WHITBREAD, Samuel II (1764-1815), of Southill, Beds.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Constituency

Dates

1790 - 6 July 1815

Family and Education

b. 18 Jan. 1764,1 o.s. of Samuel Whitbread I* by 1st w. educ. Eton 1775-80; Christ Church, Oxf. 1780; St. John’s, Camb. 1782. m. 26 Jan. 1788, Elizabeth, da. of Lt.-Gen. Sir Charles Grey of Fallodon, Northumb., 2s. 2da. suc. fa. 1796.

Offices Held

Lt.-col. commdt. Bedford vol. inf. 1803, 1 batt. Beds. militia 1809.

Biography

Whitbread’s motherless, sombre and devout upbringing was dominated by the forceful personality of his father, who gave him the formal education appropriate to the family’s new-found wealth and social status, but found it difficult to accept that the London brewing concern on which they were founded would never rule his son’s life as it had his own. During his tour of northern Europe and Italy in 1785 he hinted at rebellion by asking his father to ensure that he was not returned for Bedford in absentia and indicating his aversion to a business career. On his return home he was introduced by his school and university friends Charles Grey* and William Henry Lambton* to fashionable Whig society, became a devotee of Fox, to the chagrin of his Pittite father, and fell in love with Grey’s sister. Sent abroad again in May 1787 for a period of self-examination, Whitbread, who was torn between his sense of obligation to the source of the family fortunes and his keen political ambition, initially made bitter protests. Once assured by his father that the match would not be opposed if his heart was set on it, he dutifully completed his tour and was married in January 1788. His father had already considered the purchase of Wendover to provide him with a seat. This scheme was abandoned, as were notions of trying for openings at Gatton and Petersfield; and it was not until the general election of 1790 that Whitbread achieved his object, with a lack of scruple which reflected the streak of coarseness in his character. He first threatened to discredit his brother-in-law St. Andrew St. John* in a bid to turn him out of the Bedfordshire seat. He thought better of it and instead took advantage of indecision on the part of his father, who was shocked and hurt by his ruthlessness, to force him out of his seat for Bedford.2

Whitbread, who joined Brooks’s in 1791 and the Whig Club in 1793, delivered a confident maiden speech against the unclaimed dividends bill, 22 Mar., and made an impression as one of the younger Members blooded by opposition in the Oczakov debates, 12 Apr. and 2 June 1791. He distinguished himself when moving resolutions on the subject, 29 Feb. 1792.3 He was considered favourable to repeal of the Test Act in Scotland in April 1791. He supported abolition of the slave trade, 18 Apr. 1791 and 2 Apr. 1792, and warmly espoused this cause throughout his life. In the internal crisis of the Whig party Whitbread sided with its advanced wing. He defended the Association of the Friends of the People, of which he was a leading spirit, 30 Apr., and called for a ‘timely and temperate reform’ of Parliament, 25 May 1792. His motion for inquiry into the Priestley riots, 21 May, was a general plea for religious toleration. He voted for Fox’s amendment to the address, 13 Dec. 1792, supported his call for peace negotiations two days later and condemned the war, 1 Feb. 1793. For all the passion and energy which he expended during the next 12 months, when he attacked the traitorous correspondence bill, supported Grey’s reform motion, 7 May 1793, and protested against the employment of foreign troops, his performance did not touch any dizzy heights. Fox praised his speech in support of peace, 6 Mar. 1794, but thought it was the first time he had spoken with real distinction ‘since the Russian business, which raised my expectations of him so much’. He championed Muir, Palmer, Lafayette and O’Connor and continued to couple his denunciations of allied war aims with stringent criticism of the political system which sustained Pitt in power. The repressive legislation of late 1795 maddened him, but political opponents considered that the violence of his speeches at county meetings at Hertford and Bedford, which was matched by the fury of his tirade in the House, 25 Nov., was self-defeating.4

In devoting the later months of his first Parliament to the promotion of a scheme to empower magistrates to fix a minimum wage, Whitbread revealed the genuine humanitarianism in which his political liberalism was rooted and which set him above many of his fellow Whigs. Fox gave lukewarm support, Pitt was hostile, and the rather superficial measure, overwhelmed by the premier’s promise of a full-scale revision of the Poor Laws, was rejected on its second reading, 12 Feb. 1796. Whitbread resurrected the proposal in 1800, but it was again defeated and thereafter he lost faith in it.5

On the death of his father, reputedly worth £1,000,000, in June 1796, he inherited the brewery, London property and estates in seven counties which brought in almost £22,000 a year in rents. During his lifetime he consolidated his Bedfordshire estates with purchases around Southill, bringing his total holding in the county to about 12,000 acres, and sold most of the outlying lands. He carried on the brewery business alone for two years, then took in three partners, and three more in 1800. By the first arrangement he was absolved from the necessity of personal attendance and by the second he leased the freehold and leasehold portions of the Chiswell Street estate to the new partners, but he remained personally responsible for the brewery’s finances. In 1801, his personal stake in the business was £82,000, out of a total capital of £300,000. Between 1803 and 1809 he had an average gross annual income of £30,800, of which £8,400 came from brewery profits and £22,400 from his estates. Even his net income from land (about £12,600 a year) almost always exceeded the profits from trade, but the return on invested capital in the brewery was far greater than that from land; and his lucrative return, together with his comparatively undemanding absentee ownership, probably explains why he never succumbed to the strong political and social pressures to dispose of it. Yet it was a potentially unstable element in his wealth and its financing became a source of worry and distraction to him. Administration of the staggering number of legacies in his father’s will and problems created by its trustees were a further drain on his time and patience. While Whitbread was never less than a very wealthy man, his finances seem to have begun to fall into some disarray about 1808 and he became increasingly prone to fret over and exaggerate these difficulties in his own mind.6

By 1796, he was well established in the front rank of opposition speakers and a hostile commentator conceded that he stood ‘high on the scale of merit’, being ‘perfectly master of his subject, and bold and confident in his arguments’, with a ‘fluent and animated’ delivery. As well as pursuing the routine activities of questioning and harassment in the first session of the 1796 Parliament, he moved for inquiry into the French attack on Ireland, 3 Mar., spoke with the ‘utmost violence’ against the Bank stoppage, 24 Mar., and tried to censure Pitt for the delay in presenting the estimate for the promised increase in seamen’s pay, 10 May 1797. He attended the Crown and Anchor reform meeting, 18 May, and voted for Grey’s reform motion eight days later. He was one of the strongest advocates of the Foxite secession and, although Lady Holland thought that he was ‘disposed to return to his duty’ late in 1799, his only recorded votes during it were on Ireland, 22 June 1798; the refusal of the government to negotiate, 3 Feb. 1800, when he made his only reported major political speech of this period, and on the failure of the Dutch expedition, 10 Feb. 1800. He combined with Richard Fitzpatrick* to organize assistance for Lafayette.7

Whitbread, who came to Grey’s defence against an attempt to smear him as a Jacobin, 26 Nov., and voted in the small minorities for Tierney’s censure motion, 27 Nov., and Sheridan’s call for peace negotiations, 1 Dec. 1800, resumed parliamentary activity in 1801, when he seconded Grey’s amendment to the address, 2 Feb., and damned Pitt’s fallen ministry, 16 Feb. He divided regularly with the Foxite opposition to Addington for the rest of the session and spoke frequently against the Irish martial law bill. He seconded Grey’s censure motion, 25 Mar., and tried to obstruct the indemnity bill, 11 June 1801. He approved Grey’s refusal to bargain with Addington at the end of the year. When Thomas Tyrwhitt* approached him to discuss the Prince of Wales’s right to arrears of duchy of Cornwall revenues, Whitbread ‘gave him no encouragement’, and he did not vote to investigate the matter, 31 Mar. 1802.8 In the debate on the budget, 5 Apr., he welcomed the proposed repeal of the income tax, but objected to the beer and malt duty, against which he divided the House, 13 Apr. Unable to accept either Windham’s censure of the peace settlement or the wording of the ministerial amendment, 14 May, he abstained from the division.

