MEREST, John William Drage (1789-1873), of Lynford Hall, nr. Thetford, Norf.
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Family and Education
b. 10 June 1789, 1st s. of James Merest of Soham, Cambs. by w. Elizabeth, h. of John Drage (d.1791) of Soham. educ. Bury St. Edmunds g.s.; St. John’s, Camb. 1806, re-adm. 1824 as ‘ten year man’; BD (Lambeth) 1834. m. 20 Feb. 1810, Susannah, da. of Abraham Jenkin, clerk of the peace, of Long Sutton, Lincs. and Bury, Suff. s.p.s. suc. fa. 1812.
Ordained priest, Gloucester Sept. 1824; domestic chaplain to Duke of Grafton 1825; vicar of Staindrop and rector of Cockfield, co. Dur. 1829-46; perpetual curate of Darlington 1830, domestic chaplain to Duke of Cleveland 1842; vicar of Stottesdon and rector of Wem, Salop 1846-d.
Merest, an East Anglian country gentleman,1 was returned for Ilchester in 1818, encouraged by the 4th Earl of Darlington to give the electors an opportunity to revolt against their ruthless patron Sir William Manners*. On 10 May 1818 he had joined Brooks’s Club, sponsored by Coke of Norfolk and Earl Fitzwilliam, and he voted frequently with opposition (though he did not sign the requisition to Tierney to lead them) during his one Parliament. Only one speech is known, 2 Apr. 1819, in which he supported, though he had regrettably been unable from feelings of delicacy to present, a petition from Ilchester deploring the injustices perpetrated by Sir William Manners since his defeat at the general election. He supported inquiry into the resumption of Bank payments, 2 Feb. 1819, retrenchment of the royal household expenses, 22 Feb., Mar.; paired in favour of criminal law reform, 2 Mar., and favoured the reduction of the Admiralty board, 18 Mar. A member of the Hampden Club since 1814, he supported burgh reform, 1 Apr. and 6 May, and opposed the Irish window tax, 5 May 1819. On 18 May he voted for Tierney’s censure motion. In June he opposed government’s financial measures and the foreign enlistment bill. He was in the minority on the address, 24 Nov. 1819, and on 30 Nov. supported Althorp’s motion for inquiry into the state of the country. On 2 Dec. he paired against the seditious meetings bill. His patron’s alarmist views doubtless inhibited him from pursuing this line afterwards.
In 1820 Merest was unsuccessful at Milborne Port, which he contested on Lord Darlington’s interest. That year he was present at the Fox birthday dinner at Norwich. Subsequently (like his grandfather Charles Merest) he became a clergyman, still under Darlington’s patronage, which at length obtained him ‘a rich living’ (worth £2,300 p.a.) at Wem, where he died 1 Oct. 1873.2