VIII. Politics and Parties

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832, ed. D.R. Fisher, 2009
Available from Cambridge University Press

The 1820 Parliament

About forty years ago Austin Mitchell analysed voting behaviour in the 1820 Parliament as part of his study of the Whig party in opposition from 1815 to 1830. He conceded that his ‘method of analysis … does not accord with vague contemporary classifications’, but argued that it ‘does accord with voting habits and is reasonably comprehensive’. He devised the categories of ‘government’, ‘government fringe’, ‘opposition’, ‘opposition fringe’ and ‘waverers’, into which the 683 Members who voted in the divisions examined were placed. The results were:


Government fringe











This, he wrote, produced ‘a picture of a House with a two-party system modified by the existence of unreliable groups on the fringes of both sides, and by a cushion group between the two, whose voting record indicates no attachment to either party’.1 What follows here is an analysis of voting behaviour in this Parliament on the same principles (in the first instance at least), but covering a much larger number of division lists than those used by Mitchell. He took eleven divisions ‘in which government and opposition clashed and for which the votes of both sides … are recorded’. He supplemented the basic results with an examination of voting in a further 203 ‘political’ divisions for which only the names of opposition voters (almost always the minorities) were given. The analysis here is based on 62 divisions (51 more than those studied by Mitchell) in which both government and opposition voters are listed: for 47 of these, there are full lists of both majority and minority; and for the other 15 there are partial lists only, usually of ministerial placemen in the majority. The other ‘political’ divisions for which only opposition voters are listed number 310 (107 more than those used by Mitchell). The source for these additional lists is The Times.2 Less than two-thirds of the lists printed there (usually within one or two days of the occurrence of the relevant division) were incorporated in Parliamentary Debates.3 Like Mitchell’s, this analysis excludes all divisions on Catholic relief; but, unlike his, it includes those on parliamentary reform, as there is no convincing reason for omitting them.

In the 62 ‘double divisions’, 335 Members voted only with government and 193 only with opposition. This compares with figures of 361 and 206 respectively for the 11 divisions examined by Mitchell. Thus 528 Members, or 66 per cent of the 802 who were returned to this Parliament, voted consistently in these divisions. Forty-six Members cast no known vote in the 372 divisions considered here, although a fair number of them did vote on Catholic relief. A strict application of the criteria used by Mitchell produces the following basic analysis of the 756 Members who voted in these divisions:


Government fringe


Opposition fringe








This suggests an even looser party system than that found by Mitchell, if only because the inclusion of an additional 158 divisions in the analysis increases the potential for detecting wayward voting. An adjustment to this basic analysis can be made by discarding Mitchell’s stringent allowance of a deviation of only one per cent for Members who voted consistently in the ‘double’ divisions but cast wayward votes in one or more of the other 310, which inflates the number of ‘waverers’, and substituting ten per cent.4 This increases the ‘government fringe’ to 131 and reduces the ‘waverers’ to 168. Considerable further refinement is possible by the application of common sense and detailed knowledge of the political allegiances, beliefs and behaviour of individual Members.

Thirty-five can reasonably be moved from ‘government fringe’ to ‘government’ by virtue of their steady and general support of the Liverpool ministry and the infrequency of their wayward voting, which often occurred on issues of no great significance. These Members include George Canning, foreign secretary from August 1822; James Brogden, chairman of ways and means; Thomas Courtenay, secretary to the board of control; the Grenvillite William Fremantle, a member of the board of control from February 1822; Charles Grant, Irish secretary until December 1821 and vice-president of the board of trade from April 1823; Michael Nolan, a Welsh judge; Sir Francis Ommanney, a navy agent; William Peel, brother of Robert, the home secretary; and William Vesey Fitzgerald, a former junior minister who rejoined the government in July 1826. A further four Members should be transferred from ‘waverers’ to ‘government’: the Grenvillites Charles Williams Wynn and Joseph Phillimore, president and a member respectively of the board of control from February 1822; Charles Wetherell, who, after a burst of independence over the Queen Caroline affair in 1821, was made solicitor-general in January 1824; and Robert Wilmot Horton, colonial under-secretary from December 1821. This takes the ‘government’ total to 243, seven fewer than Mitchell’s figure. Some 70 of them were office or place-holders. At least 43 Members ought to be transferred from ‘opposition fringe’ to ‘opposition’. They may have divided very occasionally with government, but it would be a nonsense not to include in the ranks of committed opposition Members the following: Alexander Baring (voted 51 times against government); Ralph Bernal (over 200 times); Lord William Cavendish Bentinck (43); Sir Francis Blake (78); Sir John Fenton Boughey (56); Henry Bright (161); Thomas Fowell Buxton (52); John Calcraft (151); Charles Calvert (108); Sir Isaac Coffin (60); William Evans (201); Robert Farrand (49); Robert ‘Bum’ Gordon (209); Pascoe Grenfell (67); Hudson Gurney (44); William Haldimand (79); William James (158); William Leader (65); John Lockhart (43); John Maberly (158); William Leader Maberly (160); Stewart Marjoribanks (110); John Martin (206); John Maxwell (67); Samuel Moulton Barrett (133); Sir John Newport (152); Sir Henry Parnell (94); William Powlett (71); George Purefoy Jervoise (83); David Ricardo (over 200 in four sessions); William Rickford (101); Sir Matthew White Ridley (70); Abraham Robarts (153); George Robarts (150); James Scarlett (105); Sir John Sebright (55); John Smith (107); Robert Percy ‘Bobus’ Smith (60); Lord Stanley (61); John Warre (85); William Wolryche Whitmore (69); Sir Robert Wilson (165); and William Wrixon (48). Some others of the ‘opposition fringe’ have been left in that category because their frequency of voting was not high; but they include such stalwart Whigs as George Agar Ellis, Charles Dundas, Archibald Farquharson, John Foster Barham, Henry Labouchere, Charles Kemeys Tynte, William Maule, George and Samuel Smith, Edward Smith Stanley, William Stewart, Richard Wogan Talbot and Walter Wilkins. Thus the revised figure for ‘opposition’ becomes 183. At 164, the ‘waverers’ are far too numerous. (Four have been moved to ‘government’, as noted above.) A further 69 should be transferred to ‘government fringe’ on the strength of the steadiness of their support for the government and the relative infrequency of their deviations. They include William Courtenay (who voted 29 times with government and against only four); Robert Bransby Cooper (28 for, four against); William Gordon (the same); Michael Prendergast (21 for and two against); Frederick Trench (the same); Robert Downie (20 for and five against); Charles Madryll Cheere (20 for and four against); Sir Miles Nightingall (19 for and two against); and Frank Sotheron (19 for and two against). Lord Hotham voted with government 24 times and George Holme Sumner 19 times; but they deviated nine and eight times respectively. This adjustment makes the final ‘government fringe’ total 165. Of the remaining 95 ‘waverers’, 45 have been moved to ‘opposition fringe’ as Members who divided against the government at least twice as often as they voted with it. ‘Opposition fringe’ thus becomes 115 and ‘waverers’ are reduced to a more realistic 50. This is on a par with contemporary estimates of the number of neutral or unattached Members in 1818, which Mitchell’s analysis led him to believe were significantly inaccurate.5 These Members include the following men whose conduct was markedly independent, although most of them inclined to Toryism: Sir Thomas Dyke Acland; Sir John Astley; Henry Bankes; Edmund Bastard; Joseph Cripps; Gabriel Doveton; Cuthbert Ellison; John Fane I; Charles Forbes; Henry Handley; Sir Edward Knatchbull; the Canningite Edward John Littleton; John Plummer; Alexander Robertson; William Thompson; Thomas Wilson; and Edmond Wodehouse. Of these, Acland, Astley, Bastard, Fane, Knatchbull, Littleton and Wodehouse were county Members; while Wilson represented the livery of London.

The refined analysis of voting behaviour in this Parliament is therefore as follows:


Government fringe


Opposition fringe








The combined total of ‘government’ and ‘government fringe’ is 408, or 59 more than in Mitchell’s analysis. ‘Opposition’ and ‘opposition fringe’ together account for 298, that is 78 more than Mitchell found. ‘Waverers’ are reduced by 64. In percentage terms, the two analyses compare as follows:







Number voting
















Firm allegiance to a party operated among some 56 per cent of Members, while a further 37 per cent were more tenuously attached, though in the majority of cases the extent of their deviation was comparatively slight. The theoretical figure of 408 potential supporters of the Liverpool ministry is almost the same as that of 411 in 1818 suggested by Professor Peter Jupp; but the figure for potential opposition, at 297, is very much greater than the 198 which he found in 1818. However, the hard core of 182 oppositionists identified here is close to that total.6 When he accepted the leadership of the Whig opposition in the Commons in the summer of 1818, George Tierney put their ‘positive’ strength in the House at 175, ‘exclusive of a very considerable body which, to say the least of it, is unconnected with government’.7 By allocating to a notional House of 658 Members the categories described here in the same proportions as those in which they make up the total of 756 voting Members, a theoretical but convincing ‘snapshot’ picture emerges of ‘government’ 210; ‘government fringe’ 144; ‘waverers’ 46; ‘opposition fringe’ 99; and ‘opposition’ 159.

As Mitchell observed, this was a House in which the ministry could rely on a majority in normal circumstances. At the same time, it was one in which, given the right combination of factors, it could occasionally be defeated on a specific issue. In the 372 divisions scrutinized for this survey, ministers were defeated only nine times: on a motion for repeal of the additional malt duty, 21 Mar. 1821 (149-125); Lord Normanby’s proposal to abolish one of the joint-postmasterships, 2 May 1822 (216-201); Sir James Mackintosh’s motion to consider criminal law reform, 4 June 1822 (117-101); the third reading of Henry Grey Bennet’s public house licensing bill, 27 June 1822 (38-21); Sir Francis Burdett’s motion for inquiry into the Irish administration’s prosecution of the Dublin Orange theatre rioters who had threatened the lord lieutenant, 22 Apr. 1823 (219-185); the second reading of the Scottish juries bill, a Whig measure, 20 June 1823 (47-42); the second reading of the St. Olave (Hart Street) tithe bill, which was sponsored likewise, 6 June 1825 (55-36); Lord John Russell’s motion for inquiry into the petition of James Silk Buckingham concerning the freedom of the press in India, 9 May 1826 (43-40); and his resolutions condemning electoral bribery, 26 May 1826 (62-62, but carried by the Speaker’s casting vote as being merely declaratory). Only the first two and Burdett’s success signified much; and the vote on the malt duty was emphatically reversed (242-144) by a government rally against the second reading of the repeal bill, 3 Apr. 1821. This recurrent feature of the period, the reliance on and occasional expedient mustering by ministers of their unthinking lobby fodder, was publicly satirized in verse by the maverick ‘opposition fringe’ Member Edward Davies Davenport in 1823:

Hark! the loud flappings of the lobby door

Announces the lab’rers of the eleventh hour:

Like gulls or cormorants at evening tide,

Some scream out, ‘Question!’, some ‘Divide, Divide!’

Some cry, ‘Hear, hear!’ when all around are mute,

And thus create the nuisance they impute;

While, as the bird in ivy-bush demure,

The Speaker suffers what he cannot cure.

If, as at times will happen, England’s fate,

Or Empire’s freedom, hang on the debate,

Though rhetoric not unworthy ancient Rome

Bring to the unwilling breast conviction home,

Still to his object true, the clamorous brute

Dumbfounds the logic which he can’t refute;

Till once victorious, and well counted out,

The blockheads ask you, ‘What it’s all about?’8

The antipathy of the vast majority of the government’s ‘fringe’ or general supporters and of many of the ‘waverers’ to the prospect of a Whig ministry made them reluctant to carry their opposition to measures too far and ready to rally to ministers if they cracked the whip. In any case, those who cast wayward votes were only exercising what they considered their right to follow their conscientious judgement on specific issues. This was part of the rhetorical stock-in-trade of ministerialist backbenchers on the hustings and in the House. Constituency pressures also influenced the votes of some Members, especially those for counties and the larger boroughs. These attitudes and the responsiveness of backbenchers, who were not beholden to a party for their seats, to constituency opinion, persisted after 1832, as events during Peel’s second ministry, 1841-6, amply demonstrated.

At the general election of 1820, the Whig opposition, who had performed creditably in resisting the government’s post-Peterloo repressive legislation, probably gained about ten seats overall.9 Under Tierney’s leadership they initially did well in the short 1820 session, mustering quite strongly against the civil list on 5 and 8 May (minorities of 155 and 157, albeit against ministerial majorities of 273 and 256) and coming within 12 votes of defeating the government over the recent appointment of an additional Scottish exchequer court judge, 15 May. Thereafter attendance fell away and disunity increased as the radical wing of opposition took the initiative. George IV’s bid to divorce his wife Caroline, who returned to England to assert her rights, seemed to present a realistic chance of turning out the ministry, but opposition leaders and activists were divided on the contentious issue. A motion by the highly respected backbencher William Wilberforce urging the queen to make concessions, 22 June, attracted 391 votes, against which the opposition secured only 124. Four days later the government’s proposal to set up a ‘green bag’ secret committee to investigate Caroline’s allegedly scandalous conduct abroad was carried by 195-100. The abandonment of the bill of pains and penalties against the queen after its third reading passed the Lords by only nine votes, 9 Nov. 1820, George’s fury with his ministers and the upsurge of popular indignation in support of the queen and a change of regime, which the Whig leaders, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, attempted to mobilize, created an uncharacteristic mood of optimism in the ranks of opposition on the eve of the 1821 session. No amendment to the address was moved, but on 23 Jan. 169 Members voted for the Tory Wetherell’s motion for information on liturgies, a prelude to an attack on the omission of the queen’s name from the current one. The government majority numbered 260. After an internal squabble the Scottish Whig Lord Archibald Hamilton was allowed to bring forward his motion on this question ahead of Lord Tavistock’s planned motion of censure of ministers’ conduct. Hamilton’s resolution condemning the omission of Caroline’s name, 26 Jan., got 209 votes against 310; but when Tavistock moved his censure, 6 Feb., it was crushed by 324-178. The effective end of the campaign came on 13 Feb., when John Smith’s call for restoration of Caroline’s name to the liturgy was rejected by 298-178. Charles Long, the paymaster-general, had been confident before the campaign that ‘our country gentlemen … are stout and firm’; and the ministerialist Lord Ancram wrote on 2 Feb. 1821, even before the defeat of the censure motion, that ‘we have been most triumphant, more so than the most sanguine could have anticipated considering the state of the country and the means that the Whigs took to commit the country gentlemen’.10 The conservative and disillusioned Whig William Lamb, who had perversely voted against the government after speaking in almost the opposite sense, told his brother Frederick, 23 Feb., that

the interest respecting the queen seems to be subsiding quietly, as … everything which is so very foolish must in time. The Whigs blundered the business … Whilst the trial was going on, there was undoubtedly a strong, real, vivid feeling; but after the bill was given up, the feeling that was manufactured was for the most part fictitious, belonging to party and excited by the Whigs themselves. If they had remained quiet and adopted the tone of wishing to tranquillize the country out of doors, I think they would have had a better chance of attacking the ministry within. As it was, they did what they always will do when they make a manifest reach at power. They called forth a very strong expression on the part of the House of Commons that however much they might disapprove of the ministers, they dreaded the opposition still more.11

The voting in the divisions of 26 Jan., 6 and 13 Feb. 1821 confirms this:






Oppn. Fringe


Govt. vote






Mixed votes






One oppn. vote






Two oppn. votes




Three oppn. votes












Thus a third of the ‘opposition fringe’ who voted divided three times against government, but as many sided with them against the censure motion. Eight of the 34 ‘waverers’ who voted cast at least one vote against government, but half of these plus 26 others divided with them on 6 Feb. Only seven of the ‘government fringe’ cast a vote against the ministry, but six of them, plus 101 of the 108 who voted, were in their majority against the censure motion.12 Although the Whigs mustered 125 votes (against 194) in support of Mackintosh’s motion condemning the Holy Alliance’s suppression of the liberal regime in Naples, 21 Feb., they were falling into disarray. When Tierney, ground down by poor health and sick of being left to sink or swim by the idle titular leader Lord Grey, resigned the Commons leadership in the first week of March, chaos seemed to threaten. In the middle of the month Charles Williams Wynn told Lord Buckingham that opposition Members ‘are outrageous against each other, and, according to [the Whig James] Macdonald’s report, may be expected by the next session to split into three or more distinct parties’.13 Repeal of the additional malt duty was temporarily carried against the government, and Lord John Russell secured a respectable vote of 124 (against 155) for his parliamentary reform motion, 9 May; but for most of the second half of the 1821 session the opposition running was made by the radicals and advanced Whigs of the ‘Mountain’, with their continuing campaign of obstruction to and divisions against the estimates: the foreign secretary Lord Castlereagh described it as ‘a Pindari [marauding] warfare’.14 The leading and most active combatants were the indefatigable bore Joseph Hume, Grey Bennet, Bernal, Bright, Lord Bury, Thomas Creevey, Thomas Davies, Sir Ronald Ferguson, ‘Bum’ Gordon, Edward Harbord, Christopher Hely Hutchinson, John Cam Hobhouse, John Maberly, John Martin, John Monck, Charles Fyshe Palmer, Parnell, Ricardo, William Smith, Sir Robert Wilson, Matthew Wood and Marmaduke Wyvill. Mainstream Whigs, including Tierney, joined in the campaign with different degrees of enthusiasm and frequency. Minorities were generally small, but there were more impressive musters on the army estimates, 14 Mar. (115); the navy estimates, 4 May (77); the ordnance estimates, 14 May (78); miscellaneous services, 28 May (77) and the award to the duke of Clarence, 18 June (81). Hume’s motion for economy and retrenchment, 27 June 1821, received 94 votes against 174.

The ministry was strengthened at the turn of the year by Robert Peel’s replacement of Lord Sidmouth as home secretary and, more controversially, by the recruitment of the Grenvillites, who offered a theoretical 11 votes in the Commons, at the cost of a dukedom for Buckingham and office for Williams Wynn, Fremantle, Phillimore and William Plunket.15 Yet Thomas Wallace, vice-president of the board of trade, felt that they had been ‘purchased … at a price much beyond the value of any strength or credit they bring to our support’, and predicted that the government’s ‘great difficulty in the ensuing session will arise from the agriculturists, who I suspect will make a violent assault upon our taxation, with what success it is in these times impossible to say’.16 Despite the government’s ‘large majority’ (171-89) on the address, 5 Feb. 1822, the patronage secretary Charles Arbuthnot detected ‘a very unpleasant temper in the House’, with the Tory ‘country gentlemen … very much for taking off taxes’ to relieve the severe agricultural distress.17 Yet the Whigs were in no state to exploit the potential of this situation. Mackintosh felt on the eve of the session that ‘the parliamentary prospect is very disheartening’, for ‘we are no longer a party’ and ‘every man is in a great measure left to act according to his own judgement or according to his want of it’.18 John Lambton, who perceived that ‘amongst the old stagers of what was our party in the House of Commons there seems the greatest apathy’, begged his father-in-law Grey to come to London to impose some discipline and purpose, as it was ‘impossible to conceive anything more disunited than the opposition, many anxious to be in action, but not knowing what to do and having no one to point out to them the best mode’.19 Henry Brougham’s motion calling for extensive tax reductions to relieve agricultural distress, 11 Feb., secured only 108 votes to 212, as some Whigs, including Tierney, stayed away and two dozen were accidentally shut out. When it became clear that the tax cuts offered by ministers had not appeased their disgruntled backbenchers, the Whigs moved, through Lord Althorp, a resolution that the concessions were inadequate, but this was defeated by 234-136. Yet on Calcraft’s proposal for the gradual reduction of the salt duties, 28 Feb., the ministerial majority fell to four (169-165). On 1 Mar. Ridley carried by 182-128 a motion to reduce the number of junior lords of the admiralty, and on the 13th Lord Normanby’s proposal to abolish one of the joint-postmasterships was defeated by only 25 votes (184-159). When Normanby changed this motion into one for an address to the king to the same effect, 2 May, he was successful by 216-201.20 The independent Tory Henry Bankes considered that ‘these occasional defeats neither shake nor endanger ministers’, and indeed answered the arguments of reformers by showing that ‘when a strong case is made out, the representative body as at present constituted is able and ready to counteract the wishes and influence of the government’.21 Some ministers took a dimmer view. Arbuthnot responded to the setback on 1 Mar. by issuing a circular note requesting attendance to resist impending opposition attacks. It fell into enemy hands and Russell raised it in the House as a breach of privilege, 15 Mar. Arbuthnot admitted his authorship and tried to justify the letter, and the Speaker intervened to brush the matter under the carpet.22 Lord Londonderry (as Castlereagh now was) took a more relaxed attitude to these defeats, but after that on the postmastership he was goaded by the less tolerant Peel into announcing that if ministers were defeated on the forthcoming motions on diplomatic expenditure and Henry Williams Wynn’s embassy to Switzerland, they would resign.23 This did the trick, as government supporters came out of the woodwork, while some who had cast wayward votes earlier in the session rallied to produce majorities of 274-147 on diplomatic expenditure, 15 May, and 247-141 on the Swiss embassy (an attack on the Grevillites) the next day. On 24 June Brougham’s motion condemning the parliamentary influence of the crown was defeated by 216-101; and a proposal to repeal the salt duties was rejected by a majority of 12, 28 June 1822. The effect of the resignation threat is clearly shown by an analysis of opposition votes on three motions either side of it;


Govt. Fringe


Oppn. Fringe


Salt, 28 Feb.





