TIERNEY, George (1761-1830), of Hertford Street, Grafton Street and Old Burlington Street, Mdx.

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



6 Apr. 1789 - 1790
21 Dec. 1796 - 1806
1806 - 1807
3 Aug. 1807 - 1812
29 Dec. 1812 - 1818
1818 - 25 Jan. 1830

Family and Education

b. 20 Mar. 1761, 3rd s. of Thomas Tierney of Limerick, prize agent at Gibraltar, by w. Sabina (d. 23 July 1806). educ. Boteler’s, Warrington;1 Eton 1776; Peterhouse, Camb. 1778; L. Inn 1780, called 1784. m. 9 July 1789, Anna Maria, da. of Michael Miller of Bristol, Glos., 1s. 3da.

Offices Held

Treasurer of navy June 1803-May 1804; PC 1 June 1803; pres. Board of Control Oct. 1806-Apr. 1807; master of Mint May 1827-Feb. 1828.

Lt.-col. commdt. Loyal Southwark vols. 1803-4, Somerset Place vols. 1803-4.


Unsuccessful contests in 1790 at Wootton Bassett and Colchester, and an abortive petition against the return at the latter, cost Tierney, who joined the Whig Club in 1791, far more than the £1,000 which he apparently received from opposition funds. His subsequent activities as co-treasurer of the Association of the Friends of the People, for whose Report on the state of the parliamentary representation (1793) he was primarily responsible, gained him the friendship of Charles Grey* and some notoriety as a devotee of French republican principles. In 1796, ‘Citizen’ Tierney, financed by public subscription, contested Southwark with a slogan of ‘peace and reform against war and corruption’. Though beaten at the poll by his niece’s husband, a wealthy banker who had provided him with City investments, he lodged a petition for which he was his own counsel and had the election declared void. He was again defeated at the consequent by-election, but this time his petition was completely successful.2

He voted steadily against government in 1797 and spoke occasionally, without distinguishing himself. He attended the Crown and Anchor parliamentary reform meeting, 18 May, and gave a silent vote for Grey’s reform motion, 26 May. He was perfectly frank in his opposition to the Foxite secession, which he did his best to prevent. In refusing to participate, he was motivated primarily by the precariousness of his hold on an unreliable seat, but he also considered it an indefensible abrogation of responsibility. In the House, 7 Nov. 1797, he announced that he had ‘a general retainer for the whole session’ to oppose Pitt, and during the next three years he established himself as the government’s most formidable adversary in the Commons. With his good head for figures and skill in the argumentative deployment of detail, he was at his best on financial questions. He vigorously fought the triple assessment in December 1797 and the income tax a year later, and constantly sniped at Pitt on the currency and related matters. On 20 June 1799 he presented a series of resolutions on the financial state of the country, thereby initiating an annual ritual which he sustained until 1803. His motion to limit the duration of the income tax, 5 June 1800, was defeated by 114 votes to 24.3

Tierney retreated from his advanced position on reform, though he advocated householder suffrage and shorter parliaments, 4 Jan. 1798, and, more vaguely, ‘temperate reform’, 19 Apr. 1799. On 20 Apr. 1798 he went so far as to support the suspension of habeas corpus, at the cost of much subsequent embarrassment. He tried to make amends by opposing its continuation at the end of the year. Behind his retrogression lay disillusionment with developments in France and the realization of a naturally cautious man that there was no future in heretical extremism. He turned to economical reform, attacking the third secretaryship of state, 7 Nov. and 15 Dec. 1797, royal exemption from taxation, 5 Jan. 1798, and the excesses of the civil list, 8 and 11 Mar. 1799. When he strayed from his favourite financial ground he sometimes floundered. Mutual recrimination over the naval augmentation bill, 25 May 1798, led to his fighting a bloodless duel with Pitt; and his peace motion of 11 Dec. 1798, presented in a diffident speech which was shredded by Canning, was negatived without a division. Opposition to the Irish union and, above all, to what he condemned as an ideological crusade to restore the Bourbons, dominated his parliamentary activities in 1800.

Lord Holland noted that during the secession Tierney ‘obtained and deserved great credit for his knowledge in finance, for a plain yet lively and agreeable style of speaking, for good sense in business, great quickness in repartee, and pleasant manners in society’. On the debit side, he lost much of his credibility with the popular elements on whom he depended for his seat; and, more important to a man whose limited resources made it essential that he should win the confidence of a party with safe seats, if not offices, at its disposal, he seriously damaged himself in the eyes of many Foxite Whigs. Even Holland and Grey, who remained friendly, were inclined to blame him for ruining the effects of secession. He found a sympathetic confidante in Lady Holland, but overplayed his hand with her by deluding himself that her interest in him was sexual. Her comment on his political ‘unsteadiness’ was fair. The contradiction between his innate caution and his boldness in action when he saw a chance of success accounts for much that was erratic in his career; but he was undeniably a pragmatist, almost always prepared to adapt principles to circumstances, and during the secession he was searching for the likeliest avenue to political and personal security.4

Tierney’s hope that steadfastness on the part of the parliamentary opposition would evoke a popular response soon evaporated and in the autumn of 1798 he announced that he could no longer act with the Whigs as a party. Individualism proved equally futile, and in 1800 he tried to execute a scheme, which he had long been suspected of entertaining, to seduce Grey and the seceders away from Fox and back into active politics. He denied any such intention in September, but two months later he rejoiced in Fox’s transfer of the leadership to Grey and welcomed the plan to revamp the opposition. He became vociferous in the House, moving for inquiry into the state of the nation, 27 Nov. 1800, and calling for Pitt’s resignation, 2 Feb. 1801; but when Grey persuaded Fox to attend for his proposed censure motion, Tierney rashly declared his intention of staying away ‘unless Fox gave a pledge of his future attendance’. A report of this, embellished by the jealous Sheridan, reached Grey, and he and Tierney had a fierce quarrel. Fox, who had little time for Tierney, dismissed his stipulations as ‘excessive impertinence’. On the King’s illness in February 1801 Tierney, who was expected by one Foxite to be ‘open-mouthed at the loaves and fishes’, brought together Lansdowne and Lord Moira as a preliminary to the Whigs’ cabinet-making, but the departure of Fox and his cronies on the King’s recovery exposed his isolation and frustration. He renounced all allegiance to Fox, voted for Grey’s motion, 25 Mar. 1801, but did not speak, and drifted to the Carlton House ‘reversionary’ group. Their discontent with Fox, the survival of his friendship with Grey, the removal of Pitt and the prospect of peace presented Tierney with some interesting possibilities in April 1801, for all the difficulties of his position.5

He opposed Addington’s repressive legislation, but his most trenchant criticism—on his motion for information supposed to reveal Dundas’s incompetence as war minister, 22 Apr., and on the indemnity bill, 27 May—was aimed retrospectively at Pitt. George Rose already suspected him of flirting with Addington, and The Times of 27 June commented pointedly on his publicly expressed intention of giving the new ministers a fair trial. He thought the preliminary peace terms degrading, but was determined to support them in the House. When Addington, seeking to detach individuals from opposition, approached him early in October 1801 Tierney, fortified by the Prince’s approval, responded eagerly. Grey refused to be drawn by his hints, which were spiced with denigration of Fox, but Moira and Lord Bute were more co-operative. The outcome was a scheme by which Tierney, having rejected the mastership of the Mint as a discreditable sinecure, was to be sole paymaster with £3,000 and a house, immediate cabinet places were to be found for Moira and Lord Thurlow and early provision made for Grey and the Duke of Bedford. To Tierney’s chagrin, Grey refused to parley. Moira’s aversion to serving with the Duke of Portland was an insuperable obstacle, yet he kept the negotiations alive. His correspondence testifies more to his ambition for advancement than to his ability to read a political situation, and reveals an unmistakable desire to have the best of both worlds by securing office and retaining at least the goodwill of Grey and his associates. He severely tried Grey’s patience and consistently evaded giving straight answers when taxed on the question of dereliction of principle. The negotiations collapsed at the end of January 1802, but Tierney professed satisfaction with the situation: ‘My only present object is to keep the door open and to avoid being pressed too much to walk in. As yet I occupy precisely the situation I like, and upon the terms I desire to hold it.’ In truth, it had become clear that if he was to join Addington he must do so virtually alone, and his nerve had failed.6

In the House, 8 Feb. 1802, Tierney attacked Pitt and pledged support for Addington as long as he continued ‘to act right’. Addington’s failure to speak out caused bad blood between him and Pitt, and Tierney reflected smugly that the incident had ‘created plenty of political speculation’. He thought fresh overtures might be made to opposition, but did not wish to commit himself to defend the peace treaty, on which he feared ministers would fare badly. Lansdowne advised him ‘to take a very active part in the House without any regard for persons, and to pay court only to public opinion’. He considered this line ‘good enough in theory, but not very easily reducible in practice, unless I could make up my mind to spend the remainder of the session in boiling hot water’. It was rumoured that he would turn against government, but he remained hesitant, and late in March 1802 Grey found him ‘in flat despair’ and undecided what part to take in the civil list issue. In the event, 29 Mar., he disputed Fox’s argument that the motion to discharge the debt was unconstitutional, but moved, unsuccessfully, for prior inquiry. Two days later he supported the Prince’s claims to the revenues of the duchy of Cornwall. Soon afterwards it was reported that he was ‘quite off all negotiation with the present people’. He supported Nicholls’s motion celebrating the removal of Pitt, 7 May, and refused to accept the ministerial amendment to Windham’s condemnation of the peace treaty, 14 May, as it tended to justify the war. On 3 June he advised Addington not to meddle with Pitt’s system of handling the sinking fund, and on 17 June presented his finance resolutions. Reviewing the session, Addington reflected that ‘Tierney’s conduct has not been marked either by amity, or hostility’. His political shifts provoked some discontent in Southwark, where he was given an uncomfortable time at the general election before finishing second in the poll. Grey was disgusted by his performance and his refusal to take subscriptions from Foxites. Immediately afterwards he publicly attacked the Whig Club, and Fox in particular.7

