BERNARD (afterwards BERNARD MORLAND), Scrope (1758-1830), of Nether Winchendon, Bucks.

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

Constituency

Dates

16 Feb. 1789 - 1802
1806 - Apr. 1808
28 Feb. 1809 - 18 Apr. 1830

Family and Education

b. 1 Oct. 1758, in New Jersey,1 3rd s. of Sir Francis Bernard, 1st Bt., gov. Massachusetts Bay 1760-71, by Amelia, da. of Stephen Offley of Norton Hall, Derbys. educ. Harrow 1774-5; Christ Church, Oxf. 1775, BA 1779, MA 1781, DCL 1788. m. 26 July 1785, Harriet, da. and h. of William Morland* of Lee, Kent, 5s. 2da. Took additional name of Morland by royal lic. 5 Feb. 1811; suc. bro. as 4th Bt. 1 July 1818.

Offices Held

Private sec. to ld. lt. [I] Sept. 1782-Apr. 1783 and 1787-9; sec. to commission of inquiry into public offices 1785-6; gentleman usher of Black Rod [I] 1787-9; under-sec. of state for Home affairs June 1789-Aug. 1792; adv. Doctors’ Commons 1789-1801; chancellor, eccles. ct. of Durham 1795-1818.

Capt. Bucks. militia 1786, Aylesbury vols. 1803.

Trustee, County Fire Office 1807, Provident Life Office 1812.

Biography

Bernard sat for Aylesbury as a protégé of the Marquess of Buckingham, to whom he had twice been private secretary as viceroy of Ireland. For three years after his entry into Parliament he was under-secretary at the Home Office to Buckingham’s brother, his Oxford friend Lord Grenville.2 His speeches at Westminster were few and far between. He supported Pitt’s plan for taking unclaimed dividends from the Bank, 16 Dec. 1790, and had something to say on the debtors bill and the Quebec bill, 12 May 1791. He was listed hostile to the repeal of the Test Act in Scotland that session. He went to Paris that year and became about the same time a partner in his father-in-law’s bank of Ransom, Hammersley and Morland. Apart from an interlude (1806) as a partner of William Praed*, he maintained this banking connection until its dissolution in 1819. His own bank, Morland & Co., failed in 1832.3 He acted as Buckingham’s banker and man of business and, less happily, performed the same function for Lord Wellesley.4

When he left the Home Office, where his salary was ‘confessedly inadequate’, in 1792, a pension was granted to his wife and children and he was promised an ecclesiastical chancellorship. He practised as an advocate and on 25 July 1794 wrote to Pitt to complain that two chancellorships had been filled since he left the Home Office. He now looked to that of Gloucester which was negotiable, but in 1795 was made judge of the episcopal court at Durham, of which diocese his brother was chancellor and a kinsman bishop. (He assured Pitt, 6 Mar. 1799, that he did not think his public services had been over rewarded.)5 A few words on Post Office abuses, 20 May 1795, had been his only further contribution to the Parliament of 1790. In the next, he subscribed £3,000 to the loyalty loan, defended the work of the finance committee, 15 Dec. 1797, voted for Pitt’s assessed taxes, 4 Jan. 1798 and expressed his dislike of proposals for a bread monopoly which ‘trenched on all open commerce’, 5 July 1800.

In 1802 Bernard was defeated at Aylesbury, where, so Thomas Grenville alleged, ‘nobody else could have failed with the same means of success’.6 He spent over £18,000, a year later, in the purchase of the Kimble estate.7 When the Aylesbury election was at length declared void in 1804, Buckingham restrained Bernard from offering again, claiming that he would be throwing away his money: he would be opposed both in the borough and in Parliament ‘with all the eagerness that vindictive malice could suggest’.8 In 1806 Buckingham was able to accommodate him in his borough of St. Mawes.9 He voted against the committal of the slave trade abolition bill, 23 Feb. 1807. He was a defaulter a week later, but voted for Brand’s motion against the new ministry, 9 Apr. 1807. Next day he was again a defaulter.

Retaining the same seat in 1807 at his patron’s convenience, Bernard joined the Grenvilles in opposition. He even voted for inquiry into Members’ pensions and places, 7 July 1807. On 28 Mar. 1808 he secured from a reluctant chancellor of the Exchequer the concession of a committee to inquire into the lottery system, which he regarded as morally harmful. Soon afterwards (he was in the minority of 4 Apr.), he vacated his seat to make way for another nominee of Buckingham’s, Lord Gower. On 19 Feb. 1809 Buckingham informed him that he was able to restore him, owing to the vacancy of the other seat for St. Mawes,

subject to the call which my son George will hereafter make upon you ... and subject to any call ... that may arise out of the extraordinary state of the country ... in which however it would be certain that every attention would be paid to you.10

The only trouble or expense Bernard was put to was a visit to St. Mawes for his election.

