WORSLEY HOLMES, Leonard Thomas (1787-1825), of Pidford House, I.o.W.

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



7 Apr. 1809 - 10 Jan. 1825

Family and Education

b. 16 July 1787, 1st s. of Rev. Sir Henry Worsley, 8th Bt., of Pidford (who took the additional name of Holmes, 1804) by Elizabeth, da. and coh. of Rev. Leonard Troughear Holmes (formerly Troughear), 1st Baron Holmes [I], wid. of Edward Meux Worsley of Gatcombe; bro. of Richard Fleming Worsley Holmes*. educ. Eton 1802-5; Christ Church, Oxf. 1805. m. 5 June 1813, Anne, da. of John Delgarno* of Newport, 3da. suc. fa. as 9th Bt. 7 Apr. 1811.

Offices Held

Maj. Newport loyal vol. inf. 1805; lt.-col. N. Hants militia 1811-12; capt. commdt. I.o.W. yeoman cav. 1817.


Worsley Holmes’s father, patron of the Isle of Wight boroughs of Newport and Yarmouth, returned him for the former on the first vacancy after his coming of age. On 1 Mar. 1810, intending to proceed to Portugal, he was presented to the King. He had voted with ministers on the address, 23 Jan., and did so again, 5 Mar., on the Scheldt question, and 16 Apr. against the discharge of the radical Gale Jones. The Whigs considered him ‘doubtful’ from their point of view. In 1811 he succeeded his father as patron of the four seats. He took no part in the rest of that Parliament, but Lord Liverpool, the premier, was careful to send him advance notice of the dissolution, 24 Sept. 1812.1

He had meanwhile been drawn into the Marquess Wellesley’s orbit, being a friend of the latter’s son Richard. When Wellesley was cabinet-making in June 1812, he had earmarked a peerage for Worsley Holmes.2 When, at the general election, he returned Wellesley for Yarmouth and his brother and himself for Newport, the government felt duly snubbed.

Sir Leonard Holmes gives as his reason for uniting with W[ellesley] that he wants a renewal of the peerage and the old Whigs are so extremely fastidious he should stand no chance with them, whilst Wellesley who has none of these scruples, will take office on almost any terms, and through him his object will be attained. Wellesley has actually promised him both an English and an Irish barony for his ... seats.

This was the report of a Whig agent to Earl Grey, who was also informed by Lord Rosslyn that Worsley Holmes was ‘entirely neglected by ministers’. But Liverpool wrote, 10 Oct. 1812, ‘I could have had four seats from Sir L. Holmes’, apparently meaning that he would not promise Worsley Holmes a peerage. It also appeared that Worsley Holmes did not wish to sell the seats, as his predecessors had done. Wellesley commented, ‘This is a most capital stroke and will terrify the enemy’.3

He was listed ‘doubtful’ by the Treasury after the election, but as his adherent by Wellesley. After being absent on 2 Mar. 1813, he supported Catholic relief on 13 and 24 May, having also been in the majority for the sinecure bill, 29 Mar. In 1814 he joined Grillion’s Club, in which Richard Wellesley was prominent. When it became clear, however, that in the Marquess Wellesley he had backed the wrong horse, he repented. He was favourable to the resumption of hostilities with Buonaparte, which brought their differences out into the open in 1815. He voted with ministers on the Regent’s expenditure, 31 May 1815. On 3 Aug. Richard Ryder informed Liverpool:

You have probably heard that Sir Leonard Holmes has been for some time dissatisfied with Richard Wellesley’s and Sir Henry Montgomery’s opposition to government during the last session, and that this dissatisfaction has terminated in the understanding that they are to resign their seats on the first day of the next.

He added that Holmes was disposed to offer the two seats to government and, having intimated as much to Arbuthnot at the Treasury, was hurt at not having received a reply, being ‘very susceptible of attentions, and equally so to the want of them’. Neither money, nor a job, was at stake. Liverpool propelled Arbuthnot, who as usual had been elsewhere, into grateful acknowledgment of the offer. In fact, Richard Wellesley was given a session’s grace, in view of his long friendship with Holmes, but ceased to act with opposition.4

If Worsley Holmes expected the revival of the Holmes peerage as his immediate reward, he was disappointed. He voted with ministers for the renewal of the property tax, 18 Mar. 1816, but between then and 1820 was lost to view, perhaps sulking. He took a month’s leave for illness, 30 Mar. 1819, and was a defaulter on 6 May, discharged next day. He died a commoner, 10 Jan. 1825.

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: R. G. Thorne


  • 1. The Times, 2 Mar. 1810; Add. 38328, f. 43.
  • 2. Add. 37297, f. 166.
  • 3. Grey mss, Rosslyn to Grey, 16 Oct., Goodwin to same, 24 Dec.; Add. 40181, f. 15; 40222, f. 162; Lonsdale mss, Long to Lonsdale, 19 Oct. 1812; Iris Butler, The Eldest Brother, 472.
  • 4. Add. 38261, ff. 281, 297; Fortescue mss, Wellesley to Grenville, 23 Dec. 1816, 13 Jan. 1817.