STEWARD, Gabriel Tucker (c.1768-1836), of Berkeley Square, Mdx.
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Family and Education
b. c.1768, 1st s. of Gabriel Steward† of Melcombe Regis, Dorset by Rebecca, da. and coh. of Richard Tucker of Weymouth, Dorset; bro. of Richard Augustus Tucker Steward*. educ. Harrow 1775-85. m. 1da. suc. fa. 1792.
Commr. Exchequer issue 1799-1807, of taxes 1810-28.
Gov. Portland Castle 1791-1807.
Ensign, Dorset militia 1792, lt. 1793, capt.-lt. 1795, capt. 1795-8; maj. St. James’s vols. 1800; commdt. Portland vols.
Steward, a partner in the London bank of Marsh, Stracey & Co. of Berners Street, disapproved of his father’s sale of the family’s parliamentary interest at Weymouth to (Sir) William Pulteney* before the election of 1790. He claimed that it had taken place without his knowledge and insisted that he was a ‘free agent’ vis-à-vis the new patron.1 This was a prelude to his bid to recover the interest. On a vacancy in 1794 he contrived to secure his own return and was not dislodged. In the same way he brought in his brother, 1806-12.
Inconspicuous in Parliament, Steward was in general a supporter of administration. He voted against the abolition of the slave trade, 15 Mar. 1796. He was in the majority for Pitt’s assessed taxes, 4 Mar. 1798. He was listed a supporter of Addington’s ministry in 1804 and subsequently of Pitt’s. He was in the minority against the Grenville ministry’s repeal of Pitt’s Additional Force Act, 30 Apr. 1806. After taking two weeks;’ leave of absence on 8 Apr. 1807, he supported the Portland and Perceval administrations, voting steadily with ministers on the Scheldt question, January-March 1810, against sinecure reform, 17 May, and against parliamentary reform, 21 May 1810. The Whigs had listed him ‘against the Opposition’ that session. At the close of it, he vacated with a place, which he exchanged for another at Somerset House soon afterwards. Lord Shaftesbury commented: ‘He is the greatest rascal I ever knew and the providing for him in the way Perceval did was the most disgraceful job that was done in Old Mother Portland’s administration’.2
In 1812 the Stewards were eclipsed at Weymouth, but their conduct was so unfavourably represented to government that it was thought that Gabriel might lose his place. He threatened to change sides politically and the trustees of the patronal interest feared future trouble from him. He challenged them unsuccessfully in the by-election of June 1813. In August they tried to obtain a vacancy on the customs board for him and in October 1813 he disappointed them by refusing to become a commissioner of excise appeals, which, he asserted, would not compensate him for past expenses at Weymouth elections. He remained a thorn in the flesh of the trustees, regarding his increasingly dubious stake in the boroughs as a saleworthy bargaining counter: but it was never again effective. In 1824 his bank failed in consequence of a fraud by one of the partners. His will was proved 18 Jan. 1837.3