OLMIUS, Drigue Billers, 2nd Baron Waltham [I] (1746-87), of New Hall, Boreham, Essex
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Family and Education
The Olmius family had an interest in Weymouth and Melcombe Regis; and on this, possibly with Government assent, Waltham was returned in 1768. When on 18 May, a week after the new Parliament had met, Henry Lawes Luttrell, ‘thundering against the iniquity of the times’, introduced a motion calling for the reasons why Wilkes, an outlaw, had not been arrested immediately on landing in England, ‘Lord Waltham seconded him without a word of argument to enforce the motion’;1 and this intervention, so insignificant as to be mentioned in no other report of the debate, is Waltham’s only reported utterance during his nine years in Parliament. He voted with the Government (or perhaps with the Luttrells) over Wilkes and the Middlesex election; was classed by Robinson as ‘doubtful, present’ over the royal marriage bill, early in March 1772; and voted against it on the 11th: the marriage of the Duke of Cumberland to Anne Luttrell was one reason for bringing in the bill, and Waltham, together with the Luttrells, now passed into opposition. He voted against the Quebec bill.2
Some time before 1774 Waltham sold his interest at Weymouth.3 His Essex estates were less than 10 miles from Maldon where his father-in-law, John Coe, was a leader of the Presbyterians; and Coe, and still more John Luttrell, seem to have pressed him to stand at Maldon, even at the by-election of December 1773. Gascoyne wrote to Strutt on 10 Dec.:
If Lord Waltham had been permitted to have vacated, the money must have come from Coe and what a dupe must he be to suffer the Luttrells to drive this man to embark in such an hazardous bottom ... a candidate will be had if possible, but this last denial must almost make them despond as they must see Government is determined and in earnest ... the Luttrells mean hostility to the King and certainly have before meditated the capture of Maldon.
And after the election, on 21 Dec., Gascoyne wrote to Strutt about the defeated candidate:
You are a total stranger to Wallinger and to the management. Lord Waltham pays the cost; I know one who was with Wallinger when Capt. Luttrell picked him up in the park on Monday and asked him if he had a mind to come into Parliament. He answered no, he had been offered a borough but he did [not] like the expense. The Capt. immediately replied he might come in for nothing, as a friend of his to try the interest would be at all the expense.
When Waltham stood at the general election of 1774, it was again Luttrell and Coe rather than he himself who managed his election affairs; but in doing so they did not always agree how to deal with the very complex situation.4 A compromise with the Nassau interest was unsuccessfully attempted by Luttrell in the summer of 1774;5 and next with Strutt; whether a junction was tried with John Bullock, who had represented Maldon 1754-74, is less clear. In the end Waltham stood alone against the joint interest of Strutt and Nassau, supported by the Government, and having suffered defeat at Maldon on 8 Oct., suddenly declared his candidature for Essex where the election was to have opened on the 14th: it was postponed to the 17th, and Waltham suffered an even more decisive defeat. He petitioned unsuccessfully against both returns.
Waltham is not known to have stood again till 1784, when he was returned for Maldon unopposed, although Strutt refused to join interests with him. In William Adam’s list of May 1784 he was classed as ‘Opposition’; he voted for Pitt’s scheme of parliamentary reform, 18 Apr. 1785; but against his Irish propositions, 13 May.
Waltham died 10 Feb. 1787.
Ref Volumes: 1754-1790
Author: Sir Lewis Namier
- 1. Wm. Baker to his fa. 18 May 1768, Baker mss. Herts. RO.
- 2. See pamphlet published by him during the Essex election, Oct. 1774, Essex RO D/DU/65/86.
- 3. Bamber Gascoyne to John Strutt, 21 Dec. 1773, Strutt mss.
- 4. A. Pickersgill, ‘Parliamentary Elections in Essex, 1759-74’ (Manchester Univ. M.A. thesis), 233 et seq.
- 5. Chas. Rainsford to Strutt, 20 June, 28 July, Strutt mss.