COKE, Daniel Parker (1745-1825), of The College, Derby.
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Family and Education
b. 17 July 1745, o.s. of Thomas Coke, barrister, of Derby by Dorothy, da. and h. of Thomas Goodwin of Derby. educ. by Rev. Thomas Manlove, Derby sch. until 1762; Queen’s, Oxf. 1762; All Souls BA 1769; L. Inn 1760, called 1768; M. Temple 1770. unm. suc. fa. 1776.
Commr. for settling American claims 1782-5; bencher, M. Temple 1802, reader 1805.
Capt. Derbys. supp. militia 1797, 1803.
Coke, a barrister on the midland circuit, remained the corporation nominee for Nottingham, where he faced contests at every election except that of 1784. His conduct in Parliament had been thoroughly independent, but he was sufficiently steady in his opposition to Pitt to join the Whig meeting at Burlington House on 11 May 1790. He went on to vote against Pitt’s Russian policy, 12 Apr. 1791 (soon after being balloted to the public revenue committee) and 1 Mar. 1792. Hostile to the dissenting lobby in 1791, he advised Whitbread to withdraw his motion of 21 May 1792 condemning the conduct of the ‘Church and King’ rioters at Birmingham, as he knew from his prosecution of them that every effort had been made to bring them to justice. His name was deleted from a list of Portland Whigs in December 1792, but he attended the ‘third party’ meetings at Windham’s house on 10 and 17 Feb. 1793. On 21 Feb., favouring the reception of his constituents’ petition for parliamentary reform, he said that it was ill-worded, but not libellous: he disliked the Friends of the People, but did not rule out ‘a temperate reform’, even if the House ‘as it was, now answered all the purposes of a complete representation’. The division, on which he insisted, went against the petition. On 17 June 1793 he supported Fox’s motion critical of the war with France, but disappointed the hopes of Foxite constituents that he would persevere in that line, until on 26 Jan. and 27 May 1795 he supported bids for peace.1 He spoke on the Prince of Wales’s financial problems, 14 May 1795, arguing that it would have been better to liquidate his debts from the duchy of Cornwall income but, as it was, he supported the smaller grant proposed; on I June he was in the minority against ministers on the question. The Treasury listed him ‘hopeful’ later that year.
Coke obtained leave for a bill to allow actions and indictments within limited jurisdictions to be tried in counties at large at the request of offenders, 2 Dec. 1796. He approved the canal tax once it was modified, 3 July 1797, but opposed the triple tax assessment, 14, 18 Dec., and on 22 Dec. assured ministers, whom he was prepared to support as a bulwark against radicalism, that the country was ‘decidedly against’ the tax. He suggested, instead, a duty of 5 per cent on all transfers of stock. His bid to exclude the tellers of the Exchequer from all benefit by such emergency taxation was opposed by Pitt and defeated by 75 votes to 6. On 1 July 1799 he was a minority teller for an amendment to the militia reduction bill. On 3 July he promised, but did not introduce, a bill to extend the county franchise to copyholders, customary tenants and lease-holders for more than 20 or 40 years (as lease-holders for lives were already entitled to vote). He did introduce a bill to remedy disputes between employers and servants over wages, 5 Mar. 1800: it gave servants recourse at law, enabling them to recover £8 for a shilling costs. The Speaker prevailed on him to give it up, 13 June 1800, and submit it to a committee, which he subsequently did. It was thought that Coke himself would make ‘a good Speaker’.2 He voted for inquiry into the Helder and Ferrol expeditions, 10 Feb. 1800 and 19 Feb. 1801. On 15 May 1802 he was given leave for a bill to indemnify constables and poor persons prosecuting offenders for their expenses.
Coke was defeated at the poll in 1802, having been at loggerheads with the corporation and taunted for his alleged support of war. In his farewell he said he had no ambition of his own to serve. The riotous scenes that attended the election were his grounds for petition against the return, which succeeded in voiding it. In the ensuing by-election he emphasized his votes for peace, but upheld the rights of property against jacobinism. Supported by subscription, he regained his seat and took the oaths on 16 June 1803. Henceforward he was supported by a ‘Tory junto’ at Nottingham and the Nottingham peace bill became known as the ‘Daniel Parker Coke Act’,3 but he was a shadow of his former self in the House. He presented a Nottingham debtors’ petition, 6 Feb. 1804; was listed ‘doubtful’ by Pitt’s calculators in May and September 1804; was credited with a vote for the repeal of the Additional Force Act, 6 Mar. 1805, and listed ‘doubtful Pitt’ in July; reported from an election committee, 23 Feb. 1807; was listed ‘adverse’, by correction from ‘friendly’, to the abolition of the slave trade; got leave to go his circuit, 14 Mar. 1808; voted against Perceval on the Duke of York’s conduct, 17 Mar. 1809; voted with ministers on the address and Scheldt questions, 23 Jan. and 5 Mar. 1810, and was listed ‘against the Opposition’ by the Whigs; opposed parliamentary reform, 21 May 1810, sinecure reform, 4 May 1812, and Catholic relief, 22 June; and in his last known speech, 8 May 1812, secured a select committee to examine petitions from the distressed Nottingham knitters, admitting that he had no remedy to offer.
Coke retired at the election of 1812 and gave vent to his spleen against the corporation of Nottingham in a pamphlet. In 1818 he retired as chairman of the Derbyshire quarter sessions and from all public business. He died 6 Dec. 1825.4
Ref Volumes: 1790-1820
Author: P. A. Symonds
- 1. Grey mss, Hawksley to Grey, 27 Feb. 1794.
- 2. Add. 48247, f. 22.
- 3. See NOTTINGHAM; The Times, 19 July 1802, 2 Apr. 1803; Horner mss 3, f. 199.
- 4. Blackner, Nottingham, 303; D. Gray, Nottingham through 500 Years, 78; J. T. Coke, Coke of Trusley, 35; Gent. Mag. (1825), ii. 569 which gives 4 Dec. as his death date.