LAMB, Thomas Davis (1775-1818), of Mountsfield Lodge, Rye, Suss.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
Private sec. to sec. of state for Foreign affairs Feb. 1801-July 1802; law clerk, Home Office Mar. 1806-d.; commr. of taxes Dec. 1806-d.
Capt.-lt. Cinque Port fencible cav. 1794, capt. 1795; lt.-col. 3 batt. Cinque Port vols. 1803-6; maj. Cinque Port militia 1810.
Mayor, Rye 1803-4, 1809-10, 1816-17.
Lamb’s father, the government manager at Rye, looked to Charles Jenkinson, 1st Earl of Liverpool, and his son Robert Banks Jenkinson, Lord Hawkesbury, who sat for Rye 1790-1803, to advance his son’s career. When he complained in 1803 that they had failed to provide adequately for him, Liverpool was able to put up a spirited defence. Their efforts on Lamb’s behalf, he claimed, had begun with the provision of two commissions in Hawkesbury’s regiment of fencibles. When the regiment was disbanded, Liverpool himself had used his influence as president of the Board of Trade to introduce him to a commercial house. Failure in this attempt he attributed to the elder Lamb’s ‘difficulty or unwillingness to advance a sufficient sum of money to constitute a capital’. When Hawkesbury became Foreign secretary in February 1801, he had offered Lamb the choice of being his private secretary, or of taking the first secretaryship of legation that became vacant. He chose the former. ‘As you chose this situation in preference to another more profitable, so it was you that by your own act made it necessary for him to resign it.’ Hawkesbury then ‘offered him the best piece of patronage in his own disposal’, the consulship at Lisbon, ‘said to be worth £2,500 per annum, certainly worth £2,000, which does not entail upon the owner of it any considerable expense, and upon which, therefore, a fortune might be raised’. Hawkesbury had in fact obtained the King’s consent to this appointment on 25 July 1802,3 but Lamb declined it. To Lamb’s father Liverpool expressed astonishment:
What your reasons were, I do not pretend to say. Those stated in your letter, namely, that on consulting his friends, they thought his going abroad just at the time he had been elected so much to the joy and satisfaction of the neighbourhood, and resigning his seat, would in some measure injure his and your general interest, appear to me not to be sufficient, especially when your object was to obtain a provision and maintenance for him ... Lord Hawkesbury informs me, that though at the general election Mr Addington thought he had a right to a seat at Rye, as Mr Pitt had before, yet he waived all claim to it, and left his lordship to settle the election in any manner he should judge best; and that he then told you, that if your son accepted the consulship at Lisbon it could be no object to you that he should remain in Parliament at present, and that it would be a loss of a vote to government; but that if you would let him put a friend into the seat, he would engage the person should give it up to your son, even before the next general election, if circumstances should render it desirable for your son to establish himself at home, and if he should in consequence be desirous of coming into Parliament before a new election. Nothing could be more fair than this proposition ... so that your son’s want of a present provision, and even a great one, is solely to be imputed to yourself.4
Although accommodated by Addington in 1802, Lamb voted against him on Pitt’s motion on naval strength, 15 Mar., Fox’s motion on defence, 23 Apr., and possibly also on Pitt’s motion on the army of reserve suspension bill, 25 Apr. 1804. He is not known to have spoken in the House and appears in none of the recorded divisions during Pitt’s second administration, but he was classed as ‘Pitt’ in the ministerial lists of September 1804 and July 1805. He received a place at the Home Office (and later another at the Board of Taxes) from the ‘Talents’, in consequence of which he vacated his seat in March 1806.
He died 13 May 1818, described as ‘formerly of Rye but late of Curzon St. Mayfair’.5