TOPPING, James (1756-1821), of Whatcroft Hall, Cheshire.

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



1 Aug. 1806 - 1806
1806 - 1807

Family and Education

b. 26 Apr. 1756,1 s. of Richard Topping of Warrington, Lancs. educ. I. Temple 1776, called 1781; L. Inn 1808. m. Sarah Margaret, da. and h. of William Robinson, 2da.

Offices Held

KC 23 Apr. 1804; bencher, I. Temple 1804, treasurer 1815; King’s attorney and serjt. cos. pal. of Lancaster and Durham 1816-19.


Topping, a barrister practising on the northern circuit, fought a bloodless duel with Richard Burke* on 12 Mar. 1784, after he had abused Earl Fitzwilliam in the latter’s hearing.2 He owed his seats in Parliament to Lord Grenville, who, as prime minister, secured his return for Bodmin on a vacancy in 1806, on Lady Grenville’s family interest. The seat was not secure, and after an ineffectual canvass at the ensuing general election Topping withdrew.3 He was found another seat, for Thirsk, where a member of the government, William Frankland*, made way for him on obtaining a berth elsewhere.

Topping made no mark in the House. On 3 Mar. 1807 he obtained leave to go his circuit. At the dissolution he was left without a seat. Joseph Jekyll who called him ‘Tiger Topping’, quoted George Wood* as saying of him: ‘he was always either smearing you with honey or excrement’ and reported him as ‘at loggerheads’ with the renegade Sir John Coxe Hippisley on the Catholic question in May 1813.4 But this was no bar to his professional advancement. On 14 June 1815 he reappeared in the House—as counsel for Lord Rosebery’s divorce bill. He died 12 Jan. 1821.

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Authors: Winifred Stokes / R. G. Thorne


  • 1. Ormerod, Cheshire, iii. 244.
  • 2. Burke Corresp. v. 130.
  • 3. Fortescue mss, Grenville to Gilbert, 25 Oct., reply 29 Oct. 1806.
  • 4. Dorset RO, Bond mss D367, Jekyll to Bond, 19 [Mar. 1812], 22 May 1813.