LONG, Richard Godolphin (1761-1835), of Rood Ashton, Wilts.
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Family and Education
b. 2 Oct. 1761, 1st s. of Richard Long of Rood Ashton by Meliora, da. of Sir John Lambe of Coulston, wid. of Joseph Polden of Imber. educ. M. Temple 1780. m. 28 Mar. 1786, Florentina, da. of Sir Bourchier Wrey†, 6th Bt., of Tawstock, Devon, 2s. 4da. suc. fa. 1787.
Sheriff, Wilts. 1794-5; capt. Wilts. yeomanry 1794, maj. 1805, lt.-col. 1817.
Mr Richard Long of Rood Ashton was a fox-hunting country squire, without any other qualifications to be a Member of Parliament than that of belonging to an ancient family of the county, in fact, he was proverbially a man of very inferior knowledge, remarkable only for being a stupid country squire, who, although a sportsman, scarcely knew how to address his tenants on his health being drunk on a rent day.
Thus a hostile witness, Henry Hunt of Chisenbury, who criticized the choice of Long to replace Ambrose Goddard as county Member in 1806. Hunt addressed the freeholders to the effect that Long ‘was to be foisted upon the county by an arrangement made between two clubs, without consulting the freeholders’ and that he owed his return to ‘his uncle’s long purse’ (i.e. John Long of Monkton Farleigh). Despite this, Sir John Methuen Poore of Rushall claimed that Long was ‘not a favourite’ of the club junto, ‘but at the time of his election they could not maintain their scheme to bring in their man’.1 In any case, he retained the seat unopposed.
Long’s conduct in Parliament was independent, though only one speech by him is reported. On 13 Feb. 1807 he voted against the Grenville ministry on the Hampshire election petition. No further minority vote is known until 1810; early in January he was reported to have declared himself strongly against the ministry2 and after voting with them on the address, 23 Jan., he voted against them on the Scheldt expedition, 5 and 30 Mar.; against Burdett’s imprisonment, 5 Apr., and for Brand’s motion for parliamentary reform on 21 May. The Whigs were ‘hopeful’ of him. He was in the opposition majority on the Regency amendment, 1 Jan. 1811, and likewise on the sinecures bill, 4 May 1812. He opposed the Catholic claims, 2 Mar. 1813 (being absent ill on the other divisions that session) and 21 May 1816. He was listed a friend of government after 1812, but they still could not count on him. Thus after a month’s leave of absence for illness from 19 Mar. 1816, he was in their majority against a select committee on the civil list, 6 May, but on 7 May intended to vote with opposition for a committee on retrenchment and on 24 May did so against the civil list bill. His last known minority vote, Feb. 1817, was for Ridley’s motion on the lords of Admiralty.
Long announced his retirement from Parliament on 20 Feb. 1818; as this threatened to produce a contest, he professed his willingness to resign before the dissolution to preserve the peace, but found no encouragement to do so.3 When his colleague Methuen, with whom he had come to terms in 1812 to discourage opposition in the county, asked for his support and that of his son Walter (later Member for Wiltshire North), the latter replied that any hasty promise of his father’s must be qualified, since their friends believed that
as long as he contrives to be the Member for the county, he should not appear to take any conspicuous part in canvassing for any candidate, as it is precisely in opposition to the principles on which he was brought into Parliament, and any act of mine would be considered the same as if he did it himself.
Long did in fact support Methuen and Pole Tylney Long Wellesley, much to the indignation of the third candidate’s wife Mrs Lucy Benett, who would have it that Long was ‘that old fox ... who has been the cause of all this trouble’.4 Long died 1 July 1835, ‘after a lingering and distressing illness’.5