PARKYNS, George Augustus Henry Anne, 2nd Baron Rancliffe [I] (1785-1850), of Bunny Park, Notts.
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Family and Education
b. 10 June 1785, o.s. of Thomas Boothby Parkyns*, 1st Baron Rancliffe [I] by Elizabeth Anne, da. and h. of Sir William James†, 1st Bt., of Eltham, Kent. educ. Harrow 1799-1801. m. 15 Oct. 1807, Lady Elizabeth Mary Theresa Forbes, da. of George, 6th Earl of Granard [I] and 1st Baron Granard [UK], s.p. legit. suc. fa. as 2nd Baron Rancliffe [I] 17 Nov. 1800, gdfa. Sir Thomas Parkyns as 4th Bt. 17 Mar. 1806.
Cornet, 10 Drag. 1801; lt. 15 Drag., half-pay 1803-9.
Rancliffe’s father died when he was 15. The Earl of Moira was his guardian and the Prince of Wales his godfather. He joined Brooks’s Club, 23 Mar. 1806, and soon afterwards came into an income of £21,000 a year. Through Moira’s influence he was returned to the Parliament of 1806 on the Luttrell interest and supported the Grenville ministry. He voted for Brand’s motion against their successors, 9 Apr. 1807. Left without a seat in 1807, he married Moira’s niece and was ‘supposed to be attached to the Prince’.1
In 1812 Rancliffe was put up on the independent Whig interest at Nottingham, nominated by a stocking weaver, and was allegedly returned without canvassing a single vote: but it appears that his attractive wife did this for him. George Rose rightly advised the Treasury that he would probably be ‘attached to opposition’. He voted against the bank-note bill, 11 and 14 Dec. 1812, for the abolition of one of the offices of joint paymaster general, 8 Mar. 1813 and, between absences, for Catholic relief throughout that session (as also in 1816 and 1817). When the relief bill was defeated on 24 May 1813 he
gave notice of a motion for reform of Parliament, founded on the proof of corruption, which this night had afforded. Satisfied with the opportunity it gave him of stating his grounds, he probably will not proceed further at a time when there would not be the slightest hope of success to the measure.2
Sir Robert Heron, who reported this, proved correct: Rancliffe’s motion, which stood for 18 June, was abandoned by him on 14 June, ostensibly until next session. On 30 June, however, he supported the reception of a printed petition for reform from his constituents, presented by Burdett. His first surviving vote from the next session was against the blockade of Norway, 12 May 1814, but he also opposed the corn export bill, 23 May, and the expulsion of Lord Cochrane, 5 July. Soon afterwards he proceeded to Paris.
Rancliffe is not known to have voted again until 1 Feb. 1816, when he came from Ireland to oppose the address, only to find that the opposition leaders were not in favour of a division. He ‘vowed he would go back if there was not, so [Sir] Gilbert [Heathcote] divided the House, and we were 22 to 92—the people excellent’: so wrote Henry Grey Bennet.3 He voted against foreign entanglements, 15 and 20 Feb., and for retrenchment. Attacking the property tax, 6 Mar., he alleged that the mayor of Leicester had refused to hold a meeting to protest against the tax, doubtless because he was receiver-general of the county; on 11 Mar. he was obliged to retract this, but still objected to the mayor’s grounds for refusal. After 18 Mar. no vote is known until 25 Apr., but he was steady in opposition in May and June and in the following session until 3 Mar. 1817. Opposing the suspension of habeas corpus, 26 Feb., he said that Castlereagh ‘had betrayed his own country—what, then, could be expected from him in this?’ He resumed opposition on 6 May and voted against public lotteries and the civil services compensation bill. On 20 May he voted for Burdett’s reform motion. Brougham reported him as being in a small minority enlisted by him against William Wynn’s election bill in June, after he had voted for the latter as Speaker and renewed his opposition to the suspension of habeas corpus. He was in Paris until 20 April 1818.4 On his return he voted against the proposed legislation on aliens, 7 and 19 May, and for the repeal of the Septennial Act, 19 May.
At the time of Rancliffe’s election at Nottingham it had been predicted that his love of travel and field sports would interfere with his parliamentary attendance. He was duly accused of neglect on the hustings; he excused himself by references to building operations at his nearby residence and to his sister’s illness at Paris. Unassisted this time by his wife, who had repaid his infidelities by deserting him in France, he scraped through at the election. He signed the requisition to Tierney to lead the opposition in the House. He voted steadily with them until 19 Mar. 1819, speaking twice against agricultural protection in accordance with a petition of his constituents and against the provision for the Duke of York under the royal household bill. He returned to vote for Tierney’s censure motion, 18 May, and appeared in minorities until 10 June. He was in Paris in September5 but back in time to join opposition to repressive legislation. He stated, 29 Nov. 1819, that though it was ‘his custom to express his sentiments merely by vote’, he must say that he regarded ‘the whole of the proposed measures as highly unconstitutional’. He voted against the seditious meetings prevention bill, 2 Dec., and from 13 to 16 Dec. opposed the seizure of arms bill and voted for consideration of Robert Owen’s social experiment. On 14 Dec. he stated that, despite massive unemployment, his constituency was quiet.
Rancliffe was described as a ‘good party man, but ... neither fitted by natural endowments, nor acquired attainments, nor yet by the habits he cultivated for the post of a leader’. A friend of Byron, he was ‘in private life a cynic and of that easy good nature which often consorts with perfect egoism’.6 He died 1 Nov. 1850.
Ref Volumes: 1790-1820
Authors: P. A. Symonds / R. G. Thorne
- 1. Gent. Mag. (1807), ii. 976; (1850), ii. 653; NLI, Richmond mss 63/553.
- 2. Add. 27840, f. 293; T.64/261, Rose to ?Arbuthnot, 8 Nov. 1812; Heron, Notes (1851), 18.
- 3. Creevey mss, Bennet to Creevey, 2 Feb. 1816.
- 4. Brougham mss, Brougham to Lambton, Sat. [28 June 1817]; Add. 51666, Bedford to Lady Holland, 20 Apr. .
- 5. Moore Mems. ed. Russell, iii. 7.
- 6. Gent. Mag. (1850), ii. 653; H. Rumbold, Recollections of a Diplomatist, i. 97; Jnl. of Hon. H. E. Fox, 107; J. B. Firth, Highways and Byways in Notts. 72; T. Bailey, Annals Notts. iv. 462.