MEYNELL, Henry (1789-1865), of 35 Grosvenor Street, Mdx.
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Family and Educationb. 24 Aug. 1789, 2nd s. of Hugo Meynell (d. 1800) of Quorndon Hall, Leics. and Hon. Elizabeth Ingram Shepheard, da. and coh. of Charles Ingram†, 9th Visct. Irvine [S]. educ. Harrow 1797. unm. d. 24 Mar. 1865.
Vol. RN 1803, midshipman 1805, lt. 1809, cdr. 1813, capt. 1816, half-pay 1838, r.-adm. 1851, v.-adm. 1857, adm. 1862.
Gentleman usher to George IV 1820-30, to William IV 1830-1; groom in waiting to Victoria 1841-5.
Meynell’s grandfather, Hugo Meynell of Bradley, Derbyshire, who was ministerialist Member for Lichfield, 1762-8, Lymington, 1769-74, and Stafford, 1774-80, was ‘long esteemed the first fox-hunter in the kingdom’. Having had a son, Godfrey, with his first wife (Ann Gell), he married Ann, daughter of Thomas Boothby Skrymsher, and had two more. The elder of these, another Hugo, married on 2 Aug. 1782 one of the five daughters of the last Lord Irvine (d. 1778), another of whom was the wife of the 2nd marquess of Hertford.1 Hugo Meynell junior died on 17 May 1800, following a fall from his horse while hunting; he left his property in trust to his wife, although Quorndon Hall, which his father had already made over to him, was sold at this time to Lord Sefton*.2 The elder Hugo Meynell died on 14 Dec. 1808 and, by his will, his only surviving son Charles was the sole executor and residual legatee of his estate, which included personalty sworn under £7,500. However, it was said that most of the landed property, worth £11,000 a year, was inherited by his eldest grandson, Hugo Charles Meynell of Hoar Cross, Staffordshire.3 He had already come into the estates of Templenewsam, Yorkshire, on the death of Viscountess Irvine in 1807, and was described by Sydney Smith as ‘a gentlemanlike man, by which I mean a silent and supercilious man ... He is fond of dogs and horses and perhaps other things’.4
Henry Meynell, who was Hugo Charles’s next brother, was educated at Harrow, where he remembered his contemporary Lord Althorp* as a republican.5 He entered the navy in 1803, serving as a first class volunteer on the Isis at Newfoundland until early 1805. For the next year, during which he was promoted midshipman, he served on the Pomone and the Captain on the Lisbon and Home stations, and between 1806 and 1809 he saw action on board the Boreas and the Lavinia in British waters and in the Mediterranean. Promoted to lieutenant in November 1809, he joined the Theban early the following year, assisting at the capture of a French merchant brig near Dieppe on 2 Feb. 1811. Having survived the wreck of the Theban in a storm in September 1812, on its passage to India, he was nominated acting commander of the Arrogant at Bombay, and was made commander of the Cornwallis there in August 1813. He was acting captain of the Jupiter from August, and of the Newcastle from November 1815, and was confirmed in his captaincy of the latter, Sir Pulteney Malcolm’s flagship at St. Helena, 10 Apr. 1816. It was while he held this command that he was said to have attracted the attention of Buonaparte, of whom he recorded some memoranda, by his ‘refined manners and gentlemanly bearing, joined with the frankness and openness of a sailor’.6 He was apparently paid off in September 1817 and, although in 1821 he expressed a general anxiety to continue his profession, he never again served at sea.7
Presumably through the influence of Hertford, the lord chamberlain, and his wife, the regent’s mistress, Meynell was appointed a gentleman usher quarterly waiter on the prince’s accession as George IV in 1820. At the general election of 1826 Hertford’s son, the 3rd marquess, Meynell’s first cousin, brought him in for Lisburn, his Irish pocket borough, as a supporter of Lord Liverpool’s administration. He presented the Lisburn petition for assisted emigration, 22 Feb. 1827, but is not otherwise known to have spoken in the House in this period.8 He voted against Catholic relief, 6 Mar. That summer, when he visited Berlin,9 he may have been part of Hertford’s entourage for his Garter mission to Russia; he certainly was one of Hertford’s family supporters, being, for instance, placed on the corporations of the Suffolk boroughs of Aldeburgh, in September 1827, and Orford, in 1830.10 He divided against repeal of the Test Acts, 26 Feb., and Catholic relief, 12 May 1828. He was listed by Planta, the Wellington ministry’s patronage secretary, as a ‘Protestant’ who was likely to side ‘with government’ for Catholic emancipation, presumably because his patron had thrown in his lot with the prime minister in its favour. In fact, he voted against it, 18, 27, 30 Mar., and paired for Henry Bankes’s motion to prevent Catholics sitting in Parliament, 23 Mar. 1829. Hertford, who had called on him to support government, apologized to John Croker* that he
should have had any vexation about my parliamentary army, which I in one instance (Meynell) neglected from the wonderful violence of my mother on this question, to whom he is under great obligations - had I ever thought I should myself have taken this line I would not have brought him into Parliament.11
He divided against Lord Blandford’s reform motion, 18 Feb., the enfranchisement of Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester, 23 Feb., and Jewish emancipation, 17 May 1830.
