SINGLETON, Mark (1762-1840), of Wimbledon, Surr.
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Family and Education
b. 1762, 3rd s. of Sydenham Singleton (formerly Fowke) of Dublin by Elizabeth, da. of Mark Whyte. educ. Christ Church, Oxf. 1778; L. Inn, 1781. m. 4 Nov. 1785 and again 9 Jan. 1786, Lady Mary Cornwallis, da. of Charles Cornwallis†, 1st Mq. Cornwallis, s.p.
MP [I] 1798-1800.
Ensign, 1 Ft. Gds. 1782; maj. Suff. vol. cav. 1798, cornet, Mdx. yeomanry 1803.
Storekeeper of Ordnance 1795, principal storekeeper 1799-Feb. 1806, Mar. 1807-June 1829.
Singleton, younger son of a capable and numerous Irish legal family, gave up the law for the army. In 1785 he made a runaway match with Lord Cornwallis’s daughter, forgiven within a month. Thereafter, dependent on his father-in-law’s patronage, he cut a figure in fashionable society, including the Prince of Wales’s set. By 1795 he lamented his ‘want of occupation’ and eagerly accepted the Ordnance storekeepership obtained for him by his father-in-law, then master of the Ordnance, on the death of John Clater Aldridge*. He promised his benefactor to become ‘a complete man of business’.1
In 1796 Cornwallis returned Singleton on the family interest for Eye. As expected of him, he supported Pitt’s administration, voting for the triple tax assessment, 4 Jan. 1798. That year, Cornwallis having become lord lieutenant of Ireland, he went with him and sat in the Irish parliament for Carysfort until the Union. In 1799 he surrendered his seat for Eye to make way for Cornwallis’s nephew, on becoming principal storekeeper of the Ordnance. In 1801 he would have been returned to the Imperial parliament for Dundalk had not the Irish primate deprived Cornwallis of the return for Armagh.2 Later that year he accompanied Cornwallis to France.
When Singleton was again returned to Westminster for Eye in 1807, it was a prerequisite of his being restored to his Ordnance place, of which the Grenville ministry had deprived him. Bishop Cornwallis explained it thus four years later:
When my brother gave him [Singleton] his place, I advised the changing it for one for life, though of less value. My brother said he did not mean to keep him in Parliament and then he would be safe. I told him perhaps not so when another ministry came in; and so it happened. For the present ministers insisted upon his coming into Parliament or a resignation of the place. He is forced to attend every night and if he goes away, a note soon follows. Nothing can be more degrading. The whipper in is the other Member for Eye, but he does not spare his colleague.3
So it was that Singleton, listed ‘against the Opposition’ by the Whigs, voted assiduously with Perceval’s ministry from January to March 1810; against the discharge of the radical Gale Jones, 16 Apr., and against sinecure reform, 17 May; for the ministerial Regency proposals, 1 Jan. 1811; against sinecure reform, 7, 21, 24 Feb., 4 May 1812, and against Stuart Wortley’s motion for a more efficient administration, 21 May.
After the election of 1812, too, Singleton appeared on the Treasury list of supporters. He voted against Catholic relief, 2 Mar. and 24 May 1813, and paired against it in 1816 and 1817. From 1815 he voted steadily with ministers on civil list questions and army and navy questions (acting as teller, 6 Mar. 1818). He supported the suspension of habeas corpus, 23 June 1817, and its consequences, 10, 11 Feb., 5 Mar. 1818. In the Parliament of 1818 he obtained sick leave in March and April, voted against Tierney’s censure motion, 18 May 1819, and paired on 10 June in favour of the foreign enlistment bill.
In 1820 Singleton was desirous of retiring from the House, but of retaining his office which he alone had not offered to resign when the Duke of Wellington became master of the Ordnance in 1818. The duke concurred, in a letter to Lord Bathurst: ‘I could not well refuse my consent, as I had before consented to the same arrangement when I was myself to have nominated the person to fill the seat’. The duke found Singleton dilatory in business.4 He died 17 July 1840.
Ref Volumes: 1790-1820
Author: Winifred Stokes
- 1. Jnl. of William Hervey, 432; Cornwallis Corresp. ii. 163; PRO 30/8/125, f. 267.
- 2. Kent AO, Cornwallis mss C3, Cornwallis to bp. of Lichfield, 17 June 1799; Dublin SPO 544/326/1; Castlereagh Corresp. iv. 63.
- 3. HMC Var. vi. 429-30.
- 4. Lonsdale mss, Ward to Lonsdale, 9 Dec. 1818; Wellington mss; HMC Bathurst, 576.