Admiralty, 1 Mar.





Paymaster, 2 May





Diplomacy, 15 May





Swiss embassy, 16 May





Crown 24 June






While the number of hostile votes from the opposition and its ‘fringe’ remained high, those from the ‘government fringe’ and the ‘waverers’ became almost non-existent from mid-May 1822.24 A couple of inconsequential episodes concerning party in this session have come to light. In late February Agar Ellis and his friends Lord Titchfield, the short-lived heir of the 4th duke of Portland, and Charles Baring Wall had discussions about setting up a ‘small independent party in the House of Commons, for the purpose of watching over the interests of the country, and guarding them alike against ministers and opposition, who are too apt to run counter to them, the former in trying to keep and the latter in trying to get places’. Titchfield’s uncle Lord William Cavendish Bentinck expressed an interest and there was talk of trying to recruit William Lamb, who had now washed his hands of the Whigs.25 Nothing seems to have come of this, or of a similar scheme broached on paper by the disillusioned Canningite Charles Tennyson in April 1823.26 More bizarrely, Hobhouse recorded in his diary in mid-May 1822 that Tavistock had told him that he and several other Whigs were of opinion

that Burdett was the only man fit to be the leader [of the party in the Commons] and [asked] whether Burdett would be active and … would take a great place in case the ministers were driven out. He told me that he had reason to believe Lord Grey was not averse to the arrangement and that he knew Lord Holland was not.

Hobhouse sounded Burdett, who said

he would undertake anything that would forward the great cause of reform for which he had been contending all his life; that if the party thought he could serve them he would be at their disposal to lead, to take office or to do anything … understanding always that reform was to be the basis of their whole plan.

Tavistock evidently tried and largely failed to secure sufficient influential support for this fanciful project, which had ended in smoke by mid-June 1822.27 During the negotiations with Canning which followed Londonderry’s suicide in August 1822, John Croker, secretary to the admiralty, wrote to Peel of his wish that Canning should either stick to his plan of going to govern India or join the ministry as foreign secretary and leader of the House, for he feared that if Canning was driven into opposition by the king’s personal hostility to him he might draw off about 40 ministerialists and so ‘be at the head of the most powerful floating party which has existed for near a century in Parliament’.28 In the event, Canning’s accession to office brought to an ‘end the period of political uncertainty, which had lasted from 1820’.29

The intensity of party conflict diminished markedly in the following four sessions, as more liberal government policies and the lifting of distress took effect. Of the divisions used for this survey, 17 occurred in 1820, 91 in 1821, and 88 in 1822—a total of 196, or an average of 65 per session. There were 66 in 1823, 47 in 1824, 29 in 1825 and 34 in 1826—a total of 176 or an average of 44 per session. There were party clashes on foreign policy and Ireland (including the ex-officio prosecutions of the Dublin Orange rioters, on which the government was beaten by a combination of regular oppositionists and defectors from their own ‘fringe’, 22 Apr. 1823). A minority of 136 (to 184) voted for inquiry into the state of Ireland, 11 May 1824. The government’s bill to suppress the Catholic Association was stoutly but of course unavailingly resisted in February 1825. Parliamentary reform received an airing in 1823, when motions for general reform, 24 Apr., and reform in Scotland, 2 June, were defeated by 280-169 and 152-117 respectively. The issue went into abeyance until April 1826, when Russell’s renewed motion received a respectable 123 votes (against 247). Most Whigs were now firmly in favour of reform. Brougham’s motion condemning the prosecution of the Methodist missionary John Smith for inciting slaves in Demerara to riot, 11 June 1824, attracted ‘government fringe’ and ‘waverer’ support and was beaten by 193-146. There was spirited opposition to the grant for the duke of Cumberland and his son Prince George in 1825, when some ‘government fringe’ Members and ‘waverers’ boosted the opposition minorities. The proposal to separate the offices of president of the board of trade and treasurer of the navy and award each a ministerial salary was only carried by 87-76, 10 Apr. 1826, and was subsequently abandoned.30 The Whigs remained without authoritative leadership in the Commons, where the mercurial Brougham was the dominant figure. However, his unpopularity among a section of the party and his own reluctance to jeopardize his career at the bar ensured that he was never formally installed as leader. In March 1823 the whip Lord Duncannon and Lambton proposed a scheme for regular party dinner meetings as part of ‘a republican form of government for the opposition’. Russell advocated the establishment of ‘a committee … of seven to ten Members to put business into some form previously to general meetings’. Brougham would have nothing to do with the plan, which foundered.31 Davenport turned his poetic venom on the Whigs in 1823:

Observe our friends, in-doors on gala days,

Like bulls in harness bearing different ways;

One eye on Britain’s weal intently fixed,

The other leers at objects somewhat mixed:

Hope-pleasure-wife-small babes-desire of peace—

(In other words, of funded stock’s increase)

Reform-the Tithe-the Debt-(would you refuse

A truly Christian sympathy for Jews?).

When mortals are so puzzled to look straight,

No wonder many shuffle in their gait …

Our Monster chuckles; he may well prevail

O’er forces (who scarce molest him) in detail;

While Hume like Sisyphus pursues his toil,

Scoffed by the recreant owners of the soil,

Or Burdett speaks, we listen in despair

To Truth’s loud thunders howled in empty air;

The House divides, and lo! her sacred ends

Fall half-defeated by—inconstant friends.32

In 1824 the Irish Member Henry Westenra reported that ‘parties in the House are at so very low an ebb at the moment … that people do not now so much look after making an interest to stick by them always, as they did in the days of Fox and Pitt’.33 The young Tory Lord Mahon observed in 1826 that ‘the present unanimity of most people tends very much to diminish the importance of party’.34 To the Whig James Abercromby it seemed that with ‘a ministry and opposition alike broken and divided’, ‘party distinctions in the ordinary sense are destroyed, but party distinctions in the form of old and new principles … exist in full force’.35 A new feature of politics by then was the emergence of the notion of ‘His Majesty’s opposition’, who were prepared to judge measures on their merits and support those which they believed advanced the national good. George Traill, later Member for Orkney, wrote in October 1825 that it was now ‘admitted that a regular opposition is essential to the existence of our system of government’.36 This was particularly significant given the growing rift between the more liberal elements in the administration, led by Canning, and the more conservative spirits. The Catholic question was central to this, but the issues of currency, corn laws and protection of domestic industry also divided the government and a number of its customary supporters in the Commons. In early March 1826 Charles Percy, just returned for Newport on the duke of Northumberland’s interest, told his friend Ralph Sneyd that ‘I come into Parliament at a strange moment, when all the cheers that animate [Frederick] Robinson [the chancellor of the exchequer] and Canning are from the opposition benches, and those behind the treasury [bench] as silent as the grave!’37 In 1826, four of the ‘government fringe’ and six ‘waverers’ voted against aspects of the ministerial measures to restrict the circulation of small bank notes. The Whig Edward Ellice’s motion for inquiry into distress in the silk trade had five ‘government fringe’ and three ‘waverers’ in its minority of 40. More significantly, the government’s proposal for the emergency admission of foreign corn, 8 May, was opposed by 13 of their ‘fringe’ supporters and seven ‘waverers’, who made up 20 of the minority of 51. On 11 May 1826 the second reading of their relaxed corn bill, carried by 189-65, was opposed by 14 of the ‘fringe’ and eight ‘waverers’. Six of the ‘government fringe’ and four ‘waverers’ divided against government on both occasions, as did their steadfast supporter Lord Charles Manners, doubtless with an eye on his Cambridgeshire farming constituents.38 Lord Holland predicted in September 1825 that disputes over Catholic relief and economic issues would sooner or later throw the existing party system into disarray and lead to realignments.39 Eighteen months later his prophecy was fulfilled.


The 1826 Parliament

After his return for Cambridge University, with Whig support, at the 1826 general election, the pro-Catholic war secretary Lord Palmerston wrote to his brother:

As to the commonplace balance between opposition and government, the election will have little effect upon it. The government are as strong as any government can wish to be, as far as regards those who sit facing them; but in truth the real opposition of the present day sit behind the treasury bench; and it is by the stupid old Tory party, who bawl out the memory and praises of Pitt while they are opposing all the measures and principles which he held most important … that the progress of the government in every improvement which they are attempting is thwarted and impeded. On the Catholic question, on the principles of commerce, on the corn laws, on the settlement of the currency, on the laws regulating the trade in money, on colonial slavery, on the game laws … the government find support from the Whigs and resistance from their self-denominated friends. However, the young squires are more liberal than the old ones, and we must hope that heaven will protect us from our friends, as it has from our enemies.40

The Catholic question was the major issue in many constituencies at the 1826 general election, and it was reckoned that overall those hostile to relief gained about 13 seats, mostly in open English constituencies. This was borne out when Sir Francis Burdett’s motion of 6 Mar. 1827 to consider Catholic claims was defeated (for the first time since 3 May 1819) by 276-272.41 In late June 1826, when the elections were almost over, Lord John Russell, fresh from his defeat in Huntingdonshire, commented to Lord Holland that the Whig opposition’s

present situation is … most unpleasant. We lose in opinion by supporting the liberal part of the ministry, and when we fight a battle in the elections we find the whole force of government at work to oppose us … I am glad to be out of such a mess. Last session I voted with ministers even when I thought their measures imprudent and ill-timed, because I thought their general views sound and liberal. But I believe the only way is to say boldly what one thinks of their base compromise [on Catholic relief], and support nothing that is not undeniably a wise and well timed measure.42

In October 1826 Russell’s uncle Lord William Russell encouraged him to propose his reform scheme as early as possible in the new Parliament, where ‘there are not wanting numbers indisposed to the ministry as it is now constituted, but there is wanting a right tone to the opposition’;43 but Russell did not raise the issue substantively until 1830. That month, according to Peel’s brother-in-law George Dawson, when Tierney was asked ‘what kind of campaign the opposition intended to carry on’, he replied, ‘“There is no opposition now. I and others have long since given it up, the parties now are the government and the Canningites, and I and a great many others are of the latter class”’.44 The leaderless and somewhat moribund state of the Whig opposition in the first months of what the cynical backbencher Hudson Gurney denoted ‘a very bad House of Commons [of] raw boys and fools’45 is apparent from the voting figures in the 14 divisions on public issues between 21 Nov. 1826 and 5 Apr. 1827 for which lists survive. (That is, between the meeting of Parliament and the formation of Canning’s coalition ministry after protracted negotiations in the aftermath of Lord Liverpool’s incapacitating stroke in February 1827.)46 The largest opposition minority was the 80 who divided for Tierney’s motion for supplies to be withheld until the ministerial crisis had been resolved, 30 Mar. 1827. The smallest were those of 15 for Hume’s amendment to reduce the grant for barracks, 21 Feb., and his attempt to obstruct the duke and duchess of Clarence’s annuity bill, 16 Mar. The average opposition muster in these divisions was 47; but there was a noticeable increase in the level of participation from 29 Mar., when 69 voted for the production of papers on the Lisburn Orange march of 1825. The same number voted for inquiry into the Irish miscellaneous estimates and 66 for information on delays in chancery, 5 Apr. The largest turnouts on the government side were 335 against a 50s. fixed corn duty, 9 Mar., and 215 against enhanced protection for barley, 12 Mar., when the numbers were swollen by the support of oppositionists. Otherwise ministerial support did not reach 200. The only list of government voters which has been found is that of the 99 who divided for the Clarences’ annuity bill, 16 Mar. A hard core of 24 Members voted in at least seven of the fourteen opposition divisions analysed here: they were a mixture of mainstream if progressive Whigs, such as Lords Althorp, Howick and Morpeth, William Francis Ponsonby, Charles Poulett Thomson and William Smith; radical Whigs, such as Ralph Bernal, Joseph Birch, Sir Ronald Ferguson, John Cam Hobhouse, William Marshall, John Monck and Abraham Robarts; and the radical contingent of Thomas Davies, Daniel Whittle Harvey, Hume, John and William Maberly, Robert Waithman, Henry Warburton and Matthew Wood. Edward Lombe voted in the ministerial majority on 16 Mar. A further 56 Members, mostly Whigs, voted in between four and six of these divisions; but two of these, Alexander Baring and Josiah Guest, divided with ministers for the Clarences’ bill. Another 108 predominantly Whig Members cast between one and three hostile votes, but they included 17 who sided with government on 16 Mar.: Quintin Dick, Sir Charles and John Forbes, Thomas Fyler, Lord Arthur Hill, Charles Jephson, Lord Jermyn, George Lamb, Ralph Leycester, Anthony and Lord Maitland, Lucius O’Brien, Charles Nicholas Pallmer, Charles Tennyson, William Thompson, William Ward and William Battie Wrightson. Thus the reasonably active Whig and radical opposition stood potentially at about 90, with roughly as many again inclined to join them on occasion. In cruder terms, 168 Members (26 per cent of the House) cast only hostile votes. The 99 who divided with government on 16 Mar. included 23 official men. None of the latter voted in the protectionist minority of 78, which included 38 county Members, against the second reading of the corn bill, 2 Apr. (when the government muster was 243). However, 14 of the backbenchers did so: Matthias Attwood, Henry Bankes, Sir Edward East, Arthur French, Sir Thomas Lethbridge, the two Maitlands, Sir Scrope Morland, Christopher Smith, Sir George Smyth, Tennyson, Felix or Frederick Tollemache, James Wemyss and Thomas Wood. The Maitlands and Tennyson cast other wayward votes between November 1826 and April 1827. Of those who voted for the Clarences’ grant, 16 cast hostile votes on issues other than the corn bill: these included the Whigs Alexander Baring, John Calcraft and Jephson, and the radical John Maberly.

Liverpool’s stroke and the eventual appointment of the pro-Catholic Canning as head of a ministry in coalition with the Whig followers of Lord Lansdowne, who, backed by Holland, had assumed the overall leadership of the party in place of the largely inactive Lord Grey, ushered in a four-session period of confusion and fragmentation in the party political situation in the Commons. The Whig James Macdonald, urging Lansdowne to throw in his lot with Canning in mid-April, reported that Lord Duncannon had told him that ‘the opposition’, before the junction, ‘may be fairly taken at 200’;47 but Brougham, a leading promoter of coalition, had told Lansdowne a fortnight earlier that ‘we have ceased to act as a party’.48 The broad Tory working alliance presided over by Liverpool was broken when the duke of Wellington, Peel and three dozen other mostly anti-Catholic office-holders resigned rather than serve under Canning. While some Whigs took office with him and others positively welcomed the development as marking the end of the long reactionary Tory hegemony, a greater number resolved to stay detached and await events, judging the ministry on its policies. A minority, including Grey, were overtly hostile, partly out of visceral dislike and distrust of the lowly born and often devious Canning, and partly from a conviction that their Lansdowne Whig friends were betraying the Catholic cause by accepting the king’s insistence that emancipation should remain an open question within a ‘balanced’ cabinet.49 When Canning’s ministry was more or less in place, the Whig backbencher John Hely Hutchinson, who was ‘all for supporting the new minister if he be inclined to play a fair and open game with respect to Ireland’, reported that ‘it is said that the Tories, or as they will henceforth be, the opposition, mean to make a great rally and to turn out the new ministry’.50 The Tory Lord John Hay, who counted himself as one of Peel’s ‘combinationist’ followers, told his brother that the new government might prove to be ‘formidable’ and that ‘party spirit runs high in town’, so that it was ‘hardly safe to open one’s mouth’.51 In the event, the opposition shirked any major showdown on a clear party issue, and the materials for assessing the relative strength of parties in the Commons during the short parliamentary life of the administration are therefore meagre. All parties were in any case internally divided to varying degrees, and many Members remained uncommitted or neutral. The former minister Lord Lowther depicted the Commons in late April as

the strangest jumble and mixture of parties that ever assembled in one room. There will be: the actual government; the seceders opposed; the seceders supporting government; some late supporters of government who will not vote at all. There will be: Whigs supporting government; Whigs against the government and the Mountain against all government. How to calculate upon the relative numbers of these different bodies is quite impossible at this time.52

Canning himself professed confidence of an ‘immense’ government majority in any party trial of strength. At the same time, the ministry had its own internal tensions, including over whipping arrangements.53 The Tory Robert Adam Dundas, another adherent of Peel, who had ‘not sat behind the treasury bench since the late changes’, felt at the end of May 1827 that as there was ‘not a great constitutional question on which the government is unanimous’, it must soon be brought down, but the ‘question to justify fair opposition’ that he craved did not materialize.54 Of the nine divisions for which opposition lists have been discovered, only four were on issues on which the ministry took a firm line: Michael Angelo Taylor’s motion to consider separating chancery from bankruptcy administration, 22 May (defeated by 134-37); Russell’s motion for the disfranchisement of the corrupt borough of Penryn (carried against government by 124-69, thus demonstrating their vulnerability on issues on which many Whigs were committed);55 Hume’s motion for repeal of the Blasphemous and Seditious Libels Act, 31 May (defeated by 120-10), and his attempt to kill the proposed grant of £56,000 for Canadian water defences, 12 June 1827 (defeated by 78-11). For the divisions on Penryn and Canadian canals lists of ministerial voters have also survived. One-hundred-and-forty-three Members voted against the government in at least one of these divisions. Of these, 98 did so only on the Penryn question; 13 only on the chancery issue; four only on Canadian canals, and one (Anthony Maitland) only for repeal of the Blasphemy Act. Of these 116 Members, nine had voted seven or more times against the Liverpool ministry earlier in the session, 31 had done so on four to six occasions, and 42 had cast between one and three hostile votes. Therefore 34 had not voted against the previous ministry in the divisions considered above. Twenty-eight Members, mostly Whig and radical activists, voted at least twice against Canning’s government in these four divisions. Of these, 12 had voted at least seven times against the Liverpool ministry, seven had done so between four and six times, five had cast between one and three hostile votes and four (John Cressett Pelham, John Maxwell, Lord Francis Osborne and Charles Fyshe Palmer) had given none. This points to a hard core of about 59 Whigs and radicals who persisted in their hostility to government after Canning’s accession to power, with another 47 inclined to opposition. The 38 who had not previously opposed government were mostly Whigs, but included a few anti-Catholic Tories, such as Lewis Buck, Robert Downie, Francis Mundy, Frank Sotheron and Thomas Tyrwhitt Drake. In the divisions on Penryn and Canadian canals, 122 Members cast a vote with the government. At least 26 were official men. Of those who were in the majority on the canals grant, 22 had voted for the disfranchisement of Penryn: Birch, Nicolson Calvert, Panton Corbett, Sir John Easthope, John Fazakerley, Cutlar Fergusson, ‘Bum’ Gordon, Sir James Graham, Samuel Kekewich, Henry Labouchere, George Lamb, Leycester, O’Brien, Poulett Thomson, Thomas Spring Rice, Lord Sandon, Robert Slaney, William Smith, Edward Smith Stanley, Edward Webb, Charles Wood and Sir John Wrottesley. All these except Corbett and Sandon were Whigs of various stripes. Birch and Webb also voted against the government on chancery jurisdiction, as did Buck, John Fane, the two Forbes, James Halse, Adam Hay and Tyrwhitt Drake. Canning’s premature death in early August 1827 ended his ministry. John Croker wrongly anticipated ‘a complete Tory government’, though he conceded that ‘an exclusive Protestant government cannot … stand’, as ‘there would be an opposition of 250, which would stop all public business’.56 In fact Canning’s coalition ministry was replaced in all essentials by that of Lord Goderich, though his feebleness and the inclusion, at the king’s insistence, of the anti-Catholic John Herries as chancellor of the exchequer seriously diminished Whig goodwill towards it and stiffened the determination of a number of leading Whigs either to oppose it or to scrutinize its actions critically.57 In the event, the ministry collapsed in January 1828 without meeting Parliament.

