LEMON, Sir William, 1st bt. (1748-1824), of Carclew, nr. Penryn, Cornw. and Whitehall Yard, Westminster, Mdx.
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Family and Educationb. 11 Oct. 1748, 1st s. of William Lemon of Carclew (who d.v.p.) and Anne, da. of John Willyams of Carnanton, Cornw. educ. Christ Church, Oxf. 1765; grand tour 1768. m. 3 Apr. 1771, Jane, da. of James Buller† of Morval, 2s. (1 d.v.p.) 9da. (3 d.v.p.) suc. grandfa. William Lemon 1760; cr. bt. 24 May 1774. d. 11 Dec. 1824.
Capt. R. Cornw. militia 1770, maj. 1780., lt.-col. 1798, col. 1803-7.
Lemon had inherited his grandfather’s fortune, which was based on copper mining interests, and during the late eighteenth century he made several additions to his Cornish estates.1 He had sat for the county since 1774 and had shared the representation since 1806 with his Tory son-in-law, John Hearle Tremayne. He was again returned unopposed in 1820, after promising to ‘discharge [his] public duty ... conscientiously and independently’, and became Father of the House.2 According to Cornish Tory sources he was ‘warmly attached from principle to the politics of ... Fox’ and seemed to be ‘just as systematic an opposer of the measures of government, whether right or wrong, as the most devoted tool of administration is in favour of them’.3 He continued to attend regularly and voted with the Whig opposition to Lord Liverpool’s ministry on most major issues, including parliamentary reform, 9 May 1821, 25 Apr. 1822, 24 Apr. 1823. He divided for inquiry into the Peterloo massacre, 16 May 1821. A radical publication of 1823 noted approvingly of him that he ‘attends well and votes well’.4 However, apparently for constituency reasons, he continued to vote against Catholic relief, 28 Feb. 1821, although he was also against the Irish constables bill, 7 June 1822. He made no known speeches in this period, but he was active in presenting petitions from Cornwall on various issues, including relief from agricultural distress in 1820 and 1821, and ones from county meetings which also called for retrenchment and reform, 9 Apr. 1821, 22 Apr. 1822.5 He presented several petitions for restoring Queen Caroline’s name to the liturgy and voted in this sense, 23, 26 Jan., 13 Feb. 1821.6 He was reportedly absent in the early part of the 1822 session, owing to a ‘very severe indisposition’, but that October he attended a county meeting where he seconded the resolutions by which he hoped the government would be ‘apprised of the disastrous consequences’ of removing the packet service from Falmouth; they had the desired effect.7 In 1824 he presented numerous petitions for repeal of the coal duties,8 and several for the abolition of slavery.9 His death that December was apparently unexpected, although he had been ‘for some time in a rather declining state of health’. It was said of him that he was ‘neither an orator nor, in the vulgar acceptation of the term, a statesman’, but he exhibited ‘a rare combination of private and public virtue’ and was ‘an excellent citizen and patriot’ whose ‘every vote ... had for its object to uphold the liberties and to diminish the burthens of the country’.10 He was succeeded in his title and estates by his only surviving son Charles, who became a county Member in 1831.11
Ref Volumes: 1820-1832
Author: Terry Jenkins
- 1. Gent. Mag. (1824), ii. 641-2.
- 2. West Briton, 25 Feb., 24 Mar. 1820.
- 3. Cornw. RO, Rashleigh mss DD/R/5313, Canon Rogers to Rashleigh, 24 Jan. 1820; R. Cornw. Gazette, 18 Dec. 1824.
- 4. Black Bk. (1823), 169.
- 5. The Times, 10, 19 May 1820, 21, 28 Feb., 2 Mar., 10 Apr. 1821, 23 Apr. 1822.
- 6. Ibid. 27 Jan., 3, 6, 13 Feb. 1821.
- 7. West Briton, 1 Mar., 1 Nov., 6 Dec. 1822.
- 8. The Times, 5, 14, 17, 19, 20, 24, 27 Feb. 1824.
- 9. Ibid. 13, 16, 17 Mar. 1824.
- 10. West Briton, 17 Dec. 1824.
- 11. PROB 11/1698/208; IR26/1050/249.