Tierney returned from a visit to France convinced that Buonaparte was bent on a renewal of hostilities and that the country must rapidly be put on a war footing, but he took no part in the debates of November 1802. His only major speeches of the session were for inquiry into Bank restriction, 7 Feb., and into the Prince’s financial claims, 4 Mar. 1803. He approved Sheridan’s speech in favour of the increased defence vote, 8 Dec. 1802, not least because it diverted some of the Foxite wrath from himself. He denied reports that he was in negotiation with Addington, but he may have lied, for on 10 Dec. 1802 the Prince’s confidant John McMahon told the Duke of Northumberland that Tierney was soon to become president of the India Board. A month later Moira wrote to McMahon of his impatience with Addington’s ‘smirking courtesy’ and of his attempt to force the issue through a letter to Tierney, to which he had had no reply, pressing him to demand from Addington an unequivocal declaration of intent. Grey, who shared Fox’s contempt for the ‘wrongheadedness’ of Tierney’s warlike views, observed that ‘he has no opinions of his own, and a man who is always speculating upon effect, must be involved in frequent absurdities and contradictions’. By April Tierney thought war inevitable and was certain ‘where I shall be in the day of battle’, though not sure whether Addington would survive it. Accordingly, he voted with government against Grey’s attempt to prevent the three-day adjournment, 6 May, and in support of the address on the resumption of hostilities, 24 May 1803. A few days later, to his undisguised delight, he concluded his bargain with Addington by becoming treasurer of the navy.8

The appointment did not enhance his political credit. It was resented by the followers of Pitt, both inside and outside the government. According to Lord Redesdale, the introduction of the war budget was originally postponed until Tierney had been reelected, but his return was bitterly contested by a Pittite. Richard Fitzpatrick reported that he was ‘worried to death’, while other Foxites, disgusted with Tierney, reflected that it was lucky for his reputation that he was absent when the unpopular budget was unveiled. He defended the property tax, 13 July, and ‘censured’ Pitt ‘for condemning ministers for those measures of which he had set the example’.9 Aware that if Pitt, Fox and Grenville coalesced the ministry was doomed, Tierney made approaches to Moira and, through him, to Grey, but without success. Samuel Whitbread found him ‘very smug and comfortable’ at the end of the year, but he was virtually silent in the House in the early part of the new session and his unease was a source of gratification to his enemies. He roused himself to combat the combined attack on Addington, but fell prey to charges of treachery from his former associates. Speaking against Wrottesley’s motion on the Irish insurrection, 7 Mar. 1804, he mocked the ‘specious’ unanimity of the anti-ministerial forces and defended his own conduct. According to William Wilberforce, only the ‘old liking’ which Grey retained for Tierney moderated his rejoinder. He led for government against Pitt’s motion for a naval inquiry, 15 Mar., but the ‘splenetic sarcasm’ of his speech was generally deplored. He did better when opposing Fox’s call for inquiry into the national defences, 23 Apr., and defiantly asserted that ‘he was perfectly satisfied with the conduct of ministers’ and would ‘always look back on his connexion with them with satisfaction’.10

Although Pitt was willing to keep him on, Tierney resigned with Addington, probably hoping for short-term political gains from the King’s uncertain health and the weakness of the new ministry. He was reckoned one of the Carlton House group in the government list of May 1804, when Grey noted that he was ‘very well with the Prince’, and he opposed Pitt’s additional force bill in June. When Pitt sought to dissolve the potential rival court at Carlton House by effecting a reconciliation between the Prince and the King and taking in Moira, Tierney saw his chance. The personal reward held out for his services as go-between was the Irish secretaryship. The postponement of the royal reunion in August led him to decline the offer, but the situation remained open throughout the autumn. In trying to separate the Prince from opposition and attach him to Pitt, Tierney seems to have been primarily motivated by personal considerations. The Prince’s continuing loyalty to Fox made his own position at Carlton House precarious in the long term, and he could not expect much personal profit from the formation of a genuinely broad-bottomed ministry. When the negotiations collapsed late in November, he was left in a delicate position, for his intrigues had excited further anger among both Foxites and Grenvillites. The Irish secretaryship was still available to him, but he declined it after consulting the Prince, who made it plain that acceptance would finish him at Carlton House. Fifteen years later Grenville recorded the story of Charles Arbuthnot to the effect that Tierney had wanted to take the post and surrender his seat, presumably to avoid the embarrassment of having to defend the government in the House, but that Pitt would have none of it. Whatever the truth may be, Tierney correctly judged that it would be politically suicidal to commit himself irrevocably to Pitt at this juncture.11

On Addington’s junction with Pitt in December 1804 Tierney was reported to be disappointed at not being approached, and the pleasure which he was shortly afterwards claiming to take in the event may have reflected a hope that it would eventually afford him an opening. Rose expected him to stay with the Prince, but Sheridan considered that he was ‘very cold and reserved towards Tierney’. He took no part in the opposition to Pitt in the House in February 1805, and seemed to Lord Archibald Hamilton ‘to be quite hors de combat’; but he spoke in favour of continuing the naval inquiry, 1 Mar., and for the repeal of the Additional Force Act, 6 Mar., participated in the hounding of Melville and repelled counter-attacks on St. Vincent’s naval administration, 1 and 3 July. In the government list of July 1805 he was classed as ‘doubtful Opposition’. When Lord Sidmouth resigned, Tierney began to curry favour with him and to spread exaggerated accounts of his merits and parliamentary strength at both Carlton House and Holland House, but towards the end of 1805 he was suspected by the Grenvilles of flirting again with Pitt.12

Although some of the retiring ministers assumed that Tierney would be included in the new arrangement, and the independent Henry Bankes considered him ‘too valuable a debater to be left afloat’, no place was found for him on the formation of the ‘Talents’. The Prince pressed his claims, and the Ordnance was mentioned, but it was understood that as a privy councillor he would find it unacceptable. The likeliest possibility to emerge was the Irish chancellorship of the exchequer. While Thomas Grenville* thought he ought to be accommodated, Fox, partly for personal reasons, partly because of Tierney’s reported admission that he had ‘no claim whatever on any part of the government’, was not inclined to uphold his pretensions against the decided hostility of Lords Grenville and Spencer. Despite a rather mysterious intrigue by Sheridan to force him in at the last minute, nothing came of the matter, beyond a worsening of Tierney’s relations with Sheridan, Carlton House and Sidmouth, who forecast, incorrectly, that he would fly off into opposition.13 He took little part in general debate, but voted for the repeal of the Additional Force Act, 30 Apr. 1806. On 10 Mar. he introduced an election treating bill, designed to reduce the expense of contested elections by prohibiting all expenditure by candidates on electors and so encourage the return of ‘men of moderate fortune, independent principles, liberal education, and sound understanding’, as distinct from rich adventurers. It got a second reading, 21 Mar., by 73 votes to 17, and survived the committee stage, but went down by 42 to 17 on its third reading, 9 June, when the hostility of Fox, who contended that it would in practice disfranchise many 40s. freeholders, proved decisive.

Tierney, who was thought to have pretensions, encouraged by the Prince, to the Speakership, declined the governorship of the Cape in April and a special mission to Lisbon in August 1806. In the reshuffle following Fox’s death, which removed a major obstacle to his advancement, he was brought in as president of the Board of Control, thanks largely to the influence of Grey and Holland. Moreover, as Charles Williams Wynn explained, 14 Apr. 1808, he was ‘a most efficient man of business and the best speaker of detail in the House’, and ‘was thought to have expiated his desertion from Fox in 1803 by his refusal of the offers which were made to him by Pitt’s subsequent administration, and by his adherence and support previous to his appointment’. He had little chance to make an impact on Indian affairs, but Canning was to assert in the House, 14 Mar. 1822, that never in his time had the office been so efficiently discharged. His advice, attributed by Holland to exaggerated fears of the strength of opposition and a desire to undercut Sidmouth’s authority by terminating the 1802 Parliament, accelerated Grenville’s decision to dissolve in October 1806. Ironically Tierney himself, to the malicious delight of his enemies, was one of the chief sufferers, being defeated at Southwark after an expensive contest. Grenville asked the Duke of Bedford to accommodate him at Camelford, but he was unable to oblige, and he was eventually returned for Athlone through a government bargain with the patron. His career as a political freelance was over.14

Tierney, who took the orthodox line over the failure of the government’s peace negotiations and made partisan speeches on the Hampshire election, 13 Feb., and the budget, 16 Feb. 1807, soon established himself as an unofficial whip and party factotum. On the fall of the ‘Talents’ he wrongly predicted a majority for Brand’s motion condemning the ministerial pledge, 9 Apr. 1807. His speech in support of Lyttelton’s motion on the change of administration, 15 Apr., when he asserted that ‘the removal of the late ministers was the result of a long and dark intrigue’, was described by Grey as ‘excellent’. He was largely responsible for management of the opposition’s fortunes in the 1807 election, but did not escape complaints that he was ‘invisible’ and found himself once more without a seat. Lord Grenville and Tom Grenville asked their brother Lord Buckingham to help him, but he could not or would not oblige. Nor could Bedford assist, and nothing came of rumours that Tierney might chance his arm at Chichester, or of Holland’s suggestion that Lord Carrington might have something to offer. It was not until August that he was provided for at Bandon, through the good offices of the Duke of Devonshire.15

Tierney, now out of favour at Carlton House, looked to the formation of an efficient, fighting opposition, to be remodelled from the Grenvillite right if the wilder elements proved uncontrollable. Grey’s removal to the Lords in November and the difficulties attending the selection of a suitable Commons leader depressed him, but he promised Grey a determined personal effort to promote unity and, after initial reluctance, he worked hard to beat up support for George Ponsonby* as Grey’s successor. He was still worried by the likelihood of disagreement over measures, and particularly by Whitbread’s resentful attitude to Grey, of which Grey himself was largely ignorant. His attempt to propitiate Whitbread in December was ill-judged, and the consequence, a bitter letter of complaint against Grey, shocked him. He would perhaps have done better to have followed his original plan to leave the problem to be tackled verbally by Grey when he came to town, but his gesture, made under Grey’s general injunction to mollify Whitbread, was well intentioned, and in the last analysis it was Grey who was at fault for passing the buck.16

