RAINE, Jonathan (1763-1831), of Lincoln's Inn and 33 Bedford Row, Mdx.

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



1802 - 1806
1806 - 1807
8 May 1812 - 1812
1812 - 14 May 1831

Family and Education

bap. 21 Jan. 1763, 2nd s. of Rev. Matthew Raine of Hartforth, Yorks., rector of Kirkby Wiske, by w. Esther (d. 25 June 1803), of a Cumbrian family. educ. Eton 1776-82; Trinity, Camb. 1782, fellow 1789; L. Inn 1785, called 1791. m. 24 June 1799, Elizabeth née Price of Knightsbridge, Mdx., s.p.

Offices Held

KC 8 Mar. 1816; bencher, L. Inn 1816, treasurer 1821; solicitor-gen. co. pal. of Durham 1821-3; c.j. N. Wales circuit Mar. 1823-Aug. 1830.


While his elder brother Matthew took holy orders and became master of Charterhouse school, Jonathan Raine was called to the bar, acquired a reputation as a special pleader and practised throughout this period on the northern circuit, where he amused himself by writing Latin verses. When he asked Canning to seek Pitt’s patronage for his brother Matthew in November 1804, Canning described Raine as ‘a very clever fellow’. He did business, as auditor of his estates, for the Duke of Northumberland, who in 1802 brought him into Parliament for St. Ives, thus enabling him to give up a contest he had contemplated at Arundel.1 He followed the duke’s line in politics, voting with the Foxite Whigs on the Nottingham election bill, 3 May 1803, and on negotiations with France, 24 May 1803. He was their teller on Wrottesley’s motion, 7 Mar. 1804, voted with them against the Irish volunteer consolidation bill, 16 Apr., and for Fox’s defence motion, 23 Apr. His first speech appears to have been against giving the clergy leave to reside elsewhere than in their parsonages, 11 May 1803. On 6 Mar. 1804 he criticized a clause in the volunteer consolidation bill, arguing that the reasons for a man’s dismissal should always be stated, to allow him redress. He opposed the Aylesbury election bill on principle, 8 May, alleging that an insufficient number of electors had been bribed to warrant punishing them all.

Raine, who opposed Pitt’s additional force bill in June 1804, was listed as a friend of the Prince, subsequently as a Foxite that year and as in ‘Opposition’ to Pitt in 1805. On 12 Feb. 1805 he delivered a set speech against hostilities with Spain, which by reference to the law of the sea he characterized as ‘little better than piracy’: this was in defence of the opposition amendment. He further voted with opposition on 15 and 21 Feb., 1 and 6 Mar. He voted for the criminal prosecution of Melville, 12 June, and a fortnight later became a commissioner to draw up the articles of impeachment.

When the Whigs came to power in 1806, McMahon, the Prince of Wales’s secretary, informed Raine’s patron that he expected Raine would be appointed (‘with your Grace’s approbation’) solicitor-general to the Prince of Wales. In reply, the duke said he was ‘obliged to the Prince for the honour intended Mr Raine’, since ‘there was a difficulty about him in consequence of the borough of St. Ives having been sold since his election, if there had been a necessity for his vacating his seat, but that has now been arranged through the goodness of the chancellor’. The duke, who took offence at the ministry’s ignoring him, directed Raine and his other Members, 4 Feb. 1806, to abstain from speaking or voting, but Raine voted for the repeal of Pitt’s Additional Force Act, 30 Apr. On 6 June the duke wrote to McMahon asking whether Raine had ‘yet got the silk gown or whether it is determined that even the Prince’s wish shall not be gratified if the benefit is to accrue to a friend of mine’.2

Raine did not become solicitor-general to the Prince and he had to wait until 1816 before taking silk, but he was found a seat in Parliament at the election of 1806, coming in for Wareham on the Calcraft interest as a supporter of ministers. At the same time the duke informed him that he was withdrawing his support from the ministry: a little earlier he had expected that Raine would succeed Jekyll as attorney-general to the Prince when a Welsh judge died whom Jekyll was expected to succeed"but this did not happen.3 Raine’s only known speech in that Parliament was an abortive bid to regulate medieval legislation preventing men of the law from acting as justices of assize in their own counties.

