MEYLER, Richard (1791-1818), of Crawley House, Hants.
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Family and Education
b. 1791, o.s. of Richard Meyler of Lymington and of Meylersfield, Westmorland, Jamaica by a da. (m. 11 Nov. 1790) of John Jarrett of Freemantle, Hants. educ. Eton 1805-8; Christ Church, Oxf. 26 Jan. 1809, aged 17. unm. suc. fa. 1805.
Capt. S. W. Hants militia 1810.
Meyler’s grandfather, of Haverfordwest dissenting stock, flourished as a Bristol merchant and acquired Jamaican plantations. His father died on his way home from Jamaica, leaving him, at 14, sole heir to £30,000 a year.1 He joined the dandy set, one of whom Sir Henry Carew St.John Mildmay*, 4th Bt., instigated his candidature at Winchester in He was returned with Mildmay after a contest. To his inamorata Harriette Wilson he boasted, incredibly, that it had cost him £20,000, but guaranteed his independence. ‘Not that he should be very active either way. In fact Lord Bath had been kind enough to point out to him the best seat in the Lower House for taking a nap.’ He went on:
I had not the smallest idea that it was necessary to kiss so many dirty ugly women and drink so much ale, rum and milk, grog, raisin and elder wine, with porter and cyder, all in one day, otherwise I don’t think I would have gone into Parliament; for I have been sick for a fortnight, and then, in this wretched state of stomach, one must get up, and make a speech to one’s constituents, full of lies, about future protection, friendship and God knows what. However I was really getting on famously, as I flattered myself, and should have finished with éclat, had not my eyes encountered that fool, Lord Apsley, holding his sides in a roar of laughter, and he was joined by that prince of blockheads, Harry Mildmay, who is also a Member for Winchester. I stopped short, of course, finding it impossible to go on. I was very drunk to be sure, but still, these fellows had no right to turn against me in such a mob. As to that ape, Mildmay, I am half determined to lead a virtuous life in my Hampshire estate, studying the happiness of my Winchester constituents, on purpose to mortify him, and cut him out there.2
There was no danger of this, but Mildmay cut himself out and Meyler puzzled the calculators. When he was listed a Treasury supporter after his election, George Rose demurred: ‘I suspect the accuracy of marking him pro. His principal support at Winchester and his intimate connection is Sir Harry Mildmay, but I know nothing more of his probable politics.’ A Whig agent described him as an admirer of Lord Grey, like his colleague, and Lord FitzHarris believed that Mildmay had ‘seduced’ him ‘to his principles’.3 He voted for Catholic relief throughout in 1813, his sole common ground with Mildmay, as it turned out. Next session he proceeded to France. On 14 Apr. and 8 May 1815 he reappeared in the government majorities on the civil list, as also on 31 May on the Regent’s expenditure. On 6 June he was in the minority on the committal of the East India ships registry bill. He further voted with ministers on the civil list, 6 May, and on the Irish deputy vice-treasurership, 20 June 1816; on the finance committee and Admiralty salaries and board reductions 7, 17 and 25 Feb., and for the suspension of habeas corpus, 23 June 1817. But he remained favourable to Catholic claims in 1816 and 1817. No speech of his in the House is known—according to Harriette Wilson, he was slow of speech, if quick of temper. In 1816 his exposure of his erstwhile crony Beau Brummell at White’s Club drove Brummell abroad and earned Meyler the sobriquet of ‘Dick the Dandy-killer’.4
Meyler’s abiding passion was for the hunt, which cost him his life after a fall at Melton, 3 Mar. 1818, aged 26. ‘He had begun a will, but had left off without naming a single legatee.’ His second cousin Richard Bright became Member for Bristol in 1820. Nine years later the administration of Meyler’s estate was still being contested by far-flung relatives.5
Ref Volumes: 1790-1820
Authors: Brian Murphy / R. G. Thorne
- 1. Gent. Mag. (1818), i. 470; PCC 731 Pitt (his father’s will).
- 2. Mems. Harriette Wilson (1825), 227, 288. Miss Wilson makes him sign a letter to her ‘Richard William Meyler’.
- 3. T.64/261, Rose to ?Arbuthnot, 8 Nov.; Grey mss, Goodwin to Grey, 1 Nov.; Malmesbury mss, FitzHarris to Malmesbury [18 Sept. 1812].
- 4. Warrenne Blake, Irish Beauty, 313.
- 5. Gloucester Jnl. 30 Mar. 1818; The Times, 25 Aug. 1829.