PORTER (afterwards DE HOCHEPIED), George (1760-1828), of Stockbridge, Hants.
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Family and Education
b. 23 Apr. 1760, 1st surv. s. of Sir James Porter, ambassador to the Porte, by Clarissa Catherine, da. of Elbert, 2nd Baron de Hochepied, Dutch ambassador to the Porte. m. 1 Sept. 1802, Henrietta, da. of Henry Vernon† of Hilton Park, Staffs., wid. (after separation in 1769) of Richard Grosvenor†, 1st Earl Grosvenor, s.p. suc. fa. 1776; cos. as 6th Baron de Hochepied (Hungary) 6 Feb. 1819 (royal sanction 27 Sept.) and took name of de Hochepied 6 May 1819.
Cornet, 4 Drag. 1777; sub brig. and cornet, 1 Horse Gds. 1780, brig. and lt. 1781; capt. (half-pay) 89 Ft. 1783, brevet maj. 1794; lt.-col. 117 Ft. 1794, ret. on full pay 1795, half-pay 1798; brevet col. 1800; brig.-gen. Portsmouth district 1803-13; capt. commdt. Stockbridge vols. 1803, lt.-col. commdt. 1804; maj.-gen. 1808; col. 2 garrison batt. 1813; lt.-gen. 1813; col. 103 Ft. 1814-17.
Porter, then a captain in the army on half-pay, joined the Whig Club, 26 June 1784, and Brooks’s, 15 Feb. 1786. In 1790 he contested Stockbridge in coalition with Joseph Foster Barham*, and after exposing the corruption that had secured their opponents’ return and strengthening their interest there, they obtained the seats on petition, 22 Feb. 1793.1 Six days later Porter seceded from the Whig Club. He was teller against the Stockbridge petition, 11 Apr. 1793. He is not known to have voted with opposition for the remainder of that Parliament, during which he helped to raise a regiment and obtained military promotion.2 On 20 Mar., 13 and 17 Apr. 1795 he objected to anomalies in the House’s attempt to prevent the abuse of franking by Members and called for further investigation. On 22 May he moved unsuccessfully for a pay rise for subalterns in the army. He denied that there was any disposition to mutiny among army recruits, 19 Nov. 1795. At that time the Treasury were hopeful of his support.
Porter disappointed their hopes. On 9 Dec. 1796 he announced that he would move for a call of the House on Fox’s motion critical of the advance to the Emperor, for which he voted on 14 Dec. He objected to the disrespectful language of the petition against the Southwark election, 22 Feb. 1797, but gave up a motion on the subject which was postponed. On 28 Feb. and 1 Mar. he opposed ministers on the stoppage of cash payments by the Bank and on 3 Mar. was in the minority on Ireland. With his colleague Foster Barham, he was one of the ‘armed neutrality’ that met on 9 Mar.,3 on which day he protested in the House at ministerial packing of select committees. Next day he seconded and was teller for Pollen’s amendment to prevent this practice by an immediate ballot for the secret committee on finance. He spoke on the slave trade, 17 Mar., but in which sense the reporters did not indicate. On 10 Apr. he supported and was teller for Pollen’s motion calling on ministers to justify their failure to negotiate an armistice with France, claiming that he had no confidence in them. He took six weeks’ leave on 5 May for the recovery of his health. On 5 Apr. 1798 he moved for an account of voluntary contributions to the war effort subscribed to the Bank, but Pitt would not allow the names of subscribers to be supplied. He resisted taxation on horses kept by persons who had supplied them for the cavalry, 30 Apr., and voted against the land tax redemption bill, 23 Apr., 18 May. He was also in the minorities on Ireland, 14 and 22 June 1798.
There is no further evidence of his attendance until the session of 1801, when he voted steadily with opposition. (The Times on 24 Feb. 1801 described him as having gone over to opposition on the Ferrol expedition, 19 Feb., but he had previously voted against the address, 2 Feb.) He spoke in favour of the exemption of small farmers from the horse duties, 10 and 16 Mar., gave up a motion on Coldbath Fields prison, 20 Mar., and supported Tierney’s motion on the Dutch campaign, 22 Apr. He counted out the House on the coroners bill, 23 Mar. 1802, was teller for the minority on the civil list arrears, 29 Mar., and voted for inquiry into the Prince of Wales’s finances, 31 Mar. On 7 May he took advantage of the rule that one Member’s veto was sufficient to prevent an amendment being withdrawn and moved separately on the question of a vote of thanks to Pitt for his services (which he opposed).
Porter ceased to oppose Addington’s ministry after the election of 1802, except on the Prince of Wales’s financial claims, 4 Mar. 1803. On 23 Mar. his application for leave of absence was queried by the House. On 5 May he advised the House to send the mayor of Grimsby to Newgate for an election offence and next night ‘left the opposition bench and went out with the minister’, in company with George Tierney, Thomas Maitland, and James Brogden. Thomas Creevey* reported that Tierney, Brogden and Porter subsequently attempted to recruit him for their line, which was to come to terms with Addington. Porter further voted with ministers on the resumption of hostilities with France, 24 May 1803. He admitted to his colleague Foster Barham that ‘conciliation’ was his ‘line of conduct’ towards Addington, and was active in the volunteer movement.4 On Pitt’s return to power he was listed ‘Prince’ in May 1804, ‘doubtful Addington’ in September and ‘doubtful Opposition’ in July 1805, but was inactive in the House.
