URE, Masterton (1777-1863), of Lower Brook Street, Grosvenor Square, Mdx.
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Family and Education
b. 3 Apr. 1777, 4th s. of Rev. Robert Ure, DD, minister of Airth, Stirling by Anne, da. of James Laurie of Burngrange. educ. Glasgow Univ. 1790. unm.
Ure was appointed by Sir John Lowther Johnstone* as one of the trustees of his estates on behalf of his infant heir in 1811 and, as he explained to Lord Liverpool (13 Apr. 1816), ‘I took upon myself the management of the parliamentary interest attached to his estates of Weymouth and Melcombe Regis’. Henry Brougham described him as ‘the most subservient tool of the Duke of Cumberland’ (a fellow trustee) and as ‘a perfect butt, all over Edinburgh being a fool of the first magnitude’. His nominees were, not without ‘considerable difficulties’, returned until 1818 and he claimed to have been ‘personally exposed to great expense in this management’, which he exercised in favour of Perceval’s and Liverpool’s administrations. When the election of 1812 was declared void in the case of three of his nominees, ‘the principal inhabitants of the towns ... waited on me with a petition that I would stand as a candidate for the representation of the burghs [sic] adding that if I did they would support also Lord Cranborne and Mr Idle’. Ure was nothing loath and ‘had the satisfaction to be placed at the head of the poll’.1
In Parliament he gave an unobtrusive support to administration. He voted for Christian missions to India, 22 June 1813, and against Catholic relief in 18I7. In the letter quoted above, he expressed his esteem for Liverpool’s measures, adding:
From intimate acquaintance with business I am desirous to take a more active share in public concerns. I feel your lordship will duly appreciate the motives which induce me now to address you. [He requests] a situation which may suit my views ... compatible with my seat in Parliament and the duties of which can be performed in London— or, if a situation elsewhere, which does not require personal attendance. ... I am aware that all appointments from the crown vacate the seat but I shall have no difficulty in being returned afterwards.
He received no such appointment, and he had difficulty in being returned in 1818, when he was obliged to come to terms with his former opponents. By then the Johnstone family were disillusioned with him, but unable to displace him. James Brougham, who claimed to have recommended him to the family as a land agent in the first place, thought it would be impossible ‘so long as he does not do any very outrageous act of maladministration’. So he held his seat until 1832. On 9 Mar. 1818 he had made his first speech, in favour of the West Indies indemnity bill (he was a trustee of West Indian property), explaining why the Leeward Islands, unable to obtain adequate food supplies from Britain, should be excused for obtaining them elsewhere. Two other brief speeches (26 Feb., 1 Mar. 1819) are recorded, the latter in favour of the Penryn election inquiry. He was still complaining of government’s neglect of his services, but still voting with them. His belated vote against Catholic relief, 3 May 1819, was disallowed. On 5 Feb. 1820 he repeated his claims of 1816 on Lord Liverpool, which he thought ‘strengthened by the conduct I have pursued since that time’:
In the situation in which I stand at Weymouth and in two Scotch counties in which I am a freeholder, and in every other capacity I have applied my best efforts in support of your lordship’s administration. There have been 14 returns of Members for Weymouth under my management.2
He died 10 Mar. 1863, leaving his estate to be divided among his nephews and nieces.3
Ref Volumes: 1790-1820
Author: R. G. Thorne
- 1. PCC 228 Oxford (probate was granted to Masterton Ure, WS, as executor on 26 Feb. 1812. In fact Ure became a trustee ‘shortly before’ Johnstone’s death.); Add. 38262, f. 352; 51561, Brougham to Holland, Sat. .
- 2. Brougham mss, J572, 1355; Northumb. RO, Wallace (Belsay) mss S76/25/28; Parl. Deb. xl. 79; Add. 38282, f. 379.
- 3. Gent. Mag. (1863), i. 532; PCC 1863, f. 249.