WALHOUSE (afterwards LITTLETON), Edward John (1791-1863), of Teddesley Park, Staffs.
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Family and Education
b. 18 Mar. 1791, o.s. of Moreton Walhouse of Hatherton by Anne Cracroft, da. of Abraham Portal, goldsmith and dramatist, of Ludgate Hill, London. educ. Chiswick 1798-1800; Brewood 1800-6; Rugby 1806-7; Brasenose, Oxf. 1809-12; L. Inn 1810-12. m. (1) 21 Dec. 1812, Hyacinthe Mary (d. 4 Jan. 1849), illegit. da. of Richard Colley Wellesley*, 1st Mq. Wellesley [I], 1s. 3da.; (2) 11 Feb. 1852, Caroline Anne, da. of Richard Hunt of Wirksworth, Derbys., wid. of Edward Davies Davenport* of Capesthorne, Cheshire, s.p. suc. gt.-uncle Sir Edward Littleton, 4th Bt.*, 18 May 1812; fa. 1821. Took name Littleton by royal lic. 23 July 1812; cr. Baron Hatherton 11 May 1835.
PC [GB] 12 June 1833, [I] 21 Sept. 1833; chief sec. to ld. lt. [I] May 1833-Nov. 1834.
Maj. Staffs. yeomanry 1814, lt.-col. 1819, lt.-col. commdt. 1829.
Ld. lt. Staffs. 1854-63.
By the will of his great uncle, a Member for Staffordshire, dated 1 Dec. 1810, Walhouse was to inherit his estate worth about £18,000 p.a. vested in trustees until he reached the age of 24. He was barely 21 when his great-uncle died and seemed an unlikely candidate to succeed him in the county seat: but he secured it, unopposed for 20 years. He professed independence, but was supported by the ministerial interests against the Whig candidate, Sir John Wrottesley, who did not go to the poll. Having changed his name to Littleton, he applied for the baronetcy, 2 Aug. 1812; but by December he had changed his mind and his wife-to-be reported that he had refused a title ‘that was offered him by ministers, to induce him to join their party, but for which he had no desire’.1 His marriage to Lord Wellesley’s daughter made him ‘a Canning man’ and he was listed doubtful by the Treasury. He recalled:
I ranged myself under Mr Canning’s banner in the H[ouse] of Commons. My early prepossessions had been Toryish. But on the Catholic question and some others of domestic policy, my feelings were with the more liberal party. These mixed sentiments naturally placed me in the same ranks with Canning, Huskisson, my colleague Lord Granville Leveson Gower, Sturges Bourne, Mr Ward afterwards Lord Dudley, and about three or four others. Our party did not consist of more than 10 ... During the years 1812, ’13—till June 1814, I lived very much in the society I have named. Having married in ... 1812 a daughter of Lord Wellesley’s (an event I cannot mention without declaring it to have been the most fortunate event of my life) I was led into closer intimacy with all the party—for Lord Wellesley himself belonged to it. All those whom I have named, together with Lord Boringdon, and Lord Binning, and Bobus Smith used to dine continually at Canning’s house ... on Sundays; Lady Granville, and Mrs Huskisson, and L[ady] Morley were always of the party—and frequently some of Lord Stafford’s family, the Gowers. With all these parties I was on terms of considerable intimacy, and always felt my admission to their numbers as a great compliment.2
He was also an early member of Grillion’s Club.
In the session of 1813, accordingly, Littleton voted against the vice-chancellor bill, 11 Feb., for sinecure reform, 29 Mar., and, ‘half-bullied’ by his friends, for Catholic relief throughout. He was in the minority against Christian missions to India, 22 June, and spoke briefly against the auction duties bill, 2 July, thinking it the duty of ‘every landed proprietor’ to oppose it. When later that month Canning disbanded his party, he recalled: ‘I had great doubts what I should do. I consulted [John William] Ward* about it—whom I found in the same doubt. He followed Ward’s advice:
I accordingly in the succeeding session, keeping my old seat, generally voted with the government—opposing it however occasionally on some few questions ... some of them, questions of economy, but especially on questions relating to the improvement of criminal law. The great battle of succeeding years was the Catholic question ... in favour of which I always gave a zealous vote—and something more than a formal support both in Parlt. and in my county, where I had on that account much prejudice to encounter.3
Littleton’s memory seems to have been faulty: he was in France in 1814,4 though he attended the House the next year. He voted with ministers on the treatment of the Spanish Liberals, 1 Mar. 1815, against them on the civil list, 14 Apr., and the income tax, 1 May, and with them again on the Regent’s expenditure, 31 May. He had been prepared, if called upon, to second the address in 18165 and spoke in justification of the peace settlement during the debate, 19 Feb.; but he was then ill and lost to view until he supported the property tax, 18 Mar. On 3 Apr. he defended the moderation of a Staffordshire petition for retrenchment presented by his colleague. He voted with ministers on the civil list, 6 and 24 May, and on the public revenue bill in June: except that he quibbled with the clause enabling the Irish vice-treasurer to sit in Parliament, 17 June. The same day he had objected to Sir Robert Peel’s bill to regulate child labour in cotton factories. He rallied to ministers on the composition of the finance committee (to which he was named) and the Admiralty secretary’s salary, 7 and 17 Feb. 1817; criticized a petition for retrenchment from Wolverhampton, 24 Apr.; seconded Charles Manners Sutton for the Speakership, 2 June, and voted for the suspension of habeas corpus, 23 June 1817. He also supported ministers on questions arising out of the suspension, 10, 11 Feb., 5 Mar. 1818.
