STIRLING, Walter (1758-1832), of Shoreham Castle, nr, Sevenoaks, Kent.
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Family and Education
b. 24 June 1758, 1st s. of Sir Walter Stirling of Faskine, Lanark by Dorothy, da. of Charles Willing of Philadelphia. ?educ. Harrow 1770-1. m. 28 Apr. 1794, Susannah, da. and h. of George Trenchard Goodenough of Borwood, I.o.W., 1s. 4da. sus. fa. 1786; cr. Bt. 15 Dec. 1800.
Capt. commdt. Somerset Place vols. 1798, maj. commdt. 1798; lt.-col. Prince of Wales's loyal Mdx. vols. 1803-8; vol. London and Westminster light horse 1803-7.
Sherrif, Kent 1804-5.
Dir. Globe Insurance Co. 1805.
Born at Philadelphia and 'brought up to commercial pursuits', Stirling never forgot that his father, a distinguished naval officer, had been offered a baronetcy following a royal reveiw at the Nore, where he was in command. In June 1791 he applied to Pitt for a baronetcy through Lord Dacre, expressing his willingness to bring his brother Charles, a naval officer, into Parliament. In 1795, when he signed the London merchants' declaration in favour of Pitt's government, he became a junior partner in the bank of Hodsoll and Michel in the Strand, which, from 1799, was styled Hodsoll and Stirling from 1824 until 1828 (when it ceased), Stirling, Stirling and Hodsoll. On 4 May 1796 the Duke of Gordon wrote of him to Henry Dundas:
he is a gentleman of independent fortune, much attached to the present government and whose sole ambition is to be created a baronet—he tells me that if he does not interfere with Lord Hugh Seymour, that he is to come into Parliament for Portsmouth, and as he seems pretty confident it will take place, the reason he urges his request at present is, that if he is not made a baronet till after the election he is afraid his voters would be apt to say he had sold them.1
Nothing came of this and Stirling did not come into Parliament until 1799 when he secured an opening at Gatton on the interest of John Petrie*. On 4 May, Reginald Pole Carew informed his brother Charles Morice Pole:2
I had the pleasure some days ago of introducing your friend Stirling into the House of Commons to his no small satisfaction ... This new situation has already procured him an honour which I was never bold enough to solicit, that of having Mr Pitt, Mr Dundas and the Speaker to dine with him in Queen Square ... The poor fellow was brought out of his gouty bed to sit at the bottom of his table to receive these illustrious visitors.
George Canning had this to report to his wife on 3 Dec. 1800:3
The fool with whom I dined yesterday gave us bad wine and a bad dinner. He is a Sir Walter Stirling, for whom I believe Dundas negotiated a seat in Parliament and whom Pitt has made a baronet just now, and who revenges himself for both by asking me to dinner.
Henry Brougham pointed out in the House on 7 May 1818 that Stirling had paid £3,000 for the title of lord of the honour of Otford in Kent.
Stirling made no mark in the House. In 1802 he unsuccessfully contested Seaford and proved a bad loser. Not until 1807 did he come in again, this time for St. Ives as the protégé of Sir Christopher Hawkins. He had to contest the seat every time. He supported government as before, rallying to them during the Scheldt divisions in January and March, as well as against radicalism, 16 Apr., and sinecure and parliamentary reform, 17, 21 May 1810. He was in their minority on the Regency, 1 Jan. 1811, and voted against the reversion of office abolition bill, 7 Feb. 1812. In a brief speech, 11 Mar. 1811, he washed his hands of the Shoreham road bill, which he had refused to sponsor. He voted against Catholic relief, 22 June 1812, 2 Mar., 11 and 24 May 1813, and again in 1816 and 1817. An East India Company stockholder, he was in the minority against Christian missions to India, 22 June 1813. Although he lent his voice only once to a government measure (the continuation of the property tax, 12 Mar. 1816), he could be counted on to muster for them on critical occasions between 1815 and 1820 when, despite preventive manoeuvres at St. Ives, he lost his seat. He died 25 Aug. 1832.