Available from Boydell and Brewer
Number of voters:
about 3,500 in 1807
|WARNER WILLIAM WESTENRA|
|1 Dec. 1801||CHARLES POWELL LESLIE vice Westenra, become a peer of Ireland|
|23 July 1802||RICHARD DAWSON|
|CHARLES POWELL LESLIE|
|19 Nov. 1806||RICHARD DAWSON|
|CHARLES POWELL LESLIE|
|23 May 1807||RICHARD DAWSON|
|CHARLES POWELL LESLIE|
|18 Nov. 1807||THOMAS CHARLES STEWART CORRY vice Dawson, deceased|
|17 Oct. 1812||CHARLES POWELL LESLIE|
|RICHARD THOMAS DAWSON|
|10 Apr. 1813||THOMAS CHARLES STEWART CORRY vice Dawson, become a peer of Ireland|
|29 June 1818||CHARLES POWELL LESLIE|
|HON. HENRY ROBERT WESTENRA|
A plantation frontier county with a strong interest in the linen trade, Monaghan was populated fairly evenly by Protestants and Catholics. The leading proprietary interests belonged to Lords Cremorne (Dawson), Rossmore (Westenra), Clermont (Fortescue) and the Leslies of Glasslough. There were also several lesser interests and ‘a vast number of little gentlemen who have from 50 to 100 votes each’, who could constitute a species of independent interest. It is therefore surprising that contests were avoided in this period.
In 1801 a series of changes took place. Both Members had opposed the Union, but on 9 June 1800 Dawson, heir presumptive to his uncle Cremorne, accepted the fâit accompli. Then, on 24 July 1800, Charles Powell Leslie, sitting on his own and the independent interest, died. Leslie’s son of the same name hoped to replace him but declined when Westenra, nephew by marriage of Rossmore and Clermont, stood as a Unionist and a favourite of the Castle.1 Finally, in August 1801, Westenra succeeded to the peerage of Rossmore, and after a delay in issuing the new writ Leslie replaced him unopposed. Dawson, a very popular Member, was returned unopposed with Leslie at the elections of 1802, 1806 and 1807.
On Dawson’s death in September 1807, a scramble ensued and a contest was narrowly averted. Had Dawson’s son and heir been of age he would probably have succeeded, and nothing came of a plan to put up Madden, Leslie’s brother-in-law, on Dawson’s interest as locum tenens. As it was, Rossmore put up his brother, Maj. Henry Westenra on Lady Clermont’s and his own interest and, despite Castle approbation and ‘what little interest’ it had in the county, ran into difficulties. Leslie, the chief secretary’s cousin and a government supporter, found himself unable to support Westenra, for want of a quid pro quo. He informed Wellesley:
If I now give my interest to Lady Clermont’s friends, I give offence to a party that I am certain would in future assist me and I have some reason to think would not secure the future aid of Lady Clermont’s interest. If her ladyship and family require my assistance at the present time, I am sure you as my friend and relation will admit I should have some security given me of an adequate return hereafter, when I make a number of enemies and oppose some friends in order to serve them. From the present appearance of the feeling of this county Major Westenra will experience great opposition, many objections are raised to him.2
The independent and anti-Catholic interest, on which Edward Lucas of Castle Shane had at first allegedly started, supported the candidature of Thomas Corry, one of the lesser gentry. Westenra’s prospects depended on imponderables: Cremorne had decided to take no part and his tenants were thought to be amenable to the wishes of his agent, reported to be influenced by Col. Anketell who was anxious to avoid a contest.3 Moreover, Lord Blayney, whose family had been a prop to Clermont’s interest, but who strongly objected to the latter’s connivance at the promotion of Rossmore to the custody of the county in preference to himself, was on active service. Frantic efforts were made by Rossmore to secure his interest, particularly as Blayney had also been awarded the disposal of the Lucas interest, but Blayney did not arrive in time.4 Although he could boast of a ‘large personal interest’ and ‘near 500 voices’ and Lord Templetown’s interest (about 100 votes), Rossmore decided that Leslie’s support was the only safe guarantee of Westenra’s