Whitbread, who was worried by signs of impending war during the recess, lamented the use of irritating language by both governments, 23 Nov., and deplored the augmented military estimates, 8 Dec. 1802. He did not vote for inquiry into the Prince’s financial claims, 4 Mar. He decried the renewal of war when supporting Grey’s protest, 24 May, and his ‘despondent feelings’ were intensified by Addington’s budget of heavy taxes and his proposal to raise a reserve army of 50,000 men, on which he ‘longed to speak’ but did not do so for fear of wanting adequate ‘support or cover’. He agreed with Fox that if Pitt came out against the government the resultant ‘coalition of feeling in opposition to the Doctor’ could not be ignored, but he was averse to ‘any previous communication’ with Pitt. He criticized the volunteer consolidation bill, 8 Feb., and again 9 and 19 Mar. 1804, after recovering, as Grey reported, from ‘one of those unpleasant attacks in his head which alarm him so much’. He was active in the final stages of the attack on Addington, when Fox told Grey that on him, Lord Lauderdale and Whitbread ‘must now and always be my only real dependence in politics’, though he later hinted to Grey that Whitbread would not be one of those who would ‘take the most active parts in case of arrangements’ to form a broad-based administration.9 He opposed Pitt’s additional force bill in June and on the 22nd got 82 votes for his attempt to censure the lord advocate, Charles Hope*, over an incident concerning the volunteers.

In 1805, Whitbread took the centre of the national political stage with his campaign to bring Lord Melville, formerly Henry Dundas*, to justice for alleged malpractice as treasurer of the navy in Pitt’s first ministry. He opened the case, which was based on disclosures made in the tenth report of the naval commissioners, on 8 Apr., when he moved that Melville, in conniving at the misappropriation of public funds by his paymaster, had been ‘guilty of a gross violation of the law, and a high breach of duty’. The Speaker’s casting vote decided the issue in Whitbread’s favour. On 10 Apr. he proposed to address the King to dismiss Melville from his councils for ever, but, finding the sense of the House against him, he settled for a motion to lay the incriminating resolutions before the throne. A ‘distressing’ illness prevented him from taking part in the attendance at Court with them the following day. It was only by renewing his motion for an address, 6 May, that he forced Pitt to concede Melville’s removal from the Privy Council. He had originally intended to proceed to a criminal prosecution, but instead proposed a select committee of inquiry into the tenth report, 25 Apr. This was a mistake, for it enabled Pitt to restrict the scope of the investigation and ensure that the composition of the committee was largely determined by government. When John Spencer Stanhope moved for a civil suit against Melville, 29 Apr., Whitbread preferred the amendment proposed by Henry Bankes for a criminal prosecution, but the former was carried. Whitbread called for impeachment, 11 June 1805, on the basis of the findings of the inquiry, but the Sidmouthite Nathaniel Bond proposed a criminal prosecution. Although impeachment was defeated by 272 votes to 195, the opposition combined with the Sidmouthites to carry Bond’s amendment by 238 to 229. Whitbread, whose attempt of 14 June to have Pitt pronounced guilty of negligence in transactions with the house of Boyd and Benfield in 1796 was negatived, protested when Hugh Leycester moved that Melville be impeached rather than prosecuted, 25 June, but the motion was carried by 166 votes to 143. After a winter of immense labour, he opened the impeachment in Westminster Hall, 29 Apr. 1806. His speech, though marred by some laboured rhetoric, was generally thought creditable, but his concluding effort, 16 May, was less happy, and its defects of taste and judgment provoked cruel ridicule. Melville was acquitted on all ten charges. There is some truth in Lord Holland’s verdict that the impeachment was bungled and that Whitbread,

though he had pursued the subject with prodigious diligence, and understood the whole transaction thoroughly, was so occupied in displaying his wit and eloquence, or, as the lively Duchess of Gordon expressed it, with teaching his ‘dray horse to caper’, that his speeches convinced nobody.10

At the same time, he did not enjoy the practical and moral support which he might have expected from his political allies in the ‘Talents’ ministry. His initial success in the parliamentary campaign brought immediate gains for opposition, by driving Lord Sidmouth and his followers out of Pitt’s already feeble government. In ensuring that Melville never again held office, he struck a blow for probity in the conduct of public affairs and his pursuit of corruption helped to stimulate the revival of political radicalism. Whitbread, who showed in his energetic pursuit of the business something of an honest tradesman’s relish in exposing the shady dealings of well-connected people high in public trust, regarded the events of 1805 as a great personal triumph; and his reputation had certainly been enhanced by it when the Foxites came to power in the Grenville coalition ministry early the following year.

His failure to secure office with them marked the turning point in his political career. Whitbread had an inferiority complex about the fact that he had ‘no family to boast of’, yet his self-esteem informed him that his talents deserved due recognition. Considering himself at least equal in worth to the aristocratic order represented by Grey and Fox, but fearing rejection by them as a social inferior, he lacked the self-confidence to make a forthright claim to office and appears to have said something to the effect that he did not wish to be considered if his inclusion would create difficulties. When Grey and Fox, hard-pressed to cater for their friends, in whose pecking order for advancement Whitbread ranked less high than he imagined, took him at his word, he was unable to conceal his disappointment. Grey, who had little insight into his character and was not free from aristocratic distaste for his coarseness and rough manners, was taken aback, but held out hopes of reaching an arrangement, with specific reference to the secretaryship at war. Yet Whitbread returned to London on 7 Feb. 1806 from a brief excursion to Bedfordshire feeling that his stock had been lowered in the eyes of his entourage of local hangers-on, and ‘more uneasy in my obscurity than when I went down’, as he confessed to Grey, whom he turned on in anger when they discussed the problem the following day. Grey unhappily replied that if Whitbread had made his feelings clear in the first place, he would have refused to take office without him; that, as he had agreed in their earlier talks, his involvement in trade disqualified him from the Exchequer, the only available cabinet office; and that regarding the secretaryship at war, which was earmarked for Fitzpatrick, Fox’s oldest political crony, he had been powerless to do more than make Whitbread’s wishes known to Fox and leave it to him ‘to take the necessary steps’. In response to this, Whitbread, his temper cooled, absolved Grey from blame; explained that he had spoken heatedly because of his impression that Grey, who had somewhat casually remarked that he should sell the brewery, thought his involvement in trade disqualified him from ‘every high situation’; admitted to disappointment at the readiness with which he had been passed over, and claimed ‘the offer of the first situation compatible with my credit’.11 He took little part in debate in 1806, when his only significant contributions were vindications of the ministry’s military arrangements, 21 May and 6 June.

