BULLER, John I (?1761-1807), of Wivelscombe, East Looe, Cornw.
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Family and Education
b. ?1761, 1st s. of John Buller† of East Looe by 1st w., and bro. of Edward Buller*, half-bro. of Frederick William Buller*. educ. Westminster until 1777. m. (1) 7 Sept. 1795, at Benares, Catherine Eliza (div. 9 May 1799), da. of Thomas Wiggins, s.p.; (2) 11 Dec. 1805, Augusta Eliza, da. of John Nixon of La Bergerie, Queen’s Co., s.p. suc. fa. 1786.
Writer E.I. Co. (Bengal) 1777; asst. to collector of Chittagong 1778; factor 1782, jun. merchant 1785, sen. merchant 1788; collector of Tipperah (Tripura) until 1792; member, board of revenue 1792, sen. member 1801; returned to England 1802.
Recorder, East Looe 1802-d.
Buller went to India at an early age. His brother Henry and cousin Charles joined him there and they all prospered. In 1793 Buller wrote home, ‘there is nothing indeed that this government can give me out of Calcutta which is superior to my present appointment, but the residency of Lucknow, or of Benares, and neither one of these do I ever expect to get, so that I suppose I shall retain my present post as long as I continue in India’.1 In 1796, when he was expected to return to England, his uncle William Buller, bishop of Exeter, acting through his cousin Reginald Pole Carew*, secured his return to Parliament for the family borough of East Looe.
Meanwhile, Buller had contracted an unfortunate marriage in India with a niece of Lord Kinnaird. His wife left him in August 1796 and embarked on an adulterous career, drawing on Buller ‘for very large sums’, so that he felt he could not leave India until a divorce had been settled and he was ‘secure from her’, despite the pleas of his friends to return: ‘having weathered this country for upwards of twenty years’, he wrote, 18 Sept. 1798, ‘it would be positive madness now to take my departure leaving my object incomplete, for such it certainly would be if, upon my arrival in Europe, I found myself liable for any large sum on account of Mrs Buller’. On 13 Oct., accordingly, Buller wrote to Pitt from Calcutta that circumstances had occurred to detain him in India longer than he expected,
and as it is still uncertain when I may quit it, I wish to relinquish my seat in the House of Commons ... and have authorized my relation Mr James Buller of Downes in Devonshire, through whom I send this letter, to make the necessary solicitation on my part [for the Chiltern Hundreds].
James Buller who had acted as his cousin’s ‘confidential agent’ in the borough since 1797, informed Pitt that it was ‘Mr John Buller’s first object to prove his sincere attachment to you, from his perfect approbation of the measures of your administration, as well as from a strong sense of the kindness which his father and himself uniformly experienced from you’. Pitt was invited to supply the vacancy.2
By 1802 Buller, following further promotion in India, had returned to England and took his seat for East Looe. He seems to have supported Addington’s administration. In 1804 the Pittites listed him at first ‘doubtful’, then a supporter, which they also claimed of him in July 1805. He had opposed the censure of Melville, 8 Apr. He does not appear to have spoken, though it is difficult to be sure, owing to the presence of three ‘J. Bullers’ in the House.
Buller, who had to face a contest in 1806, was anxious to assure Lord Grenville that he had from the outset supported and would continue to support his administration.3 On 2 and Mar. 1807 he was granted leave of absence for ill health. He died, s.p., at his town house in Berners Street, on 3 May 1807.4 His memorial at St. George’s, Windsor stated that he was in his 47th year. His interest at Looe went to his younger brother Edward.
Ref Volumes: 1790-1820
Author: R. G. Thorne
- 1. Hickey Mems. ed. Spencer, iii. 245; Pole Carew mss CC/K/23, 24, Buller to Pole Carew, 4 Sept. 1792, 4 Nov. 1793.
- 2. PRO 30/8/117, F. 218; Pole Carew mss CC/K/29, Buller to Pole Carew, 9 Apr. 1797; CC/L/30, same to same, 13 Oct.; Buller mss BO/27/36, J. to E. Buller, 3, 18 Sept. 1798.
- 3. Fortescue mss, Buller to Grenville, 16 Nov. 1806.
- 4. Gent. Mag. (1807), i. 493.