Littleton began to keep a journal, 25 Nov. 1817, which throws much light on his political attitudes. On being renamed to the finance committee, I Feb. 1818, he complained that there should be so few opposition Members on it: he had himself opposed ministers on the committee the previous session. He was now a constant attender—of committees and of debates—and courted by ministers. He himself aspired to the honourable status enjoyed by Lord Lascelles in the House, though he admitted that he must subdue his ‘natural impetuosity’ and suppress his ‘levity’, if he hoped to succeed. On 13 Apr. 1818 at the meeting of ministerialists at Lord Liverpool’s to promote support for the ducal marriage grants, he expressed disapproval of them: but on 15 Apr., in the House, he ridiculed the inconsistency of opposition to them and, egged on by Charles Arbuthnot, put in a word for the Duchess of Cumberland. He also supported the Duke of Kent’s grant, 15 May. But he made no secret of his contempt for Vansittart as chancellor of the Exchequer and, as a spokesman for the ‘independent friends of government’, urged his replacement. He joined the minority on one clause in the aliens bill, 19 May.6
Littleton half expected trouble at the election of 1818. On one score he was complacent: he had satisfied the Staffordshire industrialists by attention to their interests. He had lobbied the premier and the House (evidently to its amusement) on behalf of the inland coal trade when the coastal traders clamoured for equalization of the duties on coal.7 But his support of the Catholics and of the ducal grants rankled. To his surprise, at the nomination meeting the only charges he had to answer were of voting for the property tax and of seeking a peerage, which latter he denied. There was no opposition, and he was able to assist Sir Murray Maxwell in the Westminster election. He then toured Ireland with Lord Gower. He was very active in the first session of the ensuing Parliament. In receipt of Treasury attendance circulars, he could not stomach passive obedience in politics.8 In February 1819 he sat on three major committees: the finance, Windsor establishment and Bank committees. On 9 Feb. he twice opposed ministers on the Windsor committee and on 11 Feb. helped defeat them on the question of the equerries.9 On 2 Mar. he was swayed by Mackintosh’s motion for the reform of criminal law and, after voting for it, was placed on the committee. On the same day he was engaged in championing the Staffordshire coal trade against the bid to equalize inland and coastal coal duties: he warned of the consequences to the iron trade, already depressed. On 4 Mar. he obtained satisfaction from the chancellor, but had still to cope with snipers in the House, 5 Mar., 20 May—coming to the chancellor’s rescue on the latter occasion. He was pleased with his impromptu performance and decided to give up set speeches, arming himself merely with the requisite information to have his say.10 He voted with ministers on Wyndham Quin’s* case, 29 Mar., and paired in favour of the Irish window tax, 5 May. On 10 May he voted against Sturges Bourne’s poor settlement bill: a more radical measure was needed, ‘but nobody has the nerve to propose one’. On 13 May he assisted in thwarting Peter Moore’s bid to secure a fixed wage in the silk factories. He voted against Tierney’s censure motion, 18 May, and in favour of the foreign enlistment bill, to June. On 14 June he called for the editor of The Times to be summoned to the House to answer for the misrepresentation of a speech by Joseph Hume. He then went abroad for the remainder of that Parliament.
After Canning’s death, Littleton became a Whig recruit. Unsatisfactory in office, he became a peer. He was devoted to the agricultural improvement of the estate which he was only the fifth to inherit since the reign of James I. He died 4 May 1863. The diarist Greville had written of him in 1818: ‘Littleton is good-natured, liberal, hospitable, and anxious to oblige, but he has no tact, and does not know how to live’.11
Ref Volumes: 1790-1820
Author: R. G. Thorne
- 1. PCC 385 Oxford; Add. 37315, f. 149; Add. 38249, f. 5; Staffs. RO, Hatherton mss, Hyacinthe to Gerald Wellesley, 11 Dec. 1812.
- 2. Add. 40222, f. 387; Hatherton mss M/F/5/26/1, preface to Littleton’s diary.
- 3. Hatherton diary, 25 May 1818.
- 4. Add. 48223, f. 32.
- 5. Hatherton mss, Harrowby to Littleton, 12 Jan. 1816.
- 6. Ibid. diary, 17 Apr., 6 June 1818.
- 7. Add. 38267, f. 28; Hatherton diary, 6 Mar. 1818.
- 8. Hatherton diary, 29 Jan. 1819.
- 9. Buckingham, Regency, ii. 326; Grey mss, Rosslyn to Grey, 10 Feb. 1819.
- 10. Hatherton diary, 20 May 1819.
- 11. Croker Pprs. ed. Jennings, iii. 368; Greville Mems. ed. Strachey and Fulford, i. 65.