After a satisfactory conference with Grenville, Tierney began the session vigorously, condemning the Copenhagen expedition, 28 Jan. and 8 Feb., demanding inquiry into Bank restriction, 10 Feb., and defending the Constantinople expedition, 15 Feb. 1808. On 24 Feb. he moved for inquiry into trade and navigation, hoping thereby to expose the orders in council to full scrutiny and, though defeated by 118 votes to 55, he pursued the question doggedly throughout March, winning Grey’s commendation for his efforts. Grey was less happy with his handling of Whitbread early in the session, though he admitted that Whitbread was provocative. Tierney voted with Ponsonby against Whitbread’s third peace resolution, 29 Feb. On 16 Mar. he had an abrasive clash with Speaker Abbot, whom he accused of partiality. Charles Long told Abbot that Grey subsequently rebuked Tierney, who ‘had played his cards ill with all parties, and seemed to be now in an extraordinary degree of ill humour’. The matter was resolved when, after explanations, a resolution of confidence in Abbot was carried by acclamation over the disgruntled Tierney’s lone dissentient voice. He argued consistently against the adulteration of Bankes’s reversions bill in April. Soon afterwards, nettled by Whitbread’s truculence and frustrated by the feebleness of the nominal leaders, he told Grey that, thanks to Ponsonby, the party in the Commons was ‘completely disbanded’; but he soldiered on to the end of the session, joining in the opposition campaign on the Catholic issue and concluding his exertions with a powerful speech in support of Palmer’s claims to post office revenues, 23 June 1808.17

Tierney was untouched by the enthusiasm of some members of the party at the turn of events in Spain and maintained a pessimistic tone on Peninsular affairs throughout the autumn. He shared Whig annoyance at the Irish Catholic hierarchy’s renunciation of the veto but, unlike most of his leading colleagues, who were inclined to shelve the problem, favoured an attempt to reach a private understanding with the bishops, to avert a revival of the issue at a politically embarrassing moment. Yet he does not seem to have followed his inclination to take it up personally with Lord Fingall. Appalled by Whig disarray in the Commons, he told Grey frankly that Ponsonby had failed and, with Whitbread’s approval, suggested his replacement by Lord Henry Petty. Grey agreed that Ponsonby was incompetent but could not bring himself to act and Tierney dropped the matter. Frustrated by his awareness of the almost certain inability of the opposition to make an effective attack on a weak ministry, despite the abundance of promising issues, he tried to persuade Grey to involve himself more actively and, determined to establish at least a clear tactical understanding, he conferred with the Grenvilles in mid December. He rejected Grenville’s idea of making a declaration of ‘mitigated attendance’ as impracticable for the Commons, but eventually agreed that individuals should be left to their own devices. He recognized that the immediate consequence would be anarchy, but conceived notions, which he explained to Grey, that the deliberate destruction of the party as it stood might ultimately facilitate its reunification on common principles. Tom Grenville and Petty thought that he was going too far in the promotion of these ideas. To Whitbread he wrote more circumspectly, giving him a catalogue of gloom and hinting that it was in his power to improve matters.18

Tierney found the chaos which duly reigned on the opposition benches in 1809 less tolerable in reality than in prospect. He critically reviewed general government policy on the address, 19 Jan. On the introduction of the militia enlistment bill, 25 Jan., he tried to reserve opposition to later stages, but was unable to prevent a division forced from the back-benches or to escape before being trapped in the lobby, and had subsequently to explain that he had been compelled to vote against his wishes. Aggravated by Whitbread’s intractability on the peace issue, he replied impatiently to Grey’s suggestions, made from the tranquillity of Howick, that he should do more to conciliate him and bolster Ponsonby. He argued that it was impossible to do both at once and stated that until he was given clear instructions he would continue to co-operate with Grenville and Ponsonby and ‘endeavour only to offend those whose good opinion I think of the least consequence’. He gave a silent vote on Cintra, 21 Feb., and supported Ponsonby’s censure of Peninsular operations, 24 Feb. 1809. Although he regarded the campaign against the Duke of York with distaste, he could not resist seeing in the business, if properly handled, the glimmer of a chance to overthrow the ministry; but, with Ponsonby ineffectual, he saw no hope of imposing his views, and took no part in the affair, beyond opposing Perceval’s exculpatory motion, 17 Mar. When Whitbread and the ‘insurgents’ began to run wild on economical and parliamentary reform, Tierney took the offensive against them and tried to distinguish between the promotion of practical change and irresponsible submission to and exploitation of popular clamour. He supported the call for a new reversions bill, 24 Apr.; the censure of Castlereagh, 25 Apr.; Ord’s motion on the Dutch commissioners, 1 May; Folkestone’s amendment to the sale of offices prevention bill, 15 May, and Whitbread’s attack on placemen and pensioners, 8 June. He firmly opposed Folkestone’s call for a general inquiry into abuses, 17 Apr., and on Madocks’s charges against Perceval and Castlereagh, 11 May, he declared his continued attachment to the principle of parliamentary reform, but deprecated its agitation at present, denounced the extremists and argued that while corruption did exist, sober, piecemeal investigation was the safest method of eradicating it. Unable to secure the acceptance of an amendment to exclude Perceval from the charge, he abstained. In the debate on Curwen’s reform bill, 26 May, he described the radical Sir Francis Burdett, who had attacked him personally at a recent public meeting, as ‘a political seagull, screaming, and screeching and sputtering about foul weather which never arrived’. He supported the measure as introduced, but grew so unhappy at its emasculation by government that he opposed its third reading, 12 June, though he did not vote for Folkestone’s sarcastic amendment to the preamble. Grey commented that he had ‘done incomparably well’ in these debates and ‘raised himself very much in the public estimation’.19

Tierney was well informed about the turmoil inside the cabinet in June 1809, but he was not tempted by ‘very earnest solicitations’ to make an individual bargain with government and, with Grey’s backing, discouraged approaches for a more extensive arrangement. Before Ponsonby left for Ireland, Tierney told him that in his view the party in the Commons was ‘entirely disbanded’ and that he did not intend to resume his ‘present situation’ next year. Grey approved this, but two months later was puzzled to be told, mistakenly as it turned out, by Ponsonby’s nephew Lord Ponsonby, that his uncle had informed Grenville that he was going to give up the leadership, while Tierney insisted, so Lord Ponsonby said, that Grenville had only taken him to mean that he would no longer try to lead those who would not be led. Tierney confirmed to Grey that such was Grenville’s understanding of Ponsonby’s sentiments, but he added that Lady Holland had second-hand knowledge of a letter from Ponsonby in which he said he meant to abdicate. Although Tierney endorsed Grey’s flat refusal to treat with Perceval in September, he was sure the new government could not stand, and tried to prepare the opposition for the game which he could see afoot. He failed to get Grey to come up, but had a modicum of success in his efforts to conciliate Whitbread. His anxiety to clarify the position regarding Catholic relief involved him in an uncomfortable correspondence with Grey. He took a pragmatic view, not wishing to saddle the party with a policy which would command no popular support on either side of the water. On the veto, he wanted an unequivocal undertaking from the Irish hierarchy as to how much they would concede; and on the general issue he questioned the sense of embarking on systematic opposition if, by rigid adherence to a principle, its exponents would put the attainment of its logical object, the overthrow and replacement of government, beyond their reach. Grey and Tom Grenville suspected him of wishing to desert the basic principle to gain office and he had to provide reassurances.20

Encouraged by Grey, Tierney renewed his advances to Whitbread with a proposal that Petty or Lord George Cavendish should replace Ponsonby. He was rebuffed, and indeed had little chance of success, with Whitbread under the mischievous influence of Thomas Creevey, who suspected ‘Mrs Cole’ (his nickname for Tierney, drawn from a brothel-keeper in Samuel Foote’s comedy The Minor, who was forever proclaiming her respectability) of angling for the lead himself. Petty’s removal to the Lords, 15 Nov. 1809, and the uncertainty over Ponsonby’s intentions certainly put Tierney within striking distance of it. Ministerial observers thought he would make a bid; Tom Grenville noted that he and Whitbread were now ‘the two natural candidates’, and ideas of putting himself forward occurred to Tierney himself. In a draft letter to Grey, 20 Nov., he wrote:

it would be an affectation in me to pretend that I did not perceive an opinion beginning to prevail that I am in the next session to be looked up to as leader. Now without one word more let me assure you that that can never be, and form your arrangements accordingly.

However, he omitted the passage from the letter as finally sent, 21 Nov., and two weeks later declined even a de facto leadership:

I know what is expected of me, and I feel that non-compliance on my part will make me be held up as the cause of all confusion. ... The most I can do is to ... play the part of Berthier, but even that, in the present state of things, I would much rather let alone.

The motives behind his central role in the complex transactions of November and December 1809 over Ponsonby’s leadership are not clear, but the evidence suggests that while he wished to get rid of Ponsonby (as did Grey), he was against the formal appointment of a successor, and that his prime immediate concern was to set the opposition on a war footing rather than to manoeuvre himself into Ponsonby’s place. His intervention was maladroit, but the real villain of the piece was Lord Ponsonby. While Lord Lauderdale had no doubt, and Grenville at least a suspicion, that he had acted from self-interest, Grey, who had to adjudicate, laid no serious blame on him.21

Tierney, the ‘efficient man’ of opposition, as the Speaker called him, was unhappy with Ponsonby’s confirmed titular leadership, but concentrated on trying to fulfil his forecast that a well-managed early attack would destroy the ministry. He closed the debate on the address, 23 Jan. 1810, with a speech ‘in his best vein of colloquial bitterness’, according to Joseph Jekyll, but his prediction of a Whig majority was wide of the mark. He was active in the attack on the Scheldt fiasco, criticized the orders in council, 26 Jan., and tried to defer consideration of the Portuguese defence grant, 9 Mar. He differed from Ponsonby in supporting Cochrane’s motion for the minutes of Gambier’s trial, 29 Jan., and on 6 Feb. clashed with Lord Folkstone, one of the ‘insurgents’, over the virtues of party. Canning heard that Grey believed that if the advice of Tierney, ‘the only sound judgement among them’, was heeded, opposition would defeat the government on the Scheldt issue. In the event, Tierney was enraged by Perceval’s diversionary exploitation of the Burdett affair and deeply disappointed by his survival. He took Whitbread’s appearance at the pro-Burdett livery dinner in April badly, and not only agreed with Grey and Grenville that it was now ‘utterly impossible to go on’ with him, but talked of abandoning politics. His only contribution to the debates on Burdett’s case was an unsuccessful amendment to refer his communications to the Speaker to the whole House, rather than to a select committee, 7 May. His spirits more buoyant, he was extremely active in debate for the rest of the month. He moved to pay the Duke of Brunswick’s annuity from the droits of Admiralty rather than the consolidated fund, 14 and 30 May; called for renovation of the financial system, 16 May; divided the House against the stamp duties bill, 24 May, and, as a ‘decided advocate for reform’, supported Brand’s moderate proposals, 21 May.22 He was appointed to the committee of inquiry into the currency, 19 Feb., and sinecures, 31 May 1810.