return. Since, by arrangement with Corry, a poll was to be averted by a scrutiny of the canvass returns on 7 Nov. 1806, Rossmore devoted the preceding week to negotiations with Leslie, in which the chief secretary was implicated. On 1 Nov. Leslie, concluding that ‘unless I support Major Westenra he cannot succeed’, professed himself willing to make the ‘sacrifice’ provided he was guaranteed the Clermont interest in future. This was as far as the Castle could expect him to go, and when the dowager sisters Ladies Rossmore and Clermont disavowed any such bargain, Leslie was not blamed for refusing to back Westenra, who thereupon declined before the scrutiny, 7 Nov. Leslie therefore strengthened his own interest by supporting Corry, who came in unopposed. Westenra’s discomfiture was, so the chief secretary readily explained to the world at large, caused by ‘the arrogance ... and then by the folly of two old women’.5
By the next election in 1812, Cremorne’s great-nephew and heir, Dawson, had come of age and Corry’s making way for him with hardly a murmur was indicative of the strength of the Cremorne interest. On 1 Mar. 1813 Dawson succeeded to the peerage and Corry offered to replace him. Rossmore was expected to put up his brother again, as locum tenens for his son, but he was in India. An unexpected opposition to Corry was then started by a representative of the long dormant and absentee interest of Lord Dacre, previously placed at the disposal of Cremorne, in the person of an Essex squire’s son, Thomas Barrett Lennard. Lennard, however, was reluctant, and though Corry was ‘very unpopular’, found the odds against him: many votes had been promised Corry before he arrived and his own ideas were too liberal for the independent freeholders, who ‘would support the devil if he would vote against Catholic emancipation’. The absentee Blayney, a prisoner at Verdun, was virtually inaccessible, though he ultimately objected to supporting a stranger with such notions. Cremorne, who had wished to support Edward Lucas of Castle Shane, gave tepid support after Lucas had declined (without feeling able to transfer his interest to Lennard) and Rossmore’s approbation came equally late. It was now up to Leslie, whose support, involving as it did ‘by much the greatest number of votes of his own’, could have carried Lennard, but he, ‘a cunning fox and a deep politician’, objected to him because ‘the resident independent gentlemen’ were against him. ‘What Mr L[eslie] called the resident independent gentlemen’, Lennard informed his father, ‘is a faction of men of small fortunes who oppose themselves to the great interests of the county as well as to the liberal thinkers.’6 After a scrutiny of the canvass, Lennard declined in Corry’s favour. His own father had been reluctant to register freeholders on his behalf and had fought shy of the expense of a contest. Subsequently, Lennard gave up his pretensions, but had the satisfaction of supporting Rossmore’s son, now of age, in 18I8, and of seeing Corry decline a contest, on failing to obtain Leslie’s support.7
Author: P. J. Jupp
- 1. Essex RO, Barrett Lennard mss C59, Sir T. B. Lennard [Mar. 1813]; O 40/3, undated list of Monagham electoral interests; Dublin SPO 515/85/8, Rossmore to Ld. [?Castlereagh], 26 July 1800.
- 2. Add. 38242, f. 123; Wellington Supp. Despatches, v. 136; Wellington mss, Wellesley to Leslie, 13 Oct., reply 20 Oct. 1807.
- 3. Barrett Lennard mss C59, Cremorne to Sir T. B. Lennard, 20 Sept.; Dublin SPO 534/242/17, Rossmore to Trail [c. 27 Oct. 1807].
- 4. Bedford mss, Blayney to Bedford, 11 Jan.; Dublin SPO 534/242/17, Rossmore to Sir C. Vernon, 25 Sept., to Trail, Fri. [?24], 27, 29 [Oct. 1807].
- 5. Dublin SPO 534/242/17, Trail to Rossmore, 27 Oct.; Wellington mss, Rossmore to Wellesley, n.d., Wellesley to Leslie, 31 Oct., 9 Nov., Leslie to Wellesley, 1, 7, 11 Nov. 1807.
- 6. Morning Chron. 9 Oct. 1812; Barrett Lennard mss C59, 61, 63 passim (election corresp. Mar., Apr. 1813); PRO NI, Caledon mss C/9/11, Ld. Caledon, 10 July 1813.
- 7. Barrett Lennard mss C59, Westenra to Sir T. B. Lennard, 9 July; Add. 40277, f. 312; Dublin Corresp. 7 July 1818.