Lord Grenville considered him for a foreign mission in August 1806 but his brother-in-law, now Lord Howick, did not think he would take it, in view of his wife’s poor health. In the reshuffle following Fox’s death he was offered the succession to the War Office as soon as an appropriate alternative could be provided for Fitzpatrick. He at first brusquely rejected it and it was only after some insistent probing by Howick that his reason emerged: it did not entail cabinet rank. Under pressure from Howick, who pointed out the unreasonableness of this objection, he reconsidered and accepted the offer. On the news of the dissolution in October he anxiously pressed Howick to complete the arrangement before the election, but nothing was done and their relationship suffered another blow. It was worsened by Howick’s crass attempt to fob Whitbread off with a peerage, which he indignantly refused.12

When Sir Francis Burdett, radical candidate for Middlesex, whose election address abused the coalition government, sought his support, Whitbread refused it in a public letter, in which he praised Fox and affirmed his support for the ‘Talents’, whose failure to make peace and promote reform he attributed to factors beyond their control. Attacked by Burdett as a self-interested seeker of office, he demanded and got an apology. In this affair he enjoyed Howick’s approval, but a serious political disagreement soon arose to increase the tensions between them. Whitbread was shocked when he read the official papers on the unsuccessful peace negotiations of the summer and could no longer accept the ministry’s innocence in the matter. Undeterred by Howick’s prediction that if he took a hostile line he would stand virtually alone, he opposed the address on the negotiations, moved by Howick himself, 5 Jan. 1807, arguing that the British had been unimaginative, inflexible and overcautious, and wrong to insist on satisfaction of all the Russian demands. Although his amendment was rejected without a division, he believed there was considerable silent sympathy for his views. The Foxites were struck by the unmistakable element of personal malice towards Howick which he injected by couching his amendment in the same words as those used by his brother-in-law in 1803. The Grenvilles reacted strongly to his heresy and the prime minister, though willing to respect Howick’s wish to fulfil his promise of office to Whitbread, was determined not to admit him to the cabinet. Had the ministry not fallen, and had Grenville’s negotiations with Canning come to anything, there would have been a disruptive dispute over this point.13

In 1807, Whitbread, who commended the slave trade abolition bill, 27 Feb., supported Bankes’s resolution against reversions, 24 Mar., and spoke for Brand’s motion condemning the ministerial pledge, 9 Apr., added Poor Law reform to his portfolio of lost causes. Before introducing his proposals, 19 Feb., he told Howick that all he required of ministers was a ‘patient and candid hearing’. The reforms which he proposed to apply to the law itself were cautious: amelioration of the law of settlement, vestry reform, and equalization of the poor rate. He suggested a national savings scheme and subsidized housing for the poor, but his most radical proposal was for a national system of education, to be incorporated in the structure of parish relief. Although Howick gave the bill his general blessing, it was coolly received and was subsequently attacked inside and outside the House by extremists of various persuasions. In April Whitbread amended the plan and produced three bills, to deal with the poor rate, settlement and relief, and education. The first was never introduced and the second was abandoned in committee. The education bill, amended to an optional one, passed the Commons but was thrown out by the Lords. Whitbread’s was the last attempt by a private Member to revise the entire Poor Law system. Thereafter he confined himself to efforts to improve the local administration of the law and, by patronizing the Royal Lancasterian Institution, he worked zealously to promote the extension of education.14

Whitbread had been appointed to the finance committee, 10 Feb. 1807, but had been unable to attend it and had no complaints when he was omitted from the revived committee, 30 June. His motion for inquiry into the state of the nation, 6 July, when he protested against Melville’s readmission to the Privy Council, was defeated by 322 votes to 136. He supported inquiry into Members’ places and pensions, 7 July, attacked the militia transfer bill, 27 July, and endorsed Bankes’s call for a moratorium on reversions pending the introduction of a new bill, 10 Aug. He defended Howick and the late government against Canning’s insinuations that they had broken faith with the Allies, 7 Aug., and Holland later wrote that he then ‘seemed to have forgotten those differences which had arisen in office’.15 On 10 Aug., however, he declared his belief that the present juncture was ‘peculiarly favourable for the restoration of peace upon honourable terms’.

Whitbread’s failure to secure the opposition leadership in the Commons on Howick’s succession as Earl Grey late in 1807 hastened his progress from Whig orthodoxy to erratic extremism. While a theoretical case could perhaps be made for his appointment, he had no realistic claim. Apart from the fact that he had not held office in 1806, it is clear that Grey, who had for some time been grooming his wife’s uncle George Ponsonby as his successor, never seriously considered nominating him. The Grenvilles would never have accepted him, and such Foxites as Holland, the Duke of Bedford and William Lamb endorsed the opinion of George Tierney that there was widespread aversion to him among the grandees and rank and file, and that his arrogance, vanity and impetuosity, not to mention his inclination to adopt advanced views, put him out of the question.16

Grey made little effort to reach a frank understanding with Whitbread and his feeble attempt to propitiate him at second hand through Tierney had unpleasant consequences. On 10 Dec. 1807 Tierney extracted from Whitbread a promise to support Ponsonby, while ‘reserving to himself his right to express his own sentiments on points whereon his opinions are fixed’. This suited the immediate purpose, but Tierney was disturbed by his obvious resentment towards Grey, which he hoped could be dispelled by personal explanations when they met in London. Whitbread wrote to Tierney, 21 Dec., complaining of the ‘mysterious superiority’ of Grey’s attitude towards him. Two days later Tierney received a letter from Grey in which, acknowledging that his brother-in-law seemed ‘discontented’ with him, he wrote affectionately of him, observed that but for the fall of the ‘Talents’ he ‘would have been very soon in the cabinet’ and stated that it had been impossible to give him the lead. He asked Tierney to try to ‘smooth this uneasiness’ and Tierney saw fit to send Whitbread an edited version of Grey’s letter, adding soothing words of his own. Whitbread replied with an extraordinary recital of the accumulated grievances of two years, 25 Dec.:

[Grey] does not understand my feelings upon subjects of this sort ... I want not to be the leader of his party ... But I am mortified in supposing that he, above all other persons, questions my capacity; and I am disappointed because he does not show at any time (except in very particular emergencies) any belief that I could assist him ... He imagines I want him to push me forward. I neither wish him to do it, nor has he the power. I shall find my level and have always found it without his assistance, and my estimation with the country I would not change for his ... Grey talks ... of stern virtue and disregard of great political obligations ... which I cannot but suppose means to glance at me. But in truth I have no great political obligations to any person. I have some disobligation to most of the late cabinet personally for having acquitted Melville, which they did by abandoning the trial.

Tierney, appalled by this outburst, promised Whitbread that he would give Grey an expurgated account of the state of his feelings, but saw little hope of an easy solution to the problem.17

It was not until Grey saw Tierney in January 1808 that he began to appreciate the intensity of Whitbread’s bitterness, and even then he deluded himself into thinking that it arose from personal jealousy of himself implanted by his Bedford crony William Belsham, the historian and pamphleteer. He and Whitbread did not meet until they dined with opposition leaders at Lord Grenville’s London house on 18 Jan. 1808. A few weeks earlier, Whitbread had replied to Grey’s statement that he must ‘strenuously’ oppose any attempt ‘to encourage a clamour for peace’ with the comment that it would be ‘as improper as impossible to stifle the expression of the feelings of the people’. He sincerely believed in the feasibility of a negotiated peace, his views had enjoyed some support in the press and intellectual circles and in the previous summer there had been a popular clamour for peace in the manufacturing districts. At the Camelford House dinner, the papers concerning the failure of the Austrian mediation were read and Canning’s conduct generally condemned; but when Grey said that he must oppose any agitation for peace, Whitbread, to the astonishment and embarrassment of the company, rounded on his brother-in-law in a blazing fury. Although they parted after later discussions at Brooks’s with, as Whitbread saw it, ‘feelings of friendship and affection towards each other, but of politics most opposite’, the episode disconcerted Grey and made a lasting impression on Grenville, who never forgot this exhibition of Whitbread’s ‘rancorous spirit’ and ‘unaccommodating’ temper.18

