PENRHYN, Edward (1794-1861), of The Cedars, East Sheen, Surr.
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Family and Educationb. 16 Sept. 1794, 1st s. of Rev. Oswald Leycester, rect. of Stoke-upon-Tern, Salop, and 1st w. Mary, da. of P. Johnson1 of Timperley, Cheshire. educ. Warrington; Eton 1808; St. John’s, Camb. 1813; M. Temple 1818. m. 16 Dec. 1823, Charlotte Elizabeth, da. of Edward Smith Stanley, Lord Stanley*, 2s. 2da. Took name of Penrhyn in accordance with the will of his fa.’s 1st cos. Baroness Penrhyn 1816; suc. fa. 1846. d. 6 Mar. 1861.
Chairman, q.s. Surr. (Kingston-upon-Thames) 1845-d.
Edward Leycester, whose father Oswald (bap. 21 Mar. 1752)2 was the fifth son of Ralph Leycester of Toft (1699-1777), was the much younger first cousin of Ralph Leycester (1763-1835), Member for Shaftesbury, 1821-30.3 The Rev. Oswald, who lost his wife in 1812 and afterwards married Eliza, daughter of Charles White of Manchester, was a fellow of King’s, Cambridge, 1772-86, and later became vicar of Harlington, Bedfordshire, and Hodnet, Shropshire. Edward followed him to Cambridge, where he was a scholar and president of the Union Society. During his childhood he had visited his fierce relation Anna Susanna, Lady Penrhyn, at Penrhyn Castle, Caernarvonshire, and his sister Maria recalled (in the Memorials prepared by her husband) that the ‘Ladies of Llangollen’ perhaps played a part in his future prospects:
Lady Eleanor Butler was short and fat, but Miss Ponsonby was tall and thin, and used often to be supposed to be a man in disguise. They had a romantic attachment for each other, and had forsaken their own families to be more entirely together ... It was they who first told Lady Penrhyn that my handsome brother Edward was like her, and it is said they thus gave her the first idea of making him her heir; but I believe that which really made her do so was her amusement when her young cousin in riding home had not enough money left to pay a turnpike gate and was obliged to leave his handkerchief in pawn with the toll collector.4
Lady Penrhyn had been widowed in 1808, when the West India merchant and Irish peer Lord Penrhyn, formerly Richard Pennant, Member for Petersfield and Liverpool, left the Penrhyn estate to George Hay Dawkins Pennant, Member for Newark and New Romney. But Lady Penrhyn (who died on 1 Jan. 1816) retained a considerable fortune, and by her will, dated 11 June 1814 (in which she also provided pensions of £45 each for her six horses), she left the residue of her personal estate, which was sworn under £120,000, to Edward Leycester, provided that he changed his name to that of her late husband’s extinct title.5 Penrhyn, as he was now known, entered the Middle Temple in 1818, but does not appear to have been called. Later that year he travelled on the continent, and the following year he went to Scotland. He married a granddaughter of the 12th Earl of Derby in 1823 and settled in East Sheen. In 1826 he became the first chairman of the Richmond board of guardians of the poor, and thereafter was active in Surrey affairs.6
When Ralph Leycester retired from Parliament at the general election of 1830, Lord Grosvenor brought forward Penrhyn as one of his candidates at Shaftesbury, where the independent interest provoked a spirited contest. On the hustings he insisted that he was unshackled and spoke in favour of economies, parliamentary reform, religious toleration, the abolition of slavery and free trade, except in corn. He came top of the poll, but like Grosvenor’s other nominee was roughly handled during the postponed chairing.7 He attended on the opening day of the session, in company with Sir John Benn Walsh, 2 Nov.8 He was listed by the Wellington ministry among the ‘good doubtfuls’, but he divided against them in the division on the civil list which brought them down, 15 Nov. 1830. He voted for the second reading of the Grey ministry’s reform bill, 22 Mar., and against Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr. 1831. At the ensuing general election Penrhyn, who advised Grosvenor’s agents on the management of the borough but was well respected there as a reformer, was re-elected for Shaftesbury after another contest against the popular party.9 He voted for the second reading of the reintroduced reform bill, 6 July, at least twice against adjourning the proceedings on it, 12 July, and steadily for its details, though he divided for Lord Chandos’s amendment to enfranchise £50 tenants-at-will, 18 Aug. He voted against printing the Waterford petition for disarming the Irish yeomanry, 11 Aug., and censuring the Irish government for interference in the Dublin election, 23 Aug. He divided for the passage of the reform bill, 21 Sept., and Lord Ebrington’s confidence motion, 10 Oct. 1831.
He was appointed to the select committee on Irish tithes, 15 Dec. 1831, and, in his only known parliamentary speech, defended ministers on this subject, 27 Mar. 1832. He divided for the second reading of the revised reform bill, 17 Dec., and wrote to Lord Westminster (as Grosvenor had become) on 24 Dec. 1831 that ‘I think the House of Commons will not show much fight on the amended reform bill’.10 He again divided steadily for its details, and voted for its third reading, 22 Mar. 1832. He sided with ministers on the navy civil departments bill, 6 Apr. He voted for Ebrington’s motion for an address calling on the king to appoint only ministers who would carry the reform bill unimpaired, 10 May, and for the second reading of the Irish bill, 25 May. His only other known votes were with government for the Russian-Dutch loan, 26 Jan., 12, 16, 20 July. On 4 June he informed Westminster that ‘I should not hesitate to avail myself of the opportunity of standing again’ for Shaftesbury, which was reduced to one seat by the Reform Act, but the patron was wary of offering any further overt influence.11 His opponent, the Liberal John Sayer Poulter, denounced him as ‘nothing in this place but the friend of close boroughs, and a complete ultra-Tory’, and at the general election in December 1832 beat him by 318 votes to 210, largely because he was unpopular with the new electors from the recently added parts of the enlarged constituency.12 Penrhyn, who succeeded his father in June 1846, died a respected country gentleman in March 1861. His sister recorded that ‘short was the warning, but it found him ready; and so blessed was the close of his outwardly blameless life, so ripened was he for his heavenly inheritance, that it took away the "sting of death"’.13 He presumably left the bulk of his estate to his elder son Edward Henry Leycester (1827-1919), an officer in the Royal Surrey militia, and provided for his three other children.
Ref Volumes: 1820-1832
Author: Stephen Farrell
- 1. His identity has not been traced.
- 2. IGI (Cheshire).
- 3. Burke Commoners (1833), i. 73-75; G. Ormerod, Cheshire, i. 507.
- 4. A.J.C. Hare, Memorials of a Quiet Life (1884), i. 3-4, 7, 10-11.
- 5. PROB 11/1580/276; IR26/685/409.
- 6. Hare, i. 22, 26, 30-31, 56; C.M. Rose, 19th Cent. Mortlake and East Sheen, 111.
- 7. Hist. Shaftesbury Election 1830, pp. 12, 29, 41-43; Dorset Co. Chron. 22 July, 12 Aug., 9 Sept. 1830.
- 8. NLW, Ormathwaite mss FG/1/5, p. 126.
- 9. Grosvenor mss 9/11/48; Dorset Co. Chron. 5 May 1831.
- 10. Grosvenor mss 9/12/47.
- 11. Ibid. 9/12/48, 49; The Times, 28 June, 2 July 1832.
- 12. Sherborne Jnl. 19 July, 13, 27 Dec.; Dorset Co. Chron. 29 Nov., 13 Dec. 1832.
- 13. Gent. Mag. (1846), ii. 215; (1861), i. 467; Hare, ii. 406, 409-10.