Returned unopposed for Lisburn at the general election of 1830, he was listed by ministers among their ‘friends’, but was absent from the division on the civil list which led to their resignation, 15 Nov. 1830. He told Sir John Benn Walsh* that he was sure ‘in fact the ministers did not wish to carry it, that they were very slack in their exertions to get votes and that it was a ruse to go out on this, rather than on the reform question’ the following day.12 He voted against the second reading of the Grey ministry’s reform bill, 22 Mar. 1831, and as a result was immediately stripped of his household appointment, which had been continued under the new king.13 He divided for Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr., which provoked a dissolution. Nothing came of a rumour that he intended to offer himself for Antrim and he was returned for Lisburn as an anti-reformer.14 He voted against the second reading of the reintroduced bill, 6 July, for using the 1831 census to determine the boroughs in schedules A and B, 19 July, and for postponing consideration of the partial disfranchisement of Chippenham, 27 July. He was in the majority for Benett’s amendment for a bill to deal with electoral bribery at Liverpool, 5 Sept. He divided against the passage of the reform bill, 21 Sept., and the second reading of the Scottish bill, 23 Sept. He voted against the second reading of the revised reform bill, 17 Dec. 1831, going into committee on it, 20 Jan., the enfranchisement of Tower Hamlets, 28 Feb., the third reading, 22 Mar., and the second reading of the Irish reform bill, 25 May 1832. His only other known votes that session were with opposition against the Russian-Dutch loan, 26 Jan., 12 July 1832.
Popular for his resistance to religious and constitutional changes, Meynell was returned for Lisburn as a Conservative at the general election of 1832.15 He retired from Parliament at the dissolution in 1847 and thereafter lived ‘a quiet, unobtrusive life’. He died at the Grand Hotel du Louvre in Paris in March and was buried in the family vault at Ashley, Staffordshire, 1 Apr. 1865. He presumably divided his estate between his surviving brother, Hugo Charles Meynell, who had taken the additional name of Ingram in 1841 (and whose son Hugo Francis was Conservative Member for Staffordshire West, 1869-71), and his only remaining sister, Frances Adeline, the wife of William Beckett, Conservative Member for Leeds, 1841-52, and Ripon, 1852-7.16
Ref Volumes: 1820-1832
Author: Stephen Farrell
- 1. J. Nichols, Leicester, vol. iii. pt. i. pp. 101-2; J. Foster, Yorks. Peds. i. sub. Ingram of Temple Newsam.
- 2. The Times, 20 May 1800; Gent. Mag. (1800), i. 493; PROB 11/1342/389.
- 3. Gent. Mag. (1808), ii. 1134, 1186; PROB 11/1490/977; IR26/142/131.
- 4. Gent. Mag. (1807), ii. 1086; Smith Letters, i. 334-6.
- 5. Dyott’s Diary, ii. 117.
- 6. W.R. O’Byrne, Naval Biog. ii. 757-8; H. Meynell, Memoranda of Conversations with Napoleon, St. Helena, 1816 (1909), 1-42; R.V. Taylor, Biographia Leodiensis (1865), 529.
- 7. Add. 60286, f. 226.
- 8. The Times, 23 Feb. 1827.
- 9. Geo. IV Letters, iii. 1373.
- 10. PP (1835), xxvi. 2086, 2510.
- 11. Add. 60288, ff. 122, 139, 163.
- 12. NLW, Ormathwaite mss FG/1/5, p. 135.
- 13. Creevey Pprs. ii. 225.
- 14. Belfast News Letter, 3, 17 May 1831.
- 15. Ibid. 21 Dec. 1832.
- 16. Staffs. Advertiser, 1, 8 Apr. 1865; Gent. Mag. (1865), i. 663-4; Taylor, 528-30.