For all this, prospects for the coming session momentarily appeared good. Grey thought there was ‘no material difference’ between the leading members of the party and Whitbread, whose ‘manner rather than his opinions’ was the source of trouble; and Whitbread viewed the campaign with some optimism after a discussion with Ponsonby, from which he came away under the impression that there would be a ‘Foxite system’ of aggressive opposition. Things soon went wrong. Whitbread’s impromptu calls for peace petitions, 21 and 22 Jan. 1808, irked Grey, who studiously avoided him. Encouraged by the admissions of Lord Erskine, Sir Arthur Piggott and, at second hand, of Ponsonby (though this is hard to credit), that he had worsted Grey on the 18th, and confirmed by conversations with Lord Hutchinson, recently returned from Russia, in his belief that peace was attainable, he gave notice of a motion on the subject, 26 Jan., ‘without’, as Grey complained, ‘even taking time to see the papers on which it is to be founded and without consulting anybody’. Even on the question of the Copenhagen incident he wrangled with Tierney over procedure, and Grey damned them both. Whitbread decided to move three resolutions: that the conditions stipulated by the government for acceptance of the Russian mediation had been ‘inexpedient and impolitic’; that their rejection of the Austrian offer was ‘unwise and impolitic’ and that there was nothing to prevent an immediate negotiation for an honourable peace. Grey considered all three ‘badly drawn’ and two quite unacceptable but, acting on Lauderdale’s hint that, if a generally acceptable address could be framed, Whitbread might substitute it for his resolutions, he concocted one. Whitbread, believing it to be Lauderdale’s work, accepted it and even agreed to a moderation of its tone; but at a party meeting, 28 Feb., Ponsonby failed to control the warmongers, who objected so violently to the address that Whitbread decided to revert to his own resolutions. When he proposed them, 29 Feb., Ponsonby concurred in the first two, which were lost by 210 votes to 70 and 211 to 67, but moved the previous question on the third, which got 58 votes. While Grey could not forgive Whitbread for raising the issue in the first place, he absolved him from blame for the eventual fiasco. But the effect of the incident was to strengthen his conviction that his brother-in-law was beyond his control.19

Whitbread, satisfied that he had made his point, avoided provocative behaviour for the rest of the 1808 session, during which he established himself as the most frequent and forceful speaker on the opposition side. He was prominent in the attack on the orders in council and, in protest against the unnecessary brutalization of warfare, tried to remove the embargo on the export of quinine, 24 Feb. and 16 Mar. He initially supported the reversions bill but, dissatisfied with the modifications made to it, planned to oppose the third reading and move a more stringent address. He was persuaded to change his mind and contented himself with a protest against trimming, 11 Apr. Wishing to avoid a repetition of the squabbles of February, he told Grenville that he intended to support Burdett’s motion to consider the Lancashire peace petitions. Grenville disapproved, but admitted that his letter was ‘civil and obliging’. Ponsonby prepared to rally majority opinion against the motion, but in the event, to Whitbread’s professed ‘satisfaction’, Burdett stayed his hand. Whitbread’s speech in favour of the Catholic petition, 25 May 1808, was a personal triumph. Grey wrote to congratulate him and, though they continued to disagree over the worth of Belsham, they resumed a more friendly correspondence.20

When Sheridan issued his call for armed intervention in Spain, 15 June, Whitbread, whose commitment to peace made him suspicious of involvement there, argued that ministers should not be pressed until the situation became clearer. He was subsequently affected by the enthusiasm which swept opposition and on 4 July, to Grey’s satisfaction, expressed his hope that the Spaniards would be assisted in their struggle for independence. To clarify his views, he published a Letter to Lord Holland, in which he approved the government’s intention of aiding the Spaniards, but advocated an approach to France for peace, conditional on the independence of Spain. Grey regretted the publication and wrote firmly but without acrimony to Whitbread, explaining his objections to this ‘mistaken’ and ‘fatal’ policy. Tierney was more nettled, as he had just conveyed polite messages of goodwill from Whitbread to Grenville; but he consoled himself with Whitbread’s assurance that if Ponsonby were removed, he would be content to see Lord Henry Petty installed as leader and had no designs on the position himself. His views on Spain brought criticism from the radical left, where his stature had been increased by his support for peace; and John Cartwright tried to convince him of the connexion between the Spanish cause and that of domestic reform. With the convention of Cintra, his basic hostility to involvement in Spain reasserted itself. Another, though not immediately serious, disagreement with Grey occurred over the Irish Catholic hierarchy’s denunciation of the royal veto. Grey consulted him on the problem but Whitbread, like Holland and Bedford, could not accept his plan to threaten not to press for emancipation until the declaration was clarified or rescinded.21

Before the 1809 session there was a significant exchange between Whitbread and Thomas Creevey*, on whom he had come increasingly to rely as informant, confidant and counsellor. In response to his request for a critical appraisal of his performance in 1808, Creevey wrote that he had certainly shown himself to be ‘the strongest man’ in his ‘own party’, but argued that rather than waste his talents in ‘fighting common party questions’ he should concentrate on ‘the increased pressure of the public burdens and the frightful increase in the influence of the crown’. Whitbread, who admitted that he had been ‘piqued’ at the start of the last session and boasted that he had since demonstrated that his ‘level, at least in the present generation, was not very low’, reluctantly conceded that Fox and the ‘Talents’ had ‘overset the public opinion with regard to statesmen’ and promised to heed Creevey’s advice. He pledged his support for reform if the issue were raised in Parliament, but declined to sign Cartwright’s requisition for a Middlesex reform meeting because he was not yet convinced of the strength of public support for it. When he asked Tierney about the prospects for opposition, he received a despondent reply, his instinctive disgust with which was played on by Creevey, who urged him to prepare an amendment to the address condemning mismanagement of the war and calling for reform, in order to rally the party’s more adventurous spirits. As Grey and Grenville were anxious that Whitbread should be humoured, Ponsonby explained the official line to him and invited him to an eve of session meeting. Tierney anticipated a row, but after conversations with Petty and Ponsonby he fell in with the general sense of the meeting. Yet it was clear that he was under pressure from the extremists in the party and that unity would be hard to maintain.22

On the address, 19 Jan. 1809, Whitbread attacked mismanagement in the Peninsula, questioned the utility of British involvement and called for economical reform. He decided to oppose the address concerning the failure of the Erfurt overtures and, fortified by Creevey’s encouragement, he did so on 31 Jan., when he demanded that every fair chance to secure an honourable peace should be taken. Ponsonby opposed his amendment, which was negatived. Tierney was disgusted with Whitbread, who was unmoved by Grey’s remonstrance, to which he replied that his speech had been badly reported; that Bedford fully endorsed both it and the amendment; that Tierney and Fitzpatrick approved its tenor if not its timing, and that he was not prepared to ‘compromise’ when ‘a total surrender of opinion on questions of the first importance is demanded of me’. He supported the censure of Cintra, 21 Feb., and led the attack on the orders in council, 6 Mar. 1809.23

When Col. Wardle told him in December 1808 that he planned to bring before the House allegations of the Duke of York’s involvement in the corrupt disposal of army patronage, Whitbread warned him off; but on 9 Feb. 1809 he told Grey that he could no longer stand aloof, and in the ensuing debates he upheld Wardle’s right to a fair hearing. On the motion to remove the duke from the command, 9 Mar., he denounced corruption and called for ‘the grand work of reformation in every department’, and on 17 Mar. he put the case for ‘a rational, temperate, and gradual reform’. Nine days later Whitbread, who shared the enthusiasm of the Whig ‘insurgents’ for the revival of radicalism stimulated by the duke’s acquittal, told Petty of his separation from the body of the party: he disclaimed ‘any intention of hoisting a separate standard’, but asserted that as the opposition was leaderless he meant to ‘govern his own conduct solely by the opinions of Samuel Whitbread’. Lord Grenville was relieved that the breach had been openly acknowledged, and his brother Tom was keen to promote Petty as leader to act in ‘unrestrained hostility against Whitbread’. Grey was prepared to acknowledge the reality of the present rift, but still hoped for ‘a renewal of the connexion hereafter’.24