Wellington, asked by the king to form an administration, restored Peel and several of the anti-Catholic seceders, but also took into his cabinet the Canningite ex-ministers William Huskisson, Lord Palmerston, Charles Grant and Lord Dudley. This was done rather against his own preference and at the insistence of Peel, who saw that an exclusively Protestant government could not stand and wanted some able support in the Commons, which he was to lead as home secretary. He told his wife, ‘I cannot undertake the business … without more assistance than the mere Tory party … would afford me’. When the ministry had been settled he asked the Irish under-secretary William Gregory:

What must have been the inevitable fate of a government composed of [Henry] Goulburn, Sir John Beckett, [Sir Charles] Wetherell, and myself? Supported by very warm friends, no doubt, but no more than warm friends, being prosperous country gentlemen, fox-hunters, most excellent men, who will attend one night, but who will not leave their favourite pursuits to sit up till two or three o’clock fighting questions of detail on which … a government must have a majority. We could not have stood creditably a fortnight.58

Peel probably did not need to have his attention drawn at the end of January by the Huskissonite Edward Littleton to ‘the most important party’ in the Commons, which consisted of ‘a few young men’, including Lords Eliot and Sandon and John Stuart Wortley, who ‘hang much together, and who though having different party connections [are] all united … against high Tory principles’.59 Two peers and seven Members of the Commons either retained their junior offices or took new ones, while another 15 Members and four peers resolved to back the ministry. A few Canningites either stayed neutral or, in the cases of Lord George Cavendish Bentinck, Morpeth and Lord Normanby, began to drift towards the Whigs.60 The Lansdowne Whigs were ditched. The Whigs as a whole were initially divided and leaderless, but some, notably the ‘Young Whigs’ Althorp and Lords Milton and Tavistock, decided on regular opposition to promote liberal policies, especially Catholic relief, in the hope of reuniting the party. The impact of this approach was lessened by the ministry’s generally conciliatory line on issues dear to Whig hearts, by the reluctance of some leading Whigs to risk driving it to the reactionary right by factious opposition and by egotistical rivalries and jealousies among the leading Commons protagonists, including the unbending radical coterie.61 At the end of January Littleton told Wellington in private that ‘as the last [Goderich] administration could not hold together it was evident no one party was strong enough to form one alone’; and on being asked if he had ‘noticed in the House of Commons any symptom of organization of opposition’, he replied, ‘none whatever. How could there be any? Every leading man of every party had been in some of the governments of the last year, and all had been parties to the same measures’.62 John Evelyn Denison, another Tory attached to Huskisson, reported that most Whigs ‘still do not consider themselves in direct opposition, nor is there anything like a concerted opposition formed’. He could ‘not see the elements for much disputation’, apart from personal attacks on Huskisson.63 The Whig George Fortescue thought ‘the duke’s government will stand better than any other, in the present most strange and unmanageable state of both Houses’.64 As it happened, the alliance in government between Wellington and the Huskissonites was uneasy and short-lived. It survived crises over repeal of the Test Acts in February and, narrowly, relaxation of the corn laws in March, but foundered on the question of whether to transfer the seats of the corrupt boroughs of East Retford and Penryn to large unrepresented towns or to sluice them in the traditional manner. Huskisson’s blustering offer of resignation in May 1828 was eagerly accepted by Wellington, and Huskisson, Dudley, Palmerston, Charles Grant, William Lamb and five others left office.65 Lists of ‘the ejected liberals’, who were, ‘for a nascent party, strong in Parliament’, compiled by Palmerston soon afterwards identified in all some 26 Members ‘who may be supposed as agreeing pretty much in opinion and likely to find themselves voting the same way’: Huskisson, Palmerston, William Lamb, Charles and Robert Grant, William Sturges Bourne, Robert Wilmot Horton, Thomas Frankland Lewis, Lord Francis Leveson Gower, Sandon, Augustus Ellis, Stuart Wortley, Denison, William Lascelles, James Loch, Sir Thomas Dyke Acland, Arthur Chichester, John Fitzgerald, Sir Stratford Canning, Jermyn, Littleton, Sir George Warrender, Henry Liddell, Thomas Barrett Lennard, Spencer Perceval and Cavendish Bentinck (the last four were marked ‘probable’). In addition, Morpeth and Normanby were reckoned to be ‘well disposed’. Palmerston counted on 13 adherents or sympathizers in the Lords.66 Lord Colchester made a partial list of 17 ‘who form the Huskisson party or rather the rump of the Canning party’, evidently ‘as per the list which the Speaker showed me’. He included Hylton Jolliffe and Thomas Hyde Villiers, who did not appear on any of Palmerston’s lists.67 Wellington replaced the departed ministers with a mixture of pro- and anti-Catholic Tories, the Whig Calcraft and even two of the Huskissonites, namely Leveson Gower and Perceval. Wilmot Horton was offered office but declined it.

To consider the Commons opposition to the Wellington ministry in the 1828 session, 33 minority lists have been used. Only nine of these divisions occurred in the period 11 Feb.-20 May, that is before the resignation of the Huskissonites; the remainder took place between 5 June and 14 July, with the bulk of them between 16 June and 4 July. Government majority lists have been found for three: on chancery delays, 24 Apr.; the ordnance estimates, 4 July, when the muster was 204 (second only to that of 258 on the East Retford question, 2 June); and the customs bill, 14 July. A total of 217 Members (33 per cent of the House) cast only opposition votes in one or more of these divisions; but only 64, the usual Whig and radical suspects, divided at least seven times. A further 47 cast between four and six hostile votes. These too were Whigs and radicals, with the exception of the anti-Catholic Tory Sir Richard Vyvyan. The remaining 106 included at least 50 Whigs, with the addition of a number of anti-Catholic Tories, some independent Members and the Huskissonites Charles Grant, Jermyn, Lascelles, Liddell, Loch and Warrender. The core of reasonably active Whigs therefore numbered about 111, with a further 50 or so in the wings.68 A total of 215 Members voted on the ministerial side in at least one of the three divisions considered here. Of these, three dozen held office, including Huskisson, Palmerston, Frankland Lewis and Lamb, who were in the majority on 24 Apr. Huskisson and Lewis also divided with ministers on the ordnance estimates, 4 July, as did their associates Denison, Robert Grant, Sandon and Wilmot Horton. Members who cast only pro-government votes totalled 174 (26 per cent of the House) and included 33 office-holders. Sixty-two Members cast mixed votes in this session. Among them were the Huskissonites Barrett Lennard, Denison, Robert Grant, Huskisson, Lewis, Littleton, Palmerston, Sandon, Stuart Wortley and Wilmot Horton. Most were Tories who gave only one or two wayward votes. Those who divided more than twice against the government were the anti-Catholics Attwood, Henry Bankes, Henry Bright, Fyler and William Rickford; the Whigs William Denison, Benjamin Lester, Lord William Powlett, George Richard Robinson, Sir John Sebright and Edmond Wodehouse; and the independents Gurney and Charles Williams Wynn. The potential fissure in the ranks of general supporters of the ministry became apparent in the division on Russell’s motion for repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts, 26 Feb., which was carried by 237-193. There are indications that the government whips did not exert themselves unduly to secure an attendance to oppose the proposal, and 35 Members who later in the session showed themselves to be supporters of the ministry voted in the majority with the Whigs and radicals.69 On 12 May 1828 Burdett’s motion to consider Catholic relief was successful by 272-266; the majority contained about 67 Tories who normally supported the government.70 Thus the Wellington ministry had great potential numerical support in normal circumstances, but there were serious weaknesses in its position.

In July 1828 the Whigs Sir James Graham and Smith Stanley hankered after the formation of ‘a party in the House of Commons upon some broad and intelligible principle, without any reference to leaders in the House of Lords or without any direct compact with’ the unpredictable Brougham.71 Nothing came of this, or of an attempt by Edward Davies Davenport and Poulett Thomson to mould the 52 Members who were ‘good for anything’ into the kernel of an active opposition group or club, who would try to ‘reform the abuses and economize the revenues’ by acting together in the House.72 However, the mounting crisis in Ireland precipitated by the return of the Catholic champion Daniel O’Connell over the minister William Vesey Fitzgerald in the county Clare by-election of July, the awesome implications of which were not lost on Wellington and Peel, encouraged a move towards Whig unity on the increasingly urgent Catholic question.73 From Italy in November 1828, Macdonald wrote to a fellow Whig:

England is fast sinking in the scale of nations under the administration of the duke … His conduct in permitting the British empire to be distracted … and verging towards a civil war, from a base fear of the basest of factions, the English Tory aristocracy, must damn him to all posterity. A liberal party surely must be formed, I care not under whom, to prevent … (and it must be a bold-spirited, uncompromising party) … our further degradation abroad, and our dissolution at home.74

The leading Whigs corresponded and talked as the year turned and reached an agreement in principle to ‘fight the Catholic question resolutely as a party’, as Lansdowne put it. There were, however, disagreements over tactics, and it remained unclear who would take the lead.75 While Althorp shrugged aside suggestions that he should do so, he was clear that if ministers proposed a settlement of the Catholic question, ‘I would not annoy them on any other’, but that if they did not ‘I would annoy them … [and] … attack them on every subject I could lay hold of and … make every effort in my power to turn them out’.76 John Denison, anxious to ascertain if there was any chance of concert between the Huskissonites and the Whigs, particularly on the Catholic question, consulted Smith Stanley, who thought it unlikely, despite the fact that ‘we are in the main thoroughly agreed’. Denison conceded that an effective junction would ‘require time and management’, especially among the embittered old hands, but argued that if the government remained inert on Catholic relief it would be ‘enough for opposition to agree in disapproving’, which would lead perhaps to the formation of an effective combined opposition.77

The government’s pragmatic concession of Catholic emancipation in February 1829 took the wind out of the Whigs’ sails. It also made the party situation in the Commons even more fluid and unpredictable than it had been since April 1827 and had consequences which ultimately helped to wreck the administration. In his early February calculations of the probable attitude of all current Members, Joseph Planta, the bungling patronage secretary to the treasury, calculated that on routine issues the government could draw on a theoretical maximum support of about 414, while the ‘regular opposition’ and their fringe sympathizers numbered about 219 at most.78 His assessment, especially in describing the likes of Tierney and James Scarlett as ‘doubtful’ on the Catholic question, was probably complicated by the importance which ministers initially attached to the proposed ‘securities’ to safeguard the Protestant establishment, particularly the planned disfranchisement of 40s. freeholders in the Irish counties, and uncertainty as to whether the Whigs would accept them to guarantee emancipation.79 (In the event, the Whig leaders decided not to oppose the disfranchisement, and only 11 of the party, including Duncannon, did so in the divisions of 19 and 20 Mar.)80 Planta concluded that 295 Members, supporters of or favourably disposed towards the government, would vote for emancipation (he actually listed only 294), while 119 were ‘opposed to the principle’ (he listed 115 names in fact, plus three prospective anti-Catholic Members, one for Newark and two for Truro).81 In the event, no fewer than 197 Members cast at least one vote against emancipation in the six divisions (6-30 Mar.) for which lists have been found. Of these, 69 had been listed by Planta as likely to be ‘with government’. Of the 165 Tories who recorded at least three hostile votes, Planta had reckoned on the support of 46; while the diehard core of 128 opponents of emancipation contained 24 such Members. On the other hand, the government carried with them 73 Members who had voted against Catholic relief in 1827 and/or 1828. While the bulk of the 197 Tory opponents of emancipation were not permanently alienated from the ministry, a significant number, probably as many as 40, with perhaps 30 occasional fellow travellers, were so incensed at what they considered an act of betrayal by Wellington and Peel that they eventually formed a party of opposition, known as the Ultras, under the Commons leadership of Vyvyan and Sir Edward Knatchbull.82 In mid-April 1829 Wellington’s confidant Charles Arbuthnot, the first commissioner of woods and forests, having gathered from Lady Tankerville that Grey was ‘anxious for some of his friends’ to join the ministry, talked with Duncannon, who told him that ‘there were many persons in the … Lords and Commons who, if the Grey party became connected with the government, would join’. Arbuthnot explained to Peel that he had been

anxious to prevent Lord Grey’s party from rejoining the Whigs because it would make a most formidable opposition in case any of our old friends should continue to stand aloof, because Lord Grey and his friends behaved well towards us when we went out, because … the taking of one or two of them would be sufficient to effect our object and … because I feel strongly that the violent and bitter Tories would be kept better in order if it were made evident that we had not to depend solely upon them.83

Wellington did take in the Whigs Lord Rosslyn (with Grey’s lukewarm consent) in May and Scarlett (as attorney-general) in June 1829, as part of his policy of picking off individual oppositionists as opportunities offered.84

The following analysis of opposition voting patterns in the Commons after the passage of Catholic emancipation is based on 11 minority division lists, 1 May-5 June 1829. They include two on the East Retford question, 5 May (after which Palmerston commented, prematurely, that ‘parties are returning to their ancient demarcations’)85 and 2 June; one on the Ultra Lord Blandford’s parliamentary reform scheme, 2 June, and two which attracted the support largely of disaffected or independent Tories, namely those on the silk trade bill, 1 May (minority of 22) and against the Maynooth grant, 22 May (minority of 14). No lists of ministerial voters have been found. A total of 239 Members (36 per cent of the House) cast at least one hostile vote in these divisions, but the largest minorities were those of 116 for allowing O’Connell to take his seat without swearing the oath of supremacy, 18 May, and of 111 for a proposal to transfer East Retford’s seats to Birmingham, 5 May. Only 69 Members gave three or more votes: of these, 59 were Whigs and radicals; three (Denison, Palmerston and Stuart Wortley) were Huskissonites; and four (Bright, Thomas Bucknall Estcourt, Rickford and Charles Waldo Sibthorp) had opposed Catholic emancipation. Frederick Gough Calthorpe and the Williams Wynns could be considered as independents with a strong leaning to opposition. Forty-eight of the 170 Members casting only one or two hostile votes were Whigs who voted in support of O’Connell, 18 May. Two anti-Catholic Tories, William Trant and Lord Uxbridge, did likewise. The occasional opponents of the ministry included also the Huskissonites Ellis, Fitzgerald, the Grant brothers, Jermyn, Liddell, Littleton, Sandon, Sturges Bourne and Hyde Villiers. The Members who divided against the Maynooth grant were Sir Charles Abney Hastings, Sir John Astley, Edmund Bastard, Buck, Bucknall Estcourt, Arthur Henry Cole, Robert Bransby Cooper, Cressett Pelham, Sir William Heathcote, Lord Mandeville, Henry Maxwell, George Moore, Rickford, George Spence and Waldo Sibthorp. At the end of the session Graham perceived that ‘the duke’s position is critical’, but that it was ‘not the confusion of a beaten army, without a leader and without a plan’.86

In the autumn of 1829 Vyvyan, who harboured fanciful hopes of replacing the Wellington ministry with a coalition administration dominated by the Ultras, calculated that the Commons contained 35 ‘Tories strongly opposed’ to the duke’s ministry: Astley, Attwood, Edmund and John Bastard, Matthew Bell, Blandford, William Dickinson, William Duncombe, Lord Encombe, Richard Fountayne Wilson, Fyler, Clinton Fynes Clinton, Sir William Heathcote, Arthur Holdsworth, Sir Robert Inglis, Henry King, Knatchbull, Henry Maxwell, Nathaniel Peach, William Peachey, Rickford, Gustavus Rochfort, Sir George and George Pitt Rose, Michael Sadler, Sotheron, Trant, Lord Tullamore, Vyvyan, Waldo Sibthorp, George Watson Taylor, John Wells, Wetherell, Henry Willoughby and James Wilson. He believed, too, that there were many potential recruits among the large number of Members whose views on a putative coalition were unknown to him.87 He even tried in early October to seduce Palmerston ‘from the Huskisson party’, as a potential cabinet minister and ‘competent leader in the House of Commons’.88 When Planta made a conciliatory visit to Knatchbull the previous month he had found him somewhat embittered by the concession of emancipation, but harbouring ‘a most established hatred for the Whigs’ and seemingly inclined to respond to ministerial overtures.89 The Ultras’ hopes of a change of ministry soon evaporated, but the desire of Vyvyan and others to act as a party of opposition (albeit one internally divided on some issues, notably parliamentary reform) remained strong. Yet neither they nor the still leaderless and divided Whigs (Mackintosh characteristically referred in December 1829 to the ‘strong divergences of inclination among them’)90 made any serious attempt to prepare themselves for co-ordinated action in the forthcoming session. Indeed, a number of Whig peers, notably the duke of Bedford, the marquess of Cleveland, the duke of Norfolk, the earl of Albemarle and Earl Grosvenor, indicated their intention to give at least general support to the ministry, and a handful of Whig Members did likewise.91 Tavistock, for one, was ‘for the duke, with his wings clipped, because I see nothing better to look to, but I should like to weed the stable, and to see some better cattle put into it’.92 Speculation inevitably flourished. In November 1829 Arbuthnot surmised that ‘when Parliament meets we shall have a powerful combination of Ultra Tories, Canningites and Whigs against us’, but he expected the government to survive.93 Inglis, on the other hand, thought ‘the duke cannot stand with the present ministry against the present opposition, a Cerberus of the old Tories, the old Whigs and the Huskissons’.94 The Huskissonite Sturges Bourne believed that ‘the government will have a large body of steady and zealous friends, and a yet smaller body of organized and combined opponents, and in that will consist its strength, if strength it can be called’.95 In January 1830 the Whig Spring Rice concluded that ‘if my dissection of the House of Commons is just, it would appear that the relative strength of the government is increased, and that the absolute strength of all other parties is considerably diminished since the adjournment’, and that Wellington would continue to ‘endeavour so as to poise the political balance as to make it incline either way at his will’ while trying ‘in various ways to conciliate and to soften opposition’.96 Another Whig Member, Robert Slaney, reckoned that ‘parties are oddly divided, ministers about 120, Whigs about 90, Ultra Tories inveterate against government now 30. Huskisson and … [his friends] also now strong in opposition, about 15, and the plot thickens as others come to town’.97 The Whig organizer Edward Ellice informed Grey:

There appear to be four distinct parties preparing for Parliament. First, government. Second, a direct and entire opposition led by Lord Palmerston … with Charles Grant and the ex-liberals, etc. … [with] a large support from our friends, who have only made the condition that Huskisson is not to lead … and on this point they willingly give up their leader Lord Lansdowne. The third party are what they call the Watchers, under … Althorp … and to this I fear Brougham proposes to attach himself. The fourth, the discontented and still more bitter old Tories, who will make no peace with Peel and are probably the most formidable, backed as they are by the distress and loud complaints from every part of the country.98

The potential vulnerability of the government (which Wellington had tried to strengthen further by making James Abercromby chief baron of the Scottish exchequer court and recruiting to junior office the Huskissonites Frankland Lewis and Stuart Wortley) was revealed on the address, 4 Feb. 1830, when Knatchbull’s amendment deploring the reference in the king’s speech to distress as local and calling for general measures of relief was defeated by 158-105, with the aid of the votes of about two dozen Whigs and radicals: Charles Barclay, Sir Francis Blake, Thomas Fowell Buxton, Sheldon Cradock, Lord Patrick Crichton Stuart, Alexander Dawson, John Easthope, Maurice Fitzgerald, Hobhouse, Lords Hotham and Howick, Hume, John Savile Lumley, William Marshall, Monck, Sir Henry Parnell, George Philips, Edward Protheroe, Charles Rumbold, Paulet St. John Mildmay, William Smith, Sir Michael Shaw Stewart, Taylor, Warburton, William Wolryche Whitmore and Edward Wynne Pendarves.99 Littleton reported that ‘there is no certainty for … [ministers] on any point. Party being dissolved, they do not know their opponents. Neither do they know their friends … [and] questions will continually arise incidentally in debates, on which they will find themselves basketted’.100 The junior minister Lord Castlereagh observed that the House was ‘in a strange state’, and the Whig Charles Wood informed his father of the ‘altered loose state’ of ‘all politics’.101 On 16 Feb. Arbuthnot wrote to Peel:

I know the looks of the House of Commons. The Ultra Tories will never … give us votes … The Canning party will only support us when they feel they have been previously committed to our line of conduct. The Whigs are behaving most shabbily … With compliments in their mouths they will try to destroy us because they see they are not to be taken in as a body. Our own friends have many of them committed themselves against us upon the subject of some of the taxes; and if we are obdurate I firmly believe that with three hostile parties we should have behind us nearly empty benches.102

The Huskissonites had decided by this time to adopt ‘not a position of opposition but of observation’, so that, as Denison put it, they could ‘obtain a recognized character of independence and fairness in the House’.103 In practice, they became increasingly hostile to the government.104