Tierney, distracted by his search for a new London house, took a subdued part in the proceedings arising from the King’s illness at the end of 1810 and was criticized by Holland, Petty and Whitbread for his lethargy. With his private problems settled and a conviction, qualified by his distrust of the Prince, that the Whigs would soon come in (had they done so, he would have been chancellor of the Exchequer), he resumed hostile operations in the new year, voting against the Regency bill, 1 Jan., and warning that the proposal to issue public money through the auditor of the Exchequer would give the government the ‘entire disposal’ of the vote of credit, 4 Jan. 1811. He was worsted in a clash with Perceval, 17 Jan., but his speech in support of Ponsonby’s amendment to the Household provisions, 21 Jan., was vigorously partisan. His optimism, which led him to calculate that the Whigs could conduct a government without recourse to an alliance with Canning, evaporated when the Regent dashed their hopes early in February. Whitbread reported him to be ‘all despondency’, and to Grey he outlined his intended programme for the rest of the session: ‘To the measures of government I must attend ... but beyond that I feel no disposition to go. He mastered his distaste for Whitbread’s motion for inquiry into the treatment of the King during his illness in 1804 and attended with the intention of supporting it, 25 Feb., but when Whitbread impugned the whole of Addington’s ministry he went away. His spasmodic parliamentary activities during the rest of the session were dominated by his campaign to secure an earlier resumption of cash payments than that recommended by the bullion committee and his dogged resistance to the gold coin bill. His furious speech on the third reading, 19 July 1811, was aimed as much at Sheridan, who supported it, as at the measure itself, and reflected his growing anger with the favourable countenance being given to the ministry by Carlton House. Lady Holland feared that his intemperance might have awkward repercussions and hoped he would seek ‘solitude in a remote bathing place’. A disgruntled Tierney repaired to Tunbridge in August, when John William Ward reported that he ‘talks of taking holy orders’.23

His spirits were further reduced by illness. Though at first inclined to mark time, he concluded that the Whigs would get nothing from the Regent. He grew impatient with Grey’s injunction to await the expiration of the restrictions in February 1812, turned his sarcasm on those who looked forward to it as ‘the passport to the promised land’, and in December 1811 urged Grey to seek a quiet showdown with the Prince before the meeting of Parliament. These arguments, which were underscored by a personal weariness with politics, got little support but, with no sign having come from the Prince, he delivered what the Speaker described as a ‘violent invective’ against the Queen’s household arrangements, 16 Jan., objected to the grant of £100,000 to defray the Regent’s expenses, 20 Jan., and divided the House against the King’s household bill, 27 Jan. 1812. This vendetta, for which he was blacklisted at Carlton House, continued with complaints about the size of the civil list debt, 10 Feb., hints of the alleged maltreatment of Princess Caroline, 23 Mar., support for the attack on McMahon’s sinecure, 14 Apr., and a good word for Princess Charlotte. 17 Apr. He tried unsuccessfully to modify Brougham’s motion on the droits of Admiralty, 21 Jan., and had another clash with the left when he followed Ponsonby in opposing Creevey’s attack on the Exchequer tellerships, 7 May. Tierney did not vote for Whitbread’s motion on relations with America, 13 Feb., took no part in the opposition to the legislation of February to curb industrial disorder and did not speak in the debate on Brand’s reform motion, 8 May. He did well in frontal assaults on the government on Ireland, 6 Feb., and the state of the nation, 27 Feb., when he deplored their religious bigotry. He denounced the continuance of Bank restriction, 17 Mar., and spoke briefly against the orders in council, 27 Apr., and for the sinecure bill, 4 May. The debates of mid June on the intrigues following Perceval’s death, in which he was Sheridan’s principal accuser, saw him at his sarcastic best, and he spoke ably for Canning’s motion on the Catholic question, 22 June. In plans drawn up for a projected Wellesley-Whig coalition ministry he featured as Irish secretary or president of the India Board. He reclaimed his status as ‘shadow chancellor’, 23 July 1812, with his first series of finance resolutions for ten years. They were backed by a speech in which he stressed the growing evil of the unfunded debt, advised Vansittart to resort to economies and recur to the system of raising supplies within the year, and demanded the gratitude of the country for the trouble he had taken to show the way to solvency. It had been a bad session for Tierney, who was privately criticized from both wings of the opposition. Williams Wynn thought that he was ‘destitute of that courage and energy which enables men to take a resolution upon the sudden, and instead of leading’ was ‘always anxious to be led by the wishes of the party’; and Henry Brougham told Grey that his

errors and fears, really do mightily diminish his acknowledged merits ... he is a general discourager and does nothing to bring forward or protect the young ones—he throws cold water on all that is proposed. ... He always forgets that an opposition can hardly be too active ... and he acts as if he were in the cabinet.24

Tierney, whose prospects of a safe seat at the election of 1812 were known to be uncertain, behaved rather inflexibly in the ensuing negotiations, which drove Grey almost to distraction. Against the advice of Grey and Holland he rejected Lord Buckingham’s offer of St. Mawes, but found himself marooned when Devonshire proved unable to place him. His desire to avoid entanglement with the Grenvilles was understandable, but he created a wealth of trouble by insisting that he would be directly beholden only to Devonshire or to Grey. Fitzwilliam, Thanet, Lauderdale and Bedford were unable to comply with requests for help from Grey, who by early October was in despair. Tierney had his eye on Devonshire’s Knaresborough seat, but failed in his attempts to arrange alternative provision for the first choice. His plight was viewed with pleasure by Creevey (‘Poor Mrs Cole, to come upon the parish after all’), but his absence from the House when Parliament met was thought by a better judge, the Irish secretary Robert Peel, to be ‘severely felt’ by opposition. Though inclined to think that Tierney had brought it upon himself, Holland, like Grey, thought his exclusion politically damaging, and it was largely through his efforts that an arrangement was made to seat him for Thanet’s borough of Appleby vice John Courtenay, who vacated in return for the agreement of Devonshire and Cavendish to pay his debts, as well as Tierney’s expenses.25

Meanwhile, he had been propounding the view that as the opposition had no common bond but hostility to the government, active warfare, directed from above, was pointless. Recurring to his earlier notions, he contended that if, by assuming a passive role and leaving the action to Whitbread and Canning, the nominal leaders would deliberately allow the party to fragment, they would eventually attract the responsible men of ‘talent, property and character’, who might be welded into a body ‘united, manageable, and respected, although in point of numbers not so inspiring’. Neither Grey nor Holland was much impressed by these ideas, but events in the House before Christmas only convinced Tierney of their soundness. A nagging illness inclined him even more to despondency and, surveying the approaching session in January 1813, he again advised Grey to lie low and proceeded to rehearse problems which made any effective attack on the government impossible. He voted against the vice-chancellor bill, 11 Feb.; for Burdett’s motion on the Regency, 23 Feb., despite his earlier reservations; and for the sinecure bill, 29 Mar.; but only paired in favour of Catholic claims, 2 Mar. Although he voted for the Catholic relief bill, 13 and 24 May, he did not regret its defeat, believing that discussion of details would have involved the Whigs in enormous difficulties. He did not vote for Creevey’s motion on the paymaster’s salary, 8 Mar., against the Admiralty registrars bill, 21 May, or for receipt of the Nottingham reform petition, 30 June. He took little interest in the campaign on behalf of the princesses, but Whitbread thought his speech of 17 Mar. ‘very pointed and useful’, though he was reproved by Tierney, 22 Mar., for his reluctance to admit defeat over the ‘evidence’ of Mrs Lisle. When Vansittart presented his budget, 3 Mar., Tierney promised to consider it dispassionately ‘in the retirement of his closet’. He emerged with hostile intent and concluded his criticism with an unsuccessful motion for inquiry into the sinking fund, 2 Apr. Though named for the select committee on the civil list, 27 May, he refused to sit on it, as he considered it virtually powerless as constituted. On the issue of the renewal of the East India Company’s charter Tierney, who uncompromisingly defended its monopoly, was at odds with the bulk of the party, and particularly Lord Grenville, but the episode had no immediately serious effects on their relationship.26

He did not want opposition to commit itself on the questions of peace and war until the situation became clearer and took no part in debate in November and December 1813. Unlike Grey, he thought the idea of a negotiated peace was unpopular and became fixed in his belief that only a military vendetta against Buonaparte would satisfy national feeling. He planned to make any observations of his own, ‘at least till the weather is much more settled, from the third bench’. After the renewed adjournment at the beginning of March 1814 he prophesied problems for the Whigs whether peace or war were decreed, but thought that peace, however unpopular, must be supported. Thereafter he foresaw little for them to grapple with and could not conceive ‘what it is that is likely to produce new union and energy amongst us in our present form’. He protested against the additional military vote, 25 Mar.; performed well in supporting censure of the Speaker’s indiscretion, 22 Apr.; badgered Vansittart for a statement on Bank restriction, 25 Apr.; voted for Williams Wynn’s motion on the European blockade, 12 May; deplored the grant of £100,000 to German war victims and minutely criticized the civil list expenditure, 14 July; supported Bankes’s attack on reversions, 19 July, and called for thorough scrutiny of the whole financial system, 20 July. Keen to portray the Regent ‘in his true colours’, he was more disposed than most of the Whig hierarchy to soil his hands with the royal family squabbles. He overshadowed the hesitant Ponsonby in the debates on the Princess of Wales’s financial arrangements, but, in view of the party’s timidity, he reluctantly suppressed his inclination to make an issue of the treatment of Princess Charlotte. His speech of 30 July deploring Caroline’s plan to go abroad was not well received by the princess, who suspected him of trying to make her a political puppet; and Grenville observed that he would do better ‘to direct his powers to the great questions of public interest instead of making personal war on the Regent’.27