At the Westminster meeting to vote thanks to Wardle, 29 Mar. 1809, Whitbread called for a vigorous national campaign for parliamentary reform. It was a bold gesture, though he committed himself to no specific proposals, let alone to the extreme notions of Burdett, whose provocative remarks he largely ignored. Some of the more adventurous Whigs who looked to him for a lead feared that his pronouncement on this contentious issue might impede their intended promotion of practical reforms to root out general corruption. More significant was the shocked reaction of the party leaders. Even Bedford, who tried in vain to reconcile Whitbread and Grey, repudiated his argument that ‘the Grenvilles and Fox’s friends ought not to be identified as one party’. Whitbread, who repeated his call for popular support at the Livery dinner, 21 Apr., stayed away from the Crown and Anchor meeting, 1 May, but at the Whig Club the following day he ‘expressed his complete approbation’ of its declaration for reform. In the House, 11 May, he disputed Tierney’s contention that the time was inopportune for reform, yet dissociated himself from the extremists who peddled wild nostrums. Burdett still regarded him with suspicion and explained the omission of a toast to his health at his election anniversary dinner, 23 May, on the ground that he had ‘not been present at any of our meetings similar to this’. When Whitbread deplored the emasculation of Curwen’s reform bill, 1 June, he announced that he would not attend for the third reading and was absent when Burdett moved for reform six days later. Whitbread had believed that this would be a deliberate snub but, despite Burdett’s jibe about the ‘wealthy brewer who, disappointed of a job, takes in consequence the independent line and bawls out against corruption’, he stated a year later that he would have voted for the motion.25

Whitbread took up the campaign for economical reform with an enthusiasm shown by no other Whig of his stature and gave a lead and example to the party’s ‘insurgents’. He supported Folkestone’s motion for inquiry into abuses, 17 Apr. 1809; Porchester’s attempt to introduce a reversions bill, 24 Apr.; the censure of Castlereagh, 25 Apr.; the attack on the Dutch commissioners, 1 May, and charges against Perceval and Castlereagh, 5 and 11 May. On 8 June he moved to consider further limitations on the number of placemen in the House, but Whig leaders were generally apathetic and the motion was defeated by 113 votes to 54. He wrangled with Ponsonby over foreign affairs, 12 May, and had no support when he elaborated his arguments against the Austrian subsidy, 31 May. His relations with Grey remained strained and he found it easier to communicate with Grenville, to whom he stated his ‘wish to conform as much as possible’ to his desires ‘in all political matters’ which were free from ‘such radical differences of opinion as preclude all compromise’. Grenville, whose reply was studiously polite, told Grey that Whitbread showed ‘a desire, which cannot but give me pleasure, of not entirely separating himself from your friends’.26

The Scheldt fiasco, ministerial upheavals and Perceval’s approach to Grey and Grenville in the autumn of 1809 raised the Whigs’ hopes of power and they tried to re-establish a working relationship with Whitbread. In response to Tierney’s soundings, he declared himself willing to take office if he could do so without dereliction of principle, but insisted that the matter rested finally with Grey. While Grey wished a ‘fair offer’ to be made to him and ‘the most conciliatory spirit’ to be adopted in general dealings with him, he believed that ‘this could be done with better hopes of success by anybody than by me’. In November Creevey, learning that Tierney and others were to visit Southill, supposedly to welcome Whitbread back into the ranks, warned him to avoid any ‘contract with them’. The real purpose of Tierney’s mission was to discover whether Whitbread would act cordially under the leadership of Petty or Lord George Cavendish. He saw no merit in the idea. When Tierney subsequently implied that he was responsible for destroying the party as an efficient political force, Whitbread blamed Ponsonby’s weak leadership; but he showed some willingness to co-operate by requesting information on Grenville’s plans for the approaching session. After Petty’s succession to the peerage, he concurred in Creevey’s advice to remain aloof from intrigues for the leadership and to prepare a comprehensive amendment of censure on ministers. On learning from Tierney that Whitbread had been unwell, Grey wrote a friendly letter, to which he received a ‘very kind’, though bland, reply. At the same time, he asked Tierney to be less reticent about Whitbread’s attitude towards him. Although Whitbread received a formal request for attendance, he was sulky at not being consulted on the plans for an amendment. Lauderdale blamed Tierney’s ‘desperate bad way of dealing with him’, and Auckland and Holland were also anxious for ‘a proper explanation and understanding’; but Tom Grenville, while recognizing the desirability of securing his co-operation, thought Holland was claiming excessive indulgence for him.27

In a renewed correspondence with Tierney, Whitbread repeated his earlier explanation of his attitude to Grey; argued that the amendment should not only deal with the Scheldt but contain a pledge to pursue ‘retrenchment and economical reform’, and expressed no interest in going to town unless pressed to do so. A stay at Southill on his way to London led Grey to believe that he was ‘inclined to draw more kindly than last year’, and that ‘in the first debates at least, there will be no difference between us’; but to Whitbread the friendliness of their conversation, in which he refused to recognize Ponsonby as his leader, seemed artificial, though he did not endorse Creevey’s abuse of Grey and Tierney. Grey continued his rather feeble efforts to propitiate Whitbread by inviting him to discuss politics with Grenville; enlisting a reluctant Holland to try to persuade him to acknowledge Ponsonby’s titular leadership, and sending for comment a copy of the proposed amendment. He remained obdurate on the subject of Ponsonby and criticized the omission from the amendment of any reference to economical reform and recent cabinet intrigues. Grenville, who sent him a revised version with an invitation to discuss it, subsequently told Grey that he had been ‘extremely conciliatory and amiable in manner’; that they had had no ‘strong difference of opinion’; that he had said he would not move ‘any additional amendment’ unless someone else intended to, in which case he might ‘prefer doing so himself to supporting it in other hands’; but that he had ‘distinctly stated that he could not act under Ponsonby’ and wished ‘not to be invited to any meetings at P’s house’. Accordingly, he did not attend there on 22 Jan. 1810. Grenville realized that his future behaviour was unpredictable, but thought he had no immediate intention of being provocative. In the event, the session of 1810 passed without an open breach, though he exhibited considerable independence and occasionally aggravated the Whig hierarchy.28

On the address, 23 Jan., he lashed the government over the Scheldt but also, to Creevey’s delight, attacked Lord Wellington, denounced Peninsular involvement and advocated economical reform and peace. His attempt to pledge the House to the former, 25 Jan., was defeated by 95 votes to 54. According to the Grenvillite William Fremantle, Whitbread tried to prevent violent opposition to the vote of thanks to Wellington for Talavera, 1 Feb., but he spoke for the amendment regretting the failure to consolidate it and opposed Wellington’s annuity, 16 Feb. At the end of January he told Grenville that he was willing to confer with Ponsonby, Tierney and company on the Scheldt inquiry, in which he doubtless saw a chance of overturning the ministry. He was included in consultations and impressed the leaders with his ‘conciliatory attitude’. On 23 Feb. he carried by seven votes his motion for the production of Lord Chatham’s narrative, and his resolution on it, 5 Mar., was passed by 221 votes to 188, but only after he had accepted Canning’s modification of his ‘criminatory and penal’ second resolution. He was ‘very accommodating’ on the subject of the proposed resolutions of censure on the Scheldt, but ‘hoped that they would express the true opinion without being pared down to catch votes’. He emerged with credit from an exchange with Sir Joseph Yorke, who called him ‘a brewer of bad porter’, 28 Mar., and, according to Fremantle, spoke ‘most ably and with great effect’ on the Scheldt next day.29