For all this, government musters did improve significantly during the first few weeks of the session, but a move towards greater cohesion by the Whigs exposed them to the threat of a powerful combined attack from early March. According to Fortescue, a ‘notion among us Whigs of organizing ourselves into a party, to act under the joint leadership of Althorp and Brougham’, had foundered;105 but on 3 Mar. 1830, at the instigation of the influential county Members Edward Portman (Dorset), Francis Lawley (Warwickshire) and Wynne Pendarves (Cornwall), there was a meeting at Althorp’s Albany rooms of 27 Members, who included Russell, Howick and Warburton. They were seeking to ‘form a party under the guidance of Lord Althorp with a view to take off some of the most oppressive taxes’. ‘Very little’ was achieved, because most of those present would not accept the property tax that Althorp favoured. Yet he agreed to become leader for the purpose of promoting tax reductions if at least 45 Members attended a meeting fixed for 6 Mar. In the interim he obtained the blessing of Brougham, Graham and Russell.106 Over 60 Members turned up on the 6th, when, as Howick recorded, there was again much disagreement, but it was decided ‘not to attempt any union with any other party and to endeavour as far as possible to promote every measure of economy’. Althorp confirmed this to Grey, noting that ‘on all other points we are to continue as much disunited as ever’. In the House on 8 Mar. he stated that ‘a union had been formed’ to campaign for ‘economy and reduction of taxes’, but stressed that those involved had no wish to turn out ministers.107 After an uncertain start, this initiative gained momentum as the session progressed and ministerial competence came more under question. Further meetings took place, Grey began to assert himself once more, and the active core of Whig oppositionists grew in size and commitment.108 In late June 1830 Lord Normanby told the duke of Devonshire that a recent opposition dinner at Brooks’s, attended by ‘all that is most venerable and revered in Whiggism’, had done ‘good and looked more like a revival of party than anything that has happened for some time’.109

The potential threat to the government was revealed on 26 Mar. 1830, when a Whig amendment to abolish the sinecure pensions of the sons of the cabinet ministers Lords Bathurst and Melville was carried by 139-121. They were also beaten by 115-97 on the Huskissonite Robert Grant’s motion for leave to introduce a Jewish emancipation bill, 5 Apr., but got up numbers to kill the measure by 63 votes on 17 May. Mackintosh’s motion to abolish the death penalty for most forgery offences was carried against the ministry by 13 votes, 7 June. As the Whig opposition increased in strength and unity in May and June, the government, whose weakness in debate, where Peel and Goulburn received little useful support from their official colleagues, did not help matters, saw its majorities on a range of routine issues diminish alarmingly. The 300 muster which Billy Holmes, the beleaguered whip, assured the cabinet minister Lord Ellenborough he could get ‘on any great question’ was a theoretical rather than realistic figure; and Goulburn told Peel during his absence from the House on account of his father’s death that ‘the state of the king’s health and the prospect of an early dissolution’ were encouraging ‘the country gentlemen who usually support us’ to curry favour with constituents by questioning or opposing government expenditure.110

Excluding those on Jewish emancipation, six divisions have yielded lists of ministerial voters: the majorities against the transfer of East Retford’s seats to Birmingham, 11 Feb. (126), Blandford’s reform plan, 18 Feb. (160) and Russell’s motion for the enfranchisement of Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds, 23 Feb. (188); for the grant for South American missions, 7 June (118), and in defence of the judges’ salaries proposed in the administration of justice bill, 7 July (37); and the minority against abolition of the death penalty for forgery, 7 June (138). A total of 338 Members (51 per cent of the House) voted in at least one of these divisions. Of these, 120 Tories had opposed Catholic emancipation, including 24 of those listed as Ultras by Vyvyan in October 1829. Seventy-seven of the opponents of emancipation who were still in the House did not vote with ministers in any of these divisions. Only 162 Members, of whom at least 37 were official men, cast exclusively ministerial votes: they included 46 who had opposed emancipation, among them two of Vyvyan’s Ultras (Fountayne Wilson and Sotheron) and four office-holders (George Bankes, Sir John Beckett, Sir Alexander Hope and Lord Lowther) who had voted against emancipation. The number of Members who voted with the government in at least three of the six divisions, some of whom also cast isolated hostile votes, was 131; a quarter were office-holders. Forty-four had opposed emancipation, including six of Vyvyan’s Ultras: Astley, the Bastards, Peachey, Sotheron and James Wilson. Analysis of the opposition to the ministry in this session is based on lists from 67 divisions. Of the Ultras identified by Vyvyan, 17 were in regular opposition: Attwood, Bell, Blandford, Dickinson, Duncombe, Encombe, Fyler, Heathcote, Inglis, Knatchbull, Rickford, Sadler, Trant, Vyvyan, Wetherell, Wells and Waldo Sibthorp. Of these, Bell, Duncombe, Encombe, Heathcote, Inglis, Knatchbull, Rickford, Sadler, Vyvyan, Wetherell and Waldo Sibthorp voted with government on at least one occasion. Fynes Clinton cast four hostile votes and Sir George Rose one. Quintin Dick, though not classified as an Ultra by Vyvyan, had voted against emancipation and divided ten times against the government. Eleven Ultras gave mixed votes but did not oppose ministers on a regular basis: Astley, the Bastards, King, Maxwell, Peach, Peachey, Rochfort, George Pitt Rose, Willoughby and Wilson. As previously noted, Fountayne Wilson (one vote) and Sotheron (four) divided only with the government. Holdsworth, Tullamore and Watson Taylor did not vote in any of the divisions under consideration.111 Of the surviving Huskissonites, nine were in regular opposition: Denison, the Grants, Huskisson, Littleton, Palmerston, Sandon, Vernon Smith and Warrender. All except Huskisson appeared on the government side in at least one division. Augustus Ellis cast two hostile votes. Sturges Bourne and Villiers gave mixed votes, but did not oppose regularly. Fitzgerald is not known to have voted in any of these divisions. A total of 169 active Whig and radical oppositionists have been identified. Of these, 21 voted against Knatchbull’s amendment to the address. Four (Sir William Amcotts Ingilby, Montague Cholmeley, Osborne and George Richard Robinson) divided with government on the East Retford question, 11 Feb.; ten (William Bingham Baring, William Ewart, Sir James Graham, Kekewich, James Langston, Nicholas Ridley Colborne, Sefton, Slaney, Shaw Stewart and William Whitmore) against Blandford’s reform scheme, 18 Feb.; two (Portman and John Stewart) against the enfranchisement of Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds, 23 Feb.; one (Lumley) for the South American missions grant, 7 June; nine (James Barlow Hoy, Peter Ducane, Henry Howard, Langston, Osborne, Parnell, Shaw Stewart, John Tomes and Henry White) against abolition of the death penalty for forgery the same day; and four (French, Joseph Phillimore, Robinson and Shaw Stewart) against a reduction of judges’ salaries, 7 July—a total of 26 individuals. Forty-eight Members cast only opposition and no government votes (except on the address), but did so in six or fewer of the 67 divisions. They were a motley bunch, but about a dozen were Whigs.112 Apart from the Ultras, Huskissonites, Whigs and radicals already noticed, a total of 107 Members cast mixed votes, including 49 who had opposed Catholic emancipation. Eighty-six recorded four or fewer hostile votes (48 opposed only the contentious sale of beer bill towards the end of the session); 39 had opposed emancipation. Nineteen mixed voters cast so many opposition votes as to make them unreliable as far as the government was concerned or at best independent: Acland, Henry Bankes (anti-Catholic), Charles and David Barclay, Lord Belgrave, Bright (anti-Catholic), Nicolson Calvert, Corbett, Sheldon Cradock, Cuthbert Ellison, John Fane (anti-Catholic), Richard Fitzgibbon, Charles Harrison Batley (anti-Catholic), Joseph Marryat, George Norton, Robert Palmer, Powlett and the Williams Wynns. In the two divisions on Jewish emancipation, 242 Members opposed it: they included 27 Ultras and 89 other Tory opponents of emancipation. Thirteen of those who voted with the government on this issue cast no other recorded votes in 1830. Four Whigs opposed Jewish emancipation: Osborne, Sefton, Lord Charles Townshend and Edward Webb. At the close of the 1826 Parliament, therefore, it appears that the ministry had the potential support of about 293 Members, while Whigs, radicals, Ultras and Huskissonites might theoretically muster a combined total of about 210. The disposition of some 141 other Members who cast recorded votes in the 1830 session was less obvious, but perhaps 86 of them were inclined to government, while 55 were not to be counted upon or were hostile. This was not a healthy position for the government. The independent Whig Sir Robert Heron, summing up ‘a most extraordinary session’, wrote:

Ministers have no secure majority, for whenever the old opposition and the Ultras can agree on any subject, they must be left in a minority. The duke of Wellington has certainly done more for the country than any former minister, but it is not enough to meet the necessities of the times; the country begins to be tired of his despotism … The gratitude the old opposition has felt for the carrying the Catholic bill has more than once saved the administration; but this is fast wearing out, and their only safeguard now is the fear of their successors.113


The 1830 Parliament

The general election necessitated by the death of George IV did not clarify the political situation. The ministry emerged from it with no more reliable Commons adherents than before and with its prestige and authority seriously damaged by embarrassing defeats and poor returns in open constituencies, the failure of its attempt to turn out leading Huskissonites and a widespread revolt against aristocratic control in the counties by lesser gentry and small farmers. The demand for parliamentary reform was voiced in many constituencies, obliging numerous candidates to pledge themselves to support it, with varying degrees of sincerity. Although the electoral impact of news of the French revolution was minimal, it had some effect subsequently, while the Brussels uprising at the end of August, autumn unrest and strikes in industrial Lancashire, where the trade union movement had gained strength, and the outbreak of rural ‘Swing’ disorder from the end of October enhanced the view of many of the governing class that it would be more dangerous to resist than to concede a measure of reform.114 There was much speculation about numbers, but, as Lord Duncannon observed to Henry Brougham, ‘the great thing against’ ministers ‘more than the actual return, is the spirit that has shown itself both in England and Ireland’.115 It was clear, as Brougham eagerly pointed out in his anonymously published pamphlet, The Result of the General Election; or What Has the Duke of Wellington gained by the Dissolution? (in which he claimed to have seen the latest treasury calculations), that the government had made few if any net gains and had fared particularly badly in the open constituencies. He reckoned on 28 ‘steady ministerialists’, 47 ‘avowed adherents of opposition’ and seven ‘of a neutral cast’ among the 82 English county Members; three ‘ministerialists’ and 24 ‘opposition’ returned by 13 ‘great popular cities and boroughs’; and 47 ‘ministerialists, 71 ‘opposition’ and eight ‘rather more against government than for it’ elected for 62 ‘more or less open places’. Thus of 236 (in fact 235) Members ‘returned by more or less popular elections’, there were 79 (in fact 78) supporters of government, 141 (142) in ‘avowed opposition’ and 16 (15) ‘of a neutral cast’ (p. 18).116 John Croker, secretary to the admiralty, considered the outcome of the election to be ‘very bad’ for the ministry and told his colleague Lord Lowther that while this was ‘not the light in which the treasury views the returns … I see in them the seeds of the most troublesome and unmanageable Parliament since that which overturned the monarchy and beheaded the monarch’.117 With most of the returns in, Joseph Planta reckoned on a ministerial gain of 21 or 22, optimistically making the composition of the House 368 government and 234 opposition.118 In mid-September he and Charles Ross, recently appointed a lord of the admiralty, went over the list of ‘our new House of Commons’, and on the 21st Planta sent them to the leader of the House Peel, who was expecting a visit from the premier. Planta advised that Billy Holmes ‘may run through the lists’ and surmised that ‘with his approval or alteration, they will no doubt be very tolerably correct’.119 (Holmes ‘admitted’ when Parliament assembled that there were ‘about an hundred names he knew nothing at all about’.)120 The analysis of the 177 new Members and 481 Members of the previous Parliament was as follows: 311 ‘friends’; 37 ‘moderate Ultras’; 37 ‘good doubtfuls’; 24 ‘doubtful doubtfuls’; 23 ‘bad doubtfuls’; 25 ‘violent Ultras’; 188 ‘foes’, and 11 ‘the Huskisson Party’.121 The total of 656 was two short of the House’s Membership: the deaths of John Rawlinson Harris, the new Member for Southwark, 27 Aug., and of Huskisson (at the opening of the Liverpool and Manchester railway, 15 Sept.) account for this. Masterton Ure, Member for Weymouth, does not appear on the list, but it was presumably he who was entered among the ‘friends’ of government as ‘Mr. Vere’. There are actually 312 names under ‘friends’, including the mysterious ‘Hon. J. Arbuthnot, M.P. for Kinross’. This county did not return a Member in 1830, so he must be disregarded. Holmes is included twice, on the second occasion with the comment ‘or another friend’. He had been returned for both Haslemere and Queenborough and he did not vacate the latter until he was unseated on petition on 2 Dec. 1830. Therefore the actual number of ‘friends’ was 310, including Speaker Manners Sutton. Of these, the pencilled annotation ‘Q[uer]y’ was subsequently marked against the names of 21: Sir John Astley, Cadwallader Blayney, John Campbell, John Capel, William Douglas, Edward Thomas Foley, Lord Forbes, Charles Griffith Wynne, Henry Hepburne Scott, Lord Holmesdale, James Hope Vere, John McClintock, Lords Norreys and Oxmantown, Matthew Pennefather, Frederick Shaw, Stephen Lyne Stephens, Sir Hugh Stewart, Sir John Tyrell, Ure and Frederick West. In addition, Planta had written ‘crotchet’ against Lord Acheson and Sir James Carnegie, and ‘do not know’ beside James Ewing (Wareham) and John Lee Lee (Wells). He endorsed the 37 ‘moderate Ultras’ with the comment, ‘9 of which I should call friends’. In fact 12 were marked ‘friend’: John Jacob Buxton, Lord Ingestre, ‘Tobias’ [Theobald] Jones, Sir John Dashwood King, Thomas Legh, Philip John and ‘P. H.’ [William] Miles, Thomas Assheton Smith, George Holme Sumner, Sir Robert Williames Vaughan, ‘Capt.’ [James] Wemyss and Henry Willoughby. The word ‘friend’ against the last two was subsequently scored out. Sir Lawrence Palk and Sir John Pollen were each labelled ‘a sincere friend’; and against Lord John George Lennox was written ‘always votes with us’. It was noted that William Ormsby Gore ‘has applied for patronage’ and that Sir Edward Kerrison ‘asks for patronage’. Seven of the ‘moderate Ultras’ appeared on the analysis of Irish Members (which showed 74 supporters of the government, nine opponents and 17 neutrals) drawn up by Pierce Mahony in late August.122 Sir Robert Bateson, Richard Handcock, Gustavus Rochfort and Evelyn John Shirley were listed as ‘government’, but Planta endorsed Rochfort’s entry with the comment, ‘asks for patronage. Don’t give it’. Anthony and ‘Serjeant’ [Thomas] Lefroy and Lord Tullamore were classed as ‘neutral’ by Mahony. Planta observed of Thomas Lefroy that he had ‘said he was not opposed to govt. Will oppose’; and he described Tullamore as an ‘enemy’. He endorsed the list of ‘good doubtfuls’ with the observation, ‘Doubtful favourables 37, of which I make 18 to be generally friends’. In fact 19 Members were so listed, but the names of John Fardell and James Adam Gordon were given a pencilled endorsement of ‘qu[ery] D[oubtful]’. Of the other 18, Michael Bruce ‘states himself a friend’; John Loch was ‘a friend except on parly. reform’; ‘G.’ [John] Phillpotts, it was thought, ‘surely … will be a friend’; Francis Aldborough Prittie was ‘a friend’ who ‘asks for patronage’; and George Schonswar, Abel, George and Samuel Smith, Sir George Staunton, Henry Villiers Stuart, Lord Patrick Crichton Stuart, Sir Michael Shaw Stewart and Lord Surrey were noted as ‘friends where not pledged’. Sir Richard Bulkeley Philipps was designated an ‘enemy’. John Boyle and Prittie had been classed as ‘government’ by Mahony. Planta endorsed the list of ‘doubtful doubtfuls’ with the comment, ‘Very doubtful 24, among which I reckon 3 if not 4 friends’. These were Joseph Marryat ( ‘surely a friend’), Edward Tunno and Charles Kemeys Tynte (both ‘a friend’), and James Loch, who ‘should be a favourable doubtful at least’. Sir Charles and John Forbes were described as being ‘more yes than no’; John Fane and Lord Killeen were both designated ‘enemy’; and Lord Belgrave was queried. The list of ‘bad doubtfuls’ was endorsed, ‘Doubtfuls unfavourable, 23, of which I have put a q[uer]y to 4’. In fact only Ralph Howard and Lord Jermyn were so marked, while of Charles Buller it was written, ‘he should support us according to what he said to me’. Richard Fitzgibbon (classed as ‘government’ in the Irish list) ‘should support us, but will oppose’. Matthias Attwood was endorsed ‘violent Ultra’, while ‘opposition’ was written against ‘T.’ [William] Evans, Lord Fordwich, Sir Robert Alexander Ferguson and ‘Col.’ [Standish] O’Grady (both ‘government’ on the Irish list), Charles Rumbold, and Charles and Sir Watkin Williams Wynn. Of the 25 ‘violent Ultras’, three, Mervyn Archdall, Henry Maxwell and ‘Gen.’ [John Bruce Richard] O’Neill had been marked ‘government’ by Mahony and Henry King as ‘neutral’. There were 186, not 188 names on the list of ‘foes’, the discrepancy being explained by the returns of Brougham for both Yorkshire and Knaresborough and of Lord Ebrington for both Devon and Tavistock. They were respectively replaced in their borough seats by the sound Whigs Lord Waterpark (on 2 Dec.) and Lord John Russell (on 27 Nov. 1830). A few pencilled comments were made on this list. Of Lord Brabazon, it was noted that ‘I hear from Ireland he is to be sweetened’, and of Nicolson Calvert that he ‘will not be uniformly opposed’. ‘Q[uer]y’ was placed against Robert Grosvenor and John Abel Smith, while Hudson Gurney was considered ‘doubtful’. Mahony had listed nine of these ‘foes’ as ‘contras’ (Duncannon, James Grattan, Charles Jephson, George Lamb, James Lambert, Sir John Newport, Daniel O’Connell, George Ponsonby and Thomas Spring Rice) and 17 as ‘neutrals’. The ‘Huskisson Party’, deprived now of their leader, were Augustus Ellis, John Fitzgerald, Charles and Robert Grant, Edward Littleton, Lord Palmerston, Granville Ryder, Lord Sandon, Robert Vernon Smith, William Sturges Bourne and Sir George Warrender. Therefore on Planta’s basic figures, the ministry, with only 310 ‘friends’, was technically a minority one. On the assumption that 188 ‘foes’ (including Lord John Russell and Waterpark), 11 Huskissonites and 26 ‘violent Ultras’ (the listed 25 plus Attwood) would be hostile, the House could be reckoned at 310-225 for government, with 121 uncertain. Giving the ministry the 37 ‘good doubtfuls’ and opposition the rest made the reckoning 347-309, an uncomfortably small margin. Taking into consideration the various refinements to the lists, 25 queried, crotchety and unknown Members might be deducted from the 310 ‘friends’, leaving 285. To these might be added nine ‘moderate Ultras’, 18 ‘good doubtfuls and three ‘doubtful doubtfuls’ who were considered to be basically friendly, giving a revised ministerial strength of 315. Removal of the five queried ‘foes’ would reduce them to 183, and adding 11 Huskissonites and 26 ‘violent Ultras’ would give certain opponents of the government a total of 220. Allocating 18 ‘good doubtfuls’ to government and 28 ‘moderate Ultras’, 20 ‘doubtful doubtfuls’ and 23 ‘bad doubtfuls’ to opposition would produce a crude revised division of the House into 333 for government and 291 for opposition, a majority of only 42.123 Of the 82 English county Members, 27 were listed as ‘friends’, with three, Astley, Norreys and Tyrell of Essex, queried; two as ‘good doubtfuls’, with Powlett reckoned ‘a friend’; five as ‘doubtful doubtfuls’, with Fane noted as an ‘enemy’; three as ‘moderate Ultras; four as ‘violent Ultras’; one (Littleton) as ‘Huskisson party’, and 40 as ‘foes’, with Nicolson Calvert qualified as ‘not uniformly opposed’. Allowing for these reservations, Planta evidently reckoned on 25 reliable ‘friends’ and 40 certain ‘foes’, with 17 doubtful; but in the short term this turned out to be optimistic. Of the 140 surviving Members who had been returned to Parliament for the first time, Planta classed 71 as ‘friends’, 30 as ‘foes’, 13 as ‘good doubtfuls’, eight as ‘doubtful doubtfuls’, three as ‘bad doubtfuls’, nine as ‘moderate Ultras’ five as ‘violent Ultras’ and one (Granville Ryder) as ‘Huskisson party’. Of Members returned for the 44 largest boroughs, he calculated that 27 would be sure ‘friends’, 46 certain ‘foes’ and 12 doubtful. This was very close to Brougham’s calculation, which suggests that he had indeed seen the treasury list. Again, it proved to be optimistic, as far as Planta was concerned.

