VEREKER, Hon. John Prendergast (1790-1865).
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Family and Educationb. 1 July 1790, 1st s. of Charles Vereker†, 2nd Visct. Gort [I], and 1st w. Jane, da. of Ralph Westropp of Attyflyn, wid. of William Stamer of Carnelly, co. Clare. educ. Harrow 1803. m. (1) 15 Dec. 1814, Maria O’Grady (d. 4 Apr. 1854), da. of Standish, 1st Visct. Guillamore [I], c.b. exch. [I], 6s. (3 d.v.p.) 5da. (2 d.v.p.); (2) 10 June 1861, Elizabeth Mary, da. and h. of John Jones of London, wid. of George Tudor*, s.p. suc. fa. as 3rd Visct. Gort [I] 11 Nov. 1842. d. 20 Oct. 1865.
Mayor, Limerick 1831-3.1
Capt. Limerick city militia 1804, maj. 1811; col. Limerick city artillery 1842-d.
Rep. peer [I] June 1865-d.
Vereker’s father Lord Gort, like several of his recent Prendergast and Smyth ancestors, had previously sat on the family interest for Limerick. He inherited his uncle’s title and estates of Roxborough in county Limerick and Loughcutra Castle in county Galway, where he was a governor, in 1817. Vereker, who had been Byron’s fag at Harrow, replaced his father as Member for Limerick that year and, while being but a pale shadow of him, replicated his Tory and Orange politics.2 At the general election of 1820, when his brother-in-law Standish O’Grady came in for the county, he was, for the third time in less than three years, attacked by Lord Limerick, in alliance with the mainly Catholic ‘friends to the independence of Limerick’. Having defended his support for the Liverpool ministry’s repressive legislation, he defeated Limerick’s son-in-law Thomas Spring Rice at the borough poll, but was unseated on petition three months later.3 He never found a way back into the House, but remained on the corporation of Limerick. Serving a double term as mayor, he refused permission for a meeting to petition in favour of the English reform bill in November 1831, and presided at the return of two Repealers at the general election in December 1832, when his cousin John Vereker junior was the defeated Conservative candidate.4
Vereker’s egotistical father, a representative peer from 1823, had done spectacularly well out of the spoils system, but his bid for ornamental office under the duke of Wellington in 1834 was rejected, as were his claims for improved compensation for the abolition of his Irish sinecure in 1842, a few months before his death.5 Vereker’s inheritance was encumbered with debts of £50,000, and his attempts to extricate himself from these financial difficulties were blighted by the famine of 1847. He was forced to sell almost all his Irish estates to pay his creditors and was reduced to a state of penury. In 1853 he begged the Aberdeen ministry to save him and his ‘large and helpless family’ from ‘actual starvation’ by giving him domestic and diplomatic employment. Better still, he wished to be ‘provided for, upon the civil list, with apartments at Hampton Court and thus be enabled to support myself and family without entering into a line of life for which I was neither born nor educated’.6 Nothing seems to have been done for him either then or the following year when, after his first wife’s death, his renewed plea to be rescued from ‘a deplorable state of actual destitution’ was supported by over 60 peers with a stake in Ireland.7 He obtained some relief in 1861 by marrying, at the age of 70, a widow of similar years, who provided him with a residence on the Isle of Wight. ‘Ever a warm supporter of the Conservative party’, he died there, four months after his election as a representative peer, in October 1865.8 His second son Standish (1819-1900), succeeded to the Irish viscountcy.
Ref Volumes: 1820-1832
Authors: Stephen Farrell / David R. Fisher
- 1. M. Lenihan, Limerick, its Hist. and Antiquities, 707.
- 2. Hist. Irish Parl. ii. 274-5; vi. 115-16, 293-4, 298-9, 465-7; HP Commons, 1790-1820, v. 447-9; PRO NI, Leslie mss MIC606/3/J/7/21/4.
- 3. The Times, 17 Feb.; General Advertiser and Limerick Gazette, 29 Feb., 24 Mar., 11, 14 Apr., 7 July 1820.
- 4. Limerick Evening Post, 8 Nov. 1831; Limerick Herald, 17, 24 Dec. 1832.
- 5. Add. 40298, f. 27; 40405, f. 127; 40408, f. 19; 40508, ff. 83-86.
- 6. Add. 43250, ff. 169-73; CP, vi. 29.
- 7. Add. 43256, ff. 93-98.
- 8. The Times, 23 Oct. 1865; Gent. Mag. (1865), ii. 797.