HORROCKS, Samuel (1766-1842), of Lark Hill House, Preston, Lancs.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
b. 27 Nov. 1766, 1st s. of John Horrocks of Bradshaw, nr. Bolton, and bro. of John Horrocks*. m. 23 Aug. 1786, Alice, da. of Christopher Duckworth of Edgworth, nr. Bolton, 1s. 7da. suc. fa. 1816.
Mayor, Preston 1802-3.
Horrocks was brought to Preston by his younger brother John in the early 1790s to help manage his newly established cotton manufacturing business and was soon admitted to a partnership in the thriving and rapidly expanding enterprise.1 After attaining municipal honours he succeeded John on his death in 1804 both as head of the firm and as Member for Preston, without opposition. His business, after a few difficult years, continued to prosper and made him a dominant figure in the affairs of the town, but he proved to be little more than a cypher in Parliament, where he is not known to have spoken in this period.
Horrocks, who was initially classed as ‘doubtful’ and subsequently under ‘Pitt’ in September 1804, voted against the censure of Melville, 8 Apr., but for his criminal prosecution, 12 June 1805, and was listed as ‘doubtful Pitt’ in July. He supported the Grenville ministry, voting for the repeal of the Additional Force Act, 30 Apr. 1806, was returned unopposed in coalition with Lord Derby’s son at the general election and was numbered by ministers among the ‘staunch friends’ of slave trade abolition. He apparently transferred his support to the Portland government after the fall of the ‘Talents’, for at the general election of 1807, when the Preston coalition was unsuccessfully challenged by an independent candidate, he was denounced as a supine supporter of three successive administrations, ‘a man of no education, and consequently of no skill in political affairs’. Other charges levelled against him were that he considered 7s. a week sufficient wages for his weavers and that he had treated a delegation of Bolton weavers who had called on him in London ‘with the greatest contempt and ridicule’. His supporters denied these slurs, and ascribed the low level of wages to the dislocation of the cotton trade by commercial warfare.2
Horrocks subsequently voted against government on the Duke of York scandal, 15 and 17 Mar., and Castlereagh’s alleged electoral corruption, 25 Apr. 1809. His only recorded votes during the existence of the Perceval ministry were with them on the Walcheren inquiry, 30 Mar. 1810, shortly after the Whigs had classed him as ‘doubtful’, and against them on a clause of the Regency bill, 21 Jan. 1811. At the general election of 1812, when he and Derby’s nominee fought another successful contest against an independent, he boasted that ‘he could act as independent a part as any man in Parliament’.3 This was his only known public political utterance—if such it can be called—in his constituency. The Liverpool ministry counted him among their supporters, but his only known vote with them before 1820 was on the salary of the secretary of the Admiralty, 17 Feb. 1817. He voted against them on the corn bill, 10 Mar. 1815, and the foreign enlistment bill, 3 June 1819. He opposed Catholic relief, 24 May 1813. Radical criticism of Horrocks’s parliamentary record was renewed in 1818, but his seat was never in danger. There was long a standing joke in Preston about a street hawker who peddled copies of ‘Sam Horrocks’s speech’ and presented gullible purchasers with a blank sheet of paper and the comment, ‘Wha, he said nowt’.4
Horrocks survived an attempt on his life by a disgruntled cotton spinner in 1823, and two years later was granted a coat of arms incorporating a fret and shuttle, with the motto industria et spe. He died, an extremely wealthy man, 24 Mar. 1842.5
Ref Volumes: 1790-1820
Author: Lawrence Taylor
- 1. A. Hewitson, Hist. Preston, 168-9; Fortunes Made in Business (1887), iii. 20, 27-28.
- 2. Preston Election Addresses (1807), 12, 15, 18, 26-27, 37.
- 3. Preston Chron. 10 Oct. 1812.
- 4. The Late Elections (1818), 259; Preston Guardian, 28 Feb., 3 July 1880.
- 5. Gent. Mag. (1842), ii. 430; PCC 1843, f. 484.