PRIMROSE, Hon. Francis Ward (1785-1860), of Bixley Hall, Norf.
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Family and Education
b. 13 Feb. 1785, 2nd s. of Neil, 3rd Earl of Rosebery [S], by 2nd w., and bro. of Archibald John Primrose, Visct. Primrose*. educ. Pembroke, Camb. 1801; I. Temple 1803, L. Inn 1803, called 1808. m. 10 Nov. 1829, Percy, da. of Col. Ralph Gore of Barrowmount, co. Kilkenny, 3s. 3da.
Primrose’s inheritance in Norfolk was derived from his father’s first and childless marriage to the heiress Susan Ward. He practised as a barrister on the Oxford circuit. Like his elder brother he espoused opposition politics. He joined Brooks’s Club on 26 June 1812. In 1818 he seconded the nomination of Dalrymple in the county of Edinburgh and was himself candidate for Stirling Burghs, with the help of his brother. He had been canvassing there in the autumn of 1817, with some success. He was defeated, but the election was declared void and he succeeded in a fresh contest in March 1819.
Primrose voted steadily with opposition for the remainder of the session and in the ensuing one. In his maiden speech, 5 Apr. 1819, he approved the qualification of Members bill, enabling Scots to represent parliamentary seats outside Scotland on a Scottish qualification. On 26 Apr. he moved the postponement of the Scottish burghs accounts bill and on 5 May presented six petitions for burgh reform, pointing out that Stirling (like Montrose) had achieved accountability and prosperity by annual election of magistrates. Next day, in support of Lord Archibald Hamilton’s motion for burgh reform, he indicated that he was not interested in general reform but in the remedy of particular grievances, notably the exclusion of the merchants from a say in many burghs by the trades guilds, and the regulation of accounts. He ridiculed the lord advocate’s attempt to legislate on the subject. He objected to the poor rates misapplication bill, 17 May, and again, in vain, on 11 June. On 21 May he was one of the Members who effectively objected to the annexation of the lord chief justice general’s office in Scotland (a criminal jurisdiction) to that of president of the court of session (a civil jurisdiction). He twice spoke on ways and means, 8 June, finding the proposed sinking fund inadequate and suggesting the replacement of the malt tax by one on foreign corn, to benefit the domestic landholder. He also complained of the delay in resumption of cash payments by the Bank, the legislation on which he approved. On 7 July he opposed the delay of the Camelford election writ, being satisfied that the evidence before the committee did not prove corruption.
Primrose complained of the severity of the seditious meetings prevention bill, 7 Dec. 1819. On 16 Dec. he supported inquiry into distress in the Scottish manufacturing districts. On 21 Dec. he led the opposition, at the report stage, to the newspaper stamp duties bill. Surprisingly, he did not obtain a seat in the ensuing Parliament. He died 26 May 1860.