BENYON, Richard II (1770-1854), of Englefield House, Berks. and Gidea Hall, Essex.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Constituency

Dates

1801 - 1806
1806 - 1812

Family and Education

b. 28 Apr. 1770, 1st s. of Richard Benyon I*. educ. Charterhouse 1785-7; St. John’s, Camb. 1787. m. 27 Sept. 1797, Elizabeth, da. of Sir Francis Sykes, 1st Bt.*, s.p. suc. fa. 1796; took names of Powlett Wrighte before Benyon 18 Aug. 1814; relinquished these and took additional name of De Beauvoir 24 Apr. 1822.

Offices Held

Sheriff, Berks. 1816-17; high steward, Wallingford 1828-44.

Biography

Benyon’s landed inheritance made him a wealthy man and by his death he was reckoned to be ‘by far the richest commoner’ in Berkshire. In 1801 he accepted an offer from his wife’s uncle, Lord Galway, made through his father’s friend and patron, Earl Fitzwilliam, of a seat for Pontefract at the next election. A threat of opposition almost frightened him off, but it came to nothing and he was returned unopposed in 1802.1

Benyon’s first recorded votes were three against Addington’s government during its last days in April 1804. Although he voted against the additional force bill in June and was placed under ‘Fox and Grenville’ in the government list of September, Pitt requested his attendance for the next session on 27 Nov. 1804.2 He evidently remained hostile, voted for a defence inquiry, 21 Feb., and for the prosecution of Melville, 12 June 1805, and was reckoned ‘Opposition’ in the list of July.

Benyon, who supported the ‘Talents’ and voted for the repeal of the Additional Force Act, 30 Apr. 1806, transferred at the ensuing general election to the venal borough of Wallingford, where his late father-in-law, in the management of whose estates he was involved, had had a controlling interest. He voted for Brand’s motion condemning the ministerial pledge, 9 Apr. 1807, but opposition managers, counting heads after the 1807 election, when he retained the Wallingford seat, had no confidence in his continued attachment. Fremantle labelled him ‘doubtful’ and although Lord Buckingham commented, 16 June, that he ‘ought to be counted with us’, he was not included in the Morning Chronicle lists of oppositionists, 22 June 1807.3

These doubts were justified, for Benyon’s only recorded votes in opposition to government in the 1807 Parliament were against the confinement of Burdett, 5 Apr. 1810, and against reversions and sinecures, 7 Feb. and 4 May 1812. He voted with administration on the address, 23 Jan., and in the first division on the Walcheren fiasco, 26 Jan. 1810. The Whigs were nevertheless ‘hopeful’ of his support in mid March and Loch told Adam, 21 Mar., that Benyon would vote in the forthcoming confrontation with government, but it was with the latter that he sided on 30 Mar.4 Benyon opposed the release of Gale Jones, 16 Apr., and parliamentary reform, 21 May 1810. He was in the ministerial minority against Stuart Wortley’s motion for the formation of a stronger administration, 21 May, and voted against future consideration of Catholic relief, 22 June 1812. There is no record of his having spoken in the House. He retired from Parliament at the dissolution of 1812 and in 1816 declined an invitation from Reading corporation to contest the borough at the next election.5 He died 22 Mar. 1854.6

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: David R. Fisher

Notes

  • 1. Gent. Mag. (1854), i. 651; NLW, Gwynsaney mss 17158, ff. 9, 13, 14; Wentworth Woodhouse mun. F38/2-6.
  • 2. Berks. RO, Benyon mss.
  • 3. Fremantle mss, box 46.