GORE LANGTON, William (1760-1847), of Newton Park, nr. Bath, Som. and Dean House, Oxon.
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Family and Education
b. Dec. 1760, 1st s. of Edward Gore of Barrow Court, Som. by Barbara, da. and h. of Sir George Browne of Kiddington Park, Oxon., wid. of Sir Edward Mostyn, 5th Bt., of Talacre, Flint educ. New Coll. Oxf. 1776. m. (1) 1783, Bridget (d. 5 Dec. 1793), da. and h. of Joseph Langton, of Newton Park and took additional name of Langton, 9 Aug. 1783, 3s. 1da.; (2) c.1800, Mary, da. of John Browne of Salperton, Glos., 2s. 2da. suc. fa. 1801.
Lt.-col. Oxf. militia 1782, col. 1798.
Gore Langton’s marriage enabled him to cut a figure in Somerset. His debut in county politics was ignominious: he was hissed off the hustings in 1784 when encouraged to offer himself to the freeholders by the 3rd Earl Poulett. When he reappeared on a vacancy in 1795, there was further animosity owing to his having allegedly gone back on an engagement he had made. He was nevertheless returned unopposed and his principal competitor, William Dickinson I, was seated quietly with him in 1796. His conduct was independent from the start. He was in the minority on the Bank stoppage, 28 Feb., and on Harrison’s motion for retrenchment, 13 Mar. 1797. He opposed the assessed taxes, 4 Jan., and the land tax redemption bill, 23 Apr., also supporting Buxton’s amendment of 18 May 1798. He opposed the assessors’ secret returns on the income tax, 14 Mar. 1799. He supported Tierney’s motion critical of the aims of war against France, 28 Feb. 1800. He was in the minority on the address, 2 Feb. 1801, and on Tierney’s motion of 22 Apr.; also on the civil list and the Prince of Wales’s claims, 29 and 31 Mar. 1802. His first known speech was a plea to safeguard the Duchess of Bolton’s rights in the New Forest bill, 5 July 1800. On 5 Apr. 1802 he presented a petition from Bath for the repeal of the income tax.
Gore Langton first appeared in opposition to Addington’s ministry on 15 Mar. 1804, on Pitt’s naval motion. On 22 Mar. he was prepared to accept the volunteer consolidation bill, once an amendment of his had been incorporated in it. He went on to vote against Addington in the divisions that brought him down, 23, 25 Apr. He opposed Pitt’s additional force bill, 8 June 1804, and was locked out on 11 June on the same side. Listed ‘doubtful Pitt’ in September, he was in the minorities on the salt tax, 4 Mar. 1805 and for the repeal of the Additional Force Act, 6 Mar. On 8 Apr. and 12 June he was in the majorities on Melville’s conduct. He was still listed ‘doubtful Pitt’ in July. His only known vote under the Grenville ministry was for the repeal of the Additional Force Act, 30 Apr. 1806. At the ensuing election, finding his resources unequal to a contest with ‘monied men’, he withdrew in a huff. In 1807 he failed to obtain revenge when he returned to the fray, finding his opponents’ resources superior. He washed his hands of Somerset and said he would leave the county.1
Gore Langton found a Cornish borough seat for the second session of the Parliament of 1807, on Lord Darlington’s interest. Having on 14 Nov. 1807 ‘declared stoutly for us’, as the Whig Francis Horner* reported, he was now active with opposition.2 Whereas his name had been linked with ‘No Popery’ in the county contest of 1807, he voted against Duigenan’s appointment to the Irish privy council, 11 May 1808; against the convention of Cintra, 21 Feb.; against the Duke of York, 15, 17 Mar., and against alleged ministerial corruption, 25 Apr., 11 May 1809. In the session of 1810 the Whigs ventured to label him one of their ‘thick and thin’ supporters—he voted stoutly with them on the address and the Scheldt inquiry; against Burdett’s imprisonment, 5 Apr., and for parliamentary reform, 21 May. He opposed the adjournment, 29 Nov. 1810, but was absent on leave during the Regency debates of January 1811. On 26 Feb. 1811 he was under fire in a petition presented by Wardle from Robert Curtis, a corporal in the Oxfordshire militia, of which he was colonel after 32 years’ service. He ‘got up with warmth’ and said that in 16 years he ‘had never intruded on the attention of the chair; nor should he have done so now but for the very extraordinary observations which had been made’. Charles Manners Sutton cleared him by showing that Curtis was an ‘incendiary’, and Langton, who had no objection to scrutiny of his conduct, was the sole voter for Wardle’s motion for an inquiry. As he left the chamber ‘there was a great shout of hear and the Speaker with great emphasis said the Aye that went forth was one’.3 He was in the minorities on the election bribery bill, 25 Mar. 1811, and against the reinstatement of the Duke of York, 6 June. In the ensuing session he opposed the currency bill, 26 Mar., and McMahon’s Regency appointment, 14 Apr.; supported Catholic relief, 24 Apr., and sinecure reform, 4 May, and voted for a stronger administration, 21 May 1812.
At the election of 1812 Gore Langton regained his county seat, assisted by a subscription which proved unnecessary as his ministerial opponent Lethbridge withdrew. He remained in steady opposition. He invariably supported Catholic relief. He called for assurances of the disembodying of the militia, 9 Nov. 1814. He acted as teller for the opponents of the revision of the Corn Laws in 1815 remaining anti-protectionist all his life:4 in speeches of 22 Feb. and 10 Mar. 1815 he made his position clear. He voted against the resumption of war with Buonaparte, 28 Apr., 25 May. From that session onwards he voted steadily for retrenchment, though he approved the grant to the Duke of Wellington, 23 June 1815. Defending petitions against the property tax, 26 Feb. and 4 Mar. 1816, he called for reduction of the military establishment and voted accordingly. He voted against the restriction on bank payments in specie, 3 May. On 14 June he called the public revenue consolidation bill ‘a scandalous job by which ministers seemed determined ... to mock the sufferings of a loyal people’. He opposed the suspension of habeas corpus in February and June 1817 and supported parliamentary reform, 11 Feb., 20 May 1817, and the repeal of the Septennial Act, 19 May 1818 (possibly his first attendance in the latter session). He had voted for Charles Manners Sutton, not the Whig candidate, as Speaker, 2 June 1817, in contrast to his colleague Dickinson.5
In 1818 Gore Langton joined with Dickinson to thwart a bid by Lethbridge to regain the county seat from him, on political grounds. He did not sign the requisition to Tierney to lead the Whig opposition; but voted with them on 18 Mar. 1819, for Tierney’s censure motion of 18 May and throughout the following month. He brought up the report of the Camelford election committee, 16 June. He further voted with the minority on the state of the country, 30 Nov., and against the seditious meetings bill, 2 and 13 Dec. 1819. In 1820 the persevering Lethbridge forced him out of his seat. He regained it as a reformer in 1831. He died 14 Mar. 1847.
Ref Volumes: 1790-1820
Author: R. G. Thorne
- 1. Som. RO, Kemeys Tynte mss S/WH box 53, Gore Langton to Kemeys Tynte, 30 Oct. 1806, 28 May 1807.
- 2. Grey mss, Tierney to Grey, 12 Nov. 1807; Horner mss 3, f. 209.
- 3. Prince of Wales Corresp . vii. 2896; Jerningham Letters, ii. 2-3; Phipps, Plumer Ward Mems. i. 401.
- 4. Gent. Mag. (1847), i. 545.
- 5. Bagot mss, Lyttelton to Bagot, 4 June 1817.