COOTE, Sir Charles Henry, 9th bt. (1794-1864), of Ballyfin, Mountrath, Queen's Co.
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Family and Educationb. 2 Jan. 1794, 1st s. of Chidley Coote of Ash Hill, co. Limerick and 2nd w. Elizabeth Anne, da. of Rev. Ralph Carr of Alderley, Cheshire. educ. Eton 1805; Trinity Coll. Camb. 1809. m. 26 Nov. 1814, Caroline, da. of John Whaley of Whaley Abbey, co. Wicklow, 5s. 2da. suc. fa. 1799; kinsman Charles Henry, 1st Bar. Castle Coote [I], as 9th bt. 2 Mar. 1802. d. 8 Oct. 1864.
Col. Queen’s Co. militia 1824-d.
Coote was a descendant of Sir Charles Coote (created a baronet in 1621), military commander in Ireland and Member for Queen’s County in the Irish Parliament from 1639 until he was killed in the Irish rebellion of 1642. His son and namesake was rewarded with the Irish earldom of Mountrath by Charles II in 1661.1 On the death in 1802 of the unmarried 7th earl, who had been created Baron Castle Coote in 1800, Coote succeeded to his baronetcy and estates. Thereafter he was sometimes confused with his distant kinsman, the English baronet Sir Charles Coote (1765-1857), of Donnybrook and Dublin.2 In 1815 Coote assumed control of the Mountrath estates in Queen’s County, which had been entrusted to government during his minority. Shortly afterwards he purchased from William Wellesley Pole, Member since 1801, the neighbouring seat of Ballyfin, where he constructed ‘one of the finest mansions’ in Ireland, ‘fitted up in the most costly style’ with ‘a fine collection of paintings, statues, and busts’.3 In 1816, at the prompting of his cousin the 2nd Baron Castle Coote, a ministerialist who had sat for Queen’s County in the Irish Commons and the Imperial Parliament, 1801-2, he offered for the county on the family interest. In an attempt to avert a contest Wellesley Pole, a cabinet minister, tried in vain to obtain an Irish peerage for him. Coote stood at the 1818 general election as a supporter of the Liverpool ministry, but finished in third place.4
At the 1820 general election Coote, despite being in Italy, offered again at the insistence of his supporters. His brother Robert acted for him, saying he was ‘unconnected with party’. He was narrowly defeated in third place.5 The following year Wellesley Pole was created Baron Maryborough, leaving a vacancy for which Coote was returned unopposed.6 A lax attender, when present he gave general support to the Liverpool ministry, although later in 1821 he told Henry Westenra* that having ‘gone with ministers merely to get the most out of them’ and ‘got nothing’, he ‘must oppose them’, and he voted with the Whig opposition for abolition of one of the joint-postmasterships, 13 Mar. 1822.7 He divided against inquiries into the borough franchise, 20 Feb. 1823, and the prosecution of the Dublin Orange rioters, 22 Apr. 1823. Following the death of Castle Coote in January 1823 Goulburn, the Irish secretary, informed Lord Wellesley, the viceroy, 20 Feb., that his successor as colonel of the Queen’s County militia should be Coote, who was ‘disposed to support the government when that support can be obtained without a sacrifice of principle’ and was ‘not mixed up with the party feeling which exists in Ireland’. On 26 Apr. Goulburn wrote that ‘he is one of the few Members who have supported us in our late proceedings in the House’ and ‘a good attendant on government questions, and although Lord Maryborough thinks he may not continue to be a very steady friend of government, yet he has hitherto given a very useful support’.8 Maryborough, however, urged his brother Wellesley to appoint a rival to Coote, ‘my most bitter enemy, who caused me two contested elections at a time when I was in the cabinet’:
That it should become hereditary in the abominable jobbing family of the Cootes is really vexatious. Castle Coote officered the regiment with all the blackguards in the county, there is scarce a gentleman in it, and if the sneaking little baronet gets it, it will continue in the same state.9
A complex negotiation ensued, during which Wellesley threatened to resign rather than ‘resist his favourite brother’s earnest entreaty’, leaving Goulburn ‘at a loss how to proceed’. On 30 Aug. 1823 Peel, the home secretary, advised Goulburn to reiterate his preference for Coote, but ‘leave Wellesley to settle the matter’.10 An attempt by Wellesley to obtain an Irish peerage for Coote came to nothing, and in November 1824 he reluctantly gave way.11 Coote voted for suppression of the Catholic Association, 15, 25 Feb., and for Catholic claims, 1 Mar., 21 Apr., 10 May 1825.
