MOSLEY, Sir Oswald, 2nd Bt. (1785-1871), of Rolleston Hall, Staffs.

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



1806 - 1807
27 July 1807 - 1812
3 Feb. 1817 - 1818

Family and Education

b. 27 Mar. 1785, 1st s. of Oswald Mosley of Bolesworth Castle, Cheshire by Elizabeth, da. and h. of Rev. Thomas Tonman, rector of Little Budworth, Cheshire. educ. Rugby 1799-1802; Brasenose, Oxf. 1802-6. m. 31 Jan. 1804, Sophia Anne, da. of Sir Edward Every, 8th Bt., of Egginton, Derbys., 3s. 7da. suc. fa. 1789, gdfa. Sir John Parker Mosley of Ancoats, Lancs. and Rolleston, Staffs. as 2nd Bt. 29 Sept. 1798.

Offices Held

Sheriff, Staffs. 1814-15.


Mosley’s grandfather, a struggling Manchester hatter, came of a cadet branch of the well known local family and succeeded to the family properties, including the manor of Manchester and Rolleston, and obtained the renewal of the baronetcy in 1781. His father, who purchased Bolesworth near Chester, died when Mosley was four, as did his mother. Brought up by his pious grandfather at Rolleston, he succeeded him while still a minor. His Manchester property alone was worth ‘near £10,000 a year’.1

After a university education which he thought of little value, Mosley aspired to a seat in Parliament. He ‘received assurances’ of support from some of the Grenville ministry’s friends at Lancaster before the election of 1806, but left it too late. Instead he purchased, for £4,000, a seat for an Irish borough placed at Treasury disposal. He gave a silent support to the ministry, voting for Brand’s motion critical of their successors, 9 Apr., and, it seems, for Lyttelton’s on 15 Apr., since Lord Howick referred to ‘the handsome support he had given us in the late divisions’ when Mosley was in quest of another seat at the election of 1807. He had hoped to come in on a vacancy at Lancaster earlier that year, substituting another friend of the Grenville ministry for Portarlington, but nothing came of it. He was encouraged by Fremantle, Grenville’s patronage secretary at the Treasury, to offer himself at Stafford, and Howick informed Sheridan, who wanted his son to come in there, that he could not discourage Mosley. He was defeated there and was provided instead with a seat for Winchelsea, on the interest of Lord Darlington, who had quizzed Howick as to ‘whether Sir Oswell Mozley’s [sic] vote and general lines of politics were considered as friendly to the late administration’.2

Mosley was certainly a supporter of the opposition and so the Whigs classed him in 1810. He was in the minorities against the Copenhagen expedition, 3 and 8 Feb. 1808; among the advanced Whigs who supported Whitbread’s plea for peace, 29 Feb.; in the minorities of 3 Mar., critical of the orders in council and Giffard’s Irish appointment; against the mutiny bill, 14 Mar.; against Duigenan’s appointment to the Irish privy council, 11 May, and in favour of Catholic relief, 25 May 1808. He was opposed to the convention of Cintra, 21 Feb. 1809. He was in the three minorities against the Duke of York, 15-17 Mar., and in his first venture in debate, 14 Apr. 1809, confirmed Sir Francis Burdett’s allegations about the abuses at Chelsea Hospital implicating the duke’s secretary Col. John Willoughby Gordon. His motion for a committee of inquiry was defeated on 5 May by 170 votes to 73. Meanwhile he voted for inquiry into corruption in other instances implicating ministers, 25 Apr., 1 and 11 May 1809. He voted steadily against Perceval’s ministry January-March 1810, and against Burdett’s committal to the Tower, 5 Apr. He next emerged in opposition to the adjournment, 29 Nov. 1810, and on the Regency bill, 1 Jan. 1811. His only further appearance that session was a notable recantation of his hostility to the Duke of York: he applauded his reinstatement as commander-in-chief of the army, 6 June. On 18 Feb. 1812 he advocated the extension of the Nottingham preservation of the peace bill to Derbyshire, in view of the Luddite activities there. He voted for Turton’s censure motion, 27 Feb., and for Catholic relief, 24 Apr., but was otherwise inactive that session.

Mosley was left without a seat in 1812. He had declined to stand again at Stafford in November 1811, providing an opening for Sheridan, who described him as ‘a party friend and a friend to the Catholic rights’. They subsequently fell out over £1,000 supplied by Mosley for Sheridan’s election fund.3 Mosley remained out of the House until 1817. He was returned by Lord Carrington, as a substitute for Viscount Mahon*, for Midhurst (Carrington’s brother George Smith* had married Mosley’s father’s sister). His politics remained those of opposition, by fits and starts. He was in their minorities on the composition of the finance committee, 7 Feb., and against the suspension of habeas corpus, 26, 28 Feb. 1817. On 7 Mar. he commented on the application of the poor rates at Manchester, denying that the landowners were at a disadvantage compared with the commercial interest in their rate burden. He voted for departmental retrenchment by government, 29 Apr., and paired against ministers on Canning’s embassy to Lisbon, 6 May. He had on 2 May seconded Bennet’s motion to prosecute Rev. Thomas Thirlwall for a gross libel on the House. On 7 May he presented a London cotton merchants’ petition for relief from foreign competition. He voted for Catholic relief, 9 May. He took leaves of absence for the rest of the session. On 9 Feb. 1818 he deprecated Wilberforce’s readiness to concur in an award to the Spanish government of £400,000 compensation for giving up the slave trade in her dominions. He was an abolitionist, but took the view that Spain and her colonies would soon part company, so that compensation was a waste of money; nor was it for England to teach Spain humanity. He divided the House, but was defeated by 56 votes to 4. He voted against the ministerial employment of spies and informers against sedition, 5 Mar. 1818, his last known gesture in that Parliament; but report had it that he ‘and several others’, stayed away from the divisions on the indemnity bill that month, disillusioned with their own side’s management of the question.4

Mosley was out of the House until he became a county Member in 1832. He remained a ‘staunch Whig’ and a typical country gentleman, but professed himself dissatisfied with his parliamentary career in his memoirs:

on none of these occasions was he enabled to effect the good which he had too eagerly expected as the result of his pursuits, and with the single exception of having been thereby introduced to many talented and a few pious men, he found that the rest of his anticipations ended in nothing but vanity and vexation of spirit.5

He died 24 May 1871.

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: R. G. Thorne


Based on his Family Mems. (1849).

  • 1. Grey mss, Fremantle to Howick, 29 Dec. 1806.
  • 2. Lonsdale mss, Grenville to Lowther, 27 Dec. 1806; HMC Fortescue, viii. 62; NLS mss 12918, Fremantle to Elliot, 7, 10 Nov.; Lonsdale mss, Grenville to Lowther, 27 Dec. 1806; Sheridan Letters ed. Price, iii. 6, 7; Grey mss, Howick to Sheridan, Fri. [1 May], Darlington to Howick, 14 June 1807.
  • 3. Staffs, Advertiser, 16 Nov. 1811; Sheridan Letters, iii. 135-6.
  • 4. Buckingham, Regency, ii. 237.
  • 5. Dyott’s Diary, ii. 117, 132, 150; Mosley, Family Mems. 76.