BEAUMONT, Thomas Richard (1758-1829), of Hexham Abbey, Northumb. and Bretton Hall, Yorks.
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Family and Education
b. 29 Apr. 1758, o.s. of Thomas Beaumont of The Oaks, Darton, Yorks. by Anne, da. and coh. of Edward Ascough of Louth, Lincs. educ. Univ. Coll. Oxf. 1777. m. 1786, Diana, illegit. da. and h. of Sir Thomas Wentworth Blackett, 5th Bt., of Hexham Abbey and Bretton Hall, 5s. 3da. suc. fa. 1785.
Cornet 58 Ft. 1780, 22 Drag, 1780, half-pay 1783; lt.-col. commdt. (temp. rank) 21 Drag, 1794; col. (temp. rank) 1797, ret. 1802.
Beaumont inherited a relatively modest patrimony in Yorkshire, but his wife succeeded to considerable estates in Yorkshire and Northumberland on the death of her father in 1792. Mary Russell Mitford, visiting Northumberland in 1806, reported that Mrs Beaumont had told Lady Aynsley that ‘they received last year a hundred thousand pounds from their lead mines in Yorkshire; and they never make less than eighty thousand, independently of immense incomes from their other estates’. Miss Mitford continued:
Colonel Beaumont is generally supposed to be extremely weak; and I had heard so much of him, that I expected to see at least as silly a man as Matthew Robinson; but I sat next him at dinner, and he conducted himself with infinite propriety and great attention and politeness; yet, when away from Mrs Beaumont, he is (they say) quite foolish, and owes everything to her influence with him. They live in immense style at the Abbey; thirty or forty persons frequently dine there; no servants but their own admitted; and there is constantly a footman behind every chair.
She was, however, less impressed when she inspected Hexham Abbey for herself:
Upon repairing and beautifying this house, in which they only spend about a month in the year, the poor Colonel has lately expended upwards of twelve thousand pounds. It was a fine specimen of the Saxon Gothic architecture; but he has built upon the same foundation, retained all the inconveniences of the ancient style, and lost all its grandeur. It has on the outside an appearance of a manufactory, and the inside conveys the exact idea of an inn ... Yet this is the occasional residence of a man with an income of a hundred and ten thousand pounds; the residence where he receives the visits of all his constituents in this large and opulent county; and where he lives in the most princely magnificence.1
Before his marriage Beaumont had served briefly in the army until his regiment was disbanded in 1783. In February 1794, after Sir John Sinclair* had approached Pitt on his behalf, he raised a corps of light horse, of which he was temporarily appointed lieutenant-colonel commandant. It is unlikely that he saw active service—certainly he did not sail with his regiment to the West Indies in 1796—and after 1802 he disappeared from the Army Lists. In August 1803 the Duke of York declined to offer him further employment.2
Although a newcomer to the county, his estates, the lack of other candidates, the support of government and the Pittite gentry and the approval of the Duke of Northumberland ensured his unopposed return for Northumberland at a by-election in 1795. It is clear that throughout his parliamentary career Beaumont, who is not known to have spoken in the House, was a poor attender, partly because of bad health. In the ministerial forecast for the 1796 general election he was initially marked ‘pro’, but subsequently ‘doubtful’ and he did not vote for the triple assessment, 4 Jan. 1798. His only known votes against Addington’s administration were in favour of the Prince of Wales’s financial claims, 31 Mar. 1802 and 4 Mar. 1803. In his calculations of May 1804 Rose placed him with the ‘doubtfuls’, but in September listed him as a supporter of Pitt. He opposed Whitbread’s censure of Melville, 8 Apr. 1805, and although he narrowly escaped censure for this vote at a Northumberland county meeting, 24 May, and was instructed to give his support to a full inquiry into abuses in the public expenditure,3 he did not support the motion for Melville’s criminal prosecution, 12 June, and was classed ‘Pitt’ in the government list of July 1805.
He is not known to have voted either with or against the ‘Talents’, but was thought to be a ‘staunch friend’ to the abolition of the slave trade. He did not support Brand’s motion, 9 Apr. 1807, and on 1 May the Whig Sir Charles Monck complained to Lord Howick, the other county Member:
Mr Beaumont falling regularly into the train of every minister in hopes of obtaining a barony is in my opinion conduct highly disgraceful to the Member of a large, opulent, independent county ... Every minister must altogether despise him, knowing that he is sure of his vote because he is minister. Personally Beaumont is as contemptible as a man can be, and base vote cannot be worth a barony to any minister.
Such criticism was common among Whigs and independents in Northumberland, but until 1807 their fear of involving Howick in a contest and thereafter the unwillingness of his potential opponents to risk money in an election, kept Beaumont secure in his seat, although illnesses in 1806, 1807 and 1808 (when he had over two months’ leave of absence on this score) raised hopes that he might vacate.4
In January 1808 Marianne Spencer Stanhope heard rumours that Beaumont had applied for a peerage ‘on account of his overwhelming influence in the county of York’, all of which she believed had been employed in 1807 against government and in favour of Lord Milton. She also reported that he had been offered ‘a Swedish order, fees £150, a sky-blue ribbon, which gives no place, and the honour of being a Sir, not hereditary. I never heard of its being conferred on any but dancing masters and medical geniuses.’5 Neither application, if made, was successful but he continued to support government, when present, voting with them on the address, 23 Jan. 1810, throughout the subsequent Scheldt inquiry, when the Whigs duly classed him as ‘against the Opposition’, on the Regency, 1 Jan. 1811, and against the reversion bill, 7 Feb. 1812. He voted against the release of John Gale Jones, 16 Apr., and against parliamentary reform, 21 May 1810.
On the formation of the Liverpool ministry he applied for a peerage, but the premier, while acknowledging his ‘station in the county’ and ‘the honourable support’ which he had ‘successively given to Mr Pitt’s and Mr Perceval’s administrations’, was unable to satisfy him, claiming that he did not wish to add to the promises inherited from his predecessors.6 Beaumont, who voted against Catholic relief, 22 June 1812 and 2 Mar. 1813, was expected to support the new ministry. He did so on the property tax, 18 Mar. 1816, and the composition of the finance committee, 7 Feb. 1817; but as no other votes are recorded in his name in the 1812 Parliament, which was his last, it must be assumed that he became a virtual non-attender. He died 31 July 1829.
Ref Volumes: 1790-1820
Author: J. M. Collinge
- 1. Life of Mary Russell Mitford ed. L’Estrange, i. 40-41, 57.
- 2. PRO 30/8/178, f. 138; Whitbread mss W1/869; Northumb. RO, Blackett mss 224, Mrs Beaumont to J. E. Blackett, 7, 23 Aug., 1 Sept. 1803.
- 3. Newcastle Chron. 1 June 1805.
- 4. Grey mss; CJ, lxiii. 134, 286; see NORTHUMBERLAND.
- 5. Letter-Bag of Lady Elizabeth Spencer-Stanhope, i. 154.
- 6. Add. 38328, f. 17.