DAVENPORT, Davies (1757-1837), of Capesthorne Hall, Cheshire.
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Family and Education
b. 29 Aug. 1757, o.s. of Davies Davenport of Capesthorne by Phoebe, da. and coh. of Richard Davenport of Calveley. educ. Brasenose, Oxf. 1775; I. Temple 1786. m. Apr. 1777, Charlotte, da. of Ralph Sneyd of Keele Hall, Staffs., 3s. 2da. suc. fa. 1758.
Sheriff, Cheshire 1783-4.
Maj. Cheshire supp. militia 1797; lt.-col. commdt. Macclesfield Foresters 1803.
Davenport, who was orphaned before he was six months old and was probably brought up by his uncle Sir Thomas Davenport, Northite Member for Newton 1780-6, was described by Lord Glenbervie in 1811 as ‘a pupil of J. J. Rousseau’.1 His inheritance of Cheshire estates was a handsome one and he was returned unopposed for the county on a vacancy in 1806.
His parliamentary conduct was markedly independent. The ‘Talents’ reckoned him ‘adverse’ to abolition of the slave trade, but he is not known to have opposed the bill in the House. After their fall he was reported to be wavering and likely to be swayed by the Foxite Lord Crewe2 and he voted for Brand’s motion condemning the ministerial pledge, 9 Apr. 1807, even though he was later to show himself to be hostile to Catholic relief. He recommended ‘caution’ when the Portland ministry proposed a salt export duty, 19 Feb. 1808, and voted against them on Hamilton’s charges of electoral corruption against Castlereagh, 25 Apr. 1809. He divided against the Perceval ministry on the Scheldt expedition, 23 Feb. and 5 Mar. 1810, was marked ‘hopeful’ by the Whigs and duly sided with them in the decisive division on the Scheldt, 30 Mar. He voted against the committal of Burdett, 5 Apr., but opposed parliamentary reform, 21 May 1810. He voted against government on the Regency, 1 Jan. 1811, the sinecure bill, 4 May, and the leather tax, 1 July 1812, and opposed Catholic relief, 22 June 1812, as he did again 2 Mar., 11 and 24 May 1813, 21 May 1816 and 9 May 1817.
After the election of 1812 Davenport was described as a friend of the Liverpool ministry,3 who counted him among their supporters, but he continued in his independent ways. He voted for the sinecure bill, 29 Mar., spoke for repeal of the leather tax, 8 May, and was cut short by the Speaker when he tried to discuss the likely effects of a ban on the import of American cotton during the debate on the East India Company regulation bill, 1 July 1813. He favoured Lockhart’s bill to curb frauds by itinerant auctioneers, 6 July 1813, but was hostile to Brydges’s poor settlement bill, 16 June 1814. He voted against government on the East India ships registry bill, 6 June, and the Duke of Cumberland’s allowance, 28, 29, 30 June and 3 July 1815. He spoke against continuation of the property tax, 29 Feb., paired with the majority who voted to scrap it, 18 Mar., and voted against ministers on the leather tax, 9 May, the agricultural horse tax, 14 June, a clause of the public revenues bill, 17 June 1816, Admiralty economies, 25 Feb., and the salt duties, 25 Apr. 1817, after seconding Calcraft’s motion for inquiry into them. In 1815 Peel, the Irish secretary, numbered Davenport among the ‘best friends’ of government who were hostile to Cumberland’s allowance.4 As his name appears on the ministerial side in none of the 17 divisions between 1 Mar. 1815 and 25 Feb. 1817 for which full lists have been found (except that on the civil list, 14 Apr. 1815, and this report was ‘strongly’ contradicted later),5 it must be assumed that he was a regular voter with them on the many others for which only minority lists survive.
On questions of law and order, Davenport certainly rallied to government. He voted for the suspension of habeas corpus, 23 June 1817, in defence of the Scottish prosecutions, 10 Feb., and the use of spies, 5 Mar., and spoke and voted against Bennet’s motion on the imprisonment of persons for the sale of political tracts, 21 May 1818. He nevertheless voted against ministers on the Duke of Clarence’s marriage allowance, 15 Apr. 1818. Davenport sat on committees of inquiry into the cotton industry in 1809, 1811 and 1816, and on Peel’s cotton factories bill, 23 Feb. 1818, expressed his hostility to legislative interference, as he did on Moore’s bill to improve the lot of silk weavers, 13 May 1819. He welcomed the government’s concession of an inquiry into the salt duties, 10 Mar. 1818, but, disappointed by the outcome, he strongly condemned the tax, 18 Mar. and 29 Apr. 1819. He opposed the proposed equalization of the coal duties, 4 Mar. 1819. When Davenport voted for Calcraft’s motion to add Brougham to the Bank committee, 8 Feb. 1819, one observer named him among ‘government men’ who had gone against ministers on the issue.6 He did the same on Admiralty reductions, 18 Mar., but voted with government against Tierney’s censure motion, 19 May 1819. On the seditious meetings bill, 2 Dec. 1819, he declared his support for the government’s coercive legislation, ‘because he thought there never was a period when that House was more imperatively called upon to adopt strong measures to put down the disaffection which existed’. He felt unable to support Bennet’s motion for an inquiry into the state of the manufacturing districts, 9 Dec., because it had political overtones, but hoped it would be brought forward again ‘in a less general and obnoxious shape’. Davenport died 5 Feb. 1837.