Tierney returned from a five-week visit to France and Belgium in combative mood and pressed Grey to attend the November meeting of Parliament, less from any hope that there was much to be gained from a concerted opposition campaign than from a desire that Grey should present himself as a focus for those elements which were willing to be led. Undeterred by Grey’s inability to appear and encouraged by Grenville’s energetic inclinations, he cut a busy figure on the sparsely filled opposition benches in the short session. On the address, 8 Nov. 1814, he condemned Canning’s embassy to Lisbon and joined Whitbread in pestering ministers for information on the treaties and the property tax. He provided a detailed critique of the financial situation and forced concessions from Vansittart over presentation of the civil list accounts, 14 and 15 Nov.; protested against the annexation of Saxony, 21, 22 and 28 Nov.; voted for Romilly’s motion on the militia, 28 Nov.; supported Horner’s on the conduct of the American war, 1 Dec., and in vain resisted the adjournment the same day. His performances were applauded in Whig circles, but Tierney himself realized that the thin opposition muster had made it impossible to do more than embarrass ministers. He thought that, if the recess were used to concert policy and promote a campaign against the property tax, it would be ‘not unreasonable to look for the united exertions of a party’. The Grenvilles’ patronizing amusement at his optimism was unfair, for his basic argument was that if the potential material was to be made effective it must be unified under authoritative leadership. He was discouraged by Whig indifference to the property tax agitation, but his hopes revived early in February 1815 with improved prospects of a good attendance. Things went flat when government surrendered the tax and news of Napoleon’s escape came through. Tierney made no headway with his plans to press retrenchment and economy and had to be content with a protest against the new taxes, 20 Feb., and support for Hamilton’s motion for inquiry into the Bank, 2 Mar. After initial uncertainty he came out strongly against the corn bill, Whig acquiescence in which disgusted him. He took an advanced position on the renewal of war, warning, at the meeting at Ponsonby’s, 6 Apr., that he was prepared to support an amendment to the address next day and duly speaking and voting for the one produced by Whitbread. He also supported Whitbread’s call for a modus vivendi with Buonaparte, 28 Apr., receipt of the City petition, 1 May, and the amendment to the address on the resumption of hostilities, 25 May. He opposed renewal of the property tax, 19, 20 Apr. and 1 May; secured respectable minorities in favour of unrestricted vetting of the civil list, 14 Apr. and 8 May; demanded inquiry into the application of the grant to the Regent, 31 May, and kept up light skirmishing with ministers on foreign affairs and the Bank. In a set-piece on the war budget, 14 June, he denounced Vansittart’s financial expedients and predicted (four days before Waterloo) a protracted war which would bankrupt the nation. When Ponsonby departed early, Tierney, to the delight of the ‘Mountain’, encouraged an unashamedly factious opposition to the Duke of Cumberland’s marriage establishment which was crowned with success on 3 July. Lauderdale’s notion that after Whitbread’s death his followers were looking towards Tierney, who was at last elected to Brooks’s on 11 July 1815, was perhaps not entirely fanciful.28

In the summer of 1815 Tierney found himself in urgent need of over £6,000 and of a total of £10,000 to ensure his future financial security. Grey and Holland were anxious to bail him out, but agonised for weeks over the best way to tackle a delicate problem, the crux of which was summed up by Bedford: ‘it is difficult to say who should be applied to. Tierney is not popular among our political friends. They like him as a pleasant companion, and admire his talents as a parliamentary debater, but they distrust his integrity as a public man.’ He was eventually relieved of the immediate pressure by a discreetly organized subscription, to which contributions were made by Grey, Holland, Bedford, Devonshire, Lansdowne, Essex, Spencer, Thanet, Jersey and Cavendish.29

Reports from Lady Spencer led Tierney to believe that the Grenvilles were ‘anxious to pull heartily with us’ and reinforced his view that they had little alternative. Three months before the meeting of Parliament he urged an aggressive start, hoping that the basic difference of opinion with the Grenvilles over the principle and policy of the war could be overcome through reciprocal forbearance, but ready to break with them if they declared emphatically for restoration of the Bourbons. Although later talks with Tom Grenville convinced him that disagreement was inevitable over the peace treaties, he still insisted on a strong muster and early division. He failed to persuade Grey to come up and was irritated by Ponsonby’s absence, but after discussions with other leading Commons Whigs he set about trying to procure a good attendance. Anxious to placate those elements in the party who were bent on vigorous opposition, he concocted an amendment to the address which merely deplored the long prorogation and promised future scrutiny of the topics covered in the speech. Had it been accepted, he would have moved it himself, but the Grenvilles and Fitzwilliam objected to it and at a thinly attended party meeting, 31 Jan. 1816, Tierney acquiesced in its rejection and the decision of Brougham and Romilly to produce something stonger. The following day he approved the amendment moved by Brand and was one of the 23 who voted for it in the unexpected division. He divided with the small minorities for Brougham’s motions on specific treaties, 9 and 15 Feb., and had no part, beyond keeping Lord Milton sweet, in effecting the compromise between the two wings of opposition, by which they agreed to differ on the peace settlement. He gave a silent vote for the amendment, 20 Feb., having held his tongue to make way for Ponsonby, and, with this problem surmounted, viewed the remainder of the session with considerable optimism. He supported Grenfell’s motion for inquiry into the Bank and launched a major attack on the excessive peace establishment, with an appeal to the country to declare itself, 13 Feb. 1816. He was keen for the Whigs to encourage and direct the popular agitation against the property tax, although he fought shy of proposals that they should join forces with the Burdettites in Westminster. He abetted Ponsonby in attacks on it, also on the army estimates and the civil list in February and March, and spoke for Methuen’s motion against peacetime increases in the salaries of secretaries to the Admiralty, 20 Mar. Excited by victory on the property tax, he sprang a carefully prepared attack on the government by opposing the navy estimates, 25 Mar. To his detailed statistics Sir George Warrender had no reply, but he was humbled by Croker who, armed with hastily procured figures, exposed his arguments by demonstrating that in recent times the estimates had always risen in the first year after a war. Tierney, who was rather harshly blamed for the fiasco, tried in vain to make out his case in a series of later clashes with Croker. His main contributions to the flagging campaign for economy and retrenchment were unsuccessful motions for the abolition of the third secretaryship, 3 Apr., and on the civil list, 8 Apr., 6 and 24 May. He attacked the budget, 27 May, and four days later supported Grant’s 32 finance resolutions.30

Tierney went abroad in July 1816, partly to prosecute his claims on the French government for arrears on an annuity. He was unsuccessful, but obtained some financial relief in the shape of legacies from his brother-in-law, Abraham Robarts*, who died shortly before his return to England on 1 Dec. 1816. Encouraged by a swift assessment of the political situation, he wanted ‘active operation at the very opening of the session’, though he realized that unanimity would be difficult to achieve. He shelved the problem of tactics and addressed himself to beating up a good attendance of English Members and arranging an eve of session meeting. He thought the revived clamour for parliamentary reform demanded a positive response from the Whigs. Approaches from the moderate Westminster reformers for a rapprochement encouraged him and, while he did not commit the party to any alliance, he began to argue that they should try to convince potential supporters that they had the will to defeat and replace the government before dealing with reform. By early January 1817 Tierney, who calculated that at least 190, possibly 230 votes could be mustered against ministers from opposition, waverers and independents if the ground were well chosen, was bent, like Grey, on an amendment to the address. When Grey was delayed en route to London he took responsibility for planning. He found himself at odds with Grenville over the finances and his views on reform alarmed Tom Grenville and William Elliot, who reported that he favoured triennial parliaments and wished to place the opposition at the head of the moderate reformers. He was unable to decide on the wording of the amendment and may briefly have considered a scheme, to which Lambton strongly objected, to allow the address to pass but to move for inquiry into the state of the nation immediately afterwards. In the event, with Grey’s guidance, he produced a general amendment, which did not mention reform, at a meeting with Ponsonby and a few others, 21 Jan. 1817.31

On the address, 29 Jan., when the amendment got only 112 votes, Tierney prefaced his calls for investigation of the causes of distress and stringent economies by declaring himself ‘a friend to parliamentary reform, but not to annual parliaments or to universal suffrage’. He stated his wish to make the House ‘gradually and practically a truer representation of the people’, 17 Feb., and when supporting Burdett’s reform motion, 20 May, he advocated cautious renovation, specifying shorter parliaments, a copyholder vote and an enlarged electorate in close boroughs. He deplored the inadequacies of the finance committee, to which he was named, 7 Feb., and supported the attack on Croker’s salary, 17 Feb. Soon afterwards he fell ill and, although he was able to speak against the suspension of habeas corpus, 28 Feb., he had to withdraw from the finance committee and appears to have been away from the House for several weeks. He reappeared late in April, with considerable doubts still hanging over his physical condition, but he was reasonably active. His motion for inquiry into the third secretaryship, 29 Apr., was strongly argued, but got a disappointing 87 votes. He called the finance committee ‘a screen between economy and the public expenditure’, 5 May; supported the attacks on Canning’s embassy, 6 May, and on Herries’s appointment, 8 May; denounced the civil services compensation bill, 10 June; voted against the renewed suspension of habeas corpus, 23 June, and presented his finance resolutions, 26 June. He left town early, seeking complete restitution of his improving health. Sir Robert Wilson reported him ‘desponding as to the existence of the party’, and he himself admitted to Lady Holland that it was in ‘rather an awkward plight’. On Ponsonby’s death, the Grenvilles predicted that Tierney would soon succeed him as leader, but the consensus of opinion among the Whig hierarchy, in which Tierney shared, was that the experiment should not be repeated. Brougham, seen by most observers as his main rival, told Lady Holland, ‘we had better give up at once if anything befalls him, much as I differ often with him in council’.32

By November 1817 Tierney was largely restored to health but, astounded by Grey’s remark ‘that opposition may start next session with great advantages if they are not thrown away’, he crushed his leader’s optimism. He maintained this gloomy tone, but James Macdonald thought the mere fact of his ‘being able to take the field occasionally will keep our heads above water till the dissolution’, and he was in London, ‘ready to do what I am told’, by 20 Jan. 1818. He shared the prevailing apathy and was disposed to let government make the running and to postpone major confrontations until opposition gathered in respectable numbers. On 5 Feb. he impugned ministers’ motives in appointing a secret committee on the internal state of the country, on which he thought it possible at least to damage them in the public estimation. He was pleased with the debate, but would have preferred not to divide. He participated in the protests against the suspension of habeas corpus and the spy system and was reasonably content with the opposition’s showing, although he thought that Folkestone’s motion, 17 Feb., which he tried to ward off, had set them back. He strongly condemned the indemnity bill, 10 and 13 Mar. Brougham and Lambton grew impatient with his caution, although the former conceded that some of his speeches had been excellent; and Tierney himself, dispirited by the Whigs’ failure to divide strongly, began to put to Grey the case for naming a leader. Lambton, who suspected Tierney of aiming to direct operations himself through the medium of either Cavendish or Lord Althorp as a sociable puppet and was anxious that Grey should not surrender his supreme control, told Grey that there was ‘a very strong party’ who had ‘serious objections to Tierney’s wavering and indecisive system’. After Easter, Tierney directed most of his energies to attacks on the continuance of Bank restriction, the centre-piece of which was his motion of 1 May for inquiry into the circulating medium. Despite what Sir James Mackintosh considered ‘as clever and amusing a speech as I suppose ever was made on a subject so dry and intricate’, it went down by 164 votes to 99. He joined in the opposition to the ducal marriage allowances, 13-16 Apr., and voted for repeal of the Septennial Act, 19 May, and against the aliens bill, 22 May. He then concentrated on the elections, at which Devonshire returned him for Knaresborough, and as a result of which he estimated that opposition had gained significantly in potential numbers. He left London for Ryde in mid July.33