Whitbread supported Wardle’s motion on abuses in the navy and in barracks, 15 Feb.; persuaded Bankes to bring in a new reversions bill, 6 Mar.; opposed the army estimates, 14 Mar., and attacked sinecures, 19 Mar.; but on 1 Mar. he dismissed Wardle’s drunken effusion on the possibility of reducing annual expenditure by £10,000,000 as irresponsible nonsense, and went on to link economical reform with peace. He voted for sinecure reductions and tried to delay the Duke of Brunswick’s annuity, 17 May, supporting Tierney’s motion on the subject, 30 May. His advocacy of economical reform was scorned by Burdett and in mid March Cartwright exhorted him to grapple with the basic problem rather than its symptoms. His guarded reply did not deter Cartwright from pressing him to combine with Burdett to campaign for a ‘constitutional representation’ and ‘constitutional militia’.30

Whitbread, like many reforming Whigs, was placed in a dilemma by the conflict between the sovereignty of the people and that of Parliament involved in the Burdett affair. In the House, 5 and 10 Apr., he argued that Burdett’s original publication was not libellous, but that he had been unwise to resist arrest. He was not prepared to condone this instance of the unwarranted extension of privilege at the expense of personal liberty, but argued for the retention of privilege as a guarantee of the independence of the House, which would be even more important once reform was achieved. By speaking in these terms and issuing another call for reform agitation at the Livery dinner, 19 Apr., he shocked the party leaders, who agreed that they must publicly dissociate themselves from the support for and identification with Burdettite doctrines which his action seemed to imply. Grenville wrote to him, upholding the inviolability of even misapplied privilege and deploring his presence at a meeting at which approval had been voiced for Burdett’s ‘criminal’ action, Wardle’s financial delusions and vilification of the Whig leaders by Robert Waithman*. Whitbread maintained that he had been misrepresented by press reports, that he had not endorsed the views of Burdett and Wardle, that he had left the meeting before Waithman spoke and that his views on privilege were little different from Grenville’s. He defended his right to attend public meetings, where ‘you cannot meet the current of public feeling bluff—according to an expression of poor Fox—but you may moderate, guide and with proper management direct it’, and stated his determination to chair the Whig Club meeting on 8 May. Grenville acknowledged the ‘tone of personal kindness’ in his letter and Grey took some comfort from the ‘deference’ he showed to Grenville’s views, but both remained convinced of the necessity for a counter-declaration. A further exchange of letters with Grenville was eminently civilized in tone, but brought them no closer together. On 8 May Whitbread spoke for receipt of the Livery petition for Burdett’s release and, unmoved by Bedford’s entreaties, he attended the Whig Club and called for reform later that day. He was still regarded with suspicion by the extreme reformers for his refusal entirely to desert the Whigs, as well as for his line on privilege, and an attempt was made in common hall, 21 May, to exclude him from the vote of thanks for efforts on Burdett’s behalf. Cartwright failed to persuade him to join wholeheartedly with Burdett, but he did suggest amendments to Cartwright’s reform petition and, though he disagreed with some of its points, moved unsuccessfully for its acceptance, 14 May. He was the only Whig to show any enthusiasm for Brand’s reform scheme, 21 May, and his endorsement of it did him no good in radical circles.31

At the beginning of 1810, he had agreed with Bedford, Holland and Fitzwilliam, as against Grenville, Grey and Tierney, that the importance of the veto in the question of Catholic relief should be minimized. He thought Grenville was obliged to raise the issue after his election at Oxford University, whereas Grey was averse to its precipitate agitation; but he agreed to dissuade Wyvill from presenting his petition for religious toleration and, although he insisted that obsession with the veto was damaging, he defended Grenville from ministerial attacks when relief was discussed in the House, 25 May. On 15 June he reviewed the session: the corrupt influence of the crown was increasing and the cause of Spain was doomed, but if prudent measures were adopted and America conciliated, ‘great scenes would rapidly be developed’.32

Whitbread’s behaviour during the Regency crisis of November 1810 to February 1811 revealed that his ambitions for office, albeit on his own terms, were still very much alive. There was a significant improvement in his humour and disposition to cooperate in party consultations, and he played a prominent and thoroughly partisan role both on the committee appointed to examine the royal doctors and in debate. Grenville bowed to the arguments of Grey and others that another disappointment would drive him into opposition and agreed to his inclusion, rather than that of Canning, in the projected Whig ministry. He was offered the Admiralty but, to the despair of Grey and Holland, raised strong though esoteric objections to serving under Grenville if he were to combine his auditorship of the Exchequer with the Treasury, as he had in 1806. Grey’s proposal that Grenville might transfer the post to a trustee while retaining the salary was no more acceptable to Whitbread, and as Grenville showed equal stubborness the whole scheme was jeopardized. Eventually Grenville, while insisting on keeping the auditorship, submitted to Grey’s threat to withdraw his own services and reluctantly agreed to forego the salary. With this, Whitbread expressed himself satisfied. When the Regent dashed the Whigs’ hopes Creevey, who had very strongly influenced Whitbread’s attitude throughout this episode, was ‘more penetrated’ with ‘Sam’s desire to be in office’ than he was with ‘the weight of his arguments against the Prince’.33

Whitbread, who was unwell in mid February, was less active in debate during 1811 than he had been in the previous three years. His motion of 25 Feb. for inquiry into the treatment of the King during his illness in 1804, was aimed at Lord Eldon, but he impugned the whole Addington ministry and so lost Tierney’s support. The ministerialist Robert Ward was taken aback by his demeanour:

more violent than ever, bursting, and sometimes almost inarticulate with passion, yet often very able, and his passion most inflated in reply ... the little support he had was supposed to have caused much of Whitbread’s spleen. He fell sometimes into downright bellowing with rage.

On several occasions he called for conciliation of America, an end to commercial warfare and the alleviation of domestic distress, and on 9 July he put the case for the Bank’s resumption of cash payments. He was anxious to ensure that, under the terms of the militia interchange bill, Catholics serving in England should suffer no interference with their religious practice, and made what Tierney thought ‘a grand splash’ in support of Catholic relief, 31 May. He castigated the treachery and cowardice of the Spaniards, 1 Apr., but made an important recantation, 1 May, when he praised Wellington and ministers for what had proved to be ‘a masterly plan’, though he reminded them that ‘the only legitimate object of every war, and of this above all wars’, was peace. Tempted as he was by the lure of office, his enthusiasm for the parliamentary reform movement had waned. His sole gesture in that direction was the presentation of a petition from Kent, 11 June, and he refused to become involved in Cartwright’s ill-fated scheme to form a working alliance between the Whig reformers and the radicals.34 He urged the trial of a negotiation for an honourable peace in Europe, 5 June, and next day joined in the protest against the reappointment of the Duke of York as commander-in-chief. Still interested in the question of the King’s health, he moved for inquiry into the state of the nation with a view to providing for all eventualities, 7 June, but got little support.