On the fall of the ministry in 1807 Raine, who voted for Brand’s motion after their dismissal, was in the political wilderness and without a seat, though the duke promised to try to find one for him and even induced McMahon to sound Tierney in November 1807; but he failed, and as late as 14 Mar. 1812 was writing to McMahon about ‘Mr Raine, for whom I have been endeavouring to procure a seat during the whole of this Parliament’. When in the same month there was a possibility of his coming in for Aldeburgh on the Crespigny interest, by arrangement with the duke, Raine declined it: but the duke dislodged his wife’s recalcitrant nephew Bennet at Launceston to make way for him in May 1812. Bennet had not followed the duke’s current line of supporting administration out of loyalty to the Prince Regent and the duke reported that he would

not propose [Raine] to my friends at Launceston till Lord Percy in writing fully explained to him the part I wished my friends to take in Parliament, and till Mr Raine had in answer consented to follow that line of conduct, in every particular: and Lord Percy has now in his possession Mr Raine’s answer and a copy of his own letter.4

After all this, Raine supported Milton’s amendment to Stuart Wortley’s motion for a stronger administration on 11 June 1812. He wrote to the duke next day explaining that, having no instructions, he had supported an amendment he thought ‘manly and constitutional, and at the same time respectful to the crown and above all it was best calculated to maintain the consistency of the House without trenching upon the undoubted prerogative of the crown to nominate its own servants’. He added that he felt that the amendment was without party motive and he had no view towards any of the candidates for power in supporting it, though he regretted that administration had not acquired the additional strength of Lord Wellesley and Canning of which they stood in need. On 16 June the duke informed McMahon that Raine’s vote had astonished him ‘beyond measure, when I consider the gracious expressions which the Prince Regent had been pleased to use with respect to him’. McMahon’s reply of 22 June explains this:

It was somewhat unlucky that on the morning of the evening of that very division in which Raine so voted, the lord chancellor happened to pronounce his intention of performing the promise he had made to his Royal Highness a year and a half before of giving Mr Raine his silk gown, but no sooner did the next morning arrive than he came all furious with Mr Raine, and said that, under the present circumstances, it was quite impossible he could do so; ‘Nor could he see how the Prince Regent, under those circumstances, should name him his solicitor-general for the duchy of Cornwall, on the vacancy now occasioned by Mr Garrow becoming solicitor-general for the crown’.

McMahon thought that a word from the duke on Raine’s behalf might ‘triumph over the chancellor’s malediction’, but he was wrong: the office was bestowed elsewhere and Raine was palmed off with the promise of a silk gown at ‘the spring assizes’ (which was also put off). The duke had written to McMahon, 26 June:

What can I say in extenuation of Mr Raine’s conduct? All I can do, is to have advised Mr R—to call at Carlton House, and endeavour to explain to you his motives for that vote, and to afford you such security for his future good conduct as shall satisfy his Royal Highness, and that there will be no repetition of it in future. Indeed I have received his verbal assurance that the vote proceeded from a mistake (which certainly was a strange one) and that in future he will be more guarded ... I am full as angry with Mr Raine as the chancellor can possibly be.

On 30 June Raine redeemed himself by speaking against a motion of Brand’s on irregularities in the Palace court (he spoke again on the same subject on 12 May 1813). The duke informed McMahon (13 July 1812):

However anxious I should have been in behalf of Mr Raine had he conducted himself properly, yet I cannot help thinking ... that he has deserved the disappointment he has met with by the very unjustifiable part he chose to take on Lord Milton’s motion. Should he make any more mistakes of that kind (which however he has assured me shall never happen again) he must take the Chiltern Hundreds.5

At the election of 1812 the duke returned Raine for his borough of Newport and he retained it until his death. He was listed a government supporter. After pairing in favour of Catholic relief on 13 May 1813, he paired against it under Carlton House pressure on 24 May. He gave ministers a silent support henceforward, but not a regular one. He voted with government, 31 May and 3 July 1815 and on 24 May 1816. He was in the minority on the choice of a new Speaker, 2 June 1817. He voted against Tierney’s censure motion, 18 May, and for the seditious libels bill, 23 Dec. 1819. He had to wait for legal preferment, and although he became eventually a Welsh judge,6 the office was abolished in 1830. Raine, who had given up his practice, was awarded superannuation of £1,000 a year. He died 14 May 1831, having been ‘a fortnight prior to his dissolution’ returned once more for Newport.7

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: R. G. Thorne


  • 1. DNB; Prince of Wales Corresp. v. 1963; PRO 30/8/120, ff. 211-15; Creevey Pprs. ed. Maxwell, ii. 115; A. F. Robbins, Launceston, Past and Present, 295; The Times, 25, 29 June 1802.
  • 2. Prince of Wales Corresp. v. 2123, 2141, 2190; Alnwick mss 63, f. 17.
  • 3. Prince of Wales Corresp. v. 2128, 2247.
  • 4. Ibid. vi. 2432; Grey mss, Tierney to Howick, 12 Nov. 1807; Geo. IV Letters, i. 31, 43, 63, 124.
  • 5. Alnwick mss 67, ff. 59-60, 62-64, 72-73, 79-80; Geo. IV Letters, i. 124, 128.
  • 6. Add. 38193, f. 100.
  • 7. Gent. Mag. (1831), i. 476.