HORNBY, Edmund (1773-1857), of Dalton Hall, Westmld.

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



1812 - 1826

Family and Education

b. 16 June 1773, 1st s. of Rev. Geoffrey Hornby, rect. of Winwick, Lancs., and Lucy, da. of James Smith Stanley†, Lord Strange, 1st s. of Edward Stanley†, 11th earl of Derby. educ. Raikes’s Sch., Neasden; Trinity Coll. Camb. 1790; I. Temple 1795, called 1798. m. 22 Aug. 1796, his cos. Lady Charlotte Smith Stanley, da. of Edward Smith Stanley†, 12th earl of Derby, 2s. 2da. (1 d.v.p.).1 suc. fa. to Scale Hall, Lancs. and Dalton 1812. d. 18 Nov. 1857.

Offices Held

Sheriff, Lancs. 1828-9.


Hornby, whose estates straddled the Lancashire-Westmorland border, had devoted much of his life and skills as a barrister to promoting the Derby interest, and he continued to assist their candidates at elections between 1820 and 1832. The nephew and son-in-law of the Whig 12th earl and brother-in-law twice over of his son Lord Stanley*, he and his family were frequently at Knowsley and, since Lord Stanley’s transfer to the county in 1812, he had represented Preston on the coalition (Derby-Horrocks) interest, as locum for his nephew Edward George Geoffrey Smith Stanley*. He did not intend to stand again, but agreed to do so when George III’s death necessitated a general election shortly before Smith Stanley came of age in 1820.2 After a riotous 13-day poll, with the radical Henry Hunt* and Whig barrister John Williams* as opponents, he and Samuel Horrocks prevailed at a cost of £11,560. On the hustings he defended the coalition by pointing to Williams’s involvement in another Whig-Tory alliance at Chester in 1818. He declared for reform and a rate-based householder franchise and against annual parliaments, universal suffrage and the ballot, ‘a cover for corruption’, and stood by his votes for three of the Liverpool ministry’s six repressive Acts (seditious meetings, military training and traverse) introduced after Peterloo. Defending the ‘closed’ Lancashire grand jury, of which he was a leading member, he spoke out against mass meetings and the deployment of ‘physical force’ by their agitators.3 ‘Detained by Hunt’, he rallied late support in Westmorland for the Whig lawyer Henry Brougham*, who lost to the Tory Lowthers.4

Generally acting with Lord Stanley, Hornby adhered to the main Whig opposition in the 1820 Parliament. He divided for Catholic relief, 28 Feb. 1821, 1 Mar., 21 Apr., 10 May 1825. He voted to make Leeds a scot and lot borough under the Grampound disfranchisement bill, 2 Mar., for Lord John Russell’s reform proposal, 9 May (but not Lambton’s, 18 Apr. 1821), and again for reform, 25 Apr. 1822, 24 Apr., 2 June 1823, 26 Feb. 1824, 27 Apr. 1826. In a rare speech, 7 Mar. 1821, he denied, as one of the visiting magistrates, the radical Nathan Broadhurst and his fellow petitioners’ allegations of maltreatment in Lancaster gaol. He justified on grounds of economy and security the practices of putting prisoners to work, denying them newspapers and opening their mail. He was named to select committees on prisons, 30 Mar. 1821, 5 Mar. 1822, 14 May 1823, 1 Mar. 1824. Opposing the cotton factory bill, 16 May (after presenting unfavourable petitions on the 13th), he argued that as adult and child labour were interdependent, the proposed reduction in children’s working hours would disrupt production at great cost, without benefiting the children it purported to assist. Despite their political differences, he supported the nomination of the anti-Catholic Tory barrister Thomas Greene* of Slyne, a fellow lobbyist for keeping the assizes at Lancaster, at the by-election there in 1824. Doing so, he explained that as ‘much of the important business of the House was transacted without the walls of St. Stephen’s, it was important to recruit men of Greene’s calibre to serve on committees.5 Together, they opposed the Liverpool-Manchester railway bill successfully on Derby’s behalf in 1825, but failed to prevent its enactment in 1826.6 He presented and endorsed Preston petitions against the beer bill, 7, 14 May 1824, and voted to permit adjourned sessions for alehouse licensing, 12 May 1826.7 At the dissolution that month, he made way for Smith Stanley at Preston, where the coalition collapsed. He campaigned for Brougham in Westmorland, Greene at Lancaster and Lord Stanley in the county at the 1826 general election.8

Alluding to their adherence to Lord Goderich’s ministry, he observed to Smith Stanley, through whom he sought patronage, 8 Dec. 1827, ‘I always found it a great advantage of being in opposition, that it furnished me with a ready answer to all applications’.9 He was sheriff of Lancashire during the 1828-9 Catholic agitation and a ready speaker for the ministerial reform bill at meetings and elections in Lancaster and the North-West, 1831-2.10 He chaired the election committee of Smith Stanley (now Lord Stanley) in Lancashire North at the general election of 1832, when his eldest son Edmund George Hornby (1799-1865) came in for Preston as a Liberal. Hornby eventually went over to the Conservatives with his nephew.11 He died at Dalton Hall in November 1857, recalled as a veteran electioneer and quarter sessions chairman, and was succeeded in his estates by Edmund.12 His will, dated 30 June 1851 and proved at Lancaster, 6 Feb. 1858, also provided for his younger son Charles Hornby of Claret Rock, Dundalk, daughter Mary Margaret, the family of his late daughter Lucy Frances, wife of the Rev. Edward Pigot of Ashton, Lancashire, and other family members.

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: Margaret Escott


  • 1. Hornby’s obituary in Preston Chron. 20 Nov. 1857 and his will show that he had four children, not one as stated in HP Commons, 1790-1820, iv. 233.
  • 2. HP Commons, 1790-1820, iv. 233-4; W. Dobson, Parl. Rep. Preston, 71. See LANCASTER and PRESTON.
  • 3. Blackburn Mail, 8 Mar.; Preston Election Addresses (1820), 4, 5, and passim.
  • 4. Westmld. Advertiser, 18, 25 Mar., 1 Apr. 1820.
  • 5. HLRO, Thomas Greene mss GRE/4/4; Westmld. Advertiser, 24 Apr.; The Times, 24 Apr. 1824.
  • 6. The Times, 22 Mar. 1825.
  • 7. Ibid. 8, 15 May 1824.
  • 8. Preston Chron. 22 Apr.; The Times, 3 May; Lancaster Gazette, 10, 17, 24 June; Westmld. Advertiser, 24 June 1826.
  • 9. Derby mss 920 Der (14) 61/1.
  • 10. Lancaster Gazette, 12 Mar.; Lancaster Herald, 12, 19 Mar., 30 Apr., 7 May 1831.
  • 11. Lancaster Gazette, 22 Dec. 1832; Greene mss 4/25.
  • 12. Preston Chron. 20 Nov.; Westmld. Gazette, 21, 28 Nov. 1857; VCH Lancs. vii. 333; viii. 185.