At the 1826 general election he offered again as a ‘friend of civil and religious freedom’ and was returned unopposed.12 He presented petitions for Catholic relief, 16 Feb., and voted accordingly, 6 Mar. 1827, 12 May 1828.13 He was granted a fortnight’s leave after serving on an election committee, 29 Mar. 1827. He brought up a petition against Catholic claims, 25 Apr. 1828. In January 1829 he was considered by Planta, the Wellington ministry’s patronage secretary, as a possible mover or seconder of the address announcing the concession of Catholic emancipation, for which he presented petitions, 11 Feb., 11, 16 Mar., and duly divided, 6, 30 Mar. He brought up petitions for repeal of the Irish Vestry Act, 17 Feb., and the Irish Subletting Act, 11 Mar. He presented one from Queen’s County against militia reductions, 26 Mar. On 20 May he asked Wellington for an interview respecting his claim to an Irish peerage, observing that it was many years since Maryborough had first applied on his behalf and that following Wellesley’s recommendation, Liverpool had ‘expressed an intention of dealing with the claim’. Claiming (dubiously) to be the premier baronet of Ireland,14 he explained that he had added land to the value of £70,000 to Lord Mountrath’s estates and that the last peerage in the family had become extinct on the death of the 3rd Baron Castle Coote in 1827. Wellington, however, declined to consider the matter until there was a vacancy.15 Reviewing the claims to extinct peerages, 7 July, Peel observed to Leveson Gower, the Irish secretary, that ‘Coote, considering his fortune, antiquity of family and personal respectability, stood amongst the very first’, but nothing came of this.16 In October 1829 the Ultra Commons leader Sir Richard Vyvyan numbered him among those who had voted for emancipation whose ‘sentiments’ towards a putative coalition government were ‘unknown’. He voted against Jewish emancipation, 17 May, and abolition of the death penalty for forgery, 7 June 1830. He was in the ministerial majorities for the grant for South American missions that day and against reduction of judges’ salaries, 7 July 1830. Rumours that he had ‘secured the empty title of Mountrath’ that month proved unfounded.17
At the 1830 general election he stood again. Attempts to get up an opposition to him by local reformers, who complained that he was ‘totally inefficient, even were his feelings correct’, came to nothing and he was returned unopposed, although it was reported to Thomas Wyse* that the Irish election results had caused him ‘great despondency’.18 He was listed by ministers as one of their ‘friends’ and voted in their minority on the civil list, 15 Nov. 1830. He divided against the second reading of the Grey ministry’s reform bill, 22 Mar., and for Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr. Five days later, however, anticipating that ‘from the votes I have given, my sentiments on that subject might be misconstrued’, he informed a constituent that he was ‘far from opposed to reform’, promised that his future opposition ‘would be confined to some of the details, and not to the principle of the bill’, and explained that he was ‘quite convinced that no satisfactory reform can take place without the sacrifice of boroughs, and with this opinion I should have voted for the disfranchisement of those which are contained in schedule A’.19 At the ensuing general election he ignored calls for him to resign and ‘at the eleventh hour’ promised ‘to support the entire bill’. He was returned after a three-day contest against two other reformers, following which the Dublin press observed that he was ‘already endeavouring to wriggle himself out of his positive pledges’.20