According to Lady Holland, Whitbread’s jealous resentment of Grey had reasserted itself by May 1811, when his language was ‘decidedly against ever taking any office, with any set of men’. He was often in London during the autumn on his business as chairman of the committee formed to rebuild the Drury Lane theatre, but Tierney saw little of him; and during the 1812 session he went increasingly his own way, with little regard for or contact with the opposition hierarchy, so that the Grenvillite Charles Williams Wynn could write that he had ‘more than ever separated himself from us and joined the Mountain’.35

He declined to vote for Burdett’s reform address, 7 Jan., but next day objected to extension of the war, criticized policy towards America and, refuting the argument that Buonaparte’s character made peace with France unthinkable, deplored commercial warfare: ‘would to God that France had ships, and commerce, and colonies, for then we should have peace; but until then, the probabilities were against it’. His future son-in-law William Waldegrave* was disturbed by this outburst and Lauderdale’s brother gave William Huskisson a message, intended for Canning’s ears, to the effect that the Whig leaders were ‘absolutely weary of Whitbread’, whose speech was considered, even by Grey, ‘as a sufficient ground of quarrel with him’. Canning treated the report cautiously and was equally sceptical when he heard that all the leading Whigs except Whitbread, whose ‘violence and intractability and notions upon domestic politics were such as must soon lead to a direct schism’, were eager for an accommodation with him. Whitbread supported Creevey’s call for investigation of offices recently granted to certain Members by the crown, 9 Jan.; refused to vote thanks to Lord Minto for the conquest of Mauritius, 14 Jan.; attacked the King’s household bill, 27 Jan., and spoke for inquiry into the state of Ireland, 4 Feb. Opposition leaders implored him in vain to drop a motion for information on relations with America, which they feared would alienate Lord Wellesley, a potentially valuable ally. Ponsonby stayed away, and when Whitbread put the motion to a thin House, 13 Feb., he got only 23 votes. Grenville’s nephew Lord Temple thought opinion in the party was generally hostile to Whitbread, but Sir Robert Wilson told Canning that not only did Grey want to reach an understanding with him, but that Whitbread too wished to bury the hatchet. Canning retorted that there was no chance of his acting with Whitbread and that he ‘knew enough of his intractability with his friends to know that they could not be answerable for him’.36

Whitbread opposed the bill imposing capital punishment for frame-breaking, 14 and 17 Feb., and spoke for abolition of the sinecure paymastership, 23 Feb., and inquiry into the state of the nation, 27 Feb., when Canning admitted that he gave him no cause for personal offence. The ‘usual force’ of his delivery was ‘diminished by a pain in the face’ when he spoke against the orders in council, 3 Mar.; but on the Maynooth grant six days later he bandied words with Perceval with his usual gusto. He had another angry exchange with the premier on 13 Apr., when he called for peace. He opposed McMahon’s appointment, 14 Apr.; presented Wyvill’s petitions for liberty of conscience, 17 Apr., spoke for Catholic relief, 24 Apr., and voted for the sinecure bill, 4 May. Grenville was angered by Creevey’s notice of a motion to restrict the profits of the tellerships of Exchequer, one of which was held by his brother, but Grey exonerated Whitbread from any collusion in the business and indeed got him to try to persuade Creevey to drop it. Creevey merely postponed it, and when he moved it on 7 May, Whitbread, despite Grey’s entreaties, supported him, though he voted initially for Brand’s amendment to search for precedents. Grenville accepted that he had acted without malice but, in view of the sentiments expressed by him then and at a recent City dinner, renounced all future political co-operation with him. Although Grey stressed his relative moderation on the tellership question and observed that, apart from his praise of Burdett, there had been nothing outrageous in his speech at the dinner, he could not dispute Grenville’s decision. Whitbread supported Brand’s parliamentary reform scheme, 8 May, paid a generous tribute to the murdered Perceval, 13 May, but resisted proposals to recompense his family as reward for political services of which he could never approve.37During the early negotiations for the formation of a new ministry, the Whig hierarchy, overruling the solitary protest of Grey, excluded Whitbread from consideration. Grey gave him this bitter news, but early on 5 June he received an urgent summons to town from Sheridan. On hurrying up he was introduced to Lord Moira, who was currently trying to form an administration, but had no intention of including the Whigs as a body. Whitbread was utterly deceived and excitedly told Grey that they were on the verge of office. He returned to Bedford on 6 June and came back to London the following day, only to find that the negotiations had collapsed, ostensibly over Grey’s and Grenville’s insistence on the removal of the Household. The vehemence with which he denounced their attitude caused great offence and convinced Grey that their friendship was in ruins. Moira still courted him for a day or two with the fantasy of a ministry which would revoke the orders in council, conciliate America and promote reform, but when he gave up his commission and the Regent turned to Lord Liverpool, Whitbread, ironically ‘out-whigged by Lord Grenville’, was brought back to reality. For the rest of his life he was an outcast from the main body of opposition.38 He supported repeal of the orders in council, 16 June, and Canning’s motion to consider Catholic claims, 22 June, but peace was the obsessive theme of his speeches in the closing days of the Parliament. He concluded attacks on the peace preservation bill, 10 and 13 July, with assertions that ‘a more favourable occasion for a general peace never existed’, and on 21 July, while denying Sheridan’s imputation that he had considered the recent French overture acceptable, he deplored the assumption that war must continue as long as Buonaparte held power in France.

When Holland suggested that either Canning or Whitbread was ‘necessary to the maintenance of any very large party’ in the new House of Commons, Grey retorted that neither would do. His idea of transferring his authority to Holland, in the hope that he might be able to get Whitbread’s co-operation, was not taken seriously. Grenville thought Whitbread had ‘put himself out of the question’, and on hearing of his inclination to move an amendment to the address pressing for an immediate peace overture, he rejected Holland’s argument for compromise and, like Tierney, was determined to resist it squarely. When Whitbread moved it, 30 Nov. 1812, Ponsonby spoke against it, and it was negatived. He was active in the campaign for currency reform, but his motion, 11 Dec., to rescind the resolution of May 1811, and his resolution against the gold coin bill, 14 Dec., got only 26 and 29 votes respectively. He was even more isolated in objecting to the grant of relief to Russia, 18 Dec. Opposition leaders agreed that the vigour of Ponsonby’s resistance had surprised him and might have salutary effects, although Grey himself despaired of ‘making good in that quarter’. Tierney reported that he had left London ‘very much discomposed and out of spirits’.39

Whitbread gave notice of another peace motion, 3 Feb. 1813, but the hostility of the bulk of opposition reduced him to ‘flat despair’ and he did not press it. Although he did not oppose the pledge for vigorous prosecution of the American war, 18 Feb., he largely blamed Britain for its outbreak and hoped for its speedy termination. On presenting a Leeds peace petition, 2 Apr., he said that, in view of recent military successes, he would not agitate the question now, but reserved his right to do so in future; and on 30 June, angered by the £5,000,000 vote of credit, he moved an address for negotiations, which received no support. To a limited extent, he again tried to promote economical and parliamentary reform. He supported abolition of the paymastership of marines, 12 Mar., sought to refer the civil list accounts to a committee of the whole House, 27 May, and observed that the Weymouth election scandal represented a powerful case for reform, 1 Apr. He declined to present Cartwright’s reform petition because the temper of the House was hostile, but he argued for reform in the debate on the Helston election bill, 30 June, when he was one of the 11 Members who voted for receipt of the Nottingham petition. He spoke for Burdett’s motion on the Regency, 23 Feb., for Catholic emancipation, 1 Mar. and 24 May, and for relief for American loyalists, 20 May; and participated in Whig criticism of the renewal of the East India Company’s charter, 11 and 14 June.40

His main preoccupation in 1813 was his work as Brougham’s lieutenant in the campaign on behalf of the Princess of Wales, the most illustrious, but neither the most deserving nor grateful of the outlawed, downtrodden and persecuted individuals whom Whitbread, with a lack of discrimination which testified both to his generosity and his naiveté, championed throughout his career. Sheridan blamed Whitbread, rather than his own negligence, for his defeat at Stafford in 1812, alleging, according to the Prince’s later account, that he had denied him an advance on his assets from the Drury Lane theatre because he was ‘already building a scheme of ambition on the Princess’ and was ‘afraid of Sheridan in Parliament on that point’. It is hard to see Whitbread’s involvement in the business, whether inspired by self-interest or by romanticism, as anything but a waste of his talents. He had badgered ministers on the subject in 1812 and, with Brougham out of the House, he took responsibility for presenting the Princess’s case the following year. On 5 Mar. 1813 he effectively exploited The Book of 1806 and the cabinet minute of 1807, which had practically cleared her name, and closed on ministers the trap set by Brougham by giving the ‘Delicate Investigation’ of 1806 as the reason for the restrictions placed on her intercourse with her daughter. His success was enhanced by Castlereagh’s admission that her conduct had been blameless and that the restrictions arose solely from her separation from the Regent. Ponsonby, voicing the hostility of most of his party, attacked him and Brougham for trying to make capital from the squabble, but Whitbread was generally credited with a personal triumph and, according to Creevey, Grey took pleasure from this aspect of the affair. Subsequent disclosures swung public opinion even more behind the Princess, but Whitbread’s poor tactical sense led him astray. Brougham thought his endorsement, 15 Mar., of Caroline’s false denial of all knowledge of the publication of her letter to the Regent of 14 Jan. to have been a blunder, and he compounded it two days later by accusing the commissioners of 1806, Lords Grenville, Spencer, Erskine and Ellenborough, three of whom were still prominent Whigs, of deliberately misrepresenting the evidence of Mrs Lisle. Indignation in the party was intensified by Whitbread’s failure to give warning of his intentions. The accused peers vindicated themselves in the Lords and only Ellenborough’s intemperate language diverted some attention from Whitbread’s gaffe and enabled him to retreat with a shred of dignity, 23 Mar., when he conceded that he had misinterpreted the document on which he had based his allegations. Even so, he refused to surrender all his ground and Brougham reported that ‘the cry against Sam is high’.41

