BERESFORD, Marcus (1800-1876), of 16 Cavendish Square, Mdx.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832, ed. D.R. Fisher, 2009
Available from Cambridge University Press



28 May 1824 - 1826

Family and Education

b. 28 July 1800, 2nd s. of Rev. George Beresford (d. 1842) and Susan, da. of Hamilton Gorges† of Kilbrew, co. Meath. educ. Winchester; Trinity, Dublin, 1815. m. (1) 1 Oct. 1828, Isabella (d. Aug. 1836), da. of Thomas Bermingham Daly Henry Sewell, 2da. (1 d.v.p.); (2) 22 Jan. 1838, Caroline, da. of William Fane, 2s. (1 d.v.p.) 1da. d. 16 Mar. 1876.

Offices Held

2nd lt. 21 Ft. 1817, lt. 1821, capt. 1824, half-pay 1826-7, maj. 1826, lt.-col. 1827; lt.-col. 3 Ft. 1835-42; mil. sec. to c.-in-c. India 1835-40; col. Landour 1840-1; col. 1841; asst. adj.-gen. Cork 1842-52; half-pay 1842-54; maj.-gen. 1854; commdt. Bangalore 1854-9; acting c.-in-c. Madras Jan.-June 1856; col. 20 Ft. 1858-d.; lt.-gen. 1859; gen. 1866.


Beresford, an army officer, was a member of the foremost Irish Protestant family. His father was the second son of William Beresford (1743-1819), archbishop of Tuam, who was created Baron Decies in 1812. His great-uncle George, 1st marquess of Waterford, had two illegitimate sons, William Carr Beresford†, created Lord Beresford in 1814, and Sir John Poo Beresford*, both of whom influenced the course of his career. Although he later claimed that he had never had any political aspirations, he interrupted his military career in 1824 to fill the vacancy at Northallerton occasioned by the death of its joint-patron, Henry Peirse, whose daughter Henrietta was married to Sir John Beresford; Lord Beresford apparently pressed his reluctant kinsman to take the seat in order to further his own political ambitions.1

In the House, Beresford followed his family’s Tory line. He divided for the Irish unlawful societies bill, 20 Feb., and against Catholic relief, 1 Mar., 21 Apr., 10 May 1825. He voted for the financial provision for the duke of Cumberland, 6, 10 June 1825. He again divided with Lord Liverpool’s ministry against the motion condemning the Jamaican slave trials, 2 Mar. 1826. At the general election that summer he made way for Sir John Beresford at Northallerton and stood for Berwick, where his family had recently established an interest. He was inconvenienced by the intervention of another professed ministerialist, despite attempts by the home secretary Peel and the patronage secretary Lushington to clear his path. Nevertheless, he headed the poll after pledging support for the abolition of slavery and unspecified measures to promote the ‘prosperity and stability’ of the agricultural and commercial interests. In returning thanks, he declared that he belonged to ‘a family which has from principle voted against granting any further concessions to the Roman Catholics’, which he believed would be ‘fraught with danger to our happy constitution’.2 His votes against Catholic relief, 6 Mar. 1827, 12 May 1828, were his only recorded ones in those sessions. He spoke against the salmon fisheries bill, claiming that it would deprive his constituents of £7,000 a year, 14 May, and presented petitions against it, 28, 31 May 1827.3 He objected to the Youghal bridge bill, 14 Mar., and presented a Berwick petition against currency restrictions, 5 June 1828. In February 1829 Planta, the Wellington ministry’s patronage secretary, predicted that he would side ‘with government’ for Catholic emancipation, and he voted accordingly, 6, 30 Mar. On 19 June 1829 he sponsored Daniel Thorndike’s divorce bill, which passed three days later. He divided against the transfer of East Retford’s seats to Birmingham, 11 Feb., and the enfranchisement of Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester, 23 Feb. 1830. He defended Lord Beresford from criticisms relating to the publication of letters on Portuguese affairs, 10 Mar., pointing out that Wellington had approved of their contents. He voted against Jewish emancipation, 5 Apr., 17 May. He spoke against a petition calling for a redistribution of Irish church revenues, 27 Apr. He divided for the grant for South American missions and against abolition of the death penalty for forgery, 7 June 1830. He was comfortably returned at the head of the poll for Berwick at the general election that summer.

The ministry regarded him as one of their ‘friends’, and he duly voted with them in the crucial division on the civil list, 15 Nov. 1830. Four days earlier he had denied Daniel O’Connell’s allegations that Lord Beresford was turning the poor off his Irish estates to make way for cattle. On 17 Mar. 1831 he presented and concurred in a Berwick corporation petition against details of the Grey ministry’s reform bill, warning that it would disfranchise many of the present electors. He divided against the bill’s second reading, 22 Mar. He presented a hostile petition from Berwick voters resident in London, 19 Apr. 1831, when he voted for Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment. At the ensuing general election it was reported that there had been ‘a sad declension’ in his popularity at Berwick owing to his opposition to reform, but he was returned in second place after a token contest.4 He divided against the second reading of the reintroduced reform bill, 6 July, and the partial disfranchisement of Chippenham, 27 July 1831. He spoke and voted in favour of preserving the rights of non-resident freemen, of whom Berwick had many, 30 Aug. He divided against the bill’s passage, 19 Sept., and the second reading of the Scottish bill, 23 Sept. He paired against the second reading of the revised English bill, 17 Dec. 1831. He voted against going into committee, 20 Jan., the enfranchisement of Tower Hamlets, 28 Feb., the third reading, 22 Mar., and the second reading of the Irish bill, 25 May 1832. He again sprang to his family’s defence, 23 Jan., this time over insinuations about their purchase of land from Coleraine corporation. He divided against ministers on the Russian-Dutch loan, 26 Jan., 12 July. He apparently attended some sittings of the committee on the Sunderland Wet Docks bill, but was absent when the division was taken, 2 Apr. 1832. He offered again for Berwick at the general election later that year but was defeated after a severe contest.5

Beresford resumed his military career and served for five years as military secretary to the Indian commander-in-chief. In 1842, having published six anonymous letters in The Times criticizing the policy of the former governor-general of India, Lord Auckland, he sought to be appointed as secretary to his successor Lord Ellenborough, but was disappointed.6 When making another unsuccessful application, for the governorship of the Isle of Man in 1845, he lamented to Peel that

my lot has been a sad failure in life, and not through any misconduct (as I hope) or any want of exertion of my own. I was taken from my profession early in life by Lord Beresford for his political objects, and with an assurance of being fully provided for ... [but] for an assigned reason, after he married my own aunt, I was cast off and am now scarcely acknowledged. For eleven of the best years of my life I was the jealous attendant of the party you are now the head of.

He claimed that he had only £600 per annum with which to raise his family.7 He died in March 1876 and divided his property between his three surviving children.

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: Martin Casey


  • 1. Add. 40569, f. 45.
  • 2. Add. 38301, f. 22; 40305, ff. 124, 128; Berwick Advertiser, 17, 24 June 1826.
  • 3. The Times, 29 May, 1 June 1827.
  • 4. Berwick Advertiser, 7 May 1831.
  • 5. The Times, 18 Sept., 17 Dec. 1832.
  • 6. Add. 40504, ff. 1, 3.
  • 7. Add. 40569, f. 45.