CLEMENTS, Henry John (1781-1843), of Ashfield Lodge, co. Cavan.

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

Constituency

Dates

5 Feb. 1805 - 1818
12 Aug. 1840 - 12 Jan. 1843

Family and Education

b. 16 July 1781, 1st s. of Henry Theophilus Clements, MP [I], of Ashfield Lodge by 2nd w. Catherine, da. of Hon. John Beresford*. m. 11 Dec. 1811, Louisa, da. of James Stewart* of Killymoon, co. Tyrone, 1s. 4da. suc. fa. 1795.

Offices Held

Searcher, Carrickfergus 1793, trustee, linen board [I] 1805; commr. of treasury [I] Oct. 1812-17.

Sheriff, co. Leitrim 1804-5, co. Cavan 1814-15; gov. co. Leitrim 1808.

Capt. Ashfield inf. 1803; capt. Leitrim militia 1803, col. 1807-d.

Biography

Clements’s father, younger brother of Robert, 1st Earl of Leitrim, represented county Leitrim in the Irish parliaments of 1776 and 1790 on the earl’s interest. By virtue of his marriage to a daughter of John Beresford he commanded lucrative revenue places. He was also parliamentary patron of Cavan borough, for which his son received £7,500 compensation at the Union when it was disfranchised.

Clements succeeded his cousin Nathaniel to his seat for county Leitrim when the latter succeeded to the earldom. He attended in May 1805 at the chief secretary’s request1 and voted against the Catholic claims, 14 May. He was listed a supporter of Pitt’s second ministry and at the end of the year appointed to the linen board. In the spring of 1806 the Grenville ministry noted that he was considered to be part of the Beresford group and Lord Leitrim’s Member, ‘but desired to be thought more independent’. No opposition was recorded and Clements never took part in debate, but he headed the poll at the election of 1806. There was some doubt as to whether he voted with the Portland ministry on Brand’s motion, 9 Apr. 1807, or did not vote; but he was regarded as a supporter of government, which awarded him command of the county militia subsequently raised by his father.2 Despite a minority vote on the question of Castlereagh’s corruption, 25 Apr. 1809, he certainly supported them in all the critical divisions on the Scheldt expedition January-March 1810, further voting against parliamentary reform, 21 May, and against the Catholic petition, 1 June 1810. In January 1811 he was inclined to stay in Ireland, but was dragged over to support government on the Regency question, 21 Jan.3 He was in the government majority on sinecures, 21 Feb. 1812.

In March 1812 the viceroy reported that Clements, sure of his re-election, though at some cost owing to Lord Leitrim’s political desertion, was anxious to be a lord of the Irish treasury: ‘the income would be of use to him.’ The chief secretary agreed that Clements would be ‘the properest person we could have at the treasury’, though it was understood he was not to expect to be a privy councillor too, and there was no vacancy at the time. Clements wanted it at the dissolution, to avoid vacating his seat. On 19 Aug. 1812, a vacancy arising, Clements renewed his application and the viceroy still preferred his claims, as did the chief secretary when Clements lobbied him, on the eve of a contest for the county, 24 Sept.4 His appointment was confirmed in time and Clements was chosen in second place on the poll.

On 22 June 1812 he had voted against the Catholic claims; on 2 Mar. and 11 May 1813 he again voted against, and either paired or voted against on 24 May. In April 1814 he was a defaulter, and in November, when the chief secretary begged him to attend exempli causa, he pleaded militia disembodying and house repairs as his excuse. He came over for the corn bill and the civil list divisions in 1815, but again had to be pressed, and in January 1816 pleaded his wife’s confinement and the assizes as his excuse for lingering in Ireland. He was induced to leave Ireland, 13 Feb. 1816, and was in the government minority on the property tax, 18 Mar., and in their majority on the civil list, 24 May. He voted against the Catholic claims, 21 May 1816.5

In January 1817 Clements lost his place when the Irish treasury ceased to exist. The chief secretary had reported to the prime minister, 6 Dec. 1816, that Clements had ‘every claim that steady support and gentlemanlike manner, and pecuniary embarrassment can give him’ to be compensated with a place at the consolidated Treasury board. He added that Clements had ‘lost both his militia regiment and his office in the same year, and feels their loss very severely’. But Clements was passed over in favour of his senior Odell. He was again loath to attend in January 1817, but yielded to pressure and appeared in the government majorities of 7, 17 and 25 Feb. On 9 May 1817 he again voted against Catholic relief. Peel had recorded Clements’s willingness to leave Parliament if he got a place at the Irish revenue board. In April 1818, however, he declined a place on the Castle staff, a decision he may well have regretted when he was narrowly defeated at the ensuing general election.6 He died 12 Jan. 1843.

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: P. J. Jupp

Notes

  • 1. Add. 31229, f. 186.