VANE (afterwards VANE TEMPEST), Sir Henry, 2nd Bt. (1771-1813), of Long Newton and Wynyard, co. Dur.

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



17 Oct. 1794 - Feb. 1800
1807 - 1 Aug. 1813

Family and Education

b. 25 Jan. 1771, o.s. of Rev. Sir Henry Vane, 1st Bt., preb. of Durham, by Frances, da. and coh. of John Tempest of Sherburn and Wynyard. educ. Harrow 1785. m. 25 Apr. 1799, Anne Katharine, s.j. Countess of Antrim [I], da. and coh. of Randal William MacDonnell, 1st Mq. of Antrim, 1da. suc. fa. as 2nd Bt. 7 June 1794; uncle John Tempest* to Wynyard 1794 and took additional name of Tempest by Act of Parliament 28 Apr. 1795 (35 Geo. III, c.44).

Offices Held

Mayor, Hartlepool 1798-9, 1806-7.

Lt.-col. Durham cav. 1797; maj. commdt. Wynyard Rangers 1801.


Four deaths in the space of 19 months made Vane Tempest an extremely wealthy young man. Although his father had been created a baronet in 1782, he did not come into possession of the old family property at Long Newton until the death of his bachelor elder brother Lionel Vane in February 1793. A month earlier, the only son of this Member’s maternal uncle John Tempest, Member for Durham, died. In his will, dated 31 July 1793, Tempest left Wynward and all his other extensive property in Durham, which contained valuable coal mines at Rainton and Pittington, to his nephew, on condition that he took the additional name of Tempest. He succeeded to Long Newton and the baronetcy in June 1794 and to the Tempest inheritance two months later. He subsequently sold part of it, the Brancepeth estate, to William Russell for £75,000.

Vane Tempest was returned unopposed in his uncle’s place in October 1794, though it was later alleged that because of ‘his long absence in a foreign country, his precarious health, and the total want of intelligence, the knowledge of his existence was rendered extremely doubtful’ at the time.1 He may have been responsible for the vote against the seditious meetings bill, 25 Nov. 1795, attributed to ‘Sir Fred. Vane’. Marked ‘hopeful’ in the ministerial survey drawn up for the general election of 1796, when he came in again unopposed for Durham, he left no trace of activity in the new Parliament. He had an unsavoury reputation, as Glenbervie noted in 1810; ‘He is handsome and profligate, but blasé, coarse in his manners, a jockey, and a hard drinker, with a violent temper, and no understanding’. In 1799, he married Lady Antrim, ‘the great Irish prize in the matrimonial lottery’, who brought with her extensive property in Northern Ireland. It later emerged that, probably while the settlement was being drawn up, he was committing adultery with a Mrs Henderson, the wife of a West India merchant, though he was not her only lover. His wife, who was ‘not handsome, but very fine, very dissipated, very fashionable, and very much of the kind to do as she has done’, later had an affair with the notorious reprobate Colonel William Berkeley*.2

In February 1800 he vacated his seat, ‘the necessity of attending to my private concerns requiring my presence in Ireland’, as he claimed, though it was thought that he was hoping to set himself up for an Irish peerage. In his place at Durham he secured the return of his Whig brother-in-law Michael Angelo Taylor, but only after a contest with William Russell’s son which cost £17,191. Soon afterwards he offered 37,000 guineas at auction for the borough of Gatton, but he was outbid by William Moffat*.3 When Rowland Burdon, the popular Member for Durham county, announced in September 1801 that he would not stand at the next election, Vane Tempest offered in his place, claiming that he was ‘now differently circumstanced’ than when he had given up the city seat. He was condemned in some quarters as a wastrel and lecher who had largely ignored his parliamentary duties, and the prospect of his sitting for the county while Taylor continued to represent the city aroused considerable hostility. An attempt by the commercial and ecclesiastical interests to persuade Burdon to change his mind failed, and Vane Tempest seemed sure of success when Parliament was dissolved in 1802; but he was frustrated by a well organized movement to bring in Burdon with or without his consent, which he at first tried to set at defiance, but which eventually forced him to withdraw. His brother-in-law was beaten in the city. At the time of the 1806 general election he was in Ireland. It was falsely reported that he was to stand for Antrim, but he came over and offered for Durham county. He was unable to make any headway against two supporters of the Grenville ministry and withdrew, pleading poor health as his excuse and complaining that one of his rivals had broken an earlier promise not to oppose his pretensions. His chance came in 1807, when the discontent provoked by a late attempt to introduce a compromise candidate enabled him to stand as the champion of electoral independence and win the second county seat after a brief contest.4