Early next month Tierney received from Lord Duncannon a formal requisition, signed by 113 Members, pressing him to take the lead in the Commons and pledging their support. The move had originated some weeks earlier in the general desire of the rank and file for the appointment of a leader, which had been mobilized by Duncannon and Lord Sefton. Grey gave his half-hearted consent to the scheme, which was launched at a meeting of about 40 Members representing all shades of opinion at Brooks’s on 20 July, when it was unanimously agreed to approach Tierney. Sefton smoothed the way by producing a letter of assent from Brougham. The signatures, plus the written support of ten and the good wishes of 14 other Members, were the product of weeks of busy canvassing by Duncannon, Sefton and Holland. Tierney at first prevaricated, partly from instinct, partly because he wished to establish a clear understanding about the leadership in the Lords; but when Duncannon and Holland insisted on an immediate answer he agreed ‘to convert a very good partisan into a very bad leader’. Behind the choice of Tierney lay a belief that his virtues marginally outweighed his defects and made him, in the circumstances, the only man likely to unite the party in concerted action against the government. While the staider members of the hierarchy had some genuine confidence in his abilities, there were objections from the left, most stridently voiced by Lambton and Folkestone, to his timidity and trimming propensities. Both subscribed their names, but there was a notion in the more advanced wing of the party that, as Brougham put it, they would be able to ‘keep him straight’.34

Tierney believed that the public mood and the potential numerical strength on which opposition could draw in the Commons made their prospects more encouraging than for many years, but perceived that the mere mustering of numbers in the House would be pointless if the party failed to present itself as a credible alternative government. Without a satisfactory understanding on the overall leadership he held this to be impossible, and his own position to be ‘something like a captain without an admiral’. He immediately tried to draw Grey on the issue and wrote at the same time more frankly to Holland of his worries, contending that as matters stood the party was practically leaderless. Grey made it clear that the matter was not to be pressed and Tierney reluctantly shelved it. Grey, who confided to Lady Holland that Tierney ‘must learn to consider constitutional questions as of more importance than the growing surplus of the consolidated fund, and the balances of comparative questions’, recommended a vigorous campaign of resistance to repression and support for economical reform. Tierney privately thought this easier said than done, but promised his best efforts. Early in November he got Holland to raise the question of the overall leadership with Grey, whose response, though typically ambivalent, was an effective veto on any alternative to himself. Lambton’s belief that Tierney wished to supplant Grey with Lansdowne had some basis, for the idea of such a transfer of power had been in his mind for several months; but his anxiety to settle the problem was understandable and, given the difficulties of his position, justified.35

Thrown back on his own resources, he shouldered his responsibilities and formulated strategy on his own. He decided to let the address pass without amendment, but to give immediate notice of a motion for inquiry into the state of public credit, with particular reference to the resumption of cash payments, calculating that the anticipated announcement of the continuance of Bank restriction would make the motion attractive to the Grenvilles and the waverers. He envisaged a muster of about 200, worked hard to ensure a good attendance, and was heartened by the response. He did not speak on the address, 21 Jan. 1819, but merely gave notice of his motion. The announcement of the government’s intention to appoint a committee on Bank restriction, 25 Jan., momentarily disconcerted him, but he stood firm, managed to avoid a division on the Windsor establishment and explained his motion at a full party meeting, 31 Jan. When he moved it, 2 Feb., he pitched his appeal to the independent Members, attacked the speculators who perpetuated the paper system for their own gain and condemned Vansittart’s entire financial policy. The proposal for a committee had done its damage by reducing the issue to one of confidence and the minority of 168 was disappointing in the light of earlier hopes: but Tierney considered it ‘a great party triumph’ and spirits remained buoyant. On 8 Feb. he spoke for Calcraft’s motion to add Brougham to the Bank committee, which was lost by only 42 votes, and delivered what the Grenvillite Fremantle thought an ‘incomparable’ repudiation of Castlereagh’s rosy financial report. Whigs of all shades were delighted with the opposition’s brilliant start to the campaign and gave much of the credit to Tierney. He did not allow success to tempt him from his policy of awaiting events and avoiding direct confrontations with government, which might alienate the waverers and independents, whose support he aimed to win by judicious selection of the points of attack. He resisted Grey’s pressure for a decisive battle on an intelligible ‘constitutional’ issue; and the success of his tactics was indicated by the Grenvilles’ increasing convinction of the ministry’s weakness and by Bankes’s warm commendation of his approach. Doubtful of popular support for a direct attack on the Windsor establishment, Tierney moved, 22 Feb., to take the money from the privy purse rather than the public pocket. He attracted support from outside the party, but Whig failure to muster their full strength kept the minority down to 186. He failed with his opposition to the grant to the Duke of York from the same angle, 23 Feb., and two days later, unable to restrain the militants, supported Williams’s motion to halve it, which got only 137 votes. He reluctantly abandoned his plan to contest the bill stage by stage. He welcomed the Whig success in the Westminster by-election as a ‘severe blow’ to the Burdettites which consolidated the party, but declined to celebrate it by abandoning his patient line. He supported Harvey’s motion on excise informations, 9 Mar.; secured 80 votes to 154 for his attempt to delay the consolidated fund bill, 18 Mar.; spoke briefly on the complaint against Wyndham Quin*, 29 Mar.; objected to the precipitate introduction of the cash payments bill, 5 Apr., and spoke for Lyttelton’s motion on state lotteries, 4 May. The opposition continued to hang together well and scored the odd victory in the lobbies, but on 18 May Tierney abandoned caution and moved for inquiry into the state of the nation. A strain of ambivalence in his speech, which reviewed and condemned ministerial foreign, commercial and financial policies, suggests that he was trying to appeal both to hard-line opponents of government and to the floating voters who would side with ministers on an explicit issue of confidence, but he concluded with an unequivocal call for their overthrow. The motion was crushed by 358 votes to 178. Whether Tierney had submitted to pressure from chafing militants, or had himself decided that the political situation made it imperative for opposition to make a frontal attack is not clear. He could not have expected to carry the motion, but the magnitude of its defeat was a severe blow to Whig morale and the rank and file rather unfairly fastened on him as a scapegoat. He suffered a personal humiliation on 24 May when, after carping at the method proposed for the resumption of cash payments, he was devastatingly attacked from his own side by David Ricardo. He voted against the navy estimates, 2 June, and the foreign enlistment bill, 3 June, but four days later his attack on the ministerial finance resolutions was beaten by 197 votes and he seems to have taken no further part in the proceedings of what had ended as a disappointing session.36

His immediate reaction to the Peterloo incident was to come out strongly in favour of the Whigs’ organizing national protest, in order to keep a ‘good cause’ out of the hands of the radicals. He began to direct operations, but Grey’s veto on Whig involvement checked him. He submitted to it but felt frustrated, and told Holland that they had ‘let slip a favourable opportunity of retrieving a good deal of lost ground, and placing ourselves higher in the confidence of the people than we have been for some years’. When Grey was persuaded by Fitzwilliam’s support for the Yorkshire meeting to change his mind, Tierney did what he could to encourage action in Hampshire, Surrey and Middlesex; but, writing to Fitzwilliam on his dismissal from the lord lieutenancy, by which he thought ministers had ‘openly thrown away the scabbard’, he regretted that so little had been achieved and looked to the forthcoming meeting of Parliament as a chance to make amends. Sharing the general desire for vigorous action, but not hopeful of securing unanimity, he pressed Grey to come up for consultation and summoned party meetings. With Grey and Mackintosh he framed an amendment to the address which repudiated radical reform but demanded inquiry into Peterloo and redress of grievances. The burden of his case in moving it, 23 Nov. 1819, was that popular clamour arose not from disaffection but from genuine discontent, provoked by oppressive taxation. He called for conciliation and concession, decried the excesses of the extremists and declared boldly for an instalment of meaningful reform. He got 150 votes. When supporting Althorp’s censure motion, 30 Nov., he replied strongly to Castlereagh’s ‘extraordinary rant’. He played a full and leading part in the struggle against the repressive measures which, though his own inclination was to deny the need for them, was conducted in a manner designed to ensure maximum possible unity among the opposition. He supported Bennet’s motion for inquiry into the state of the manufacturing districts, 9 Dec., and, in a ‘spirit of moderation’, Russell’s reform proposals, 14 Dec., when he welcomed Castlereagh’s offer of concessions. On balance, he could reflect on the Whig performance with considerable satisfaction.37

During his attack on the stamp duties bill, 22 Dec., Tierney was taken ill and it was momentarily feared that, as Canning wrote, ‘he was going like poor old Ponsonby’. He soon recovered and ascribed the incident merely to fatigue, but he told Grey and Duncannon that he was no longer equal to sustained parliamentary activity and that if he was to retain the leadership, his ‘exertions must now be upon a limited scale’. Though largely preoccupied with electioneering after the death of George III, he tried to make some impression in the House in the last few days of the Parliament, but with Grey refusing to come south he could do little. His main concern was to extract from ministers a clear declaration on the position of Queen Caroline, but his angry expostulations of 21 and 22 Feb. 1820 alienated her champions Brougham and Joseph Hume on the one hand and upset the moderates on the other. Blamed for unnecessarily raising an embarrassing subject, and even accused of courting George IV, Tierney was unrepentant, and Parliament was dissolved with the Whigs in some disarray.38

Brougham rightly commented that Tierney’s ‘talents were peculiarly fitted for the contentions of the legal profession, and must have secured him great eminence had he remained at the bar’. His basic commonsense, his keen forensic mind, his mastery of sarcasm, his ability to present a detailed case with a lucidity and power which few of his contemporaries could match, made him a formidable parliamentarian. Holland wrote that by 1818 his ‘oratory, though of no elevated, commanding, or even brilliant kind, was perhaps the most popular and the most agreeable, and certainly by far the most original, then left in Parliament’; and Brougham that ‘it was very effective at times; at some times of great force indeed’. His major defects as a politician were his narrowness of vision, his cynicism, his moodiness and his lack of commitment to a coherent working philosophy. The Whig country gentleman Charles Callis Western* voiced a common view when describing him in 1816 as being ‘as expert, narrow and wrong as ever’, while John Whishaw considered him ‘admirable in finance and practical details’ but ‘unequal to great subjects’. Tierney’s pragmatic approach to politics often gave him a surer grasp of realities than Whig grandees who thought on a more abstract plane, but his combative zest for vote-catching tactics did not always please them. It also dissatisfied the more advanced members of the party, whose ideas for its radicalization he never fully appreciated, though he was by no means blinkered to the possibilities, especially towards the end of the period. Contemporaries were struck by the contrast between his timidity in counsel and vigour in combat:

He was (wrote Brougham) firm in the line once taken, against which he had raised a host of objections ... he was as bold in meeting real enemies as he had been timid in conjuring up imaginary risks ... he who in a distant view ... could only descry difficulties ... when ... he came to close quarters, displayed an abundance of resources which astonished all who had been harassed with his hesitation, or confounded by his perplexities, or vexed with his apprehensions.

