HICKS BEACH, William (1783-1856).

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



1812 - Jan. 1817

Family and Education

b. 24 July 1783, 2nd but o. surv. s. of Michael Hicks Beach*. educ. privately by Rev. Sydney Smith, Edinburgh 1800-3; Christ Church, Oxf. 1803. m. 1 Feb. 1826, Jane Henrietta, da. of John Brown of Salperton House, Glos., 1s. 2da. suc. cos. Charles Wither to Oakley Hall, Hants 1832; to Keevil, Wilts. on d. (1837) of mother; took name of Beach only, in compliance with will of mat. gdfa. William Beach of Netheravon, Wilts. (d.1790), by royal lic. 24 Jan. 1838.

Offices Held

Lt. Britwell’s Barrow vols. 1803, capt. 1804; 2nd maj. R. W. Glos. militia 1809; lt.-col. R. N. Glos. militia 1825.


In 1800 Hicks Beach went to Edinburgh to replace his elder brother Michael as the pupil of Sydney Smith, curate of Netheravon and a friend of the family. Smith had nothing but praise for him during their three years together: ‘He is, without any exception, the very best and most gentlemanly young man I ever saw, and will be an ornament and comfort to his family’. He conceded that William was perhaps too reserved, and thought he ‘will probably remain a cautious, deliberate man as long as he lives’; but he did not share Mrs Hicks Beach’s fears for him when he went belatedly to Oxford: ‘I never saw a young man for whose safety I should be under less apprehensions. He is prudent, calm, not apt to contract sudden friendships, and of a very excellent understanding.’

Hicks Beach joined his father in the House at the general election of 1812, when he was returned for Malmesbury by the borough-monger Joseph Pitt*, a banker of Cirencester, his father’s seat. He was expected to support government but, like his father, he showed little disposition to do so. He voted with ministers on the question of Spanish Liberal refugees, 1 Mar. 1815, but against them on a number of issues of economy: the civil list, 8 May 1815, the army estimates, 6 Mar., the property tax, 18 Mar., the peace establishment, 25 Apr., and the public revenues bill, 14 and 17 June 1816. He opposed Catholic relief, 2 Mar. and 11 May 1813. He is not known to have spoken in the House and vacated his seat at the start of the 1817 session. He died 22 Nov. 1856.

Sydney Smith Letters ed. N. C. Smith, i. 61-62, 66, 68, 69, 75, 79, 88; Susan Hicks Beach, Cotswold Fam. 333.

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: David R. Fisher