Held

Entered RN 1782, lt. 1790, capt. 1795, r.-adm. 1814, v.-adm. 1825, adm. 1838.

Commr. of Admiralty Dec. 1834-Apr. 1835.


After an adventurous naval career,1 Beresford was returned by his legitimate brother, the 2nd Marquess of Waterford, for his borough of Coleraine in June 1809. In his maiden speech, 29 Jan. 1810, defending the court martial of Gambier against Lord Cochrane, he was ruled out of order for naming the latter and raised a laugh by observing that ‘he had much rather be at sea he could assure them than speaking in the House’. He followed the Beresford clan’s line of voting with government, despite initial reservations,2 throughout the Scheldt inquiry, January-March 1810, being recommended by the premier for the committee on 5 Feb. He also voted against parliamentary reform, 21 May. He was detained at Lisbon by naval duties in December 1810 and unable to attend Parliament,3 but on 1 June following he voted against Catholic relief and on 12 June again marked Cochrane in debate. He was in the government divisions on the sinecure paymastership, 21, 24 Feb. 1812, defended the Plymouth breakwater plan, 17 Mar., and also voted with ministers against Stuart Wortley’s motion, 21 May. He was knighted next day and went out of Parliament in 1812, seeing active service in the American war.

On 7 May 1814 he received a baronetcy, not (as the premier recalled in November 1816, when he unsuccessfully recommended that Beresford should become a groom of the bedchamber) ‘as a political favour, but partly on the ground of his general professional services, and more especially on account of his having commanded the yacht which carried the King of France from Dover to Calais’.4 A month later, promoted rear-admiral, he re-entered Parliament for Coleraine. He continued to support administration and voted silently against Catholic relief, 21 May 1816, 9 May 1817 and 3 May 1819. He spoke on the army and navy estimates, 8, 29 Mar. 1816, lectured Capt. Pellew on naval pay conditions, 1 Apr. 1816, supported an address critical of the emancipation of West Indian slaves, 19 June 1816, and on 6 May 1817 told the story of his abortive mission to Rio to carry home the Portuguese regent in September 1814. Subsequently Beresford resumed his professional career but, remaining in Parliament, became a junior lord of the Admiralty before he retired in 1837. He died 2 Oct. 1844, aged 75.

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: P. J. Jupp


  • 1. Gent. Mag. (1844), ii. 646.
  • 2. Lonsdale mss, Ward to Lonsdale, 3 Mar. 1810; NLI, Richmond mss 73/1710.
  • 3. NMM, YOR/2/61, Beresford to C. P. Yorke, 9 Dec. 1810, reply 3 Jan. 1811; Richmond mss 64/725.
  • 4. Geo. IV Letters, ii. 661.