POWER, Richard I (c.1747-1814), of Clashmore, co. Waterford.
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Family and Education
b. c.1747, s. of John Power of Clashmore by Katherine, da. of John Power of Gurteen. m. 1767, Elizabeth, da. of Shapland Carew, MP [I], of Castleboro’, co. Wexford, 3s.
MP [I] 1797-1800.
Commdt. Decies cav.
Power’s mother’s branch of the family had been more prestigious in county Waterford than his father’s, but it was as the nominee of William Brabazon Ponsonby*, the leading Irish Whig and manager of the Duke of Devonshire’s interest in the county, that he was returned for it in 1797. He opposed the Union and at Westminster joined opposition, as expected, voting for Grey’s motion on the state of the nation, 25 Mar. 1801. There is no further evidence of activity in that Parliament, but Power was a marked man whom government wished to see ‘thrown out’ at the next election.1 He declined a contest.
In 1806 Power recaptured his seat supported by the Devonshire and Catholic interests and encouraged by the Grenville ministry, in which his brother-in-law Sir (Simon) John Newport* held office.2 Power, who seldom if ever spoke in debate, supported them and went into opposition with them in March 1807, voting with their minorities of 25 Mar. and 9 Apr., as well as those on the address and Whitbread’s motion in the new Parliament. He attended infrequently in the next two sessions, but was in the minorities on Calcraft’s motion, 14 Mar., for Catholic relief, 25 and 30 May 1808, and on the Dutch commissioners on 1 May 1809. He was in ‘thick and thin’ opposition to ministers in 1810 on the address, the Scheldt expedition, Burdett’s conduct, sinecure reform, Irish tithe reform and Catholic relief, and voted with opposition on the Regency question, 1 and 21 Jan. 1811, as well as for Catholic relief, 31 May and 5 June. From February to May 1812 he was frequently in the opposition lobby, voting for a stronger government on 21 May, and, both in that session and in the first of the next Parliament, remained staunch for Catholic relief.
He is a cunning, intriguing, audacious man, and I know he is no friend in his heart to the Duke of Devonshire, nor do I think he is sincerely so to the Ponsonby family, although, by having been a bottle companion of the late lord, he has had cunning enough to persuade them that he is. He lives in a parish of which his Grace is owner of the tithes, and I have frequently been complained to that he encouraged an opposition to the payment of them. At the last election at Dungarvan, I discovered that he was trimming to preserve a friendship with the Marquess of Waterford, whose table he likes to visit, just as he likes to be on the footing of a visiting friend at Lord Shannon’s. His son-in-law, Mr Humble, refused me on the canvass his interest for General Walpole. I saw the drift of it, and plainly told Mr Power that, if Mr Humble went against us there, I should think it my duty to take on myself the responsibility of ordering the duke’s freeholders not to vote for him at the county election the following week, and should send a statement of my reasons to his Grace. This had the desired effect, and brought Mr Humble in to us immediately. The next occasion that discovered his trimming conduct was during the election for the county, where he coalesced with Mr Beresford when it is confidently asserted here there was no necessity for it, and no reason except in his wish to visit at Curraghmore in state, and this when he knew it to be the duke’s and the Ponsonbys’ interest to keep down the power of that house. He was sure of his own return. Mr Lee and Mr Beresford were nearly balanced when he gave his aid to the latter, disposing of the duke’s freeholders in that way, which caused a great sensation of indignation amongst them.
Certainly the duke and he were not on good terms in 1812, partly because Power wished his son Richard to replace him as county Member, which the duke would not hear of (though he was content to see Power continue), and still more because Power would not stand in conjunction with a member of the duke’s family. His death in March 1814 deprived Ireland of ‘an upright Member’ and his family of ‘a beloved and excellent parent’, according to his son and namesake who succeeded him in his seat.4