BARING, Henry (1777-1848), of Somerley, Ringwood, Hants and 48 Berkeley Square, Mdx.
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Family and Educationb. 18 Jan. 1777, 3rd s. of Sir Francis Baring, 1st bt.† (d. 1810), of Stratton Park, Hants and Harriet, da. of William Herring of Croydon, Surr.; bro. of Alexander Baring* and Sir Thomas Baring, 2nd bt.* m. (1) 19 Apr. 1802, Maria Matilda (div. 31 Mar. 1825), da. of William Bingham of Philadelphia, former senator, USA, div. w. of Comte de Tilly, 3s. (1 d.v.p.) 2da.; (2) 9 July 1825, Cecilia Anne, da. and h. of V.-adm. William Windham of Cromer Hall, Norf., 7s. 1da. d. 13 Apr. 1848.
Baring, an inactive partner in the family financial house for 20 years from 1803, was a compulsive and generally lucky gambler and a crack shot. In the immediate post-war years he was a stalwart of the fashionable English society of Paris and an habitué of the Salon des Etrangers.1 After his brief spell as Whig Member for Bossiney in the 1806 Parliament he unsuccessfully contested Grampound in 1807, Winchester in 1812 (when he joined Brooks’s Club, 26 June) and Lewes in 1818. That year he was also defeated at Ipswich, where he stood on the independent interest. He continued to cultivate the borough, but at the general election of 1820, when he was in Paris, he declined to try again, pleading his ‘present unfortunate state of health’ and recommending a replacement who would seek to rescue Ipswich from ‘ministerial bondage’.2 At the dinner to celebrate the success of this bid, 3 July 1820, he read an address from the Essex radical Daniel Whittle Harvey complaining of having been unseated on a technicality for Colchester, his election for which had been declared void, and announced that his own health was now restored. At the ensuing Colchester by-election Harvey supported him, on an understanding that Baring would make way for him next time or that they would then stand together. A threatened opposition came to nothing and Baring, whose brother William was drowned during the campaign, stepped into Harvey’s shoes as the representative of the anti-corporation, independent interest.3 A petition accusing him of bribery was lodged but not pursued.
Baring, who is not known to have opened his mouth in debate, acted with the Whig opposition to the Liverpool ministry when present, but he was a very lax attender. He stayed away from the Colchester dinner to celebrate the abandonment of the prosecution of Queen Caroline, 19 Dec. 1820, claiming that the poor health of his wife, a rich and flighty American divorcee, obliged him to take her abroad; but by letter he condemned the ‘mean subserviency’ and ‘barefaced audacity’ of ministers.4 He voted in protest at the omission of the queen’s name from the liturgy, 23, 26 Jan., 13 Feb., and to censure the government, 6 Feb. 1821. He was absent from the division on Catholic relief, which was unpopular at Colchester, 28 Feb. He voted for repeal of the Blasphemous Libels Act, 8 May, Russell’s parliamentary reform motion, 9 May, inquiries into Peterloo, 16 May, and the administration of justice in Tobago, 6 June, for the forgery punishment mitigation bill, and against the inclusion of Thomas Frankland Lewis* in the Irish revenue commission, 15 June, and the inclusion of arrears in the duke of Clarence’s grant, 18 June 1821. In 1822 he was in the opposition minorities on the address, 5 Feb., tax reductions, 11 Feb., diplomatic expenditure, 15, 16 May, the aliens bill, 5, 14 June, and the lord advocate’s dealings with the Scottish press, 25 June. He paired for Brougham’s motion deploring the growing influence of the crown, 24 June 1822. His only known votes in the next two sessions were against the ordnance estimates, 19 Feb., and for Scottish parliamentary reform, 2 June 1823, and for information on Catholic burials, 6 Feb. 1824. He presented a Daventry silk weavers’ petition against repeal of the Spitalfields Acts, 4 June 1823.5
