PORCHER, Josias Du Pré (?1761-1820), of Hillingdon House, Mdx. and Winslade House, Devon.
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Family and Education
b. ?1761, 3rd s. of Paul Porcher, planter, of Charleston, S. Carolina by Esther née Du Pré. m. 1 Nov. 1787 at Fort George, Madras, Charlotte, da. of Adm. Sir William Burnaby, 1st Bt., of Broughton Hall, Oxon., 4s. 1da.
Writer, E.I. Co. (Madras) 1778; dep. to dep. paymaster, Madras 1783-6; sen. merchant 1785; member of Board of Trade and clerk to cttee. of works 1790; mayor, Madras 1791-2; military storekeeper 1792; ret. 1800.
Gent. of privy chamber Dec. 1818-d.
Porcher was a great-grandson of Isaac Porcher of Sainte-Sévère in Berry, a Huguenot surgeon who fled to South Carolina. He arrived in England in 1768 under the aegis of his uncle Josias Du Pré of Wilton, Buckinghamshire, governor of Madras, and himself proceeded to India to try his fortune in 1778, in which year his uncle left him £1,000 in his will.1 In 1796 on his return home he was the bearer of a diamond sword for the Prince of Wales from the nawab of Arcot. After a successful career, he subscribed £2,000 to the loyalty loan for 1797 and was desirous of becoming an East India Company director. His schoolfellow Henry Alexander* recommended him to Thomas Pelham*, 10 Mar. 1799, as ‘the great benefactor’ of his brother James Alexander*, thereby persona grata to Lord Caledon, and as having ‘one of the most amicable and independent characters’. Porcher himself assured Pelham of his being attached to ‘those in whose hands the executive gov[ernmen]t is most happily placed’ and of his having Lord Hobart’s friendship. Disappointed in his aim, he became a principal in the firm of Porcher & Co., East India agents, of Devonshire Square (1804-17), in which James Alexander was also a partner.2
In 1801 Porcher provided Thomas, 2nd Baron Camelford, with a bonded loan of £25,000 for six years on condition of being returned to Parliament. Camelford duly returned him for Bodmin in 1802, in which year he negotiated Lord Caledon’s purchase of the borough of Old Sarum from Camelford. In 1806, the latter being dead, his brother-in-law and executor Lord Grenville secured Porcher’s return first for Bletchingley on the Clayton interest, then early in 1807 for Dundalk on the Roden interest. He was again returned for Dundalk at the ensuing election, but also for Old Sarum on Caledon’s interest. He opted for the latter, Grenville having seen to it that ‘the amount of the late Lord Camelford’s bond ... for the principal sum of £25,000’ was assigned to Patrick Craufurd Bruce*, who next occupied the Dundalk seat. Porcher had been entitled to sit for Dundalk until the end of 1808 and wished at first to transfer that seat to a friend of his. He remained his ‘bosom friend’ Caledon’s nominee until he retired in 1818.3
Porcher was an inconspicuous Member. He voted against Addington’s ministry on Pitt’s naval motion, 15 Mar. 1804, but not otherwise. (He was apparently present on 23 Apr. 1804, but was not then in the minority, which he regarded as a portent of the fall of Addington.)4 He was listed a supporter of Pitt’s second ministry in September 1804 and July 1805. He was in the government minority against the censure of Melville, 8 Apr. 1805. His only known vote during the Grenville ministry was in the minority for information on Indian affairs, 21 Apr. 1806. His only known speech was in defence of the Copenhagen expedition, 21 Mar. 1808. He voted against ministers in three divisions on the Duke of York’s conduct, 15, 17 Mar. 1809. In the session of 1810 he was classed ‘Government’ by the Whigs, confirmed by his votes for the address, 23 Jan., and with ministers on the Scheldt question, 23 Feb., 5 and 30 Mar. He apparently supported Williams Wynn’s resolutions on the House’s privileges, 8 June 1810. On the Regency he voted with ministers, 1 Jan. 1811. He was named to the select committee on Indian affairs, 21 Mar. 1811, and again next session. He joined opposition on the question of the civil list committee’s powers, 10 Feb. 1812, and on 24 Feb. voted against McMahon’s sinecure. He paired in favour of the orders in council, 3 Mar. On 21 May he voted against the motion for a more efficient administration.
Porcher was on the Treasury list of supporters after the election of 1812. He voted against Catholic relief, 24 May 1813, but paired on the East India Company charter bill in June.5 Only three further votes survive in this, his last Parliament: with ministers on the civil list, 24 May 1816; against them on the Admiralty salaries, 17 Feb. 1817, and with them on their employment of informers against radicalism, 5 Mar. 1818. At the dissolution Porcher retired. In 1810 he had purchased a retreat in Devonshire from the trustees of another nabob, Edward Cotsford†. There he died, 4 May 1820, in his 60th year.6
Ref Volumes: 1790-1820
Author: R. G. Thorne
- 1. Trans. Huguenot Soc. S. Carolina, xviii (1911), 12; PCC 469 Collins.
- 2. True Briton, 4 Oct. 1796; Prinsep, Madras Civilians, 115; Hickey Mems. ed. Spencer, iv. 16; Add. 33106, ff. 239, 241, 247; London Gazette (1814), 31.
- 3. Fortescue mss, Grenville to Porcher, 12 Jan., 13 June, Porcher to Grenville, 11, 20 June, 5 Aug. 1807; Prince of Wales Corresp. vi. 2623.
- 4. PRO NI, Caledon mss D2433/C/7/42.
- 5. Add. 40227, f. 333.
- 6. The Times, 4 May 1820.