The death of Huskisson was followed by approaches to his followers by both Lord Grey, as leader of the revived Whig opposition, and the duke of Wellington. Palmerston and Lord Melbourne (as William Lamb now was) responded encouragingly to Grey’s feeler, but Wellington’s attempt to recruit Palmerston, with Lord Clive acting as intermediary, dragged on for five weeks and ended in failure. The Whigs attempted in late October to co-ordinate their strategy for the forthcoming session, but with Russell temporarily out of the House following his defeat at Bedford and the impetuous Brougham, flushed with his success in Yorkshire, claiming the lead on reform, it was not straightforward. However, Wellington made their task much easier with his declaration in the Lords, 2 Nov. 1830, against any measure of parliamentary reform. Whatever his motives, the effect was to convince many moderate men that his government was moribund and that reform was almost inevitable. John Stuart Wortley, a junior member of the government, confided to the cabinet minister Lord Ellenborough his belief that the duke’s declaration had done for them, as it had ‘made it impossible for any to join them, and upon the question of reform it is doubtful if we should have numbers enough’.124 Wellington’s statement brought the Whigs and the Huskissonites into partnership on the issue, albeit with reservations on the part of the latter. It was fixed that Brougham would bring on a motion to consider ‘the state of the representation of the people in Parliament, with a view to remedy such defects as may appear therein’. The decision of Wellington and Peel to cancel the king’s planned visit to the City to dine with his ministers and the new lord mayor, after receiving intelligence that the duke was likely to be attacked, added to the sense of crisis and ministerial paralysis. Durham reported to his wife:

The universal opinion is that they must go out. The duke is execrated by the mob … most unpopular with the monied men in the City … and almost abandoned by his own party, who openly say (even his subalterns, Ashley, Wortley, etc.) that he ought to give it up, and make way for Lord Grey.125

After discussion, the cabinet decided to resist Brougham’s motion with a direct negative.126 The Huskissonite Sandon told his father Lord Harrowby, 12 Nov., of the ‘altered feeling with respect to’ parliamentary reform:

It is no longer the cry of the turbulent and disaffected. The most sober and peaceable classes are now sharing fully in anxiety for something of the kind … Those who have had much intercourse with their constituents are quite astounded at the change … Granville [Ryder, his brother] and I are both much embarrassed. Perhaps he is rather more of a reformer than I am, but more anxious than I am that the carrying of the question should not be the destruction of the ministry. I believe we shall vote for … [reform], though reluctantly, but thinking the current is too strong to be permanently resisted, and that early concession is better and more effective than late.127

On 11 Nov. 1830 the House divided 150-24 against Daniel O’Connell’s motion for repeal of the Irish Subletting Act. The minority was composed of 19 Irish Members, plus Sir Henry Bunbury, Thomas Denman, Joseph Hume and Lord Francis Osborne, all listed as ‘foes’ by Planta; Philip Howard ( ‘bad doubtfuls’); and John Hodgson and James Johnston ( ‘good doubtfuls’). Of the Irish contingent, only four (James Grattan, Jephson, Lambert and O’Connell) had been reckoned hostile by Mahony (all deemed to be ‘foes’ by Planta), while seven had been listed as ‘neutrals’ (Lord Brabazon, Alexander Dawson, Lord Killeen, William Macnamara, the O’Conor Don, Richard O’Ferrall and Thomas Wyse). Planta had more accurately rated six of these as ‘foes’ and Killeen as an ‘enemy’ among the ‘doubtful doubtfuls’. Mahony had counted eight as supporters of the government: William Browne, Sir John Burke, Richard Fitzgibbon, Ralph Howard, Nicholas Leader, Standish O’Grady, Edward Ruthven and William Smith O’Brien. Planta had listed only Browne and Smith O’Brien as ‘friends’, Leader and Ruthven as ‘foes’, Fitzgibbon, Howard and O’Grady as ‘bad doubtfuls’, and Burke as one of the ‘doubtful doubtfuls’. On 12 Nov. 41 Members voted in the minority (against a government muster of 138) for Parnell’s motion for a reduction of the duty on wheat imported to the West Indies. Thirty of these were Planta’s ‘foes’. The remainder consisted of the Huskissonites Charles Grant, Palmerston and Smith; William Evans and Charles Williams Wynn of the ‘bad doubtfuls’ (both endorsed ‘opposition’); two ‘doubtful doubtfuls’ (Killeen and Marryat, who had been reckoned ‘surely a friend’); John Weyland of the ‘good doubtfuls; Neil Malcolm of the ‘moderate Ultras’, and two ‘friends’, Montague Chapman and William Douglas.

Brougham’s reform motion never came before the House, for on 15 Nov. 1830 Parnell moved for inquiry into the civil list, with a view to making greater reductions than those proposed by the government. To the surprise of Wellington and most of his colleagues, the motion for inquiry was carried by 233-204. Grey’s son Lord Howick thought the speech in support of it by the influential veteran Tory backbencher Henry Bankes ‘did a great deal more for us than any other’.128 The issue was hardly one of confidence, but they resigned next day in order to avoid meeting Brougham’s reform motion, Wellington’s view being that it was better to ‘go out upon a question in support of the k[ing’s] prerogative’ than ‘upon a more serious question’ and that the demand for reform was irresistible.129 Henry Meynell, Tory Member for Lisburn, who was absent from the division, reckoned that ‘the ministers did not wish to carry it, that they were very slack in their exertions to get votes and that it was a ruse to go out on this, rather than on the reform question’.130 The fall of the ministry, which perhaps symbolized the collapse of the old regime of British politics, was partly the result of an accident. Lord Lowther told his father that ‘we have now all kinds of apologies from Members who voted against us, saying they had no idea of the government giving in upon being beat upon such a question’.131 Henry Hepburne Scott, Member for Roxburghshire, who divided with government, told his mother next day:

I believe many of those who voted against the government were sincerely voting for it when they found they were in a majority which they did not in the least expect and had only intended … a bit of populism in voting against government on a finance question.132

Charles Russell, the new Member for Reading, who was criticized by some of his constituents for his vote in the ministerial minority, reckoned that ‘even the opposition … raised but little clamour about the amount of the civil list’, and was ‘positive’ that ‘the effect of the division … was not foreseen, and that if it had been, many who voted in the majority would have supported the ministers’. He, however, had regarded it as a question not of ‘economy’ but of ‘whether the duke of Wellington or Lord Grey should be premier’.133 Hope Vere, the new Member for Ilchester, who missed the division, alleged, unconvincingly, on 18 Nov. that many of those listed as absent had actually voted with ministers.134 Yet some of the ministry’s more unexpected opponents acted on general considerations. For example, Staunton recorded that he had voted against the government principally on account of Wellington’s anti-reform declaration, but that

so reluctant … was I to give a vote against the party with which I had hitherto acted, … I hesitated to the last moment; and did not … go out into the lobby until I saw Sir Thomas Acland do so, of whose honesty and independence I had conceived the very highest opinion.135

Sandon, who also voted against the ministry, welcomed their resignation because ‘nothing is so bad as a government that does not make itself respected in times such as these’.136 Charles Tennyson concluded that Wellington ‘might have made a minister 50 years ago, but the age has moved past him’.137 The Whig Henry Howard told his sister that there had ‘never [been] a more complete victory’, with ‘almost all the county Members voting in the majority’.138

The actual breakdown of the voting of all county Members was as follows:


Against government

With government














Thus the English county Members who voted divided 77 to 23 per cent against the government, and the Irish did so by 72 to 28 per cent. Of the English county Members listed as ‘friends’ by Planta in September, six voted against the government: Astley (Wiltshire), Walter Burrell (Sussex), Robert Palmer (Berkshire), William Stuart (Bedfordshire), Charles Tyrell (Suffolk) and Sir John Tyrell (Essex). Planta had queried the allegiance of Astley and Tyrell of Essex. Seven of the ‘friends’ did not vote: Lord Chandos (Buckinghamshire), Charles Chaplin (Lincolnshire), Henry Lowther (Westmorland), Sir John Lowther (Cumberland), Henry Lygon (Worcestershire), Lord Robert Manners (Leicestershire) and Charles Morgan (Monmouthshire). The 15 county Member ‘friends’ who rallied to the ministry were Matthew Bell (Northumberland), William Cartwright (Northamptonshire), Sir John Cotterell (Herefordshire), Dugdale Dugdale (Warwickshire), Wilbraham Egerton (Cheshire), John Fleming (Hampshire), Sir Rowland Hill (Shropshire), Lord Lowther (Westmorland), Francis Mundy (Derbyshire), Norreys (Oxfordshire), Lord William Powlett (Durham), Lords Granville and Robert Somerset (Monmouthshire and Gloucestershire), Frank Sotheron (Nottinghamshire) and Lord Strathavon (Huntingdonshire). While only two of the Members for large boroughs who had been classed as friends voted in the majority, namely Schonswar (Kingston-upon-Hull) and Henry Willoughby (Newark), and 16 divided with government, nine were absent. Overall, the ministerial minority was made up of 179 ‘friends’; ten ‘good doubtfuls’ (of whom Planta had reckoned all but Robert King to be ‘friends’); six ‘doubtful doubtfuls’, of whom Marryat and Tunno had been considered friendly; one of the ‘bad doubtfuls’ (James Barlow Hoy), six ‘moderate Ultras’ (Ormsby Gore, Palk, Pollen, Samuel Grove Price, Sir George Henry Rose and Evelyn Shirley, with Palk and Pollen having been described as ‘sincere’ friends), and two ‘violent Ultras’, Sir Roger Gresley and Arthur Hill Trevor. The hostile majority was composed of 139 ‘foes’; 11 ‘doubtful doubtfuls’, of whom Sir John Burke had been reckoned ‘government’ by Mahony; 15 ‘bad doubtfuls’ (including the ‘violent Ultra’ Attwood), of whom James Browne, Richard Fitzgibbon and Ralph Howard had been listed as ‘government’ by Mahony, though Planta had expected Fitzgibbon to ‘oppose’; eight Huskissonites (the Grants, Littleton, Palmerston, Ryder, Sandon, Smith and Warrender); 15 ‘moderate Ultras’ (Bateson, Holme Sumner, Kerrison, Anthony and Thomas Lefroy, Legh, George Legh Keck, Lord John George Lennox, Neil Malcolm, Lords Mandeville, Newark and Tullamore, Rochfort, Henry Willoughby and John Wilson Patten; Bateson had been reckoned ‘government’ by Mahony, Holme Sumner, Legh and Willoughby endorsed ‘friend’ by Planta); 16 ‘violent Ultras’ (Lewis Buck, Quintin Dick, Arthur and William Duncombe, Lord Encombe, Thomas Fyler, Clinton Fynes Clinton, Sir William Heathcote, Lloyd Kenyon, Henry King, Sir Edward Knatchbull, Henry Maxwell, Michael Sadler, Lord Stormont, Sir Richard Vyvyan and Charles Waldo Sibthorp; Maxwell had been listed as ‘government’ by Mahony); and, crucially, no fewer than 20 Members who had been listed as ‘friends’. These were Acheson, Astley, Edward Bainbridge, James Bradshaw, William Browne, Walter Burrell, William Douglas, Thomas Grimston Bucknall Estcourt, Edward Thomas Foley, George Harris, John Lee, Lyne Stephens, Robert Palmer, Richard Price, William Stuart, George Tudor, Charles and Sir John Tyrell, Lord Valentia and Glynn Welby. Nine of these men were county Members. Thus of Planta’s 309 ‘friends’ (excluding the Speaker), 179 (58 per cent) divided with government and 20 (six per cent) against, while 110 (36 per cent) were absent. Of those who voted, 90 per cent went with government and ten against. Of the 145 Tory opponents of Catholic emancipation who were re-elected in 1830, 34 voted against and 54 with government on the civil list.139 From one perspective, the government’s fall represented the revenge of the diehard Ultras, who met on the day of the division to decide what to do and opted to support Parnell’s motion. At the same time, it confirmed that the ministry had lost most of its credibility and could command little loyalty at a time when economic distress and the growing demand for significant parliamentary reform required a decisive response.140 Members who had not sat in the previous Parliament, who were less likely than old ones to feel loyalty to the government and may have been more responsive to public opinion, voted 76 (64 per cent) to 42 (36 per cent) against the ministry. Of the 141 of these Members who had no previous parliamentary experience at all, only 34 (24 per cent) voted with ministers, while 65 (46) were in the opposition majority. Members of the previous Parliament divided 163-162 against government.141

Lord Grey formed his aristocratic and nepotistic coalition (but essentially Whig) ministry and set Russell, Duncannon, Sir James Graham and Lord Durham to work on drawing up proposals for reform, in conjunction with himself and Althorp, chancellor of the exchequer and leader of the House. On other issues the new government soon ran into trouble in the Commons. Their economical reforms disappointed those who had expected substantial reductions in expenditure, for which there was little scope, and Althorp’s disastrous first budget of February 1831 had to be substantially modified. His proposed tax on transfers of real and funded property caused outrage in the City, but his subsequent decision to drop it annoyed the country gentlemen. His alteration of the coal duties and proposal to tax raw cotton were also highly contentious. The only division list to survive from this period is that of the minority of seven radicals who voted to reduce the army by 10,000 men on 21 Feb. 1831. They were Charles Buller, Hume, Henry Hunt (sensationally returned for Preston in December 1830), the O’Gorman Mahon, Daniel O’Connell, Warburton and John Wood. To these can be added nine Members who had voted in both the minorities of 11 and 12 Nov. 1830: Bunbury, Alexander Dawson, Jephson, Killeen, James Lambert, Leader, Macnamara, O’Ferrall, and Wyse. All but Buller, Bunbury, Hume, Hunt, Warburton and Wood were Irish Members. Meanwhile, some of the former ministers, notably Ellenborough, Arbuthnot, Sir Henry Hardinge, Planta, Holmes and John Herries, had quickly rallied to organize the Tories in opposition, and by the start of the 1831 session they had set up Planta’s Charles Street house as a headquarters, with Edward Fitzgerald as a paid secretary. However, reunification was hampered by the mutual antipathy of Peel, temperamentally unsuited to lead a party, and the Ultras, who were themselves divided on reform.142

This issue and speculation as to the government’s intentions, which were largely kept secret, dominated politics when Parliament reconvened. The reaction of a packed House when Russell revealed the boldness and scope of the ministerial proposals on 1 Mar. 1831 was one of ‘astonishment’. As Francis Thornhill Baring, a junior minister, put it, ‘the House had the appearance of a drunken man reeling under the blow’.143 Peel, his hopes of a return to power as leader of a moderate coalition shattered, said nothing until the third night of the debate. He may have missed a trick in not immediately condemning and opposing the English measure, but he and other leading Tories had agreed a week earlier not to resist the introduction of a reform bill, if only because it seemed likely that many Members, especially those for counties, would vote for it to appease their constituents.144 Edward Strutt, the radically inclined Member for Derby, commented on 2 Mar. that ministers had proposed a tolerably sweeping measure of

reform, a much more extensive and better one than I think was expected by anybody. It has no doubt great defects, but if it is carried (as it must be eventually) all the rest must follow. It has of course horrified a great proportion of the House and I have no expectation that they can carry the measure in its present shape through the present Parliament; but I hope they will not permit it to be frittered away, and if they remain firm it must be carried at last.

A week later he reported that the ‘prospect of the bill’s passing the second reading improves’, and a week after that that he was delighted at ‘how the reform bill goes on prosperously’.145 Thomas Kemmis, the new Tory Member for East Looe, told his mother, 9 Mar., that

the excitement here is extreme, nothing but the bill is talked about and no one gives a fair opinion. Those who are independent tell you their wishes when you ask their opinions and the county Members who are in fear of dissolution will not speak out. I believe there are about 100 persons in that situation, wishing but afraid to vote against the bill, and their uncertainty makes each party claim the victory.146

The Tory Cotterell believed that the bill had been allowed to be brought in unopposed ‘to show that it is so radical that it ought not to pass’ and in ‘full expectation of it being thrown out … on the second reading. Parties run very high’.147 Grey had optimistically anticipated a swift passage of the measure through both Houses and had not seriously entertained the notion of having to ask the king to dissolve Parliament. Holmes, Planta and Francis Bonham counted heads and at first were confident of a majority of about 40 against the second reading; but as the day drew nearer and petitions in support of the ministerial scheme poured in, the gap was patently narrowing. By 18 Mar., when Althorp’s revised timber duties proposals were defeated by 236-190, Hardinge envisaged an opposition majority against the second reading of the English reform bill of only two. When the division was taken on 22 Mar. the bill was carried by 302-301.148 The anti-reformer Hepburne Scott reported that ‘on the last man walking in and numbers declared I … felt as if my nearest relation was dead, a sort of shock I could hardly have conceived it possible to feel on a division in the House and it was evident enough I was not the only one, for many were so … overcome as hardly to be able to speak’.149 There were several claimants to the decisive favourable vote. Sir Andrew Agnew and John Calcraft were seen as last-minute converts to reform, while the absence of Henry Lytton Bulwer, whose patron at Wilton, Lord Pembroke, was hostile to the bill, was also considered to have been important.150 Thomas Gladstone, who is known to have voted against government on the timber duties, favoured some reform but was staggered by ‘so bold a change in our constitution’. Ministers’ indication that the measure was open to revision in committee allowed him to vote for the second reading, as he told his father:

I voted in the majority, and, if any one turned the balance more than another, I did, for up to the moment of the division itself I was in hopes that some person, in whom I could place confidence and who might have weight in the House, would pledge himself to bring forward a substantial but moderate measure of reform, and, if such had been the case, it would have decided me in voting, without hesitation, against the bill. As it was, in spite of my own feelings and prejudices, I could not make up my mind to do what was tantamount to saying, ‘I will have no reform’. And I consider that I am still as unpledged to the details of the bill as I was this time yesterday.151

John Morison, Member for Banffshire, was, according to his constituent John Macpherson Grant, ‘actually in the House … but went home … on the pretence of age [74] and indifferent health’; but Macpherson Grant suspected ‘the real cause’ to have been ‘a fear of offending by his vote whichever way it was given’. Morison had been under pressure from Colonel Francis Grant, Tory Member for Elginshire and an important electoral prop in Banffshire, to vote against the bill, but was tortured by ‘the knowledge that … many of his constituents were favourable to it’.152 (He was re-elected in 1831 and gave perfunctory support to the reintroduced and revised reform bills.) According to Thomas Creevey, Michael Bruce, Member for Ilchester, only voted for the bill because his patron Lord Cleveland (who backed it to secure a dukedom) forced him to do so; he allegedly ‘tried to hide himself’ when the division took place, ‘to avoid being counted, and was detected in the act, and made to show himself’.153 Croker alleged that Lord Mount Charles was bribed by his rich Whig uncle William Denison to vote (with reservations) for the bill with a promise to pay his debts; but no corroboration has been found.154 Sir James Willoughby Gordon, quartermaster-general at Horse Guards, abstained, but told Grey that by declining to vacate his seat for Launceston, as his anti-reform patron the duke of Northumberland wished, until after the division, he had prevented the return of an opponent of the measure.155 Sir Robert Alexander Ferguson’s election for Londonderry was declared void on 14 Mar., and Gladstone believed that he would otherwise have voted against the bill.156 (However, Ferguson was returned at the subsequent by-election on 2 April and voted with ministers against Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment.) Hudson Gurney was listed in the newspapers as an absentee from the division, but in debate on 24 Mar. 1831 he indicated that he had in fact voted for the measure so that it could be modified in committee. He may, however, have been lying.

