PAGET, Hon. Berkeley Thomas (1780-1842), of 13 Portman Street, Mdx.

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

Constituency

Dates

1807 - 1820
1820 - 1826

Family and Education

b. 2 Jan. 1780, 6th s. of Henry, 1st Earl of Uxbridge, and bro. of Hons. Arthur Paget*, Charles Paget*, Edward Paget*, Henry William, Lord Paget*, and William Paget*. educ. Rugby 1793; Christ Church, Oxf. 1797. m. 22 Nov. 1804, Sophia Askell, da. of Hon. William Bucknall, 4s. 3da.

Offices Held

Cornet, 7 Drag. 1798; lt. 11 Drag. 1800; capt.-lt. 7 Drag 1800; capt. W.I. regt. 1800; capt. 7 Drag. 1803, maj. 1805, ret. 1809; a.d.c. to Duke of York 1803-9.

Ld. of Treasury June 1810-June 1826; commr. of excise July 1826-d.

Biography

Paget, nicknamed ‘Bartolo’ or ‘The Villain’ by his family, pursued a military career under the aegis of his eldest brother Lord Paget. In 1803 he was a.d.c. to the Duke of York, who was much attached to him and reluctant to let him join his regiment on his promotion to a majority in 1805. Late that year his father intended to bring him into Parliament for Anglesey on the family interest instead of his brother Arthur, who was abroad and to whom Berkeley wrote: ‘I hope it will not be long before I am to resign in your favour which I shall at all times be ready to do, for I want to see you established among us in England with a good place’.1

The substitution did not take place until 1807, when Arthur was at home but reluctant to support the Portland administration, and out of respect for their courtier father retired in Berkeley’s favour. The latter, ironically, was about to go abroad, and served in the Peninsula in the Corunna campaign (1808), before retiring from the army on his return. It is difficult to see why the Whigs were ‘hopeful’ of him in 1810, apart from his being of the Prince of Wales’s set, for although he and his brother Charles went away without voting on one aspect of the Scheldt question, 5 Mar. 1810, like all his family he was disposed to support government. In June 1810 he became a lord of the Treasury in the place of Lord Desart:

the mode of his appointment was this. Perceval asked Arbuthnot if he knew of any nobleman’s son who would like to be a lord of the Treasury, Arbuthnot was a friend of Berkeley Paget’s, and named him.2

Paget made little mark in the House. On 11 Feb. 1813, he defended the content of his constituents’ petition against Catholic relief. After voting for it on 2 Mar. and 13 May, on 24 May 1813, ‘by order of the Prince of Wales’,3 he opposed Catholic relief and continued to do so subsequently. On 10 Mar. 1815 he justified military intervention against the anti-Corn Law rioters. He supported ministers regularly in that Parliament and the next. His place was necessary to him, since he was ill-provided for, but it was coveted: in February 1818 there were rumours of his ‘intended appointment abroad’ and in the following years other projects were mooted which displeased his eldest brother, who thought he had nothing to gain by them and had more ambitious plans for him, such as the government of Madras (1824). Eventually Paget was displaced and died, a commissioner of the customs, 26 Oct. 1842. He shared what Lord Glenbervie termed ‘the personal charms but domestic depravity’ of his family and in 1818 deserted his wife, a society beauty, and his family, for ‘a woman of no pretensions ... whom he keeps openly’.4

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: R. G. Thorne