Holland noted that he was ‘more circumspect in conducting other men than is compatible with preserving any authority over them at all’, and yet ‘was occasionally so enamoured of some crotchet or refinement of his own that he was hurried into courses hazardous and even rash’.39

Tierney was never in Sheridan’s league as an intriguer, but certain episodes in his career between 1800 and 1804 were undeniably discreditable. That he survived the damage inflicted on his relations with the Whigs was due partly to recognition of his parliamentary abilities, but above all to his engaging charm as a social companion, which enabled him to retain the politically valuable friendship of Grey and Holland, who spoke for many when he recalled that Tierney’s ‘pleasantry and easy manners shed a charm over all intercourse with him’.40 His willingness to put himself out and make himself available, and his striking lack of vanity, also advanced his cause. Although it took several years for doubts about his integrity to be removed from the minds of many Whigs, he soon proved himself, in the difficult years after 1807, indispensable to the maintenance of even a semblance of meaningful opposition in the Commons. That the experiment of his leadership ultimately failed was not his fault. He performed, on balance, creditably in an awkward situation, bringing cohesion and force to the opposition, despite the want of adequate support from Grey and the restraints imposed by a pattern of parliamentary politics which made it virtually impossible to bring down the ministry. Tierney died 25 Jan. 1830.

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: David R. Fisher


  • 1. According to E. Baines, Lancs. (1824-5), ii. 585.
  • 2. Ginter, Whig Organization, 232-3; Morning Chron. 23, 26 May, 24 Dec. 1796.
  • 3. Whitbread mss W1/866, 867, 870; Holland, Mems. Whig Party, i. 88-89; Jnl. of Lady Holland, i. 221; ii. 138-9; Paget Pprs. i. 140; Leveson Gower, i. 234.
  • 4. Holland, i. 88-91; Leveson Gower, i. 184, 234; Chatsworth mss, Lady E. Foster jnl. 4 Dec. 1798; Whitbread mss W1/870; Parkes and Merivale, Francis Mems. ii. 307; Jnl. of Lady Holland, i. 221, 260, 265, 272, 274, 278; ii. 29.
  • 5. Whitbread mss W1/866, 867; Hants RO, Tierney mss 60; Jnl. of Lady Holland, ii. 137-40; Brougham and his Early Friends, i. 35; Add. 47564, f. 94; 47566, f. 76; 47582, f. 221; 51584, Tierney to Holland, 7 Mar. 1798; 51585, same to Lady Holland, 7 Sept.; Lansdowne mss, same to Lansdowne, 19 Nov. [1800]; Sheridan Letters ed. Price, ii. 150; Chatsworth mss, Duchess of Devonshire jnl. 21, [23], [24 Feb. 1801]; Holland, i. 89, 91.
  • 6. Rose Diaries, i. 357; Grey mss, Tierney to Grey, 9 Oct. 1801-28 Jan. 1802 passim, Whitbread to same 7 Dec. 1801, 28 Jan. 1802; Tierney mss 13a, 13b, 33a, 33b, 52a-g; Whitbread mss W1/2408, Add. 38833, ff. 53, 61; 48222, f. 142; Lansdowne mss, Lansdowne to Petty, 15 Nov.; E. Suff RO, Tomline mss, Rose to bp. of Lincoln, 12, 22, 27 Nov. 1801; Fitzwilliam mss, Laurence to Fitzwilliam, 25 Jan. 1802; HMC Fortescue, vii. 76.
  • 7. Grey mss, Tierney to Grey, 11, 19 Feb., 6 Mar., [9 July]; Fitzwilliam mss, Laurence to Fitzwilliam, 12 Feb., 2 Mar.; Lansdowne mss, Lansdowne to Petty, 15 Feb., 4 Apr., 15 July; PRO 30/29/8/2, f. 210; Whitbread mss W1/875, 921; Glos. RO, Redesdale mss X15, Addington to Redesdale, 29 June; The Times, 29 June, 1, 2 July; Add. 51584, Tierney to Holland [1 July] 1802.
  • 8. Grey mss, Tierney to Grey, 21 Oct., 4, 17 Dec. 1802, Grey to Whitbread, 20 Feb. 1803; Minto, iii. 260; Leveson Gower, i. 369; Alnwick mss 61, f. 53; Prince of Wales Corresp. iv. 1680, 1701; Add. 475605, f. 74; 47566, f. 132; 51585, Tierney to Lady Holland, 26 Dec. 1802, 2, 5 Apr. 1803; Creevey mss, Creevey to Currie, 7 May; The Times, 7, 26 May; Harewood mss, Canning to his wife, 31 May 1803.
  • 9. Buckingham, Court and Cabinets, iii. 305; Add. 35717, f. 101; 38236, f. 260; 38571, f. 38; 51736, Caroline Fox to Holland, 13 June; Grey mss, Whitbread to Grey, 13, 22 June 1803; Whitbread mss W1/885; D. M. Stuart, Dearest Bess, 111.
  • 10. Moore Letters ed. Dowden, i. 43; Leveson Gower, i. 437; Grey mss, Grey to Fox, 3 Dec., Whitbread to Grey, 6 Dec.; Add. 51570, Hamilton to Lady Holland [16 Dec.] 1803; Life of Wilberforce (1838), iii. 147-8; Glenbervie Diaries, i. 372; Malmesbury mss, FitzHarris to Malmesbury, 16 Mar.; Lonsdale mss, Ward to Lowther, 16 Mar.; Creevey mss, Creevey to Currie, 22 Mar.; Sidmouth mss, J. H. Addington to his sister, 24 Apr. 1804.
  • 11. Rose Diaries, ii. 120, 135, 160, 173; Grey mss, Grey to his wife, 2, 4, 11 May, 11 June, to Fox, 27 Sept. 1804; Minto. iii. 346; PRO 30/8/183, f. 207; 328, f. 105; Auckland Jnl. iv. 206, 217, 220-1; Prince of Wales Corresp. v. 1937, 1953, 1980, 2280-1; Glenbervie Diaries, i. 390-1; Add. 35725, f. 62; 41851, f. 235; 47565, ff. 132, 135; 47566, f. 197; Sidmouth mss, St. Vincent to Addington, 26 Nov. 1804; Leveson Gower, i. 475-6, 479; PRO NI, Caledon mss D2433/D/5/81; Greville Mems. ed. Strachey and Fulford, i. 71.
  • 12. Leveson Gower, i. 501; ii. 2, 91, 96; PRO 30/29/6/2, f. 53; Sheridan Letters, ii. 237; Add. 51570, Hamilton to Holland, 13 Feb.; Dorset RO, Bond mss D367, J.H. Addington to Bond, 18 Sept., 2 Nov. 1805; HMC Fortescue, vii. 276, 311, 315.
  • 13. Rose Diaries, ii. 474-5; Portland mss PwH414; Bond mss D413, Bankes to Bond, 3 Feb.; Bankes mss, Bond to Bankes [6], [15] Feb. 1806; Prince of Wales Corresp. v. 2127, 2131; HMC Fortescue, viii. 15, 24, 33, 49-50; Add. 41852, f. 232; Moore Letters, i. 94; Sheridan Letters, ii. 261, 263, 266; Holland, i. 210-11; Sidmouth mss, Sidmouth to Bragge Bathurst, 20 Feb. 1806.
  • 14. Colchester, ii. 59; HMC Fortescue, viii. 93, 257, 349, 422; Grey mss, Grenville to Howick, 6 Aug. 21 Sept., Tierney to same, 7 Aug., Bedford to same, 8 Nov. 1806; Jnl. of Lady Holland, ii. 174, 189; Prince of Wales Corresp. v. 2245, 2247; Leveson Gower, ii. 213; NLW, Wynn mss 10804; Holland, ii. 92; Add. 34457, f. 51; 38833, f. 218; 51585, Tierney to Lady Holland [3 Nov.] 1806.
  • 15. Grey mss, Tierney to Howick, 7 Dec. 1806, Howick to Lady Holland [16 Apr. 1807]; Buckingham, iv. 163, 172-3; Romilly, Mems. ii. 206; HMC Fortescue, ix. 136; NLI, Richmond mss 69/1224, 1234; Fortescue mss, Holland to Grenville [16 May]; Add. 41851, ff. 314, 320; 51530, Grenville to Holland, 20 May 1807.
  • 16. Leveson Gower, ii. 254; Grey mss, Tierney to Grey, 29 Sept.-28 Dec. passim; Add. 37857, f. 184; 51544, Holland to Grey [Nov.] 1807; HMC Fortescue, ix. 156-7, 159; Buckingham, iv. 216; Whitbread mss W1/2434-7; Tierney mss 33d, 72b, 72c.
  • 17. Buckingham, iv. 224; Grey mss, Tierney to Grey, 31 Dec. 1807, 4 Jan., 16, 24-26 May, 8 June, Grey to his wife, 5 Feb., 4 Mar. 1808; Colchester, ii. 142-6; Add. 51549, Lady Holland to Grey [30 Apr.] 1808; HMC Fortescue, ix. 199.