County Members divided 109 (61 per cent) to 69 (39 per cent) in favour of the bill. The voting of county Members from the four countries was as follows:





53 (66%)

27 (34%)


7 (58%)

5 (42%)


10 (38%)

16 (62%)


39 (65%)

21 (35%)


The English Members as a whole were (like the House) equally divided, while the Irish favoured the bill by 60 to 40 per cent, and the Welsh by 58 to 42 per cent. The Scottish Members were hostile by 67 to 33 per cent. Of the Members who had divided with the Wellington ministry on the civil list, 156 voted against the second reading of the reform bill: 140 ‘friends’; one each of the ‘bad doubtfuls’ (Barlow Hoy) and ‘violent Ultras’ (Gresley); three ‘doubtful doubtfuls’; five ‘good doubtfuls’, and six ‘moderate Ultras’ (Ormsby Gore, Palk, Pollen, Price, Rose and Shirley). Twenty-eight of the supporters of Wellington’s government in November 1830 divided for the second reading of the reform bill: they were the 20 ‘friends’, Agnew, Hugh Baillie, Calcraft, Sir Arthur Chichester, Sheldon Cradock, Dugdale, Lord Arthur Hill, John Hope Johnstone, Sir Thomas Byam Martin, Mark Milbank, Francis Mundy, James O’Hara, William Powell, Michael Prendergast, Charles Russell, Strathavon, William Thompson, George Granville Venables Vernon, John Walpole and Thomas Wood; the ‘good doubtfuls’, John Boyle, Bruce, Robert King, Phillpotts and Powlett; and the ‘doubtful doubtfuls’, Daniel Callaghan, James Loch and Marryat. Their motives, as far as they can be ascertained, were mixed. Bruce, as noted above, acted at the behest of his patron Cleveland, as did Cradock, Milbank and Powlett. Chichester also followed his patron’s lead. Agnew, Dugdale, Marryat, Mundy, Russell, Strathavon and Wood were in favour of some reform but wished to see the ministerial scheme significantly modified. Calcraft, Callaghan, Hill, Hope Johnstone, Loch, O’Hara, Phillpotts, Prendergast and Venables Vernon seem to have acted from conviction, but, like others in this group of Members, they may also have had an eye on their seats if a dissolution came. Martin voted for the bill in order to keep his office as comptroller of the navy, while Walpole did so as private secretary to the foreign secretary Palmerston. Thompson’s vote was opportunistic and insincere, intended to placate the London livery. However, as one historian of the Reform Act has written, no two Members ‘had the same political experience’ or were ‘subject to the same pressures’.157 Surprisingly, perhaps, 23 of these Members went on to vote against the Tories’ wrecking amendment to the bill, 19 Apr. 1831, when only Mundy, Powlett and Wood reversed their votes, and Baillie and Bruce were absentees. Of the Members who had voted the Wellington ministry out of office, 182 divided for the second reading of the reform bill. They were made up of 130 ‘foes’; 12 ‘good doubtfuls’; ten ‘doubtful doubtfuls’; 11 ‘bad doubtfuls’; five Huskissonites (the Grants, Littleton, Palmerston and Sandon); four ‘moderate Ultras’ (Legh Keck, Lennox, whose brother the duke of Richmond was a member of the cabinet, Newark and Wilson Patten); three ‘violent Ultras’ (Buck, Fyler and Henry King); and seven ‘friends’ (Astley, Bainbridge, William Browne, Chapman, Lee, Robert Palmer and Charles Tyrell). Forty-three of the men who had voted against government on the civil list divided against the second reading of the reform bill. They were the Huskissonites Ryder and Warrender; Attwood ( ‘bad doubtfuls’/ ‘violent Ultra’); Henry Bankes ( ‘doubtful doubtfuls’); Fardell ( ‘good doubtfuls’); 13 of the 20 hostile ‘friends’; the four ‘foes’, Dickinson, Lord Euston, Robert Ferrand and Lord Charles Spencer Churchill; nine ‘moderate Ultras’ (Bateson, Holme Sumner, Kerrison, the two Lefroys, Neil Malcolm, Mandeville, Rochfort and Tullamore); and 12 ‘violent Ultras’ (Dick, both Duncombes, Fynes Clinton, Heathcote, Kenyon, Knatchbull, Maxwell, Sadler, Stormont, Vyvyan and Waldo Sibthorp). The ‘moderate Ultras’ divided against the reform bill 29-6, and the ‘violent Ultras’ by 19-5. Its supporters other than those Ultras mentioned above were the ‘moderate’ Burton and Wemyss and the ‘violent’ O’Neill and Uxbridge, whose father Lord Anglesey was lord lieutenant of Ireland. The Ultras’ flirtation with parliamentary reform was almost over.158 The division split families and fractured political alliances, and household officers who voted against the bill were dismissed.159

It was clear that ministers had no hope of getting the measure through the existing Commons undamaged, and Grey knew that he had to be prepared to seek a dissolution as soon as the committee stage began. In an attempt to meet the Ultra Isaac Gascoyne’s planned motion for an instruction to the committee that each part of the kingdom should retain its existing proportionate share in the representation, the cabinet halved the proposed reduction in seats by reprieving 31 and increasing the membership to 627. Other detailed modifications were made and announced to the House, 18 Apr. The opposition had meanwhile united behind a refined version of Gascoyne’s proposal in the form of an amendment to the motion for going into committee of the whole House, to the effect that there should be no reduction in the number of Members for England and Wales. After two nights’ debate the amendment was carried by 299-291, 19 Apr. 1831.

County Members divided 94 (55 per cent) to 78 (45 per cent) against the wrecking amendment. For the four countries, the figures were as follows:


With government

Against government


45 (58%)

33 (42%)


3 (27%)

8 (73%)


11 (39%)

17 (61%)


35 (64%)

20 (36%)


All those in the ministerial minority had divided for the second reading of the reform bill except for 16 who had not voted on that occasion, when five of them (William Chaytor, Stephen Lushington, William Mayhew, Maurice O’Connell and William Ogilvy) had not been Members, and nine who had voted against the second reading. These were Bateson, Henry Bruen, Lord Hugh Cholmondeley, Cressett Pelham, Alexander Duff, Euston, John Henry Knox, Lord Seymour and Warrender. All those who voted for the wrecking amendment had divided against the second reading except 12 who had not voted on that occasion (two of them not having been Members at that time) and 15 who had divided for the second reading. These were Acland, Buck, John Fane, Gladstone, William Handley, Legh Keck, Sir Charles Morgan, Mundy, Robert Palmer, Powlett, Staunton, the two Williams Wynns, Wilson Patten and Thomas Wood. Buck had been listed as one of the ‘violent Ultras’, Legh Keck and Wilson Patten as ‘moderate Ultras’. It has been suggested that these 15 Members represented the small number to which ‘independents’ in the Commons had shrunk by 1831; but this seems to be rather a fanciful notion. In any case, the nine who voted against the second reading but for Gascoyne’s amendment surely ought to be added to the tally.160 Of the Members who had divided on the second reading, 19 of its supporters and 13 of its opponents did not vote on Gascoyne’s amendment. Of the 26 ‘violent Ultras’ (including Attwood), 20 cast two votes against the reform bill. Buck voted for the second reading but for Gascoyne’s amendment, while only Fyler, Henry King, O’Neill and Uxbridge gave two votes for it. Hill Trevor had left the House before these divisions occurred. Of the 37 ‘moderate Ultras’, 28 cast two votes against the bill and Legh voted for the wrecking amendment only. Legh Keck and Wilson Patten divided for the second reading but for the amendment, Bateson did the reverse, and only Burton Peters, Lennox, Newark and Wemyss voted twice for the bill. Henry Willoughby had left the House in February 1831. Thus 48 Ultras voted twice against the reform bill, four voted to wreck it, and only eight voted twice for the measure. Overall, 275 Members voted twice for the reform bill and a further 34 once (without voting against it on the other occasion). Those who voted twice against the bill numbered 289, and those who did so once 22. This gave 309 for and 311 against the bill. A dissolution had become inevitable, but the fact that the number of Members willing to vote for significant reform was over twice greater than any previous minority on the issue was an indication of how times had changed in little over a year. Grey obtained the king’s grudging agreement to a dissolution on 21 Apr. 1831. Later that day the opposition in the Commons carried an adjournment by a majority of 22 before the report on the ordnance estimates had been received and the cabinet authorized Grey and lord chancellor Brougham to ask the king to prorogue the Parliament in person. This he did, amid scenes of great excitement, bad temper and disorder in both Houses, on the 22nd.


The 1831 Parliament

The 1831 general election gave the Grey ministry a substantial majority, more than enough to ensure the passage of the reform bills through the Commons, though not necessarily without alteration to details. The second reading of the reintroduced English bill, which differed in only a few particulars from the amended first one, was carried on 6 July 1831 by a majority of 136 (367-231). Thus in crude terms, the supporters of the principle of reform had increased by 65 and its opponents had been reduced by 70 since 22 Mar. Of the 116 Members without previous parliamentary experience who were returned at the general election, 81 (70 per cent) voted for the bill on 6 July, and only 32 (28) against it. This compares with 57 per cent of the whole House for and 37 per cent against the bill. The new English Members divided 70 per cent for and 27 per cent against; the new Scottish 73 per cent to 27 per cent; and the new Irish 65 per cent to 35 per cent. The two new Welsh Members both divided for the measure. The size of this majority probably encouraged some reformers to be less reticent in promoting or supporting changes to the details of the measure than they might have been if the margin had been tighter. During the 40-day committee stage which began on 13 July and ended on 7 Sept., there was inevitably a degree of indiscipline among supporters of the measure, but by and large the pro-reform majority held together well. The only defeat which the government suffered in committee occurred on 18 Aug., when Lord Chandos’s amendment to enfranchise £50 tenants-at-will in the counties was carried against them by 232-148. There was also an early fiasco on the disfranchisement of Saltash, 26 July, when the leader of the House Lord Althorp, replying to an opposition proposal to transfer it from schedule A to B, conceded that there was a good case for this but did so in such an indistinct manner that when a division was forced the House voted 231-150 to effect the change, with six ministers and a number of their usual supporters in the minority. On 14 Sept., at the report stage, a minority of 64 voted for the total disfranchisement of Aldborough. Althorp quickly recovered from his Saltash blunder and did more than any other minister to steer the measure through, despite its numerous flaws and vulnerable points, relying on his unrivalled detailed knowledge of the bill and a fair-minded evenness of temper that belied his inner torment. He was helped by the continuing disunity of the Tory opposition, who were handicapped by Peel’s grudge against the Ultras and refusal to join in the obstructive resistance to the measure which was conducted by zealous but less able men such as John Croker, John Cressett Pelham, Sir Edward Sugden and Sir Charles Wetherell. The report stage, during which ministers gave Wales two more Members and added Ashton and Stroud to schedule D, occupied three nights. There was a premature division on the third reading, 19 Sept., when Sir James Scarlett, who was supposed to open the debate for opposition, was too slow in rising, which allowed the Speaker to put the question and the House to divide 113-58. When the division was taken on the motion that the bill should pass, 21 Sept., the numbers were 345-236 in its favour, a drop in the majority of 27 from the second reading.161 The second reading of the Scottish reform bill was carried by 209-94, 23 Sept. The defeat of the second reading of the English bill by 41 votes in the Lords, 7 Oct. 1831, led to the destructive riots in London, Bristol, Nottingham and Derby and several weeks of political uncertainty. Attempts by Tory ‘Waverers’ in the Lords to reach a compromise with the government for a modified reform bill failed, but ministers at least discovered which concessions might mollify opposition in the Upper House and, in considerable haste, cobbled together in late November and early December 1831 a revised English bill incorporating a number of modifications. Principally, the disfranchisement schedules were redrawn by abandoning the contentious criterion of population in 1821 for a formula based on the number of houses in and amount of assessed taxes paid by the smaller boroughs. This reduced total disfranchisements (schedule A) from 60 to 56 and partial (schedule B) from 47 to 30. It was decided to keep the membership of the House at 658, and additional seats were given to ten of the newly enfranchised boroughs formerly in schedule D. Changes were also made to the franchise proposals, including permitting the sons and apprentices of existing freemen to inherit the right to vote on certain conditions, allowing the non-occupying owners of £10 borough properties to vote in their counties and retaining the Chandos clause.162 The revised bill, introduced by Lord John Russell on 12 Dec., went down well with many of the opposition, although Peel, misjudging their mood, made a bitter and self-congratulatory speech. The second reading was carried by 324-162, 17 Dec. 1831, when many of the anti-reformers abstained. The motion to go into committee on the bill was carried by 152-99, 20 Jan. 1832, and the principles of the disfranchisement schedules by 198-123 on the same night (A) and by 210-112 on the 23rd (B). The only occasions on which minorities against details of the measure exceeded 150 were on the £10 householder clause, 3 Feb., when 184 divided against 252; the inclusion of Helston in schedule B, 23 Feb. (179-256); the enfranchisement of the metropolitan district of Tower Hamlets, 28 Feb. (236-316), and that of Gateshead, 5 Mar. (167-214). The third reading was carried on 22 Mar. by 355-239, a majority of 116. Of course, this was merely a necessary preliminary to the crucial struggle in the Lords, where the second reading passed by nine votes on 13 Apr., but a Conservative wrecking amendment was carried by 151-116 on 7 May. When the king reneged on his earlier promise to create enough pro-reform peers to carry the measure Grey resigned. Against a background of threatened popular violence, the king appealed to Wellington to try to form a ministry committed to carrying an emasculated bill, but with Peel refusing to have anything to do with it, the attempt collapsed. Grey and company resumed office in mid-May, the king having agreed to create the necessary peers, and in order to avert such a swamping the bulk of the opposition peers admitted defeat; only 22 diehards voted against the third reading, 4 June. Meanwhile, in the Commons, the second reading of the Scottish reform bill had been carried without a division, 21 May, and that of the Irish measure by 246-130 four nights later. Both measures went through committee with little serious trouble and had uncontested third readings. The boundaries bill for England and Wales was given a second reading on 21 May and a third on 22 June 1832.

The following analysis of voting on reform is based on lists from 65 divisions between 6 July 1831 and 2 July 1832. These comprise 34 on the reintroduced English reform bill, 6 July-21 Sept. 1831; 20 on the revised English bill, 17 Dec. 1831-23 Mar. 1832; two on the first Scottish bill, 23 Sept. and 4 Oct. 1831; two on the final Scottish bill, 1 and 15 June 1832; five on the final Irish bill, 25 May-2 July 1832, and two on the boundaries bill, 22 June 1832. Full lists of majorities and minorities survive for only 15 of these divisions.163 Eleven furnish full majorities and partial lists of the minorities, that is, of Members who usually supported the reform scheme.164 Three divisions have partial lists of both majority and minority.165 Two have partial lists of the majority and full ones of the minority.166 Lists of the majority only survive for eight divisions.167 There are partial majority lists for two divisions.168 Partial minority lists survive for three divisions.169 The remaining 21 divisions provide full lists of the minority only.170

A total of 133 Members (19 per cent of the 715 who sat in this Parliament) voted undeviatingly for the reform bills. Of these, 26 were office-holders. A further 95 Members cast one wayward vote on the details of the reform and boundaries bills. Forty-four of them inadvertently did so in the confusion over the disfranchisement of Saltash, among them Sir Thomas Denman, the attorney-general, George Lamb, the home office under-secretary, William Maberly, surveyor-general of the ordnance, and George Ponsonby, a lord of the treasury. Thirteen voted in the minority of 64 for the disfranchisement of Aldborough and ten for the Chandos amendment. Two deviant votes were cast by 71 Members: 34 of these men were in the minority on Saltash, including Lord Nugent, a lord of the treasury, and Sir Henry Parnell, the war secretary; 27 supported the Chandos amendment; and 11 voted to disfranchise Aldborough. Charles Tennyson, a junior minister until February 1832, cast his two wayward votes on the boundaries bill. All these Members except Sir Charles Coote and Sir Robert Alexander Ferguson, who voted sparingly, otherwise divided steadily for the principle and details of the reform bills. Three wayward votes were given on details by 43 Members, who otherwise were steady supporters of reform, with the exception of Joseph Cripps, who cast just three votes for the principle, and Lord Sandon, who gave only four reform votes after his return for Liverpool in October 1831, though these included the second and third readings of the revised English bill. Twenty-seven of these Members were caught in the minority on Saltash. Fifteen were in the majority for the Chandos amendment, 14 voted to disfranchise Aldborough and 13 opposed the division of counties. Seven, namely Walter Blackney, James Wentworth Buller, Thomas Duncombe, Wynn Ellis, William Ewart, Edward Strutt and Sir Hedworth Williamson, were in the minority of 32 advanced reformers against the retention of the Chandos clause in the revised bill. A total of 69 Members cast four or more wayward votes on the details of the reform bills. Of these, 57 were otherwise steady in support, while the other dozen all cast at least 11 pro-reform votes, including in no fewer than three of the four divisions on the principle of the two English bills. The men who cast the most wayward votes were Henry Hunt (13, but also 22 votes for the bills); Henry Adeane (12 and 15); Sir Andrew Agnew (11 and 15); Thomas Davies (11 and 20); Sir Charles Burrell (ten and 11); and Sir Henry Willoughby (ten and 21). One (Rigby Wason) gave nine wayward votes. Eight were cast by Robert Cutlar Fergusson, John Hodgson, William Hughes Hughes, Thomas Paget and John Wilks; and seven by John James Hope Johnstone, Lord Milton, Daniel O’Connell and Edward Ruthven. Of the remaining 52, 15 cast six wayward votes, 19 cast five and 19 gave four. Thus of 411 Members (59 per cent of those who sat in this Parliament) who voted without equivocation for the principle and many of the details of the reform bills, 50 (12 per cent) cast votes against the ministerial line in ten per cent or more of the 51 divisions on the details of the measures. Most of these men voted for attempts to moderate the bills, but a dozen were motivated by a desire to make them go further than ministers intended: these were William Addams Williams, William Blamire, Joseph Dixon, Fergusson, Thomas Gisborne, Joseph Hume, Hunt, O’Connell, Paget, Richard Sheil and Thomas Wyse. Seven of the 50 were Irish Members who included in their wayward votes support for amendments to the Irish reform bill in June and July 1832.

A total of 216 Members voted consistently against reform. A further 37 voted against the principle and details of the bills, but divided once on the ministerial side. Of these, six did so in one of the adjournment motions of 12 July 1831. Eleven others divided against a radical proposal to limit the duration of borough polls, 15 Feb. 1832, and seven voted for the division of counties. Of the remainder, Sir Robert Inglis was credited with a vote for the principle of schedule A; Thomas Frankland Lewis voted for the second reading of the reintroduced English reform bill so that it might be amended in committee, but opposed it thereafter; Peel’s brother Edmund paired for the third reading of the revised bill; and John Stuart Wortley voted for the second reading of the first Scottish bill. Fourteen usual opponents of reform cast two votes with the government. Nine of them did so in one of the adjournment divisions. Therefore the maximum size of the steady anti-reform contingent in the House can be reckoned at 267 (37 per cent of the Members who sat in this Parliament).

Nine Members are difficult to classify by their votes on reform. Davies Gilbert accepted the need for some change, but voted against the second reading of the reintroduced English bill and with government on three other occasions. He made a number of speeches in support of his attempts to modify the measure. James Halse divided for the second reading and the enfranchisement of Gateshead, but thereafter was hostile or indifferent to reform. John Henry Knox voted for the second reading and for some details, but he opposed the passage of the bill, the enfranchisement of Tower Hamlets and the third reading of the revised bill. Sir Thomas Byam Martin, the comptroller of the navy, voted for the second reading and passage of the reintroduced bill, but after his dismissal in October 1831 for failing to vote for the motion of confidence in the ministry on the 10th, he voted twice against the English bill and twice against the Irish. Sir George Staunton, a genuine independent, cast no known votes on the principle of the bills, and otherwise voted mostly against details of the measures. He privately listed and accounted for 19 of his votes between March and August 1831.171 The ex-Canningite Sir George Warrender divided against the second and third readings and passage of the reintroduced bill, but for the second readings of the Scottish measure and of the revised English bill, before voting against its third reading. Charles Williams Wynn, who had resigned as war secretary on account of his uneasiness at the nature and extent of some of the changes proposed in the first reform bill, voted, with his brother Sir Watkin, for the second reading of the reintroduced measure, in order to appease constituents in their Welsh counties, but thereafter they were in essentials anti-reformers. Thomas Wood, another Welsh Member, cast seven votes for reform and eight against, including on the passage of the reintroduced bill and the third reading of the final one. Thirteen of the men returned to this Parliament cast no recorded vote on reform. One, of course, was Speaker Manners Sutton. Of the others, six left the House before the proceedings on the reintroduced English bill, and four were not returned until late in the 1832 session. Harry Baines Lott and Lord James Townshend sat throughout, but the former was permanently unwell and the latter was absent on active naval service.

The bulk of the House was therefore clearly divided on reform, with a favourable hard core of 228 who cast no wayward votes or only one, an additional phalanx of 114 who deviated twice or three times, and a disparate group of 69 who gave four or more wayward votes but were otherwise steady supporters of the principle and many of the details (a total of 411). Ranged against them were 267 opponents of reform, of whom 216 divided consistently against it and 37 voted once with the government. The voting behaviour of all these Members in divisions on 11 significant party clashes has been analysed. Two of these divisions were on motions of confidence, namely Lord Ebrington’s on 10 Oct. 1831, following the defeat of the reform bill in the Lords, and his motion for an address asking the king to appoint only a ministry committed to carrying undiluted reform, 10 May 1832, when the formation of a Conservative reform administration seemed possible. The others were on the contentious issues of alleged ministerial interference in the Dublin general election, 23 Aug. 1831 (two divisions); the government’s payment of the interest on the Russian-Dutch loan without the sanction of Parliament (four divisions, 26 Jan., 12, 16, 20 July 1832); relations with Portugal, 9 Feb. 1832; the navy civil departments bill, 6 Apr. 1832; and the Irish registry of deeds bill, 9 Apr. 1832. Lists of both majority and minority survive only for the second Dublin division and the Russian-Dutch loan divisions of 26 Jan. and 12 July. The other eight list only those who divided with government. The October 1831 confidence motion was carried by 329-198 and that of May 1832 by 288-208. Ministers had a narrow squeak on the Russian-Dutch loan in January, with a majority of only 24 (238-214), obtained largely by Lord Palmerston’s bold ‘rallying speech’;172 but on 12 July 1832 they won by 46 (243-197).

