BURRELL, Walter (1777-1831), of West Grinstead Park, Suss.
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Family and Education
b. 15 Apr. 1777, 3rd s. of Sir William Burrell, 2nd Bt., of Deepdene, Dorking, Surr., and bro. of Sir Charles Merrik Burrell, 3rd Bt.* educ. Chigwell sch.; Westminster 1785. m. 21 July 1825, Helena Anne, da. of Alexander Ellice, merchant, of London, wid. of Charles Chisholme of Chisholme, Inverness, s.p.
Ensign Suss. militia 1797, lt. 1797, capt. 1798.
Burrell was mentioned by the Duke of Richmond in 1809 as a likely successor to his brother Sir Charles Merrik Burrell as Member for Shoreham if Sir Charles was approved as Member for the county at the next general election; though he suspected that, like his brother, Burrell would show an independent streak in the House. Richmond really wished his son the Earl of March to stand, but in 1812 March was required for Chichester, so Richmond agreed with the 3rd Earl of Egremont, Sir Charles’s father-in-law, to support Walter Burrell for the county, at least for the time being. Burrell resented any notion that he should serve as mere locum tenens for Richmond’s son and was ‘bound in honour’ by his friends to resist it, but he soon saw his advantage in being chosen Member, even on approval. He retained the seat for the rest of his life.1
Burrell was listed a supporter of the Liverpool administration after the election, but like his brother he was an independent and conscientious country gentleman. He opposed Catholic relief throughout in 1813 (again in 1817) and voted in favour of Christian missions to India, 22 June 1813. He was in the minority against Col. Quentin’s vendetta against his officers, 17 Nov. 1814. On 17 May 1814 and 23 Feb. 1815 he spoke up for agricultural protection, having presented a petition from Sussex farmers in its favour, and he sat on the committee to review such petitions. He was in the minority on the civil list, 14 Apr. 1815, and although he was in the majority that endorsed the Regent’s extraordinary expenditure on 31 May, it was on his motion of 30 June that the House resisted the Duke of Cumberland’s establishment bill, which he opposed throughout.
He refused to swallow the renewal of the property tax in the session of 1816 at a meeting of ministerialists and voted steadily for retrenchment, 28 Feb.-20 Mar. 1816, and again on 8 and 25 Apr., 6 May and 14, 17 and 20 June. He also opposed the farm horse tax on 14 June. On 13 May and 25 June he denied Harry Grey Bennet’s allegations of ill-treatment of detainees in Petworth house of correction. He voted for Admiralty retrenchment, 17 and 25 Feb. 1817. Like his brother he supported the opposition candidate for Speaker, 2 June. He voted with ministers for the suspension of habeas corpus, 23 June 1817, and on its modus operandi, 5 Mar. 1818. He opposed them on the ducal marriage grants, 13 and 15 Apr. 1818, despite an invitation to Fife House to hear the ministerial case for them.2
On 14 Apr. 1818 he moved for a select committee on the wool trade. He had on 1 May the year before presented his constituents’ petition calling for protection and now advocated it against foreign competition. On 18 June 1819 he approved import duties on foreign wool to protect the home product. He was interested in Poor Law reform, 9 Feb. 1819, in view of the prevalence of unemployment in his county, and was placed on the select committee to study it. On 19 May he drew the House’s attention to a flagrant instance of prosecution by the excise acting on false information. He voted that session against Tierney’s censure motion, 18 May, against the foreign enlistment bill, 3 and 10 June, and for his brother’s bid to reform the borough of Penryn by extending the franchise, 22 June.
Burrell, who was ‘intimately acquainted with all the local interests of the county’, headed the Sussex poll in 1818, 1820 and 1826. After his death, 7 Apr. 1831, the 3rd Earl of Egremont, his brother’s father-in-law, wrote:
My object was always to have the county represented by an independent country gentleman of good character and straightforward honest principles and unconnected with what is called the aristocracy, and if anybody supposed that [Walter] Burrell, who was one of the most amiable and right-headed men I ever knew, was at all dependent upon me, they did justice neither to him nor to me, nor did he care a farthing whether he was chosen or not, for it is no such enviable state for an independent man who wants nothing, to be stewed almost to death in that pandemonium, the House of Commons.3