KEMP, Thomas Read (1782-1844), of Hurstmonceaux Park, Suss.

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



10 May 1811 - Mar. 1816
21 Feb. 1823 - 1826
1826 - Apr. 1837

Family and Education

b. 23 Dec. 1782, o.s. of Thomas Kemp*. educ. Westminster 1797; St. John’s, Camb. 1801; M. Temple 1804. m. (1) 12 July 1806, Frances (d. 8 Mar. 1825), da. of Sir Francis Baring, 1st Bt.*, 4s. 6da.; (2) 26 Nov. 1832, Frances Margaretta, da. of Charles Watkin John Shakerley of Somerford, Cheshire, wid. of Vigors Harvey of Killaine Castle, co. Wexford, 1s. suc. fa. 1811.

Offices Held

Lt. Ringmer yeoman cav. 1804-7.


Kemp was a contender for the county representation in 1807 and it was supposed that his father was grooming him for that honour; instead he came in for the local borough of Lewes in succession to his father. At the nomination meeting, he declared himself an enemy to corruption and a friend to parliamentary reform. On 6 June 1811 he voted against the reinstatement of the Duke of York in his army command and on 11 June for Irish tithe reform. From 21 Jan. until 14 Apr. 1812 he voted fairly steadily with opposition and was in a further minority, against delays in Chancery, on 6 May. His only known speech, 13 Mar. 1812, was against the abolition of corporal punishment in the army.

Kemp headed the poll at Lewes in 1812, when his brother-in-law James Scarlett* was the unsuccessful candidate. He was in the minorities for Burdett’s Regency motion and Creevey’s on the joint paymaster general’s salary, 23 Feb., 8 Mar. 1813, but opposed Catholic relief (which he had not previously supported) and favoured Christian missions to India, as vice-president of the Church Missionary Society 1812-16. He re-emerged in 1815 as a silent critic of the resumption of hostilities with Buonaparte and of the tax burden, 7 Apr. and 1 May. He also opposed the proposals for the Duke of Cumberland’s establishment, 28 and 30 June.

Kemp vacated his seat in March 1816, informing his constituents that ‘my domestic habits and present pursuits prevent a continuance of the same exclusive devotion of my time to the public service’. He added, ‘a steady opposition to the Roman Catholic claims is the leading political sentiment requisite in a representation in Parliament for an independent, protestant borough’. His ‘present pursuits’ were the founding of a new religious sect in company with his brother-in-law Rev. George Baring. They had both seceded from the established church. The venture failed. Kemp sold his Hurstmonceaux estate and devoted himself from 1820 to a mania for building, including the development of Kemp Town, Brighton. It overshadowed his later parliamentary career and eventually swallowed up his fortune. He died at Paris, 20 Dec. 1844.

NLI, Richmond mss 69/1241; Suss. Weekly Advertiser, 13 May 1811, 4 Mar. 1816; Gent. Mag. (1845), i. 441; DNB.

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: M. H. Port