Of the 411 Members who voted for reform, 14 did not vote in these divisions. A total of 353 (86 per cent, or 89 per cent of those who voted) divided only on the government side, while 44 cast at least one hostile or wayward vote. Of the 133 Members who voted consistently for reform, 122 (92 per cent, or 98 per cent of those who actually voted) divided only with government in these divisions. Nine did not vote, and two cast one vote against government: Charles Russell and George Sinclair defected on the Russian-Dutch loan in January 1832, but were in the ministerial majorities on both confidence motions. Eighty-six of the men who gave one wayward vote on reform divided only with government in these divisions. This was 91 per cent, or 93 per cent of those who actually voted, as three cast no known vote. Six voted against government on the Russian-Dutch loan, but were otherwise steady supporters: they were Herbert Curteis, John Jones, John Lee Lee, Charles Norton, William Powell, and William Thompson. Of the 71 Members who gave two wayward votes on reform, one did not vote in these divisions. Sixty-one divided only on the government side ((86 per cent, or 87 per cent of those who voted). Six voted once against ministers, on the Russian-Dutch loan in January 1832, but were otherwise reliable: James Baillie, Richard Godson, Lord Newark, John Ramsbottom, Sir Edward Scott and Robert Stanhope. Sir Charles Coote strayed on the Russian-Dutch loan, but cast no other vote in these divisions. Samuel Bayntun voted against the loan in January and on 12 July 1832, but gave six votes with ministers. Of the 43 Members who voted three times against government on reform, 34 (79 per cent) divided steadily with them in these divisions. Four voted against on the Russian-Dutch loan in January 1832, but otherwise voted with government: Edward Bainbridge, James Buller, James Lambert and Robert Throckmorton. Henry Burton Peters and William Copeland defected on the loan, 12 July 1832, but voted five times and twice with government, respectively. Cripps, William Mayhew and George Richard Robinson voted against the loan in January and on 12 July 1832; Cripps cast one vote with ministers, Mayhew five and Robinson two. Of the 69 Members who recorded at least four wayward votes on reform, one did not vote in these divisions. Forty-nine (71 per cent, or 72 per cent of those who voted) divided only with government. Nineteen cast votes against government in these divisions. Twelve did so only on the Russian-Dutch loan in January 1832: Agnew, Lord George Cavendish Bentinck, Cutlar Fergusson, Sir Berkeley Guise, Hope Johnstone, Hume, William Gore Langton, the Irish Members Frederick Mullins, Daniel O’Connell and Ruthven, and Richard Watson and Edward Webb. All voted at least twice with ministers. William Denison and Thomas Greene strayed on the loan, 12 July 1832, but voted four and three times with government respectively. Sir John Astley and William Rickford divided against the loan in January and on 12 July, but cast four and five government votes respectively. Lewis Buck and Frederick Polhill, both Tories at heart, did likewise, but cast no other votes. Hunt voted against the loan in January 1832, but divided with ministers on relations with Portugal.

Of the 267 anti-reformers, 34 cast no votes in these party divisions. Those who divided only against government numbered 226 (85 per cent, or 97 per cent of those who recorded a vote). Of the 215 Members who voted consistently against reform, 31 did not vote in these divisions, while 180 (84 per cent, or 98 per cent of those who actually voted) divided only against government. Four voted with government in these divisions. Henry Bingham Baring did so on the Dublin election censure motion, but was against them twice on the Russian-Dutch loan. Sir Charles Forbes voted with government in the Dublin bribery division and the loan, 20 July 1832, but against them on the Dublin censure motion and the loan, 26 Jan, 12 July 1832. Lord Forbes was in the ministerial majority against the Dublin censure motion and Robert Frankland in that on the loan, 12 July 1832; neither cast any other recorded votes in these divisions. Two of the 38 anti-reformers who voted once with government on the issue did not vote in these divisions. Thirty-three (87 per cent, or 92 per cent of those who voted) divided only against ministers. Three gave votes with them: Lord Apsley on the Dublin censure motion, but against them on the loan, 12 July 1832; Quintin Dick on Portugal, but twice against them on the loan; and Edmund Peel on the address to the king, 10 May, but against on the loan, 12 July 1832. One of the 14 anti-reformers who cast two votes with government on the issue did not vote in these divisions, and the remainder divided only with government. The nine Members whose voting on reform makes them hard to classify voted as follows in these party divisions: Gilbert and Staunton only with government; Knox, Martin, the Williams Wynns and Wood only with opposition; Halse with government on Dublin bribery, but against on the Russian-Dutch loan, 12 July 1832; and Warrender with ministers on the Dublin censure motion and Portugal, but against on the loan, 12 July 1832.

This analysis reveals a high degree of partisan voting behaviour by both the supporters and opponents of reform on issues of confidence and party conflict. However, when voting in another 53 divisions on a variety of issues is considered, the picture becomes more complicated. Opposition minority lists only have survived for 45 of these divisions. There are majority lists for three,173 and partial majority lists for five.174 Only 23 of the consistent reformers and voters with government on confidence and party issues are known to have cast exclusively pro-government votes in these miscellaneous divisions. Thirteen of them were office-holders. A further 56, including six official men, cast no known wayward votes in these divisions, and can therefore be reckoned as steady supporters of government, making a total of 79. Of the Members who gave at least one wayward vote on reform but voted consistently with government in the confidence and party divisions, 52 did not vote against them in the miscellaneous divisions. On reform, 31 of them had strayed once, 12 twice, six three times and three on four occasions. All were bona fide Whigs, and can reasonably be classed as supporters of the government. So, too, can the 11 men who cast between one and three wayward reform votes (six once, three twice and two three times) and voted only with government in confidence and party divisions and those on miscellaneous issues. They included the office-holders Denman and George Lamb. Thus the total of government supporters, allowing them a small degree (below eight per cent) of deviation on the details of the reform bills, may be put at 142. Fifty-five Members who voted consistently for reform and with government in confidence and party divisions cast at least one wayward vote in the miscellaneous divisions. Thirteen of them recorded one or more votes with government in these divisions. One wayward vote was given by 26; two by 15; three by seven, and four by four Members. Andrew Johnston cast six (and two with government), Robert Torrens gave 11 (and two with government), and Montagu Chapman cast 12, mostly on Irish tithes (and two with government). The others included the office-holders Philip Crampton, Duncannon, Charles Fox, Francis Jeffrey and Sir James Mackintosh. Allowing for a small degree of independence in the 53 miscellaneous divisions (below eight per cent deviation), 52 of these Members may be added to the ranks of government supporters, bringing the total to 194. One of them, Lord William Pitt Lennox, was upbraided in June 1832 by his brother the duke of Richmond, a member of the cabinet, for having voted against government for printing the radical Woollen Grange petition for the abolition of Irish tithes, 16 Feb., and for immediate inquiry into the abolition of colonial slavery, 24 May. He replied:

I was greatly annoyed to hear last night … ‘that you were much displeased at many of my votes’ and that it was a breach of honour and faith towards you to vote against the government. Now my inclination is to support the present government, and had I not been disposed to do so, questions during the reform bill and the ‘Russian loan’ would have afforded me ample grounds to go against them. On the … [slavery] question I own I voted according to the best of my judgement, and this is the only vote I think you can find fault with.175

In another example, Horatio Ross, staunch reform Member for Aberdeen Burghs, was so incensed by the malt drawback bill that he spoke angrily against it and said that his ‘confidence’ in ministers was ‘very much shaken’, 30 Mar. 1832. Yet he rallied to them on the navy civil departments bill, 6 Apr. None of this apparently excited comment, but his absence from the division on the motion for an address asking the king to appoint only a government which would carry undiluted reform, 10 May 1832, prompted Hume (his predecessor in the seat, who, when voting with administration on the Russian-Dutch loan in July 1832, conceded that it was a ‘wrong’ measure, but frankly admitted that he would vote that black was white in order to keep the reform ministry in place),176 to write to his constituents alleging that he had ‘deserted his duty to them, and was become lukewarm in the cause’. Ross denied this and Hume retracted, but his absence from this division did not pass unnoticed in the Burghs, where he was later criticized for such ‘equivocal conduct’.177

Of the Members who voted only with government in confidence and party divisions, but who cast at least one wayward vote on details of the reform bills, 174 voted against ministers in at least one of the miscellaneous divisions. If a deviation of no more than ten per cent in the total of 104 divisions is allowed, 120 Members strayed in eight divisions or fewer. These men, plus Andrew Johnston, should be considered as ‘ministerial fringe’, or perhaps as general supporters of the Grey ministry who to varying degrees indulged their right to exercise independent judgement on specific issues. Forty-three of the Members who voted only with government in the confidence and party divisions cast 11 or more wayward votes on reform and/or miscellaneous issues. In descending order of deviation they were: Charles Walker (Wexford), 28 wayward votes, including four on reform; Sheil (county Louth; 25/5); Paget (Leicestershire; 24/8); Wyse (county Tipperary; 24/5); Dixon (Glasgow Burghs; 22/6); Leader (Kilkenny; 22/4); Maurice O’Connell (county Clare; 20/3); O’Ferrall (county Kildare; 20/3); William James (Carlisle; 19/5); Blackney (county Carlow; 18/3); Warburton (Bridport; 18/5); William Macnamara (county Clare; 17/1); Wilks (Boston; 17/8); James Grattan (county Wicklow; 16/5); John Hodgson (Newcastle-upon-Tyne; 16/8); Charles Jephson (Mallow; 16/5); Henry Lambert (county Wexford; 16/2); Daniel Callaghan (Cork; 15/3); Sir John Doyle (county Carlow; 15/2); Ralph Thicknesse (Wigan; 15/5); Adeane (Cambridgeshire; 14/12); Henry Grattan (county Meath; 14/4); Sir Richard Musgrave (county Waterford; 14/4); Robert Power (county Waterford; 14/3); Blamire (Cumberland; 13/6); Henry Lytton Bulwer (Coventry; 13/3); Sir John Burke (county Galway; 13/2); Davies (Worcester; 13/11); George De Lacy Evans (Rye; 13/4); William Gillon (Linlithgow Burghs; 13/2); Hughes Hughes (Oxford; 13/8); Denis O’Connor (county Roscommon; 13/3); Lord Killeen (county Meath; 12/1); Sir Francis Vincent (St. Albans; 12/6); Matthew Wood (London; 12/2); John Bodkin (Galway; 11/30); Ewart (Liverpool; 11/3); Arthur French (county Roscommon; 11/2); Strutt (Derby; 11/3); John Tomes (Warwick; 11/6); Thomas Wallace (Drogheda; 11/2); Sir Henry Willoughby (Yarmouth I.o.W.; 11/10); and John Wood (Preston; 11/2). Over half (22) were Irish Members, whose wayward voting took place largely on tithes and other Irish issues rather than on reform. Only eight of them cast four or more votes against details of the reform bills. Chapman and Torrens should be added to this category. A further 11 Members who voted only with government in the confidence and party divisions cast enough wayward votes in the other 104 to make them marginal to these less reliable supporters of the ministry. They were Henry Reynolds Moreton (Gloucestershire), who gave ten wayward votes, including 5 on reform; and ten Members who strayed nine times: John Briscoe (Surrey; 2 deviant votes on reform); Wynn Ellis (Leicester; 3); Thomas Gisborne (Stafford; 5); ‘Bum’ Gordon (Cricklade; 2); Kedgwin Hoskins (Herefordshire; 5); Charles March Phillipps (Leicestershire; 6); Lord Milton (Northamptonshire; 7); Thomas Rider (Kent; 6); Edward Sanford (Somerset; 4); and Rigby Wason (Ipswich; 4). All except Milton, a Whig grandee with a head full of crotchets, were of a radical disposition. There were 41 Members who, though supporters of the principle of reform, cross-voted in one or more of the confidence and party divisions, and also cast wayward votes in those on the details of the reform bill and/or those on miscellaneous issues. Of these, 12 deviated in more than ten per cent of divisions. They were Hunt (Preston), who gave 44 wayward votes, including 13 on reform; his fellow radical Hume (Middlesex; 37/6); the Irish Members Ruthven (Downpatrick; 30/7), Daniel O’Connell (county Kerry; 22/7), Mullins (county Kerry; 19/5), and James Lambert (county Galway; 15/3); Agnew (Wigtownshire; 15/10); Bainbridge (Taunton; 12/3); Lord George Cavendish Bentinck (King’s Lynn; 12/7); Rickford (Aylesbury; 12/6); and Richard Watson (Canterbury; 10/5). These 97 Members can be broadly considered as the government’s less reliable supporters, including the more truculent Irish Members and the English radical ‘economists’.178

Of the opponents of reform and of the ministry in confidence and party divisions, 76 voted only against government in the divisions on miscellaneous issues. To these can be added the 93 who gave no known votes in these divisions, making a total of 169 hard-core oppositionists. A further 41 voted consistently against the government on reform and/or confidence and party issues, but divided with them in at least one of the miscellaneous divisions. Thirty-three did so in one division, five in two and three in three. They include the Conservative stalwarts Sir Robert Peel, Sir George Clerk, Sir Thomas Fremantle, Henry Goulburn, Billy Holmes, Charles Ross and Lord Granville Somerset. Seventeen of them divided with government against the vestry reform bill, 23 Jan. 1832, and ten did so against the production of information on military punishments, 16 Feb. 1832. Nine, all Irish Members, were in majorities against amendments to the Irish tithes bill, and six Irish Members voted against legal provision for relief of the Irish poor, 19 June 1832. Thirty-one of these men recorded opposition votes in at least one of the other divisions on miscellaneous issues. There were 17 Members who cast one (11) or two (six ) votes with government in the reform divisions, but opposed them consistently in confidence and party and miscellaneous divisions. They include Sir Henry Hardinge and William Peel. A further 15 men who voted once (12) or twice (three) with government on reform, but against them in confidence and party divisions, cast no known votes in the miscellaneous divisions. Fourteen Members who voted once (ten) or twice (four) with government on reform, but consistently against them in confidence and party divisions, voted with them in one of the miscellaneous divisions. Seven did so on the vestry bill, four on military punishments, two on Irish tithes, and one on the Irish poor. All but two cast votes against government in the miscellaneous divisions. To these 256 oppositionists should be added Lord Apsley, Quintin Dick, Halse, Edmund Peel, the two Williams Wynns and Thomas Wood.

Therefore, taking an overall view of voting behaviour in the 1831 Parliament, the steady or almost always reliable supporters of the Grey ministry can be put at 194. Their ‘fringe’ or general supporters, who would rally to them in a choice between them and their Tory opponents, numbered 121, giving a total of 315. Some 97 men, who included 29 Irish Members and most of the English and Scottish radicals, were less to be depended on, although by and large they deviated little on reform and even less so in confidence and party divisions. The Tory or Conservative opposition strength was about 262.179 Professor Newbould, in seeking to demonstrate that by concentrating exclusively on voting behaviour in ‘touchstone’ divisions of confidence, some historians have been led to exaggerate the strength of party allegiance in the Commons in the 1830s, analysed the divisions of this Parliament from a slightly different angle than the one taken here. He concerned himself only with the supporters of the Grey ministry and concluded that if the consistent supporters of government in ‘touchstone’ divisions are allowed a deviation in others (including those on reform) of up to ten per cent, the breakdown would be ‘ministerial’ 97, ‘ministerial fringe’ 228, and ‘waverers’ 97. Applying the stringent one per cent deviation criterion adopted by Mitchell produces a pattern which is ‘strikingly loose and virtually without trace of party’.180 But there is overwhelming evidence of partisan voting in this Parliament. Taking the ten per cent criterion, Newbould’s 97 ‘waverers’ correspond exactly (in numbers) with the less reliable supporters of the government mentioned above. At the same time, it is not clear what they were ‘wavering’ between; certainly not between reform or no reform, or a Whig-Liberal or Tory-Conservative government. The large ‘fringe’ underestimates the basic loyalty of about 115 Whig backbenchers who strayed very little in their voting, and certainly not on reform. This is not to dispute Newbould’s just observations on the weakness of formal management techniques on the ministerial side, the lack of discipline, by modern standards, and the wide differences of opinion on important issues among those who preferred Grey’s ministry to the alternative.181 The disunity in the ranks of the opposition was masked by their common hostility to the government’s reform scheme. As a historian of the emerging Conservative party has observed, by resisting reform as far as was practicable, the party ‘retained its character’.182 The organizational developments of the Charles Street headquarters and its successor the Carlton Club in March 1832 helped to increase cohesion. Eighty of the men identified here as steady opponents of the reform bills and the Grey ministry were listed among the founder members of the Carlton.183 However, the general election of 1832 reduced the Conservative Commons strength from about 260 to fewer than 150.184 The government therefore had a theoretical strength of about 500, but this was deceptive. Ministers themselves were well aware of the disparate nature of their majority and of the potential for trouble on contentious issues, especially those connected with Ireland and the church. By March 1832 the patronage secretary Ellice was exhausted, and begged to be allowed to retire on account of his own broken health and his wife’s terminal illness. Looking ahead to the first reformed Parliament, he told Grey that for party management in it

you must have an infusion of younger, more active, and intelligent men, who will take an interest in what is going on in the House, make themselves acquainted with the newcomers and lay themselves out to conciliate and satisfy them. There is not a single soul except Duncannon who ever speaks to or takes the least notice of any of our most zealous and steady supporters.185

Grey’s son-in-law Charles Wood duly replaced Ellice as patronage secretary in August 1832. At the close of the year he produced an interesting analysis of the new House: 137 ‘Tories’—‘opposition’; 22 ‘Waverers’—‘Sandon, Geo. Bentinck, Bethel and the like who are not always to be depended upon although three-quarters will always vote with us’; 303 ‘Steady Supporters’—‘including all those members of the govt., Ellice, and those whose opinions are perhaps more liberal than those of the compound cabinet’; 123 ‘Supporters’—‘of different shades from Ebrington to Warburton—men agreeing mostly with Althorp in opinion, and who voted steadily with us under the bond of the reform bill—but upon whom we cannot depend now so entirely to sacrifice their own opinion’; 34 ‘English and Scotch Radicals’—‘Hume and Co.’; 38 ‘Irish Repealers’.186



In December 1823, Sir John Nicholl, Tory Member for Great Bedwyn, told Christopher Rice Mansel Talbot (later Member for Glamorgan), who had just graduated from Oxford:

The old distinctions of Whig and Tory, so far as principles are concerned, no longer exist. Divine right, passive obedience and non-resistance are doctrines quite extinct. We are all old Whigs. Political parties are now divided rather into men and measures than any great differences by principles, except perhaps a few ultras and radicals, and you may recollect my stating to you …. that you would do wisely to abstain very cautiously from committing yourself to any party or set of men, until you had a full opportunity by considerable experience of forming a deliberate judgement which set of measures generally pursued or recommended by contending parties were upon the whole most conducive to the real interests of the country. For if once you became a party man, you were no longer quite as independent, and perfect independence should in no degree be sacrificed but on most mature consideration guiding the judgement.187

At the dinner to celebrate his return for Stafford at the 1820 general election, George Chetwynd declared:

It was almost grown into a maxim, that a Member who does not attach himself to one of two great parties that divide the House of Commons, can be of no use there … [He] had a very different idea of his duties. He was not indebted for his situation to any nobleman, or to the influence of any other individual.188

At a Norfolk agricultural meeting, 12 Jan. 1822, the 3rd Baron Suffield, who as Edward Harbord, Member for Shaftesbury, had voted steadily against the Liverpool ministry in the 1820 and 1821 sessions, claimed that despite this (and membership of Brooks’s Club, the Whig pantheon), he ‘did not belong to any party … By party in this instance he meant faction, understanding faction to be founded on men, party on principle’.189 These are three examples of the many which can be found in the biographies in these volumes of the various ways in which contemporary participants viewed party in this period. It is clear that the basic two-party polarity in the Commons which had developed from about 1807 and had become more marked after 1815 continued into the 1820s. This is not to say that the supporters of the Liverpool ministry and their opponents were monolithic blocs of Members. Discipline on both sides was loose, and methods of control crude and traditional and not always particularly effective. (During the many years of archival and other research on which the biographies and constituency articles in these volumes are based, no significant new information about party organization has come to light to modify what has been the accepted historical orthodoxy for many years.) Both Tory and Whig parties were divided internally on a range of issues. Probably only about 56 per cent of the Members of the House were firmly committed to one or the other. Backbench Members took for granted and frequently exercised their right to take an independent line on specific issues. Yet the great majority of Members had a clear preference for one or other set as governors of the country, and refined analysis of voting in the 1820 Parliament suggests that the degree of genuine ‘wavering’ was less than previously supposed. This state of affairs carried on into the first session of the 1826 Parliament, but the events of 1827-30 threw the party political pattern into disarray. By the time of George IV’s death in June 1830, the duke of Wellington’s Tory ministry was vulnerable, its parliamentary support eroded by the split in its natural supporters precipitated by its concession of Catholic emancipation and its position threatened by the emergence of a revived and increasingly vigorous Whig party, who joined disaffected Ultra Tories and the small Huskissonite group in regular opposition. The brief 1830 Parliament was dominated by the introduction and eventual defeat of the Grey ministry’s reform scheme, the surprising boldness of which was too much for most Ultras. The 1831 Parliament saw a high degree of partisan (though not totally uniform) voting on the reform bills and issues of confidence and straight party conflict. At the same time, deviant voting on miscellaneous issues continued. Reform polarized most active politicians on the traditional Tory-Whig lines, but when it was settled other questions, notably the problems of Ireland, the church, and free trade, exposed the divisions within each party and the inability of the leaders to control the behaviour of their general supporters on specific issues.190 The independent Hudson Gurney, resolved on retirement from Parliament on the dissolution of the last unreformed House, reflected that ‘perhaps my time in the House of Commons [1816-32] … was the precise period in which neutrality was easiest, and the moment of my leaving … that in which neutrality was to become next to impossible’.191