The nature of the support given by Porter to the Grenville ministry is indicated in a letter of his to Earl Temple, 31 July 1806:
Your lordship has very often flattered me in giving credit to my exertions in assisting the secretary of the Treasury in keeping together the House of Commons, and feeling that it is not only an employment I like but that I can render myself of use in it, I am, I confess, very anxious to be placed upon that footing, by which my exertions will leave more weight by having an ostensible motive in the due execution of them, in addition to which, I think I could render some assistance in the election branch of it. Under this impression, if I could be appointed to some situation of little other business, with an adequate salary, this would become a regular duty which is now only spontaneous, the more particularly as from the increase in the numbers of the House the duties are too much for one person. Upon hearing that my friend [John] King* had exchanged his situation, I troubled him with a private letter upon this subject, and he was kind enough to say, that my services were useful and upon the strength of this opinion I venture to trouble your lordship, understanding that an arrangement of this nature emanates from Lord Grenville, and I have not the honour of being known to his lordship. I hint at an adequate salary because an appointment of this nature might be found incompatible with my present staff situation, which in the event of the completion of my wishes, if such should be the case, I should resign.
Temple thought that Porter might be angling to succeed King as secretary to the Treasury and warned him that this was out of the question, but duly recommended him to Lord Grenville for some other suitable post, emphasizing his usefulness as a whipper-in, which he also assured King’s successor Fremantle was ‘quite unequalled’. Porter was active for the ministry in the Hampshire election and Temple urged Fremantle to serve him. King had also applied on his behalf and Grenville was agreeable ‘and only desired him to point out in what way I could assist his wishes’.5 In January and February 1807 Porter applied to Grenville for possible vacancies in the barracks department and the treasurership of the Ordnance, but nothing transpired. In the House his only speeches were to pave the way for the expulsion of John Fenton Cawthorne*, 12, 17, 23 Jan., 6 Mar. 1807, but in this he followed the Prince of Wales’s instructions.6 He took leave of absence on 24 Mar., but returned in time to vote for Brand’s motion against the Portland ministry on 9 Apr.
Porter did not remain in opposition after the election of 1807, and was inconspicuous in the House in his remaining three Parliaments. The Whigs listed him ‘doubtful’ from their point of view in March 1810 and he was then being circularized by the Treasury to attend. His reply was that ‘my illness prevented me observing at the same time that they never thought of me but when my vote was wanted’. He was privately critical of the conduct of (Sir) Francis Burdett*, and when he voted with the opposition on the Regency, 1 Jan. 1811, he was described as having deserted ministers on the occasion. Robert Ward* commented, ‘General Porter who left the last ministry when pushed, left us last night’. His allegiance was doubtless primarily to the Prince Regent, whose preference for Spencer Perceval as premier he was prepared to justify. He was in the minority in favour of the Regent’s secretary’s sinecure, 24 Feb. 1812. He deprecated criticism of flogging in the army, 13 Mar. He voted against sinecure reform, 4 May, and against a more comprehensive administration, 21 May. On 22 Sept. he wrote to the Regent’s secretary stating that if he were to be appointed to a Household place, as he hoped, it would save him ‘some hundred pound’ if he were appointed before the general election, as he would have to secure re-election.7 Since 1808 his relations with Foster Barham had deteriorated; the latter was dissatisfied with Porter’s management of Stockbridge and had thoughts of selling his moiety. By 1815 Porter was ‘sick of Parliament’ and prepared to sell out. But the co-patrons could not agree on a division of their property, nor would Foster Barham accept Porter’s offer of £18,000 for his moiety; so they remained in tandem.8
Porter was listed a Treasury supporter after the election of 1812. He opposed Catholic relief throughout in 1813 and again in 1816 and 1817. After trying to secure its postponement, he was in the minority against the corn exportation bill, 23 May 1814, but rallied to ministers on the Regent’s expenditure, 31 May 1815; the army estimates, 6 and 8 Mar.; the civil list, 6 and 24 May 1816; the Admiralty establishment 25 Feb. 1817, and the ducal marriage grant, 15 Apr. 1818. Nothing came of an opposition to him anticipated at the ensuing election. His conduct in the Parliament of 1818 was more questionable. On 22 Feb. 1819 he took six weeks’ leave for illness. His name was one of several struck off the majority against Catholic relief, 3 May, because he arrived late for the division. But he was credited with pairing against ministers on Tierney’s censure motion, 18 May, and (under his new name) against the foreign enlistment bill, 10 June 1819. He retired in 1820 and died 25 Mar. 1828.
Ref Volumes: 1790-1820
Authors: Brian Murphy / R. G. Thorne
- 1. See STOCKBRIDGE.
- 2. Gent. Mag. (1828), i. 364.
- 3. PRO 30/9/32, Abbot diary, 9 Mar. 1797.
- 4. Creevey mss, Creevey to Currie, 7 May 1803; Creevey Pprs. ed. Maxwell, i. 22; ii. 10; The Times, 26 May; Bodl. ms. Clarendon dep. c.380, Porter to Foster Barham, 2 Oct., 9 Nov., 13 Dec. 1803.
- 5. Fortescue mss; HMC Fortescue, viii. 267, 270; Fremantle mss, box 55, Temple to Fremantle, Sat. [Oct.], Thurs. [Nov. 1806].
- 6. Fortescue mss, Porter to Grenville, 21 Jan., to ?Temple, 14 Feb. 1807; Colchester, ii. 89.
- 7. Bodl. c.380, Porter to Foster Barham, 3, 11 Apr. 1810, 19 Feb. 1812; Rose Diaries, ii. 464; Lonsdale mss, Ward to Lonsdale, 1 Jan. 1811; Geo. IV Letters, i. 154.
- 8. See STOCKBRIDGE.