COMBE, Richard (?1728-80), of Earnshill, nr. Langport, Som.
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Family and Education
b. ?1728, o.s. of Henry Combe of Bristol, by his w. a da. of Richard Leversedge of Bristol. educ. Queen’s, Oxf. 31 Oct. 1745, aged 17; I. Temple 1746. m. 14 July 1759, Ann Chamberlain of Bristol.
Treasurer of the Ordnance Sept. 1780.
Combe’s father was a successful Bristol merchant, warden and treasurer of the Society of Merchant Venturers, and a member of the common council; in 1739 he unsuccessfully contested Bristol, and in 1740 was elected mayor. Richard Combe, also a member of the Merchant Venturers, seems from the first to have concentrated on national rather than local politics, and in 1761 contested Ilchester. According to Lord Egmont, Member for Ilchester, the Duke of Newcastle arranged for Combe to stand in an attempt to upset Lockyer’s control of the borough,1 but Lord Fitzmaurice told Bute on 23 Mar. 1761 that Combe had gone ‘to try three places merely with money and his person and no other recommendation—Ilchester against Lord Egmont one’.2 There Combe was heavily defeated and does not seem to have gone to the poll in the other boroughs, nor does it appear which they were. In 1768 he was a candidate at Bristol, but retired on the eve of nomination, and does not seem to have stood elsewhere. In 1772 he contested Milborne Port on the interest of Edward Walter, was returned, but unseated on petition. At the general election of 1774 he was returned unopposed for Aldeburgh on the Fonnereau interest.
In Parliament he consistently supported North’s Administration. Only two speeches by him are reported: the first on the bill of 13 May 1777 ‘for the better securing and preserving the dockyards, magazines, ships, vessels ... being the property of private persons’, when he declared that numerous crimes punishable by death were much less heinous than the burning of ships, and added: ‘I am surprised any gentleman should think it not high time to put to death such dangerous and wicked incendiaries.’3 His other speech was in support of the militia bill, 22 June 1779.4 When in 1779 Sandwich was attempting to raise seamen by a special press Combe was approached to exert his influence at Bristol. At the general election of 1780 he stood as the Administration candidate in opposition to Edmund Burke, was appointed treasurer of the Ordnance, and obtained £1,000 for the election from secret service funds.5 But by the beginning of September he was a very sick man. Richard Champion, Burke’s chief supporter, wrote to Portland on 1 Sept.:6 ‘The ill success which Mr. Combe has met with, added to his natural timidity and irresolution, and a dangerous fever from which he is not yet recovered, makes us hope he will resign his pretensions.’ He died on 18 Sept. 1780—two days before the election.