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: David R. Fisher

End Notes

  • 1. See A. Mitchell, The Whigs in Opposition, 1815-1830 (Oxford, 1967), pp. 64-66, 253-5. Mitchell’s argument was reviewed and to some extent challenged by Professor Peter Fraser in ‘Party voting in the House of Commons, 1812-1827’, EHR, xcviii (1983), pp. 763-84, which argued that for all ‘the high degree of consistent voting, for or against ministers’ (p. 763), ‘the totality of politics seemed more a dialectical process between the needs of the executive and the interests of the people than a contest between two opposed party creeds or organizations’ (pp. 764-5). Professor Frank O’ Gorman argued for the importance of party in this period in ‘Party Politics in the Early Nineteenth Century (1812-32)’, ibid. cii (1987), pp. 63-84. Fraser stuck to his guns in ibid. cii (1987), pp. 85-88.
  • 2. See Fraser, EHR, cii. 86.
  • 3. Details of all the division lists for this period are in appendix VII, below.
  • 4. B. Hilton, A Mad, Bad, and Dangerous People? England, 1783-1846 (Oxford, 2006), p. 198, thinks Mitchell’s definition of wavering is ‘arguably too wide’. See also I. Newbould, Whiggery and Reform, 1830-41 (1990), pp. 20-22.
  • 5. Add. 51584, Tierney to Holland, 23 Aug. 1818; HMC Fortescue, x. 442. See Mitchell, 61-62, 72-73.
  • 6.  See P. Jupp, The Governing of Britain, 1688-1848 (2006), pp. 194, 197.
  • 7.  Add. 51584, Tierney to Holland, 21 Aug. 1818.
  • 8.  E.D. Davenport, The Golden Age (1823), pp. 9-10.
  • 9.   See Mitchell, 136, 140-1; W.A. Hay, The Whig Revival, 1808-1830 (2005), pp. 107-10, 114-15.
  • 10.  Lonsdale mss, Long to Lonsdale, 21 Dec. [1820]; Add. 43212, f. 180.
  • 11. Herts. Archives, Panshanger mss D/Elb F78.
  • 12. See Mitchell, 157, for an analysis which highlights the votes of his ‘all-important’ ‘waverers’.
  • 13. Buckingham, Mems. Geo. IV, i. 131.
  • 14. Harrowby mss, Castlereagh to Harrowby, 8 Mar. 1821.
  • 15. See J.J. Sack, The Grenvillites (1979), pp. 190-7.
  • 16. St. Deiniol’s Lib. Glynne-Gladstone mss 319, Wallace to J. Gladstone, 7, 21 Jan. 1822.
  • 17. Suff. RO (Ipswich), Barne mss 359/95/1-3; Arbuthnot Corresp. 26.
  • 18. Add. 52445, f. 29.
  • 19. Grey mss, Lambton to Grey, 6, 11 Feb. 1822.
  • 20. See Mitchell, 162-5.
  • 21. Colchester Diary, iii. 253.
  • 22. Arbuthnot Jnl. i. 142, 146.
  • 23. Ibid. i. 140, 146-7, 163.
  • 24. See Mitchell, 165-6, for his analysis of voting on these issues.
  • 25. Northants. RO, Agar Ellis diary, 19, 21 Feb. [1822].
  • 26. Lincs. AO, Tennyson d’Eyncourt mss Td’E H1/91, 93-95.
  • 27. Add. 56545, ff. 4-9. See also O’Gorman, EHR, cii. 77-78.
  • 28. Add. 40319, ff. 65-69.
  • 29. Mitchell, 168-9.
  • 30. See Mitchell, 171-85 for these events.
  • 31. Brougham mss, Althorp to Brougham, 17 Mar., Abercromby to same, 19, 26 Mar., Russell to same [23 Mar. 1823]; Mitchell, 36-37.
  • 32. Davenport, 9-10.
  • 33. PRO NI, Rossmore mss T2929/3/47-50.
  • 34. Cent. Kent. Stud. Stanhope mss U1590 C130/3.
  • 35. Add. 51574, Abercromby to Holland, 16 May 1826.
  • 36. Orkney Archives, Balfour mss D2/8/13, Traill to W. Balfour, 3 Oct. 1825.
  • 37. Keele Univ. Lib. Sneyd mss SC12/71.
  • 38. See Mitchell, 186-7, for his analysis of voting on these and other issues.
  • 39. Hilton, 372.
  • 40. Bulwer, Palmerston, i. 171-2.
  • 41. See G.I.T. Machin, The Catholic Question in English Politics, 1820 to 1830 (Oxford, 1964), pp. 86, 91, 195.
  • 42. Add. 51677, Russell to Holland, 23 June [1826].
  • 43. Russell Early Corresp. i. 250.
  • 44. Add. 40389, f. 123.
  • 45.  Gurney diary, 13 Feb. [1827].
  • 46.  The divisions on Catholic relief, 6 Mar., and the government’s corn bill, of which most Whigs and radicals approved, 2 Apr. 1827, have been excluded.
  • 47. Canning’s Ministry, 117.
  • 48. Mitchell, 192.
  • 49. See Canning’s Ministry, passim; Mitchell, 195-201; E.A. Wasson, Whig Renaissance: Lord Althorp and the Whig Party, 1782-1845 (1987), pp. 137, 147-8, 150; Hilton, 372-6; Hay, 137-51.
  • 50. TCD, Donoughmore mss G/6/20.
  • 51. NLS mss 14441, ff. 20, 22.
  • 52. Lonsdale mss, Lowther to Lonsdale, 23, 24 Apr. 1827.
  • 53. Canning’s Ministry, pp. lii-liii.
  • 54. Arniston Mems. 333.
  • 55. Mitchell, 203.
  • 56. Croker Pprs. i. 382.
  • 57. See Mitchell, 203-8; Hilton, 376-9; Wasson, 152-7; Hay, 151-4.
  • 58. Peel Letters, 103-7; Add. 40334, f. 197; N. Gash, Mr. Secretary Peel (1985 edn.), 454.
  • 59. Hatherton diary, 29 Jan. [1828].
  • 60. See P. Jupp, British Politics on the Eve of Reform: The Duke of Wellington’s Administration, 1828-1830 (Basingstoke, 1998), pp. 76-77, 264-5.
  • 61. See Mitchell, 208-9; Wasson, 157; Hay, 154-8.
  • 62. Hatherton diary, 29 Jan. 1828.
  • 63. Harrowby mss, Denison to Sandon, 6 Feb. [1828].
  • 64. Keele Univ. Lib. Sneyd mss SC10/83, 84.
  • 65. See Jupp, Eve of Reform, 78-80, 264-5.
  • 66. Bulwer, Palmerston, i. 278-9; Southampton Univ. Lib. Broadlands mss PP/GC/TE/200; Palmerston-Sulivan Letters, 205-6.
  • 67. Colchester Diary, iii. 567-8. See A. Aspinall, ‘The Canningite Party’, TRHS (ser. 4), xvii (1934), pp. 224-5; Jupp, Eve of Reform, 263-6, 312-13.
  • 68. See also Jupp, Eve of Reform, 258, 296, 322.
  • 69. Ellenborough Diary, i. 42; Nottingham Univ. Lib. Portland mss PwH 146; Wellington mss WP1/920/78; Jupp, Eve of Reform, 258; Hilton, 380-3; Hay, 154-7.
  • 70. Jupp, Eve of Reform, 258.
  • 71. Mitchell, 212.
  • 72. JRL, Bromley Davenport mss, memo. [1832], Holland to Davenport, 11 Oct., 9 Nov.; Add. 51834, Davenport to Holland, 18 Oct., 18 Nov. 1828.
  • 73. Machin, 119-30.
  • 74. Duke Univ. Lib. Fazakerley mss, Macdonald to Fazakerley, 10 Nov. 1828.
  • 75. Mitchell, 212-15.
  • 76. Althorp Letters, 141; Fitzwilliam mss, Althorp to Milton, 5 Dec. 1828; Parker, Graham, i. 73-74.
  • 77. Nottingham Univ. Lib. Ossington mss OsC 63-67, 70, 79, 80.
  • 78. Jupp, Eve of Reform, 259, 323.
  • 79. See Machin, 173.
  • 80. Jupp, 299.
  • 81. Add. 40398, ff. 33-49.
  • 82. See Jupp, Eve of Reform, 259-60, 323.
  • 83. Add. 40340, f. 213.
  • 84. Mitchell, 217-18; Jupp, Eve of Reform, 246-7, 297; Hay, 160-1.
  • 85. Broadlands mss GC/TE/204.
  • 86. NLS mss 24770, f. 35.
  • 87. Cornw. RO, Vyvyan mss VBO/48/44, 47. See also Jupp, Eve of Reform, 282-4.
  • 88. Vyvyan mss, Vyvyan to Cumberland, 6, 22 Oct.; Palmerston-Sulivan Letters, 232-6.
  • 89. Wellington mss WP1/1044/4.
  • 90. Russell Early Corresp. i. 297.
  • 91. See Jupp, Eve of Reform, 280-4, 298-9; Mitchell, 217-21.
  • 92. Add. 36466, f. 12.
  • 93. Arbuthnot Corresp. 128.
  • 94. TCD, Jebb mss 6397/376.
  • 95. Add. 38758, f. 50.
  • 96. NLS mss 24770, f. 39.
  • 97. Salop RO 6003/6, Slaney jnl. [Feb. 1830].
  • 98. Grey mss, Ellice to Grey, 18 Jan. [1830].
  • 99. The Times, 6 Feb. 1830. See Jupp, Eve of Reform, 328, where doubt is cast on Hume’s vote.
  • 100. Hatherton mss, Littleton to wife, 10 Feb. 1830.
  • 101. Hatherton diary, 8 Feb.; Borthwick, Hickleton mss, C. to Sir F.L. Wood [16/17 Feb. 1830].
  • 102. Add. 40340, f. 220.
  • 103. Add. 38758, f. 82; Ossington mss OsC 74, 83a.
  • 104. See Jupp, Eve of Reform, 270-1.
  • 105. Sneyd mss SC10/90, 91.
  • 106. Le Marchant, Althorp, 243-6; Baring Jnls. i. 63; Grey mss, Howick jnl. 3 Mar. and Ellice to Grey [5 Mar. 1830].
  • 107. Howick jnl. 6 Mar.; Grey mss, Althorp to Grey, 6 Mar.; Add. 76379, Althorp to Brougham, 6 Mar. [1830]; Le Marchant, 267; Wasson, 168-9.
  • 108. See Jupp, Eve of Reform, 300-4; Mitchell, 226-31.
  • 109. Chatsworth mss 1947.
  • 110. Ellenborough Diary, ii. 234; Add. 40333, f. 101. See Jupp, Eve of Reform, 260-1.
  • 111. See Jupp, Eve of Reform, 314-15, for lists of 77 Ultras, including 15 ‘who were at one stage linked with the ultras but who became friends of the government in the 1830 session’.
  • 112. See ibid. 317-19, for lists of 151 ‘active supporters … of the Whig leadership in the 1830 session’. A few comments are required. R.H. Hart Davies must be a slip for Thomas Henry Hastings Davies (Worcester); Richard Hart Davis (Bristol) was a Tory. J.W. Ponsonby and Lord Duncannon were one and the same person, as were F. Russell and Lord Tavistock. E. Wrottesley should be Sir J. Wrottesley.
  • 113. Heron, Notes, 183-4.
  • 114. See M. Brock, The Great Reform Act (1973), pp. 86-88, 99-105, 111; Gash, Secretary Peel, 634-7; Jupp, Eve of Reform, 256-7, 261-2; R. Stewart, The Foundation of the Conservative Party (1978), pp. 52-55; Hilton, 413-16; Hay, 168-70.
  • 115. Brougham mss, Duncannon to Brougham, 27 Aug. 1830.
  • 116. See also Stewart, 53, 65, where Brougham’s authorship is not noticed but his mathematical errors are perpetuated.
  • 117. Lonsdale mss, Croker to Lowther, 13 Aug. 1830.
  • 118. Add. 40401, f. 125.
  • 119. Ibid. f. 179.
  • 120. Hopetoun mss 167, f. 189.
  • 121. Add. 40401, ff. 181-95.
  • 122. TNA HO100/235, f. 100.
  • 123. See also Jupp, Eve of Reform, 256-7; Three Diaries, pp. xx-xxii.
  • 124. Ellenborough Diary, 416, 423, 429.
  • 125. A. Aspinall, Lord Brougham and the Whig Party (1927), p. 288.
  • 126. See Brock, 105-28; I. Newbould, Whiggery and Reform (1990), pp. 48-55.
  • 127. Harrowby mss.
  • 128. Howick jnl. 16 Nov. 1830.
  • 129. Arbuthnot Corresp. 139; Wellington Despatches, vii. 399; Hilton, 419-20.
  • 130. NLW, Ormathwaite mss FG/1/5, p. 135.
  • 131. Three Diaries, p. xxi; Lonsdale mss, Lowther to Lonsdale, 16, 17 Nov. 1830.
  • 132. NAS GD157/2411/18/1.
  • 133. Bodl. MS. Eng. lett. c. 160, ff. 236-59.
  • 134. Hopetoun mss 167, f. 189.
  • 135. Memoirs of the Chief Incidents in the Public Life of Sir George Staunton (1856), pp. 110-11, 115.
  • 136. Harrowby mss, Sandon to Harrowby, 18 Nov. 1830.
  • 137. Tennyson d’Eyncourt mss H89/47.
  • 138. Hants RO, Carnarvon mss 75M91/L3, Howard to Lady Porchester, 16 Nov. 1830.
  • 139. Three Diaries, p. xxv.
  • 140. See Brock, 128-9; Stewart, 56-57; Jupp, Eve of Reform, 289-90; B.T. Bradfield, ‘Sir Richard Vyvyan and the Fall of Wellington’s Government’, Univ. of Birmingham Hist. Jnl. xi (1968), pp. 141-56.
  • 141. Mitchell, 235.
  • 142. See Stewart, 68-72; N. Gash, Sir Robert Peel (1986 edn.), 5-8.
  • 143. Three Diaries, 13-14; Baring Jnls. i. 83.
  • 144. Brock, 161-2.
  • 145. Derby Local Stud. Lib. Strutt mss, Strutt to Fanny Strutt, 2, 9, 16 Mar. 1831.
  • 146. Cornw. RO FS/3/1092/19.
  • 147. Herefs. and Worcs. RO (Hereford), Pateshall mss A95V/EB/609.
  • 148. See Brock, 170-6.
  • 149. NAS GD40/9/327/4.
  • 150. See Brock, 176-7.
  • 151. St. Deiniol’s Lib. Glynne-Gladstone mss 197, T. to J. Gladstone, 21, 23 Mar. 1831.
  • 152. Macpherson Grant mss 361, J. to G. Macpherson Grant, 2/4 Apr. 1831.
  • 153. Creevey mss, Creevey to Miss Ord, 30, 31 Mar. 1831.
  • 154. Brock, 179.
  • 155. Grey mss, Gordon to Grey, 6 Apr. 1831.
  • 156. Glynne-Gladstone mss 197, T. to J. Gladstone, 15 Mar. 1831.
  • 157. Brock, 180.
  • 158. Ibid. 179, states that ‘a substantial group of Ultras’ voted for the bill; but he seems to equate the term with all Tories who had voted against Catholic emancipation.
  • 159. See ibid. 180-2.
  • 160. See R. Stewart, Party and Politics, 1830-1852 (1989), p. 7.
  • 161. See Brock, 211-30, for a detailed survey of the bill’s progress thorugh the Commons.
  • 162. See ibid. 244-67; P. Salmon, Electoral Reform at Work (2002), pp. 251-5.
  • 163. Reform bill second reading, 6/7/31; adjournment, 12/7/31 (two divisions); use of 1831 census, 19/7/31; Chippenham in schedule B, 27/7/31; clause 27, 2/9/31; third reading, 19/9/31; passage of bill, 21/9/31; second reading of Scottish bill, 23/9/31; second reading of revised English bill, 17/12/31; committee stage, 20/1/32; schedule A, 23/1/32; enfranchise Tower Hamlets, 28/1/32; third reading, 22/3/32; second reading of Irish reform bill, 25/5/32.
  • 164. St. Germans in A, 26/7/31; Guildford in B, 29/7/31; Sudbury in B, 2/8/31; enfranchise Greenwich, 3/8/31; enfranchise Merthyr Tydfil, 10/8/31; clause 15, 17/8/31; freemen’s rights, 30/8/31; clause 27 (£10 householder), 3/2/32; Helston in B, 23/2/32; enfranchise Gateshead, 5/3/32; increase Scottish county representation, 1/6/32.
  • 165. Appleby in A, 19/7/31; division of counties, 11/8/31; Chandos amendment, 18/8/31.
  • 166. Saltash in A, 26/7/31; increase Scottish county representation, 4/10/31.
  • 167. Dorchester in B, 28/7/31; enfranchise Gateshead, 5/8/31; join Rochester with Chatham and Strood, 9/8/31; schedule B, 23/1/32; registration clause, 8/2/32; to go into committee, 20/2/32; Appleby in A, 21/2/32; Perthshire boundaries, 15/6/32.
  • 168. Schedule A, 20/1/32; Amersham in A, 21/2/32.
  • 169. Downton in A, 21/7/31; two Members for Stoke-on-Trent, 4/8/31; borough freeholders, 1/2/32.
  • 170. Four for adjournment, 12/7/31; borough voters in counties, 20/8/31; rent payment, 25/8/31; no weekly tenants to vote, 25/8/31; preserve existing voting rights, 27/8/31; non-resident freemen, 30/8/31; Aldborough in A, 14/9/31; retain Chandos clause, 1/2/32; tax payers, 2/2/32; Preston franchise, 3/2/32; clause 69, 15/2/32; Lincoln freeholders, 23/3/32; four amendments to Irish reform bill, 18 and 29/6/32, 2/7/32; boundaries of Whitehaven and Stamford, 22/6/32.
  • 171. Memo. 18 July 1831, in Staunton mss in Duke Univ. Lib. See M. O’Neill and G. Martin, ‘A Backbencher on Parliamentary Reform’, HJ, xxiii (1980), pp. 539-63.
  • 172. See Three Diaries, 185-6; K. Bourne, Palmerston: The Early Years, 1784-1841 (1982), 357-8
  • 173. Against the Irish union of parishes bill, 19 Aug. 1831; against the vestry reform bill, 23 Jan. 1832; and against the production of information on military punishments, 16 Feb. 1832.
  • 174. For the malt drawback bill, 2 Apr.; the Irish tithes arrears bill, 9 Apr.; against legal provision for the Irish poor, 19 June; for the Irish tithes bill, 13 July; and for the Irish tithes composition bill, 1 Aug. 1832.
  • 175. W. Suss. RO, Goodwood mss 1459, f. 541.
  • 176. Holland House Diaries, 199.
  • 177. Raikes Jnl. i. 34-36; Aberdeen Jnl. 18 July 1832.
  • 178. Cornw. RO, Hawkins mss 10/2175.
  • 179. All these figures are maximum ones, and take no account of the turnover in membership during the life of the Parliament.
  • 180. Newbould, 13-23.
  • 181. Ibid. 14-18, 24-26. However, the statement that ‘the government’s defeat on its first budget is ample testimony’ to Lord Melbourne’s 1835 pronouncement that the promotion of reform had given the ministry ‘a transient … strength’ is questionable. The defeat on the timber duties, 18 Mar. 1831 (the only detail of the budget which was rejected by a vote of the Commons) occurred in a House returned at the 1830 general election and in which ministers were able to find a majority of only one for the principle of their first reform bill.
  • 182. Stewart, Foundation of the Conservative Party, 61.
  • 183. See The Times, 10 Mar. 1832.
  • 184. Stewart, Foundation of the Conservative Party, 83.
  • 185. Grey mss, Ellice to Grey, 30 June [1832].
  • 186. Ibid. Wood to Grey, 31 Dec. 1832, printed in Newbould, 82-83.
  • 187. Merthyr Mawr mss L/205/7.
  • 188. Staffs. Advertiser, 8 Apr. 1820.
  • 189. The Times, 14 Jan. 1822.
  • 190. For pertinent observations on these matters see Jupp, Governing Britain, 199-202.
  • 191. W.H. Bidwell, Annals of an East Anglian Bank (Norwich, 1900), pp. 146-7.