Co. Leitrim


Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Background Information

Number of voters:

1,076 in 1784 rising to about 7,000 in 1815


1801NATHANIEL CLEMENTS, Visct. Clements 
24 July 1802NATHANIEL CLEMENTS, Visct. Clements779
 Theophilus Jones389
5 Feb. 1805 HENRY JOHN CLEMENTS vice Clements, become a peer of Ireland 
 Thomas White365
30 Oct. 1812JOHN LATOUCHE II2961
 Luke White1342
15 July 1818JOHN LATOUCHE II2379
 Henry John Clements1465

Main Article

Leitrim, a predominantly Catholic county, was not popular as a residential area among the gentry and few of the landlords with significant electoral interests in the county lived there. This was the case with the earls of Leitrim (Clements); their cousins the Clements of Ashfield Lodge, Cavan; the Dublin banking family of Latouche; the Wynnes of Sligo and the Coates of Jamestown, who, since they resided elsewhere in Ireland, were, in effect, absentees.1 The only family that had a ‘resident’ electoral interest of any significance were the Gores of Woodford.

At the general election in 1802 Lord Clements was re-elected on Leitrim’s interest, but Latouche drove the long-serving Jones into third place, the latter having predicted his defeat in the event of a poll.2 At the by-election in 1805 the Castle forecast another contest, on this occasion between Leitrim’s cousin, Clements, and William Gore, whose father had represented the county and who had evidently secured the Latouche interest and was then a.d.c. to the lord lieutenant, Hardwicke. Despite a ‘most flattering reception’ on his arrival in the constituency, Gore declined in deference to the opinion of his friends ‘that my pretensions should yield to those of the gentleman whom we elected’. A year later, at the 1806 election, a contest did materialize. On 22 Oct. Luke White announced the candidature of his eldest son, Thomas. White was a wealthy Dublin speculator who either possessed, or intended to possess, property in Leitrim. His son, he said, was expected in Ireland immediately and was soon to become a resident in Leitrim. On 23 Oct. Latouche issued his address and this was followed on the 27th by one from Clements. Two days later Gore heard that Latouche had declined and he immediately declared his own candidature, in an address from Brighton. Latouche’s retirement, the reasons for which were and still are a mystery, disappointed the Castle officials who, in view of the politics of Clements and Gore, were obliged to support White. Clements and Gore, however, were elected.3

Both Clements and Gore supported the government formed by the Duke of Portland in April 1807 and at the subsequent election in May were challenged by two candidates in the opposition interest: John Latouche, the ex-Member’s nephew, and Luke White. This conflict also produced a fifth candidate in Leitrim’s brother, Robert Clotworthy Clements, who hoped to become his cousin’s colleague. The Castle naturally supported the sitting Members, although Gore argued that this was of little practical significance, as government influence extended to no more than three Leitrim landlords, one of whom was a man of insignificant property. Leitrim, on the other hand, was still a landowner of real influence and his decision to support Latouche (‘his being of the same political principles’) settled the matter. Robert Clements, White and Gore all declined, the latter claiming that he had been abandoned by those ‘who professed to support Gore’ and by the Catholic interest, ‘which before always went with me’ and which had presumably been transferred to Latouche on this occasion.4

Lord Leitrim’s opposition principles proved to be of growing significance in the constituency. In 1812 he supported Latouche and Luke White against his cousin Henry. The lord lieutenant, the Duke of Richmond, commented:

It is natural that he should support Mr Latouche who used to fight the battle of his brother, Mr R. Clements, but he certainly has no business to support Mr L. White who could not get a Leitrim gentleman to propose him and was proposed by a person having no property in the county. Mr White was attended to the hustings by a number of priests but no gentlemen of the county.5

On that occasion Clements split the two Whig candidates in a high poll which no doubt reflected a rise in the temperature of Leitrim politics. In 1818, however, he was left in third place and for the first time in this period Leitrim was represented by two Whig opposition Members. Clements unsuccessfully petitioned the House alleging that White had secured his election through extensive bribery.6 It is certainly true that White spent lavishly (he was said to have spent £200,000 on his various elections), but it is also likely that his success was indicative of a growing Catholic interest in the constituency.

Author: P. J. Jupp


  • 1. Oldfield, Rep. Hist. vi. 238; Add. 40248, f. 383.
  • 2. Add. 35732, ff. 254, 296.
  • 3. Add. 35751, ff. 202-3a; Dublin Evening Post, 25 Nov. 1806; HMC Fortescue, viii. 399, 440.
  • 4. Belfast News Letter, 5 May; Wellington mss, Gore to Wellesley, 29 Apr., Wellesley to abp. of Tuam, 2 May, to Thompson, 5 May, to Gore, 19 May 1807.
  • 5. NLI, Richmond mss 62/483.
  • 6. CJ, lxxiv. 18.