IRONMONGER, Richard (?1772-1826), of Effingham, Surr. and North Lodge, Brighton, Suss.
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Family and Educationb. ?1772, grands. of Richard Ironmonger of Derby. m. 30 June 1798, Ann Bradley, s.p. d. 29 July 1826.
Ironmonger’s family came from Derby, where his sister Sarah married John Slack in 1793, but little is known about his parents.1 His grandfather and namesake, a maltster who owned dwelling houses in Bold Lane, Sadler Gate and Wardwick, died there, 30 Apr. 1779, leaving his son William, who was presumably Ironmonger’s father, ‘the sum of five shillings to be paid him weekly upon every Monday morning during his natural life’, by his will of 9 Dec. 1777. His Derby properties, which were occupied by 15 tenants, were divided between his son-in-law Robert Grayson, his daughters Sarah Pollatt and Lydia Ironmonger and his grandson Richard. (His other grandchildren, Sarah, Dorothy and William Ironmonger, shared legacies totalling £200.)2 In the 1790s Ironmonger moved to London, where he married at St. Martin-in-the-Fields, 30 June 1798.3 By 1803 he was established at 35 Gerrard Street, Soho and working as a coachmaster from Charing Cross. In a civil action of that year, brought against the driver of a chaise-cart who had collided with one of his horses, he was described as ‘a proprietor of several coaches, which ran between London and Brighton and places adjacent’.4 These operated from the Swan Coach Office at Charing Cross, where he was registered in 1808, and from the George and Blue Boar Inn at Holborn, of which he owned the leasehold at his death. He did not trade under his own name, however, and was probably associated with Crossweller and Company, who operated coaches to and from the same locations. He was no longer recorded there in 1818, but was described as ‘a coach proprietor in town’ by Edward Littleton* two years later.5 He moved to Effingham in Surrey and was ‘an active Sussex magistrate’ on the Brighton bench for a number of years.6
At the 1820 general election Ironmonger stood for Stafford, describing himself as ‘an intimate friend of the late R.B. Sheridan’, Member from 1780-1806, whom, it was later claimed, he had done much to ‘comfort’ during his final illness. In a published address, which he subsequently retracted as having been ‘modified’ by a friend without his knowledge and ‘capable of misconstruction’, he promised to help ‘restore the depressed middle and lower classes of society to the independence and prosperity of other days ... to rescue their rights and privileges from the usurpations of the rich and powerful’, and to ‘oppose the unjust and scandalous system of taxation which fetters and depresses trade’. He also advocated ‘shorter parliaments’ and ‘more frequent communications’ between Members and their constituents. His ‘official’ address, published a week later, described him as ‘an enemy of corruption’ and a ‘strenuous supporter of civil and religious liberty’, ‘the advocate of temperate reform’ and ‘a loyal subject to the king’. He was enrolled as a burgess by the corporation, 6 Mar. 1820.7 Following his narrow defeat, he paid his election bills promptly and was considered to have ‘terminated the contest in a manner most liberal and worthy of his character’. Tributes from the town’s inhabitants and corporation followed, and an address of thanks signed by 375 electors credited him with ensuring ‘the unexampled tranquility which has prevailed during this contested election’.8 Encouraged by this support, he offered again at the general election of 1826, when both the sitting Members retired. Considered ‘more radical than most coachmasters’, and later described as ‘zealously devoted to all liberal institutions, and the amelioration of society’, he pledged himself to support reform of the poor laws. With the support of the corporation he topped the poll.9 His defeated opponent John Campbell I* observed that ‘he sat all day at the right hand of the mayor, drinking porter and brandy’, and had ‘the appearance and manners of a coachman accustomed to drive the night heavy to Birmingham’.10
On 22 July 1826 it was reported that Ironmonger had been ‘confined to his house through severe indisposition’ and would be unable to keep an engagement in Stafford. A week later he died at North Lodge, his Brighton home, without taking his seat.11 By his will, dated 28 Aug. 1825 and proved under £7,000, he provided annuities for his wife and sisters Sarah Slack and Dorothy Thompson, and left legacies to his nephew John Slack and his nieces Maria and Jane Slack. Costs were charged to six entrusted houses in Brighton, one at Worthing, three in Surrey, the George and Blue Boar, the Union Coffee House in Cockspur Street and property in Chancery Lane and at 24 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London.12
Ref Volumes: 1820-1832
Author: Philip Salmon
- 1. Gent. Mag. (1793), ii. 766.
- 2. Lichfield RO, consistory ct. 1779, Richard Ironmonger.
- 3. IGI.
- 4. The Times, 24 Mar. 1803.
- 5. IR26/1089/697; Hatherton diary, 21 Mar. 1820.
- 6. Gent. Mag. (1826) ii. 382; J.C. Wedgwood, Staffs. Parl. Hist. iii. 58.
- 7. T. Moore, Mem. Sheridan (1825), 688; Staffs. Advertiser, 26 Feb., 4 Mar. 1820; Staffs. RO, town council order bk. D1323/A/1/4.
- 8. Staffs. Advertiser, 11, 18, 25 Mar. 1820.
- 9. Wedgwood, iii. 58; Gent. Mag. (1826) ii. 382; Staffs. Advertiser, 27 May, 10, 17 June 1826.
- 10. Life of Campbell, i. 433; Aris’s Birmingham Gazette, 12 June 1826.
- 11. Staffs. Advertiser, 22 July, 5 Aug. 1826.
- 12. PROB 11/1715/438; IR26/1089/697.