Two weeks after his election he was reported to have died, but he survived a severe illness. He was given periods of sick leave, 24 and 30 Mar. 1808.5 In 1813 Lord Strathmore, complaining to Lord Liverpool about the distribution of Durham patronage, asserted that Vane Tempest had ‘always been considered the ministerial Member for the county’; but on 22 Aug. 1808 Charles Long, the paymaster-general, told Lord Lonsdale, who had intervened on behalf of Richard Wharton, Member for the city, in a squabble with Vane Tempest over patronage, that ministers were ‘not much’ disposed to oblige the latter, even though he was technically in the right in this instance. Four days later Long informed Lonsdale:

Sir H. V. Tempest has favoured me with a great deal of his correspondence respecting some offices ... at Durham ... for which Wharton and him have been competitors. It appears that they have been invariably given to the Member for the town. This I have represented to Sir H. V. Tempest: he is not satisfied, and it has ended in a letter in which he complains of ill treatment from the present government, and as far as I can understand the remainder, it means in plain English to say that he shall vote against us in the next session.

On 2 Dec. 1808 Vane Tempest complained to Sir Arthur Wellesley that his wife’s claims to patronage in Antrim had been ignored, and went on:

I confess I feel reluctance in forwarding her wishes nor could anything have induced me to have done so had I not found, upon a very recent occasion, that the rule ... of giving appointments to Members, for counties had been most carefully and ... intentionally broken through in my own instance. I beg leave to add that if it creates the least difficulty to the present government to allow me to stand on the same footing which the late Marquess of Antrim did with regard to his own estate and about which there has already been considerable hesitation, I may be told so at once, as by that means much trouble may be saved on both sides.6

He voted against government on Cintra, 21 Feb., the Duke of York scandal, 17 Mar., and Castlereagh’s alleged electoral corruption, 25 Apr. 1809. The Whigs listed him among the ‘doubtful’ in 1810, when his only recorded votes were for the release of John Gale Jones, 16 Apr., and for parliamentary reform, 21 May. His only other known vote in this Parliament was with government against the abolition of the sinecure paymastership, 21 Feb. 1812, and on 28 May he was granted a month’s sick leave.7

Vane Tempest was returned unopposed for the county in 1812, having given up a notion of standing for Antrim.8 The Liverpool ministry listed him among their supporters. He voted against Catholic relief, 2 Mar., 11 and 24 May, and against Christian missionary activity in India, 22 June 1813. He is not known to have spoken in the House.

He died 1 Aug. 1813, leaving a daughter (later Lady Londonderry), who inherited his property and ‘immense fortune’ and, it was said, an illegitimate son ‘of whom he was very fond’.9

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: David R. Fisher


  • 1. Gent. Mag. (1813), ii. 703.
  • 2. Glenbervie Diaries, ii. 69; Geo. III Corresp. v. 3657; Spencer mss, Lady to Ld. Spencer, 11 July 1811.
  • 3. The Times, 28 Feb., 4, 5, 18 Mar., 18 Apr. 1800; Co. Dur. RO, Londonderry mss D/LO/E/391, acct. bk. 41-43.
  • 5. Leveson Gower, ii. 251; CJ, lxiii. 207, 225.
  • 6. Add. 38252, f. 229; Lonsdale mss; Wellington mss.
  • 7. CJ, lxvii. 403.
  • 8. Add. 40280, f. 63.
  • 9. Add. 34458, f. 517.