He resumed opposition, voting against alleged ministerial corruption, 25 Apr. 1809, and on the charge against the Dutch commissioners, 1 May. He was classed ‘thick and thin’ by the Whigs in March 1810, voting regularly with them on the Scheldt inquiry. He also voted for Irish tithe reform, 13 Apr. 1810, for Romilly’s privately stealing bill, 1 May, for Tierney’s motion on the droits of Admiralty, 30 May, and for the resolutions asserting the privileges of the House, 8 June. This was apparently his only reaction to Burdett’s conduct. He shirked the general issues of parliamentary and sinecure reform. He rallied to opposition during the Regency debates, speaking only once. His preoccupation appears to have been with canal bills and legislation affecting banking.11 He supported Catholic relief by implication and explicitly, 22 Feb., 31 May 1811, 4 Feb., 23, 24 Apr. 1812; but insisted on proper securities. He was in the minority on the Household bill, 27 Jan., in the majority against McMahon’s sinecure, 24 Feb., and in the minorities for Turton’s censure motion, 27 Feb., and against the orders in council, 3 Mar. 1812. No vote of his is known between 24 Apr. and the dissolution, although he was expected to appear for Stuart Wortley’s motion of 21 May.12

Bernard’s politics remained Grenvillite thereafter. He voted steadily for Catholic relief. He voted against the blockade of Norway, 12 May 1814, the transfer of Genoa, 21 Feb., 27 Apr. 1815, and continental commitments, 15, 20 Feb. 1816. He opposed the revised Corn Laws, 23 Feb., 3, 10 Mar. 1815. He voted against the Duke of Cumberland’s establishment bill in 1815 and in the following session steadily for retrenchment, though he opposed any reduction in the salary of the treasurer of the navy, 1 Apr. 1816. He regularly supported the resumption of cash payments by the Bank. He resumed his campaign against public lotteries, seconding Lyttelton’s motions of 12 June 1816 and and (in his only speeches after 1816) opposed the lottery bills, 19 May 1817, 26 May 1818. After he had voted for the suspension of habeas corpus, 26 Feb. 1817, and had gone on to vote for Tierney’s motion against the third secretaryship of state, 29 Apr., his patron sent a reminder to him that ‘except upon the Catholic question it is not my wish that my immediate friends should attend and vote at this moment’.13 He proceeded to vote against parliamentary reform, 20 May 1817, and supported the suspension of habeas corpus, 23 June. His patron advised his abstention on the question of the duration of the suspension:14 but he supported government employment of informers, 5 Mar. 1818. He supported the ducal marriage grants, 15 Apr. He joined the minorities only on the Bank restriction, 1 May, bank-note forgeries, 14 May, and for inquiry into the education of the poor, 3 June 1818. His patron concurred in his supporting Tierney’s motion on the Bank, 2 Feb. 1819, and on 8 Feb. he came away on the question of Brougham’s being added to the committee.15 He was in the government majority on the Windsor establishment16 and on the case of Wyndham Quin*, 29 Mar.; and his only further known votes in that Parliament were in the minority on the salt laws, 29 Apr., state lotteries, 4 May, and burgh reform, 6 May.

Morland (as he was known after 1816) enjoyed a reputation for ‘punctuality and attention to his duties as a senator’, for ‘honesty, consistency and sincerity’ and for his interest in ‘philanthropic legislation ... especially in all matters connected with Buckinghamshire’. He died 18/19 Apr. 1830.17

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Authors: M. H. Port / R. G. Thorne

Notes

  • 1. Bernard mss EO 10/1(b).
  • 2. HMC Fortescue, i. 293, 384, 413, 416, 465.
  • 3. Ibid. vi. 441; Hilton Price, London Bankers, 118; The County Fire Office, 27.
  • 4. Add. 37308, f. 339; 37416, f. 20. Wellesley blamed Bernard for giving government the idea that he would be satisfied with an Irish marquessate in 1799 (Iris Butler, The Eldest Brother, 211, 406).
  • 5. PRO 30/8/113, ff. 172, 178.
  • 6. HMC Fortescue, vii. 99.
  • 7. Bernard mss PFE 4/4(a).
  • 8. Ibid. PFE 3/34.
  • 9. Ibid. PFE 3/16.
  • 10. Ibid. PPE 4/9(a).
  • 11. Ibid. PFE 7.
  • 12. Buckingham, Regency, i. 311.
  • 13. NLW, Coedymaen mss 12, f. 925; Fremantle mss, Buckingham to Fremantle, 1 May [1817].
  • 14. Fremantle mss, box 55, Buckingham to Fremantle, 25 June 1817.
  • 15. Ibid. same to same, Sunday [24 Jan. 1819]; Buckingham, ii. 300.</