CHUTE, William John (1757-1824), of The Vyne, nr. Basingstoke, Hants and Pickenham Hall, Norf.
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Family and Education
b. 24 May 1757, 1st s. of Thomas Lobb (afterwards Chute) of Pickenham Hall by Ann Rachel, da. of William Wiggett of Norwich, Norf. educ. Harrow 1774-5; Clare, Camb. 1775-6. m. 15 Oct. 1793, Elizabeth, da. and coh. of Joshua Smith* of Erlestoke, Wilts., s.p. suc. fa. 1790.
The Chutes, owners since 1653 of extensive property in the Basingstoke district, died out in the male line in 1776. Chute’s father changed his name to inherit The Vyne, and shortly before his death had the satisfaction of seeing his eldest son returned for the county.1 This was after an all-out contest in which Chute, favoured by ‘the respectability of his family, his own merit, good humour and pleasing affability’, allied with Sir William Heathcote in support of Pitt’s ministry.2 An unobtrusive Member, he was secure until 1806. He was listed hostile to the repeal of the Test Act in Scotland in 1791, obtained leave of absence, 4 Mar. 1793, was a defaulter on 3 Apr. 1797, but voted for Pitt’s triple assessment, 4 Jan. 1798. No vote against Addington’s ministry is known, but in March 1804 he was listed Pittite with a query and went on to support Pitt’s ministry, opposing the censure of Melville, 8 Apr. 1805. Like his colleague he was at this point brought to book by a county meeting and on 12 June voted with the majority for criminal prosecution.
Chute opposed the Grenville ministry on their repeal of Pitt’s Additional Force Act, 30 Apr. 1806, on the American intercourse bill, 17 June, and on the training bill, 3 July. He was therefore earmarked for elimination by the ministerial leader in the county, Earl Temple.3 Another all-out contest ensued in which he and Sir Henry Paulet St. John Mildmay were defeated, but in 1807 they reversed the result after a token contest. In his first known speech he joined Mildmay in pleading for the agricultural interest against the preference given to to the sugar planters in distillation, 13 Apr. 1808. On 3 Mar. 1809 he took a month’s sick leave. He rallied to Perceval’s ministry on the address and the Scheldt question, 23, 26 Jan., 23 Feb., 30 Mar. 1810, being listed ‘against the Opposition’ by the Whigs. He opposed parliamentary reform, 21 May, on which day he defended the Forest of Bere division bill. He supported ministers on the Regency, 1 Jan. 1811, and on McMahon’s sinecure, 21 and 24 Feb. 1812. On 22 June he was a die-hard opponent of Catholic relief and remained so in the next Parliament, in which he was listed a Treasury supporter. He voted with them on the Regent’s expenditure, 31 May 1815, on the property tax, 18 Mar., on the civil list, 24 May, and on the public revenue bill, 14 June 1816. On 11 Feb. he had criticized the Hampshire petition for reform presented by Lord Cochrane. In 1817 he was in the majority against reduction of the Admiralty board, 25 Feb., and on 23 June for the suspension of habeas corpus, the consequences of which he also supported, 10, 11 Feb. 1818. He was invited by Lord Liverpool to Fife House to hear the government’s proposals for the ducal marriage grants, 13 Apr. 1818, and voted with them two days later.4 He paired with ministers for the Irish window tax on 21 Apr. His only known votes in the Parliament of 1818 were with the majority on Wyndham Quin*, 29 Mar. 1819 (interrupting a month’s leave for bereavement), and against Tierney’s censure motion, 18 May. He retired for health reasons in 1820.
Chute was fond of ‘the rational pleasures of the chase’ and started The Vyne foxhounds in the year he entered Parliament. He was described by Palmerston as ‘a hospitable squire’, who ‘preferred entertaining his neighbours at The Vyne to mixing with much zeal in parliamentary disputes’. He died 13 Dec. 1824. According to an obituary:
From the first he adopted the tenets of Mr Pitt, and supported them throughout, from principle, and not from interest, for he never asked or received place or pension for himself, family, or connections, and though he generally voted with the government, he always maintained his character as an independent Member.5