IDLE, Christopher (1771-1819), of Adelphi Terrace, Strand, Westminster.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer



9 June 1813 - 1818

Family and Education

bap. 3 June 1771, 3rd s. of Christopher Idle, innkeeper, of Penrith, Cumb. by Grace, da. of George Munkhouse of Penrith. m. c.1794, Jane (d. 26 Jan. 1834), 2s.

Offices Held

Dir. Society of British N. American merchants 1817-d.

Vol. London and Westminster light horse 1803-17.


The Idle brothers, John, George and Christopher, came of a Penrith family. Their father died when they were boys, and they became London merchants: John (1768-1828) and George (1769-1808) were partners in Idle and Davis, hatters and hosiers of 56 (afterwards 61) Cheapside; George also in Scott, Idle & Co. of the Strand. Christopher prospered as a wine merchant. He traded with the West Indies, as he informed a committee of the House, 17 July 1807. After the death of George, who was to have joined them, John and Christopher went into partnership as Christopher Idle, Brother & Co. of 16 Mark Lane (1811), 377 Strand (1812) and 381 Strand (1814). Another partner was Thomas Coates. Christopher retired in 1812 and his son George (b.1795) was admitted partner in his place, having inherited his uncle George’s interest in the business. The firm was known as Idle, Coates & Co. until Thomas Coates retired with £50,000 compensation in 1815; after continuing for a year with two new partners, William Orratt and John Grayston, George Idle ran the business alone, his uncle John having also retired with £20,000, chargeable on Christopher’s estate. This consisted of real estate he had purchased at Enfield Chase (340 acres) and East Barnet, a marine villa at Eastbourne, property at Sundridge, Kent and the manor of North Frith near Tonbridge, which he purchased about 1806 from (Sir) Richard Vanden Bempde Johnstone*.1 According to George Idle’s will (1808) wherein he was left £1,000, Christopher was ‘one of the best of men and brothers and was it not that his own means are so extremely ample my remembrance of him in this place would have been on a scale more congenial with my sense of his deserts’.2

Idle was earmarked by government for a vacant seat for Tralee in 1813, but the project was thwarted.3 Soon afterwards he was returned for Weymouth, where the previous election had been declared void, on the interest of the trustees of the Johnstone estate. He was expected to give a general support to administration. He voted for Christian missions to India, 22 June, 12 July 1813. In a speech of 28 Nov. 1813 on the subject of trade he said that ‘he could not allow that the restrictions on the trade of the West Indies were so great as they had been represented ... They were permitted to export sugar, coffee and cocoa to all parts south of Cape Finisterre, and the other restraints were only nominal.’ He also said ‘a few words’ on the East India shipping bill, 9 Dec. 1813. Idle twice voted in the opposition minority, against the renewal of the framework knitters bill, 29 Nov. 1813, and on 14 Apr. 1815 for Tierney’s motion on the civil list accounts. On 3 July 1815 he was in the government minority on the Duke of Cumberland’s establishment bill. On 19 May 1817 he was granted a month’s leave of absence for health reasons. He did not seek re-election in 1818 and died at North Frith, 8 Mar. 1819, aged 48, dividing his estate between his sons George and Christopher and providing for his 14-year-old natural son Joseph Borrowes, who was ‘to learn the art of husbandry from a respectable farmer’.4

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: R. G. Thorne


  • 1. Christopher Idle’s will, PCC 384 Ellenboro’; PP (1807), iii. 65.
  • 2. PCC 969 Ely.
  • 3. Add. 40283, f. 32.
  • 4. Gent. Mag. (1819), i. 285; PCC 384 Ellenboro’.