In March 1824 Baring’s wife was reported as cutting a ‘splendid’ figure at a ‘fancy ball’ at the British ambassador’s residence in Paris.6 At about this time, however, Baring discovered her adultery with the Waterloo veteran Captain Henry Webster (one of Lady Holland’s sons with her first husband), which had been going on for at least three years. On 10 July 1824 he obtained damages of £1,000 in a crim. con. action, though he had sought £10,000. He was granted a divorce in the arches court, 10 Feb. 1825, and the enabling bill, introduced to the Lords the following day, received royal assent on 31 Mar. 1825, after the sordid details of the case had been revealed.7 Baring voted against the Irish unlawful societies bill, 15 Feb. 1825. He defaulted on a call of the House, 28 Feb., but attended and was excused next day, when he paired for Catholic claims; he voted for the third reading of the relief bill, 10 May. He was in the majority for the St. Olave tithes bill, 6 June 1825. In July 1825 Baring, at the age of 48, married a young Norfolk heiress, with whom he had eight children. In October his friend Peel, the home secretary, a shooting guest at his Hampshire estate at Somerley, who had formed an impression that the new Mrs. Baring was attractive, was surprised to find that she was ‘a short, and ugly stumpy woman’, who possessed ‘a great power of acquiring languages’ but ‘did not know how to make tea’ and appeared ‘to take no interest in anything that goes on in the house’.8 Baring had for some time been seeking a buyer for Somerley, where he felt ‘uncomfortable’; and Peel, who believed he had been ‘looking narrowly into his expenses and income’, reported that ‘if anyone would give him £20,000 for the place, he would ... turn the key of the front door and deliver it up to the purchaser’.9 Baring’s only known votes in the 1826 session were for reform, 27 Apr., and in the protectionist minority of 51 against the emergency admission of foreign corn, 8 May. His negligence of his parliamentary duties had cost him most of his support at Colchester, and he retired from Parliament at the dissolution in June 1826.10
Between then and 1830 he sold Somerley to the 2nd earl of Normanton. Thereafter he lived, without drawing much attention to himself, at his wife’s property at Cromer and his town house in Berkeley Square.11 He died in April 1848. By his will, dated 17 July 1846, he provided generously for his wife, who received a life annuity of £1,500 and outlived him by 26 years, and his 12 surviving children.12 His sons Edward Charles (1828-97) and Evelyn (1841-1917) were respectively created Lords Revelstoke (1885) and Cromer (1892).
Ref Volumes: 1820-1832
Authors: David R. Fisher / Sharman Kadish
- 1. R.W. Hidy, House of Baring in American Trade, 38, 43, 45; Glenbervie Diaries, ii. 251, 287-8; Gronow Reminiscences, i. 91-92, 120-1; Arbuthnot Jnl. i. 175, 278; Fox Jnl. 139; N. Gash, Secretary Peel, 263.
- 2. Hants RO, Malmesbury mss 9M73/G2459, Malmesbury to Fitzharris, 19 Feb.; Essex RO, Barrett Lennard mss D/DL/C60, St. Vincent to Barrett Lennard, 20 Feb.; County Chron. 22 Feb.; Suff. Chron. 26 Feb. 1820.
- 3. Suff. Chron. 8, 15 July; County Chron. 18 July 1820.
- 4. The Times, 21 Dec.; Suff. Chron. 23 Dec. 1820; S.E. Morison, Life and Letters of Harrison Gray Otis, i. 136-8; Jerningham Letters, i. 241; Fox Jnl. 131.
- 5. The Times, 5 June 1823.
- 6. Bucks. RO, Fremantle mss D/FR/49/1/26.
- 7. M.D. George, Cat. of Personal and Pol. Satires, x. 14704, 14705; Add. 51659, Whishaw to Lady Holland, 13 May 1824; The Times, 12 July 1824, 11 Feb. 1825; LJ, lvii. 32, 55-60, 66-68, 82, 112, 117, 118, 164, 527; CJ, lxxx. 191, 195, 198-9, 252, 264, 298.
- 8. Peel Letters, 54, 73-75.
- 9. Eg. 3261, f. 112; Peel Letters, 75.
- 10. Bodl. MS. Eng. lett. c. 159, f. 38; Colchester Gazette, 10 June 1826.
- 11. VCH Hants, iv. 606.
- 12. Gent. Mag. (1848), ii. 95; PROB 11/2075/446; IR26/1794/472.