FOLEY, Thomas (1778-1822), of Newport House, Almeley, Herefs.
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Family and Education
b. 19 July 1778, o.s. of Hon. Andrew Foley* of Newport House. educ. Westminster 1795; Christ Church, Oxf. 1796; L. Inn 1800. unm. suc. fa. 1818.
Capt. Herefs. militia 1803, maj. 1804, lt.-col. 1805.
Foley came in for Droitwich on the family interest, taking his seat on 5 Feb. 1805 as his father’s colleague. Like him a Whig, he voted against Pitt’s defence measures, 21 Feb. and 6 Mar. 1805, against the salt tax, 4 Mar., and in the majorities against Melville, 8 Apr. and 12 June. He was listed ‘Opposition’ in July. He supported the Grenville ministry, voting for their repeal of the Additional Force Act, 30 Apr. 1806, and for Brand’s motion against their successors, 9 Apr. 1807. He was also among the ‘staunch friends’ of the abolition of the slave trade.
In 1807 Foley was returned unopposed for Herefordshire where his family was prominent in the Whig interest. It had been anticipated that he would be returned the previous year, but his father’s ‘unaccountable conduct’ and the proverbial irresolution of his family caused him to withdraw then, probably to avoid a contest.1 He joined the opposition in the divisions of 26 June and 6 July 1807 and next day voted for investigation of pensions and places on Cochrane’s motion. In his first known speech, 13 May 1808, he approved the local militia bill as ‘very fair’, as it ‘went to call upon those counties to do their duty, who had not furnished their proportion of volunteers’. He voted for the Irish Catholic relief petition, 25 May 1808. He was in the minorities critical of the Duke of York, 15-17 Mar., and spoke and voted for Folkestone’s motion for a general inquiry into abuses, 17 Apr., and Hamilton’s motion on ministerial corruption, 25 Apr. 1809. He voted against the address, 23 Jan. 1810, and after being absent on 26 Jan.2 joined opposition on the Scheldt question, 23 Feb., 5 and 30 Mar., breaking a leave of absence to give the last of these votes. He ‘entered into a very able justification’ of Sir Francis Burdett in opposing his imprisonment, 5 Apr., and voted for parliamentary reform, 21 May 1810, but he could not be rallied to an extra-parliamentary meeting to promote constitutional reform in 1811. He was an opponent of the Regency bill, 1 and 21 Jan. 1811. He voted for Morpeth’s critical motion on Ireland, 4 Feb., for Turton’s censure motion, 27 Feb., for Catholic relief, 24 Apr., and for sinecure reform, 4 May 1812. On 21 May he voted for a stronger administration. On 1 July he opposed the leather tax and on 3 July favoured inquiry into the state of Lancaster gaol.
Foley supported Catholic relief throughout 1813 and paired in favour of it in 1816. He voted for Burdett’s Regency motion, 23 Feb. 1813. On 5 Mar. he helped to thwart an attempt by interested parties to amend the Brecon-Abergavenny Canal Act. He denounced the leather tax, 18 May 1813. He voted against the blockade of Norway, 12 May 1814. On 19 Apr. 1815 he seconded the opposition attack on the property tax on the grounds that hostilities against Buonaparte should not be resumed in view of the French preference for him and the burden on the landed interest of the tax. He voted against the war, and for retrenchment in the next two sessions. On 8 Mar. 1816 he attacked the army estimates, stressing the need for ‘constitutional jealousy’ of a standing army: he had on 4 Mar. presented a petition from Leominster against the tax burden which specifically denounced the Military Club on the same grounds. He paired against the suspension of habeas corpus in February 1817 and was still pairing on 29 Apr., after which his only known vote in that Parliament was against Canning’s Lisbon embassy, 6 May 1817. According to Robert Price, 21 Feb. 1818, ‘Foley our Whig Member is very ill, though I still think he is likely to live some time, perhaps some years, longer, though never I fear again to enjoy health’.3 He retired in Price’s favour that year, when a contest was certain.
Foley resumed his seat for Droitwich, following his father’s death, in February 1819. On 22 Feb. he paired and on 25 Feb. voted against the Windsor establishment. He paired in favour of criminal law reform, 2 Mar., voted for Admiralty retrenchment, 18 Mar., for burgh reform, 6 May, and for Tierney’s censure motion, 18 May. He voted steadily against the foreign enlistment bill in June and for reform on Burdett’s motion, 1 July. That autumn when he was presented with a piece of plate by his Herefordshire friends, Robert Price reported ‘he is ... a little of a Burdettite’.4 He voted against the address, 24 Nov. 1819, for the limitation of the seditious meetings bill to three years, 6 Dec., and on 13 Dec. against the third reading of the bill and for the exclusion of Ireland from it. He died 11 Jan. 1822.