HUME, William Hoare (1772-1815), of Humewood, co. Wicklow.

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



1801 - 5 Nov. 1815

Family and Education

b. 3 Feb. 1772, 1st s. of William Hume of Humewood, MP [I], by Catherine, da. of Sir Joseph Hoare, 1st Bt., MP [I], of Annabelle, co. Cork. educ. Trinity, Dublin 1788; King’s Inns 1792. m. 24 Nov. 1804, Charlotte Anna, da. of Samuel Dick of Dublin, sis. of Quintin Dick*, 3s. 2da. suc. fa. 1798.

Offices Held

MP [I] 1799-1800.

Capt. commdt. Upper Talbotstown cav. 1796.


Hume succeeded his father to the county seat after the latter had met his death in a bid to parley with the Irish rebels in 1798. Nominally independent, he owed his return to the support of Earl Fitzwilliam’s tenantry, and on joining the Whig grandee in opposition to the Union he waived his claim to compensation offered by the viceroy ‘in consequence of my father having lost his life in the public service’. As his father had ‘but a small fortune’, much of which he had spent on securing the county in 1790, and ‘a small estate to which he was tenant for life’ and left ‘a younger son and three daughters’, while his maternal grandfather had lost the weigh-mastership of Cork in 1789 for his adherence to the Whigs, Hume was insecure. Nevertheless he refused to be bribed by the Castle into turning the scale against Fitzwilliam’s nominee George Ponsonby in the election of January 1801; Fitzwilliam in return guaranteed him his seat.1

Hume had not taken his seat by 25 Mar. 1801 and, though considered to be in opposition under Fitzwilliam’s influence, was an inconspicuous attender. In May 1804 he was induced to stay in Ireland: ‘if he went over’, reported the chief secretary, ‘he would have been obliged to vote in opposition’. He went on to oppose Pitt’s second ministry, appearing against the additional force bill on 18 June and being listed a Foxite. In December 1804 he was absent, but on 14 May 1805 he voted for the Catholic petition and on 12 June in the majority for criminal prosecution of Melville. He went over to support his friends in power in June 1806, but was disappointed in his hopes for office for himself or provision for his brother’s family, though Fitzwilliam applied to the viceroy on his behalf. On 4 Sept. he reminded Fitzwilliam of his and his family’s martyrdom in the Whig cause, which had not been rewarded by ‘the most trifling compliment of any kind or sort since they came into power’. He added:

I certainly am aware there may not be many places in Ireland that can be held by Members of Parliament, but I feel there are few Irish Members who have so long or so steadily supported those now in power as my family and myself, at all times regardless of every advantage that was or might have been offered by the late government, and perhaps more so, than many, who were much more independent in property. However although I feel a considerable degree of pride in being returned for this respectable county and therefore would prefer (if I could get it) an employment with less emolument that I could hold with my seat, yet if that cannot be speedily accomplished I wish to mention in confidence to your lordship, that circumstanced as I am it would be better for me if I could get something permanent and even vacate my seat, as my property encumbered as it is, is inadequate to as frequent an attendance in Parliament as I wish.2

Hume was unprovided for on the change of ministry, but voted for Brand’s motion against the change, 9 Apr. 1807, and steadily with opposition until February 1812 on all major issues, including Catholic relief, parliamentary reform and sinecure reform, despite the Castle’s belief in 1808 that he was ‘inclined’ to support government. This was based on an interview with the chief secretary in December 1807 at which Hume reportedly ‘expressed his dislike of his connexion with the opposition and his desire to support the government, if certain objects of his should be complied with’. He looked to the weighmastership of Cork (£700 p.a.) at the next vacancy and £300 p.a. between his two sisters, a place of £400 or £500 p.a. for his uncle, Arthur Hume, and church preferment for his brother-in-law. He maintained that he was sure of his seat if he changed sides. It does not appear that the Castle was in a position to satisfy him and on 20 Feb. 1812 he petitioned the Regent for the weigh-mastership of Cork.3 He does not seem to have figured in debate, some speeches attributed to him in 1812 being evidently those of Joseph Hume.

In the Parliament of 1812, he voted for Catholic relief, 13 and 24 May 1813, but on 11 June 1813 informed the chief secretary that he was ‘much dissatisfied with the opposition’, that he had ‘no obligation whatever’ to Fitzwilliam, that he had ‘not given a single vote against the government’ since the Prince became unrestricted Regent and that he was ‘perfectly ready to come over to government’. He ‘did not explain distinctly what were his objects’, it being clear that the weighmastership of Cork was out of the question. The chief secretary reported to the viceroy that Hume had voted with government ‘the other night’ on the question of the Admiralty registrarship and that county patronage would probably be enough to secure him. The viceroy concurred.4

On 4 Feb. 1814 Hume, ill with despair at Dublin, turned to Fitzwilliam for help. He could not afford parliamentary attendance and was finding it difficult to keep his creditors at bay. He had debts of £19,000, with an income of £2,000; his wife, expecting her sixth child, had £300 p.a. and her wealthy brother Quintin Dick would not help out. If he could be given a place, he would vacate his seat. Fitzwilliam, who as long ago as 1807 had wondered if Hume might not vacate his seat if promised a place, offered £2,000. Two weeks later, Hume informed him that with the help of Arthur Hume his situation had been redeemed and that he was assured of £700 p.a. with a sinking fund of £500 a year. He could now resume parliamentary attendance. In May he found that this was not the case and that he could use Fitzwilliam’s £2,000. Soon afterwards the bequest of one of his creditors, Disraell, restored him temporarily to health and credit, but he had a relapse and died without resuming parliamentary attendance, 5 Nov. 1815. Had he done so, he must have been placed in a predicament, for he had assured the chief secretary in a patronage letter in December 1814 that he would support government in future.5

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: P. J. Jupp


  • 1. Fitzwilliam mss, box 69, Hume to Fitzwilliam, 4 Sept. 1806; Wentworth Woodhouse mun. F50/40; Grey mss, Anna Maria Blake to Grey, 20 Dec. 1830.
  • 2. Prince of Wales Corresp. iv. 1820; Add. 35715, f. 33; 47569, f. 293; Fitzwilliam mss, box 69.
  • 3. Add. 40221, f. 41; NLI, Richmond mss 18a, Wellesley to Richmond, 18 Dec. 1807; 71/1465.
  • 4. Add. 40186, f. 109; 40283, f. 114.
  • 5. Wentworth Woodhouse mun. F50/91, F82/1-4, 8; Add. 40241, f. 57; 51593, Fitzwilliam to Holland, 13 Dec. [1807].