GALLY KNIGHT, Henry (1786-1846), of Firbeck Hall and Langold Park, Yorks.
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Family and Education
b. 2 Dec. 1786, o.s. of Henry Gally (afterwards Gally Knight), barrister, of Langold by Selina, da. of William Fitzherbert† of Tissington Hall, Derbys. educ. Eton 1799; Trinity Coll. Camb. 1805; tour of Spain, Sicily and the Near East 1810-11. m. 1828, Henrietta, da. of Anthony Hardolph Eyre* of Grove Park, Notts., wid. of John Hardolph Eyre, s.p. suc. fa. 1808.
Sheriff, Notts. 1819-20.
Capt. S. W. Yorks yeomanry 1808.
Gally Knight was the nephew of John Gally Knight*, to whose estates his father succeeded in 1804. He was a founder member of Grillion’s Club in 1812. Like his uncle, he owed a seat in Parliament for Aldborough to the family’s association with the dukes of Newcastle. He was, in fact, thought a proper man to aspire to the county (Nottinghamshire) in 1812; but when the 4th Duke of Newcastle offered him a seat at that election, he said ‘his health would not at present allow him to attend his duty in Parliament and the present times demanded efficient men’.1 In 1814 the duke returned him on a vacancy expecting him, no doubt, to support administration. This line was not congenial to him. He was in the minorities in favour of the Spanish Liberal exiles, 1 Mar., and against the corn bill, 10 Mar. 1815. Moreover, he differed from his patron in favouring Catholic relief, on which he later wrote a pamphlet.2 In April 1815 he accordingly resigned. He joined Brooks’s Club, 7 May 1816, and kept company with the Fitzwilliam circle of Whigs. He had travelled in Greece, Egypt and Palestine with the Hon. Frederick Sylvester North Douglas* and John Nicholas Fazakerley* in 1810-11 and from 1814 published poems chiefly on oriental subjects.3
On 24 June 1818 Gally Knight informed his friend Lord Milton that England stood poised between ‘despotism and democracy’, and that in his view the ‘moderate Whigs’ could save the situation. In December 1819, while sheriff of Nottinghamshire, he objected to government’s repressive measures, writing to Milton:
Why therefore is the whole kingdom to be treated as if on the eve of general insurrection? Wherefore, on account of evils acknowledged to be local and assumed to be temporary, are we to have recourse to severities universal and permanent?—severities, in my mind, necessarily destructive of the English character.
He conceded that some precautions against sedition were advisable and attention to some disorderly districts necessary, which he advised the Whigs to acknowledge, lest they ‘lose all’. He himself was ‘more fit for a chamber counsel than an orator—being troubled with most absurd nerves on all public occasions’. He was relieved that the illiberal measures were to be temporary, but filled with ‘dismal forebodings’ at ‘the irritation of the manufacturing districts’:
It is now the duty of every man to expose the fallacy of parliamentary reform considered as a panacea for the manufacturing distress. In this point of view, the situation of America is conclusive. How can the people of England vote that there should be no fluctuations of commerce in the whole world? How could they by a vote make the demand for labour for ever equal to the power of supply? As well might they attempt to vote the wind into steadiness.4
Gally Knight re-entered Parliament as a Fitzwilliam nominee in 1831. He died Member for his county, 9 Feb. 1846. He was the historian of Norman architecture.