He voted for the second reading of the reintroduced reform bill, 6 July, and gave general support to its details, though he was in the minority for use of the 1831 census to determine borough disfranchisement, 19 July. He divided against the disqualification of the Dublin election committee, 29 July. He presented a Queen’s County petition for the abolition of Irish tithes, vote by ballot and repeal of the Union, but denied that the latter had much support, 3 Aug. That day he explained that he was ‘favourable to the principle’ of the reform bill, but objected ‘to some of its details’. He voted for its passage, 21 Sept. 1831, but was absent from the division on Lord Ebrington’s confidence motion, 10 Oct., having obtained a fortnight’s leave on account of family illness, 5 Oct. Speaking at a county reform meeting, 7 Dec., he reiterated his support for the ‘principle of the reform measure’, explaining that he would always ‘look to measures and not to men’.21 He missed the division on the second reading of the revised bill, 17 Dec. 1831, but was present to vote to go into committee on it, 20 Jan., 1832. He was in the minority against the enfranchisement of Gateshead, 5 Mar., but divided for the third reading, 22 Mar. He voted against government on the Russian-Dutch loan, 26 Jan. He endorsed a petition for coercive measures to suppress disturbances in Ireland, where the laws had been found ‘insufficient’, 31 Mar., and presented one for the abolition of tithes, 2 Apr. He seconded his colleague Parnell’s motion for inquiry into Irish outrages and criticized ministers for refusing military assistance to the Queen’s County magistracy, 23 May. He was appointed to the ensuing select committee, 31 May, when he rebutted O’Connell’s assertion that he had called for the reintroduction of the Insurrection Act. He voted for the second reading of the Irish reform bill, 25 May. He divided against Alexander Baring’s bill to exclude insolvent debtors from Parliament, 6 June. He commended the Irish board of education, to which he had entrusted his own school erected about ‘two and a half years ago’ at a cost of £700, in which Protestants and Catholics had been educated with ‘the utmost cordiality’, 5 July 1832.
At the 1832 general election Coote was narrowly returned in second place for Queen’s County as a Conservative. He sat until 1847, when he retired, and again, as a Liberal Conservative, 1852-9.22 He died at Connaught Place, Middlesex, in October 1864, and was succeeded in the baronetcy by his eldest son Charles Henry (1815-95).23
Ref Volumes: 1820-1832
Author: Philip Salmon
- 1. Oxford DNB.
- 2. A. de Vlieger, Hist. Coote Fam. 85; Brit. Imp. Cal. (1820), 52.
- 3. Vlieger, 94-96; S. Lewis, Top. Dict. Ireland (1837), ii. 396.
- 4. HP Commons, 1790-1820, ii. 681.
- 5. The Times, 2 Mar.; Dublin Evening Post, 9, 25, 30 Mar. 1820.
- 6. Dublin Evening Post, 1, 4 Sept. 1821.
- 7. Black Bk. (1823), 147; Session of Parl. 1825, p. 458; PRO NI, Rossmore mss T.2929/3/14.
- 8. Add. 37300, f. 252; 37301, f. 33.
- 9. Add. 37416, f. 171.
- 10. Add. 40329, ff. 117, 129.
- 11. Add. 40330, f. 3.
- 12. Dublin Evening Post, 8, 20, 29 June 1826.
- 13. The Times, 17 Feb. 1827.
- 14. CB, i. 227.
- 15. Wellington mss WP1/1019/4; 1024/9.
- 16. Add. 40337, f. 17.
- 17. NLI, Wyse mss 15024 (1), Cassidy to Wyse, 8 July 1830.
- 18. Dublin Evening Post, 29 July, 14 Aug.; Wyse mss 15024 (1), Cassidy to Wyse, 8 July; 15024 (7), Cassidy to Wyse, 9 Sept. 1830.
- 19. Dublin Evening Post, 5 May 1831.
- 20. Ibid. 10, 12, 17 May 1831.
- 21. Leinster Express, 10 Dec. 1831.
- 22. Dod’s Parl. Companion (1857), 163.
- 23. Gent. Mag. (1864), ii. 669.