NORTHCOTE, Henry Stafford (1792-1850), of the Pynes, nr. Exeter, Devon and 25 Portland Place, Mdx.
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Family and Educationb. 18 Mar. 1792, 1st s. of Sir Stafford Henry Northcote, 7th bt. (d. 1851), of the Pynes and Jaquetta, da. of Charles Baring of Larkbear, nr. Exeter. educ. Christ Church, Oxf. 1810. m. (1) 13 Nov. 1815, Agnes Mary (d. 9 Apr. 1840), da. of Thomas Cockburn of Bedford Hill, Surr., 4s. (2 d.v.p.) 2da.; (2) 6 Jan. 1846, Catherine, da. of Thomas Robbins of Pilewell, nr. Lymington, Hants, s.p. d.v.p. 22 Feb. 1850.
Northcote was the first member of this ancient Devon family to sit in the Commons since his celebrated seventeenth-century ancestor Sir John Northcote, 1st baronet, and his rather less conspicuous, but more typical relation Sir Henry, the 5th baronet, who represented Exeter, 1735-43.1 His father, who succeeded to the baronetcy in 1770, married the eldest daughter of Charles Baring, the younger brother of Sir Francis Baring†, the founder of that family’s commercial fortunes. Northcote, who took his degree in 1813, married the pious and amiable daughter of the Scottish former Madras civil servant Thomas Cockburn, but he did not share her Evangelical religious outlook.2 In December 1824 Cockburn, who described Sir Stafford Northcote as ‘one of the most attached friends of the government’, informed the duke of Wellington, the lord lieutenant of Hampshire, that Northcote had lived at Malshanger in that county since 1818, and recommended his appointment as a magistrate.3 Yet, apart from his London house, his address was usually given as the Pynes in contemporary directories.
At the general election of 1826, when his father proposed the Tory Sir Thomas Dyke Acland* for Devon, Northcote was returned unopposed for Heytesbury, presumably as the paying guest of the patron, Sir William A’Court†.4 He voted against Catholic relief, 6 Mar. 1827, and the second reading of the corn bill, 2 Apr. He divided against repeal of the Test Acts, 26 Feb., and Catholic relief, 12 May 1828. He was listed by Planta, the Wellington ministry’s patronage secretary, as ‘opposed to the principle of the bill’, but voted with government for Catholic emancipation, 6, 30 Mar. 1829. He divided against transferring East Retford’s seats to Birmingham, 11 Feb., Lord Blandford’s reform scheme, 18 Feb., and the enfranchisement of Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester, 23 Feb. 1830. His only other known votes were against Jewish emancipation, 17 May, and for Knatchbull’s amendment prohibiting the sale of beer for on-consumption, 21 June. He made no known speeches in the House, which he left at the dissolution in 1830, and he is not known to have sought another seat. He seconded the nomination of Acland for the county at the ensuing general election and proposed the Conservative Sir John Buller Yarde Buller† for Devon South in January 1835, when he deprecated
that spirit of party which would ascribe to an honest man placing confidence in the present government a wish to impede any great measure of reform which might be necessary and beneficial to the maintenance and improvement of our admirable constitution. It cannot but be the sincere wish of every true Conservative to apply such remedies to the defects of our constitution as might best meet the case. But ... let it not be attributed to him for a fault, if he tread with caution the very thin border which separates liberty and licentiousness.5
Thereafter he was not usually active in local politics.
On his death in 1831 the society painter James Northcote, who claimed a (spurious) connection with the Devon Northcotes, left them his collection of literary items and pictures relating to the family.6 Henry Northcote, two of whose sons died in 1831, lost his wife in 1840, but later remarried, to the daughter of a West India planter who had settled in Hampshire. She was also the sister of the wife of his uncle, Stafford Charles Northcote, rector of Upton Pyne.7 In early 1850 Northcote’s life was despaired of and he died in February, leaving his estate to his eldest son Stafford Henry (1818-87), who succeeded his grandfather as 8th baronet, 17 Mar. 1851.8 As Conservative Member for Dudley, Stamford and Devon North, he had a distinguished career, holding high ministerial office under Benjamin Disraeli† and Lord Salisbury, and was created earl of Iddesleigh in 1885.
Ref Volumes: 1820-1832
Author: Stephen Farrell
- 1. C. Worthy, Life of Earl of Iddesleigh (1887), 3-10, and Devonshire Wills, 441-7; The Times, 21 Jan. 1887.
- 2. Life, Letters and Diaries of Earl of Iddesleigh ed. A. Lang, i. 5-6, 25, 30-35, 46-50.
- 3. Wellington mss WP1/807/26; 824/3.
- 4. Alfred, 20 June, 11 July 1826.
- 5. Ibid. 10 Aug. 1830; Western Times, 17 Jan. 1835.
- 6. Add. 42524, f. 12; PROB 11/1788/411; Gent. Mag. (1831), ii. 102-6; Oxford DNB.
- 7. Devon RO, Northcote mss 51/24/15; IGI (Devon); M. Robbins, Gleanings of Robins or Robbins Fam. 45.
- 8. Life of Iddesleigh, 83, 87; Western Times, 2 Mar. 1850, 22 Mar. 1851.