  • 18. Grey mss, Tierney to Grey, 8, 12 July, 25 Sept., 10 Nov., 5, 7, 19 Dec. 1808; Buckingham, iv. 273; HMC Fortescue, ix. 249, 253-4, 266; Whitbread mss W1/2446.
  • 19. Buckingham, iv. 309; Grey mss, Tierney to Grey, 24 Jan., 1 Feb., 28 Apr., 27 May, Grey to his wife, 12 May, to Holland, 13 June 1809.
  • 20. Grey mss, Tierney to Grey, 19 June-21 Nov. 1809 passim; Tierney mss 33g-r; Whitbread mss W1/2479; Creevey’s Life and Times, 44; HMC Fortescue, ix. 363, 365.
  • 21. Grey mss, Tierney to Grey, 15 Nov.-27 Dec. passim, to Ld. Ponsonby, 4 Dec., to G. Ponsonby, 9 Dec., Grenville to Grey, 29 Nov., Grey to Ld. Ponsonby, 21 Dec., to G. Ponsonby, 23 Dec., Lauderdale to Grey [21-23 Dec.] 1809; Tierney mss 33p-t, v; 72g, k; Whitbread mss W1/375/15; Creevey Pprs. ed. Maxwell, i. 98-100, 109-12; HMC Fortescue, ix. 365, 385-7, 421, 425-6, 429-32, 436-7; Ward, Letters to ‘Ivy’, 82; Malmesbury Letters, ii. 199; Add. 41853, ff. 160, 166, 171; cf. M. Roberts, Whig Party, 319-20.
  • 22. Colchester, ii. 225; HMC Fortescue, x. 5, 26-27; HMC Hastings, iii. 277; Bond mss D367, Jekyll to Bond, 29 Jan.; Harewood mss, Canning to his wife, 12 Mar. 1810.
  • 23. Grey mss, Tierney to Grey, 31 Oct. 1810-13 Aug. 1811 passim, Whitbread to same, 23 Dec. 1810, 15 Feb. 1811; Fortescue mss, Holland to Grenville, 2 Nov. 1810; Horner Mems. iv. 75; HMC Fortescue, x. 98, 158; Phipps, Plumer Ward Mems. i. 336; Horner mss 5, f. 11; Add. 34458, ff. 248, 250; 51549, Lady Holland to Grey, Wed. [Aug. 1811]; Ward, 144.
  • 24. Grey mss, Tierney to Grey, 29 Oct., 23 Nov., 11, 13, 16, 23 Dec. 1811; Buckingham, Regency, i. 140-1; Colchester, ii. 354; Blair Adam mss, memo, 25 Jan.; Phipps, i. 427; Creevey mss, Whishaw and Brougham to Creevey, 22 Jan. 1812; Alnwick mss, 67, f. 150; HMC Fortescue, x. 242, 245, 263; NLW mss 2791, C. to H. Williams Wynn, 7 July 1812; Brougham, Life and Times, ii. 23.
  • 25. Grey mss, Tierney to Grey, 6 Sept.-16 Oct. passim, Grey to Holland, 25 Sept.-13 Dec. passim, Thanet to Grey, 12, 28 Oct., Courtenay to same, 5 Nov., Cavendish to same, 19 Dec.; Chatsworth mss, Grey to Devonshire, 11 Sept., 5 Oct., 13 Dec., Tierney to same, 11 Dec.; Tierney mss 21a, 21b; HMC Fortescue, x. 295; Carlisle mss, Ld. to Lady Morpeth, 26 Sept., 1 Oct., reply 3 Oct.; Creevey mss, Creevey to his wife, 14, 16 Oct.; Parker, Peel, i. 64; Add. 41853, f. 283; 41858, f. 173; 51545, Holland to Grey [7], 11 Nov., 10 Dec. 1812.
  • 26. Grey mss, Tierney to Grey, 19 Oct., 6, 28 Nov., 12 Dec. 1812, Wed. [Jan.], 28 Jan., 11 Feb. 1813, Thanet to same, 28 [Oct.] 1812; Brougham mss 18535; HMC Fortescue, x. 326, 329; Holland, Further Mems. Whig Party, 173-4.
  • 27. Grey mss, Tierney to Grey, 9 Dec. 1813-17 Mar. 1814 passim, 20 July, Grenville to same, 21 Oct. 1814; Regency, ii. 64; Brougham mss 10906.
  • 28. Grey mss, Tierney to Grey, 26 Sept. 1814-18 Feb. 1815 passim; Horner Mems. iv. 220; HMC Fortescue, x. 399; Romilly, iii. 161; Creevey’s Life and Times, 82; Add. 51584, Tierney to Holland, 16 Feb., 27 Mar.; 51691, Lauderdale to same, 16 July 1815.
  • 29. Grey mss, Tierney to Grey, 14, 28 July, 26 Sept., 3, 21 Oct., Holland to same [15], 21 Aug., 5, 13, 27, 30 Sept., 9 Oct., 24 Nov., Grey to Holland, 12, 25 Aug., 10, 17, 30 Sept., 6 Oct., 29 Nov.; Add. 51662, Bedford to Holland, 10 Oct.; 51686, Lansdowne to same, 15 Nov. 1815.
  • 30. Grey mss, Tierney to Grey, 21 Oct. 1815-21 Feb. 1816 passim; Add. 51584, same to Holland, 8 Dec. [1815]; 51585, to Lady Holland, 7 Jan.; Fitzwilliam mss, same to Fitzwilliam, 26 Jan. 1816; HMC Fortescue, x. 407, 412; Croker Pprs. ed. Jennings, i. 82-83.
  • 31. Add. 51553, Grey to Holland, 28 July; Bond mss D367, Jekyll to Bond, 6 Dec. 1816; Horner mss 7, ff. 248, 258; Grey mss, Grey to Lady Holland, 14 Oct., Holland to Grey, 4 Dec., Tierney to same, 12 Dec. 1816-22 Jan. 1817 passim, Lambton to same, 15, reply 17 Jan. 1817; HMC Fortescue, x. 418-23; Fitzwilliam mss, box 88, Elliot to Fitzwilliam, 20 Jan. 1817.
  • 32. Horner mss 7, ff. 299, 303; Heron, Notes (1851), 82; Bagot mss, Wellesley Pole to Bagot, 27 Mar., 4 May, 3 July; Lambton mss, Wilson to Lambton [July]; Fremantle mss, Fremantle to Buckingham, 30 July; NLW, Coedymaen mss 8, f. 544; Add. 51565, Brougham to Lady Holland, 1 Aug.; 51585, Tierney to same, 21 July; Grey mss, Tierney to Grey, 3 Aug. 1817.
  • 33. Grey mss, Tierney to Grey, 8 Oct. 1817-11 Apr. 1818 passim, Lambton to same, 6, 26 Mar. 1818; Add. 51542, Macdonald to Holland, 27 Nov.; Coedymaen mss 20, Buckingham to Williams Wynn, 17 Dec. 1817; Brougham mss, Brougham to Lambton [24 Jan.]; Lambton mss, same to same, Sat. [Feb.] 1818; Regency, ii. 218; Mackintosh Mems. ii. 357; HMC Fortescue, x. 441-2.
  • 34. Grey mss, Duncannon to Grey, 13 July [20 Aug.], Fitzwilliam to same, 18 July, Lambton to same, 21 July, Tierney to same, 21 Aug.; Tierney mss 1a, 23a-e, 37a, 40a; Add. 51534, Grenville to Holland, 22 July; 51549, Grey to Lady Holland, 30 Aug.; 51565, Brougham to same [8 Aug.]; 51571, Ebrington to Holland, 14 July; 51585, Tierney to same, 23 Aug.; Devon RO, Earl Fortescue mss 1262 M/FC 76; Brougham mss, Brougham to Lambton, Thurs. [July]; Creevey mss, Bennet to Creevey, 20 July, Creevey to Bennet, 30 Dec.; Lambton mss, Sefton and Wilson to Lambton [3 Aug.]; Fitzwilliam mss, Fazakerley to Milton, 11 Aug.; Bagot mss, Lyttelton to Bagot, 6 Oct. 1818; Berks. RO, Pleydell Bouverie mss O28/172, 173.
  • 35. Grey mss, Tierney to Grey, 21 Aug., 29 Sept., 10 Nov., Lambton to same, 11 Nov., Grey to Holland, 9 Nov.; Add. 51545, Holland to Grey, 6, 13 Nov.; 51549, Grey to Lady Holland, 31 Aug.; 51584, Tierney to Holland, 23 Aug., 6 Sept. 1818; Tierney mss 330.
  • 36. Grey mss, Tierney to Grey, 2 Jan.-3 Mar. passim, Lambton to same, 14, [16], 21 Jan., Rosslyn to same, 10, Spencer to same [28] Feb., Grey to Wilson, 16 Jan. 1819; Sydney Smith Letters ed. N. C. Smith, i. 317-18; HMC Fortescue, x. 444-5; Regency, ii. 300, 317; Colchester, iii. 69; Brougham mss, Brougham to Grey, 6 Feb.; Staffs. RO, Hatherton diary, 19 May; Add. 56540, Hobhouse diary, 19 May 1819; Heron, 101-2.
  • 37. Grey mss, Tierney to Grey, 6 Sept.-31 Dec. passim, Grey to his wife, 20 Nov.; Add. 51584, Tierney to Holland, 14-16, 21, 28 Sept.; Fitzwilliam mss, box 98, Tierney Fitzwilliam, 26 Oct., Scarlett to same, 1 Nov.; Spencer mss, ‘Althorp letters’, 91; Add. 56540, Hobhouse diary, 25 Nov. 1819.
  • 38. Harewood mss, Canning to his wife, 24 Dec.; Grey mss, Tierney to Grey [28 Dec.] 1819, 22, 27 Feb., Rosslyn to same, 23 Feb. 1820; Bessborough mss, Tierney to Duncannon, 28 Dec. 1819; NLW mss 4816, C. to H. Williams Wynn, 27 Feb. 1820.
  • 39. Brougham, Hist. Sketches (Paris, 1839), 299-300, 305; Further Mems. Whig Party, 265, 267; Creevey Pprs. i. 251; Pope of Holland House ed. Lady Seymour, 140.
  • 40. Further Mems. Whig Party, 266.