LE MESURIER, Paul (1755-1805).
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Family and Education
b. 23 Feb. 1755, 3rd s. of John Le Mesurier, hereditary gov. of Alderney, by Martha, da. and coh. of Peter Dobrée of Guernsey. m. 1776, Margaret, da. of Isaac Roberdeau of Spitalfields, 1s. 3da.
Director, E.I. Co. 1784-7, 1789-92, 1794-7, 1799-1802, 1804- d.; alderman of London 1784, ld. mayor 1793-4.
In 1776 Le Mesurier entered into partnership with his wife’s uncle, Noah Le Cras, a merchant of Walbrook, London. During the American war the firm acted as prize agents and made very large sums of money. In November 1783, when Fox’s East India bill was causing turmoil at East India House, Le Mesurier was, according to the Gentleman’s Magazine (1806, p. 84), ‘one of the nine proprietors chosen by the stockholders at large to oppose the bill’. The following year he became a director, and in June 1784, having been ‘drawn into public life much earlier than he ever thought he should be’,1 he stood for Southwark in opposition to Sir Richard Hotham, a supporter of Fox defeated at the general election. Le Mesurier was returned ‘at enormous expense’ after a contest described as ‘one of the hardest ... upon the reports’.2 In Parliament he supported Pitt, and in all the extant division lists before 1790 appears on the Administration side. But on at least two occasions before 1790 he opposed Pitt: during the debate on the Westminster election petition, 18 Mar. 1785 he declared that ‘from the regard he entertained for Mr. Grenville’s Election Act, and a wish that no impediment or delay should be thrown in the way of justice’, he would vote with Fox, though ‘he probably might never divide with him again’.3 In fact he did so again in support of Fox’s motion for the repeal of the retail shop tax, 24 Apr. 1787, when he
advised Members to act disinterestedly and give up the right of franking letters in order to make up the deficiency which the repeal would occasion. The abolition of the right of franking he estimated at one hundred and sixty thousand pounds, and accounted for this large estimation by reminding gentlemen of the great number of letters which they franked for other people.4
He was a frequent speaker on a variety of subjects; but most often on East India Company affairs. His first reported speech was during a debate on Pitt’s India bill, 16 July 1784, when he made it clear that though the directors had ‘assented in general to Mr. Pitt’s bill, yet they would assert the right of making objections to any particular passages that might be displeasing to them’.5 He several times spoke in defence of Warren Hastings, declaring on 7 Feb. 1786 that he had ‘proved himself a meritorious servant of the company’, and denying on 8 Feb. 1787 ‘that any one person in India called for the crimination, much less his impeachment’. But though he spoke against Erskine’s motion of 12 Mar. 1787 that there was sufficient matter to impeach Hastings, he ‘confessed that he could not defend the principles on which several of the contracts had been made’. Le Mesurier voted for Pitt’s parliamentary reform proposals, 18 Apr. 1785, and supported Lord Mahon’s bill for reducing expense and preventing bribery at elections, 22 Apr. 1785, but
would not tie himself down to vote for the whole of the bill as it stood ... he did not admire the clause which forbade candidates inviting the electors to eat and drink at their expense, like a good citizen he was a friend to good cheer, and was sure that he could not carry an hour’s canvass without it.6
He died 9 Dec. 1805.