GOOCH, Thomas Sherlock (1767-1851), of Holbecks, Suff.

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



20 Feb. 1806 - 1830

Family and Education

b. 2 Nov. 1767, 1st s. of Sir Thomas Gooch, 4th Bt., of Benacre Hall by Anna Maria, da. of William Hayward of Weybridge, Surr. educ. Westminster 1781; Christ Church, Oxf. 1785; continental tour, home 1793. m. 11 May 1796, Marianne, da. of Abraham Whittaker of Stratford, Essex, sis. of Charlotte, w. of Sir John Rous*, 2s. 3da. suc. fa. as 5th Bt. 7 Apr. 1826.

Offices Held

Sheriff, Suff. 1833-4.

Capt. Suff. vol. cav. 1798, 1803; maj. commdt. 4 Suff. yeoman cav. 1809; lt.-col. commdt. 2 E. Suff. militia 1814.


Gooch was heir to an estate chiefly in Suffolk but enhanced by property in the neighbourhood of Birmingham. In 1796 he married the county Member Sir John Rous’s sister-in-law and Rous, raised to the peerage that year, recommended him to Pitt for a vacant seat at Great Yarmouth. Failing this opening, he did not seek to enter Parliament until there was a vacancy for the county early in 1806. His fortune and Rous’s influence made him the strongest contender and he was returned unopposed.1

Gooch voted against the repeal of Pitt’s Additional Force Act, 30 Apr. 1806. He was listed ‘friendly’ to the abolition of the slave trade. He was chairman of the Taunton election committee which reported on 13 Mar. 1807, taking three weeks’ leave thereafter. He presented the county barley growers’ petition against sugar distillation, 18 May 1808, but played no part in debate until 20 Mar. 1809, when he acquitted the Duke of York of corruption but blamed him for allowing ‘a profligate interference’ in army patronage. He went on to vote for inquiry into charges of ministerial corruption on 25 Apr. He admitted, however, 5 May, that ‘he should as soon think of thanking Mrs Clarke for her chastity as Mr Wardle for his patriotism’ and opposed Madocks’s motion of that day: he disapproved of general attacks on abuses and of public agitation. He said that he had once been a friend of Sir Francis Burdett’s, but abhorred his current proceedings. After voting for the address, 23 Jan. 1810, he opposed the opposition motion for inquiry into the Scheldt expedition, 26 Jan., but pointed out that he did not mean to block inquiry as such. He joined opposition on the question on 5 Mar., reverting to government on 30 Mar. The Whigs omitted him from their analysis of the House at that time. He preferred to reprimand Burdett than to commit him to the Tower, 5 Apr., but blamed him for inciting political violence, 10 Apr.2 He voted against parliamentary reform, 21 May. On 13 Dec. he was appointed to the committee to examine the royal physicians. On 6 June 1811 he applauded and was teller for the restoration to his army command of the Duke of York, whose character had been impugned by ‘as profligate a set of witnesses as had ever disgraced a public tribunal’. In opposition to Brand’s motion of 8 May 1812, he warned the House that parliamentary reform spelt ‘total ruin’; the House had never been so representative, and in his county, at least, there was no wish to tamper with it. He also opposed the sinecure offices reform bill tout court, 15 June, after supporting it on 4 May. He voted against Stuart Wortley’s motion for a more efficient administration on 21 May.

Gooch appeared on the Treasury list as a supporter after the election of 1812. He opposed Catholic relief throughout in 1813 and again in 1816 and 1817. He approved Christian missions to India by vote, 22 June 1813. He was not in favour of a review of the Corn Laws, 15 June 1813, because an untimely measure of protection would cause popular dissatisfaction. He supported the auction duties bill, calling for the suppression of mock auctions, 2 July. He favoured the clergy residence bill, 26 Apr. 1814. On 29 June he seconded the address of thanks for the peace treaty with France. ‘The name of England was now higher upon the continent of Europe than ever it had been before’, he claimed; it was as glorious a peace as the country had ever made; the architects of success were Pitt, Nelson and Wellington, but an ‘important lesson’ had been learned from the French revolution. He was at that time a steward of the Pitt Club. On 10 Mar. 1815, admitting that unemployment was unprecedented in Suffolk, he came out in favour of agricultural protection, because corn prices were now depressed. He had been one of the select committee appointed the previous June. Having voted with ministers on the civil list questions of 14 Apr. and 31 May, he opposed them, though among their ‘best friends’, on the Duke of Cumberland’s establishment, 28 and 29 June 1815. On 22 Feb. 1816 he presented a county petition calling for relief from agricultural distress. In the debate on the subject, 7 Mar., he welcomed impartial discussion and objected to party rancour. He presented eight petitions against the property tax, but admitted, 13 Mar., that he disagreed with them; he would prefer an abatement of the malt duty. He readily conceded that ministers leaned too heavily on the landed interest. He was in the government minority on the property tax, 18 Mar., having previously responded to a Treasury appeal,3 supported the army estimates and defended the Military Club against its Whig critics. On 20 Mar., when he welcomed the abandonment of the wartime malt duty, he warned ministers that despite his previous support for them he would discontinue it unless they adopted a policy of rigid economy. As if to prove it, he voted that day against the Admiralty secretaries’ salaries being continued on a wartime basis; but in May and June rallied to ministers. On 7 Feb. 1817 he announced his satisfaction with their endeavours in this direction and on 25 Feb. voted with them on the Admiralty question. He supported their suspension of habeas corpus, 23 June 1817, and its consequences, 10 Feb. 1818, voting also, on 21 May, in favour of the prosecution of radical booksellers. He was invited to hear ministerial proposals for the ducal marriage grants, 13 Apr. 1818, and objected to them.4 He admitted this in the House the same day, but voted for the revised proposals two days later.

Gooch was a member of the finance committee appointed on 8 Feb. 1819. He objected only to the burden imposed on the agricultural interest by the fresh malt duty at a time when the Corn Laws of 1815 had become ‘a dead letter’. He accordingly opposed the malt and excise duties, 9, 18, 25 June 1819. But he voted with ministers against Tierney’s censure motion, 18 May, and for the foreign enlistment bill, 10 June; he further paired with them in favour of the seditious meetings bill, 2 Dec. 1819.5 He died 18 Dec. 1851.

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Authors: Winifred Stokes / R. G. Thorne


  • 1. Phipps, Plumer Word Mems. i. 478; PCC 1852, f. 119; see GREAT YARMOUTH; Sidmouth mss, Rous to Sidmouth, 6 July 1806.
  • 2. Geo. III. Corresp. v. 3873, 4126.
  • 3. Add. 19242, f. 283; 40289, f. 128.
  • 4. Add. 38356, f. 133; Staffs. RO, Hatherton diary, 13 Apr. 1818.
  • 5. The Times, 6 Dec. 1819.