ESTCOURT, Thomas Grimston (1775-1853), of New Park, nr. Devizes, Wilts.
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Family and Education
b. 3 Aug. 1775, 1st s. of Thomas Estcourt*. educ. Harrow 1788-92; Corpus, Oxf. 1793; L. Inn 1795, called 1820. m. 12 May 1800, Eleanor, da. and coh. of James Sutton† of New Park, 6s. 3da. suc. fa. 1818; took surname of Bucknall by royal lic. 1 May 1823.
Cornet Wilts. yeomanry 1794, lt. 1799; capt. Herts. militia 1798; maj. Wilts yeomanry 1802-3; maj. Devizes vols. 1803, lt.-col. commdt. 1803-36, (militia) 1808.
Chairman qtr. sessions 1802-36; recorder, Devizes 1828-33.
Estcourt was returned for Devizes on the interest created by his late father-in-law, in succession to Henry Addington, his wife’s uncle. He took his seat on 28 Jan. 1805. His father had informed Lord Sidmouth (as Addington now was) three days before:
Although he has obtained thus early and honourably that which many others seek with so much anxiety, I am sure he never will forget to whom he is primarily indebted for it as well as his most peculiarly happy domestic blessings. He must ever consider your interests at Devizes and those of New Park as inseparable ... If at a future time we should have reason to think there may be a hazard in attempting to carry both seats, he will think it his duty to act in such a way as shall throw the whole weight of his influence whatever it may be into your scale.1
Estcourt showed his attachment by deserting Pitt with the Addingtonians and voting in favour of the criminal prosecution of Melville, 12 June 1805: he was duly listed ‘Sidmouth’ a month later. Sidmouth being in office, he also voted for the Grenville ministry’s repeal of Pitt’s Additional Force Act, 30 Apr. 1806; but was adverse to their abolition of the slave trade, voting with the die-hards, 6 Mar. 1807. At that time he hoped to represent his county on a future vacancy, his father encouraging him to believe that he would prove an acceptable candidate in North Wiltshire; but he was disconcerted to discover that his friend John Hungerford Penruddocke and two others had the same pretensions.2 His uncle Edmund was patron of Malmesbury until 1812 and it was Estcourt who recommended Philip Gell to him as a paying guest there in 1807. To Gell he wrote, 29 Apr. 1807:
My political connections are most anxious to support the King, and by no means to enter into a systematic opposition. In these leading points you I believe agree with us. In the minor points we cannot disagree.3
Sidmouth did not obtain office under Portland in 1807 and Estcourt joined him in opposing the Copenhagen expedition, 3 Feb. 1808. He was described as well disposed to the claims of John Palmer* for compensation.4 More surprisingly, in view of his later conduct on the question, he voted for the admission of Catholics as directors of the Bank of Ireland, 30 May 1808. He was in the minorities on the convention of Cintra and on the charge of ministerial corruption, 21 Feb., 25 Apr. 1809. In 1810, listed one of Sidmouth’s eight devotees in the House, he voted with ministers on the address, 23 Jan., but against them on the Scheldt question, 26 Jan., 30 Mar. 1810. He opposed parliamentary reform, 21 May 1810. On the Regency he sided with government, 1 Jan. 1811. Sidmouth’s return to office confirmed him in this line and he opposed the remodelling of the government, 21 May 1812. He was a die-hard opponent of Catholic relief, 22 June 1812, and again throughout 1813, in 1816 and 1817. He thereby paved the way for his representation of his university: though not by any eloquence on the subject in the House. Only one speech of his was reported before 1820, on the Abingdon canal bill, 7 Apr. 1813.
Estcourt was listed a Treasury supporter in the Parliament of 1812. Nevertheless he opposed the revision of the Corn Laws almost throughout in 1815.5 On civil list questions he voted with ministers steadily enough. He voted for the army estimates, 6 Mar. 1816, and was in the government minority on the property tax, 18 Mar. He opposed Admiralty reductions, 17, 25 Feb. 1817, and supported the suspension of habeas corpus, 23 June. He rallied to ministers on the ducal marriage grant, 15 Apr. 1818. A few months before, he had rejected a hint that he should offer for Wiltshire, to the regret of those who thought he bore ‘a very respectable character’.6 He was a member of the Poor Law committee in that as well as the preceding session. His two surviving votes in the Parliament of 1818 were with ministers against: Tierney’s censure motion and for the foreign enlistment bill, 18 May, 10 June 1819.
Estcourt was admitted even by such opponents as the radical Henry Hunt to be ‘manly, honest, candid and honourable. He was far too much of a gentleman and man of honour to disgrace himself by falsehood or by giving his silent consent to the misrepresentations of others.’7 He died 26 July 1853.