TRENCH, Hon. Richard (1767-1837), of Garbally, co. Galway.

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



1801 - 27 Apr. 1805
1807 - July 1807

Family and Education

b. 18 May 1767, 2nd but 1st surv. s. of William Power Keating, 1st Earl of Clancarty [I], by Anne, da. of Charles Gardiner, MP [I], of Dublin. educ. Loughborough House sch. Lambeth Wick; Kimbolton sch.; St. John’s, Camb. 1785; L. Inn 1788, called [I] 1793. m. 9 Feb. 1796, Henrietta Margaret, da. of John Staples* by 1st w., 3s. 5da. Styled Visct. Dunlo 1803-5; suc. fa. as 2nd Earl of Clancarty [I] 27 Apr. 1805; took additional name of Le Poer, 27 Oct. 1807; cr. Baron Trench [UK] 4 Aug. 1815, Visct. Clancarty [UK] 8 Dec. 1823; cr. Mq. of Heusden (Netherlands) 18 July 1818, assumed that title in UK by royal lic. 16 Aug. 1824; GCB 1 Apr. 1815; GCH 1821.

Offices Held

MP [I] 1796-1800; rep. peer [I] 1808-d.

Commr. Board of Control May 1804-6; jt. postmaster-gen. [I] May-Nov. 1807, postmaster-gen [I] 1807-Nov. 1809; PC 13 May 1807; PC [I] 7 July 1809; member of Board of Trade May 1807, pres. Sept. 1812-Jan. 1818; master of Mint Oct. 1812-Sept. 1814; jt. postmaster-gen. [UK] Sept. 1814-16.

Ambassador to Netherlands 1813-14, 1816-23; plenip. at Congress of Vienna Aug. 1814.

Gov. co. Galway 1802; custos rot. 1808; v.-adm. Connaught 1822-d.; col. Galway militia 1804.


Trench was first returned to the Irish parliament in 1796 by his wife’s uncle Thomas Conolly. A year later he succeeded his father, who had held the seat for nearly 30 years, in the representation of county Galway. He opposed the Union in 1799 but was induced by Castlereagh, who thought him ‘very intelligent’ and became his friend for life, to change his mind. His father became a viscount on the occasion and his brother a bishop. He was duly listed a ‘respectable’ supporter of government at Westminster and they had hopes of his ‘useful talents’. He had evidently already studied the assimilation of the laws of Ireland to those of Great Britain in Treasury business.1 In his maiden speech, 10 Mar. 1801, he explained why Irish Members felt justified in seeking leave of absence for their assizes; two days later and on 10 June he defended the Irish martial law bill. On 26 June he complained of the negligence in forwarding Irish exchequer accounts. He was named to the civil list committee, 17 Feb. 1802. In March he offered to bring in a bill to fix the Irish judicial circuits, which government decided not to adopt.2

Trench was returned unopposed in 1802 and on 23 Nov. proposed the vote of thanks for the address, taking the pacification of Ireland and of Europe as his theme. In voting for the supply, 11 Mar. 1803, he justified rearmament as a defensive rather than an aggressive measure. He was now styled Viscount Dunlo, having with Castlereagh’s help obtained the peerage of Clancarty for his father. His colleague Richard Martin, who admitted that Dunlo was ‘a man of business and keeps his affairs in excellent order’ and that he was ‘punctual’ in his parliamentary attendance, resented what he regarded as government’s favouritism towards him, and in August 1803 carried a pro-Catholic resolution in defiance of a loyal (and protestant) address engineered by Dunlo for the Galway assizes. He continued to intervene in debate on Irish affairs, notably as a select committeeman on Irish finances in defence of the Irish bank restriction bill, 13 Feb. 1804. He twice tried in vain to come to the defence of the Irish government on 7 Mar. 1804.3 At this time he was expected to vote with Castlereagh and, on Pitt’s return to power, sat under Castlereagh’s presidency at the Board of Control. Addington, the outgoing minister, who had hoped to retain Dunlo’s support, noted his defection to Pitt over the additional force bill in June, and Dunlo went on to speak in favour of it and to make himself useful to government in debate, as well as by acting as teller three times in April 1805. On the last occasion, when he also spoke, 29 Apr., he had evidently not been informed of his father’s death two days before, which disqualified him. He had just been named for the select committee on the 11th naval report, after being a member of that on the tenth. Lacking his father’s popularity in county Galway, he was unable to prevent his replacement by an opposition supporter.4 An abortive negotiation with Castlereagh to procure him an English seat, which hinged on an East India Company writership, was in 1809 exposed in Parliament with a view to discrediting Castlereagh.

When his friends returned to power in 1807, Clancarty was returned for Rye on the Treasury interest, but never took his seat because his appointment as joint postmaster-general in Ireland, which disqualified him, took place five days before the date of his return. He was in any case wanted in Ireland to reform the post office. Nothing came of Saunders Dundas’s notion of sending him to India in 1808 as head of a three-man commission of inquiry with a step in the peerage.5 He remained in office and his friendship with Castlereagh subsequently translated him to the diplomatic service until 1823. Thereafter he was an adherent of the Duke of Wellington. He died 24 Nov. 1837.

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: P. J. Jupp


  • 1. Cornwallis Corresp. iii. 129; Add. 35750, f. 102; PRO 30/8/121, f. 152; 30/9/13, pt. 2.
  • 2. Add. 35713, f. 11.
  • 3. Add. 35708, f. 55; 35747, f. 44; Geo. III Corresp. iv. 2699; Wickham mss 1/45/11, Wickham to Addington, 29 Jan.; Glos. RO, Redesdale mss C10, D’Arcy to Redesdale, 22 Oct. 1803.
  • 4. Sidmouth mss, Addington to Yorke, 13 June 1804; Add. 35750, f. 102.
  • 5. Wellington mss, Clancarty to Wellesley, 9, 18 May, Wellesley to Clancarty, 13 May 1807; Perceval (Holland) mss C9, Saunders Dundas to Perceval, 16 June 1808.