As the short session late in 1813 approached, Grey told Grenville that he expected that his own and Whitbread’s opinions on peace would ‘essentially differ’. Grenville was determined to advocate unremitting war and Holland later wrote that his expectation that Whitbread would press for peace ‘manifestly furnished an additional inducement’ for him to do so. In the event, his speech on the address, 4 Nov., was ‘more discreet and reserved than was expected’, in the words of Francis Horner. Arguing that Buonaparte had brought himself to his present straits through overweening ambition, he was prepared to back the efforts of the current alliance which, unlike previous combinations of despotic powers, was the product of liberal and national revolt against French oppression; but his proposal that the terms offered to France before the end of the armistice should form the basis for negotiation raised murmurs of dissent in the House and to Grey seemed foolish. When charged by Canning with being prepared to sacrifice national honour, 17 Nov., he insisted that British and allied policy had elevated Buonaparte and his own greed brought him down, but modified his position to the extent of suggesting that the same principle, rather than basis, of negotiation should be used as at the time of the armistice, and acquiesced in the vote of money for foreign treaties. He supported the militia bills, 11, 15, 18 and 23 Nov., provided they were only applied to hasten the end of the war. When the adjournment to 1 Mar. 1814 was opposed by Sir James Mackintosh, 20 Dec. 1813, Whitbread, influenced partly by Castlereagh’s statement that the Frankfurt Declaration was an official offer of terms to France and partly, it was thought, by jealousy of Mackintosh, declared increased confidence in the ministry’s good intentions and ‘heartily’ concurred in the adjournment. In voicing a hope that the Declaration would lead to peace and a readiness, if it were rejected by France, to support further military action to enforce it, he was taking a line very close to Grey’s. Yet, ironically, he went further than any other Whig in expressing confidence in the government. Brougham protested to him that ‘all such dalliance’ was ‘of evil example’, and Tierney thought it ‘extravagant’ and likely to land him in difficulties.42

When the House resumed Whitbread made a mild protest against the further adjournment. Creevey urged him to ‘lay on the government’ for the encouragement of pro-Bourbon sentiment in Bordeaux, but he did not do so, and early in April he told Sheridan’s son of his ‘entire satisfaction’ with the state of France after Buonaparte’s abdication.43 His later qualms over threats to resurrect the slave trade and the blockade of Norway were shared by the bulk of opposition. He concurred in the address on the Treaty of Paris, 29 June, when he praised Castlereagh, applauded the bloodless restoration of the Bourbons, but dissented from the claim that the conclusion of the war justified British policy in its prosecution. On 20 July he expressed his concern at the continued presence of British armed forces on the Continent and his hope that justice would be done to Norway, Poland and Genoa at the forthcoming congress. He opposed the colonial offices bill, 18 Apr. and 6 May, supported the censure of Speaker Abbot for his anti-Catholic prorogation speech, 22 Apr., when he tried to have him deemed guilty of breach of privilege, and backed Romilly’s bid to ameliorate the treason laws, 25 Apr. He approved Wellington’s annuity, 12 May, opposed the expulsion of Lord Cochrane, 5 July, and denounced the Aliens Act renewal bill and the grant to German war victims, 14 July.

The equivocal position which Whitbread’s conflicting interests as landowner, brewer and reformer drove him to adopt on the Corn Laws earned him a strong expression of disapproval from the left, where his silence in the debates on Parnell’s proposals was sharply criticized. When he presented the Bedfordshire petition against alteration of the Laws, 3 June 1814, he declared himself in favour of the measure, but argued that it should be deferred, in view of the prevailing clamour. He opposed the corn importation bill in 1815, maintaining that legislation was both futile and potentially divisive, and advocated instead an improved mode of taking the averages, to be followed by a period of assessment. Although he voted consistently against the bill, his explanations of his attitude remained ambiguous and the brewery was attacked during the riots of early March.

He was again involved in the saga of the princesses in 1814. On 21 Apr. he added his own voice to the swelling chorus of demands that there should be legislation to prevent Charlotte being taken out of the country against her will in the event of her marriage to the Prince of Orange. He supported the calls of Paul Methuen for information on the Regent’s alleged proscription of Caroline, 1 and 3 June, and moved an address to force the government’s hand, 20 June, but was persuaded by Horner to postpone it. On 23 June Castlereagh stated the Regent’s willingness to increase Caroline’s income if the question were freed from the insinuations hitherto attached to it. Whitbread denied that previous motions on the subject had been ‘a mask for obtaining money’ and implied that the authorities were trying to buy her off. When Castlereagh specified a sum of £50,000, 29 June, Whitbread, in accordance with Brougham’s view that her popularity would be enhanced if she refused it in the first instance, offered to furnish her with an appropriate letter, but was told, to his own amazement and Brougham’s fury, that she had already accepted the money. The grant was carried on 4 July but the following day Caroline, on Whitbread’s advice, informed the government that she wished to take only £35,000. This was ratified on 8 July, but not before Castlereagh had given Whitbread an uncomfortable interrogation. When Caroline went abroad in August a frustrated Brougham cursed Whitbread’s ‘damned conceit in making her give up the £15,000 of himself, without saying a word to anyone’.44

The analogy drawn by Cartwright between the slave trade and the domestic political system failed to entice Whitbread into the ranks of the organized reformers,45 but when the House reassembled he was in aggressive and cantankerous mood. On 8 Nov. 1814 he attacked ministers over the American war and expressed deep concern at the recent trends in Europe towards aggrandizement, legitimacy and repression at the expense of national and liberal movements. He protested against the maintenance of forces on the Continent, 9 Nov., and was so persistent in his allegations that Britain was subsidizing repression in Spain, 11 Nov., that William Wellesley Pole swore that in future he would be as obstructive as possible in face of his outrageous cross-questioning. He pestered ministers for information for the rest of the session, denouncing Canning’s embassy to Lisbon, 15 Nov.; persuaded government to reduce the provision for volunteers by almost half, 21 Nov., and renewed his feud with Wellesley Pole when supporting Homer’s motion on the naval war with America, 1 Dec. Six days later Tierney told Grey, who was ‘contented’ with opposition’s showing, that ‘Sam and I pulled cordially together, and ministers certainly got considerably damaged in public estimation’.46

Whitbread condemned the transfer of Saxony and Genoa, 13 and 21 Feb. 1815, and repeatedly pressed the question of the surrender of Spanish fugitives in Gibraltar, moving an address on it, 1 Mar., which was defeated by 109 votes to 30. He and Richard Hart Davis, whose brother-in-law he had attacked, subsequently fell into violent argument in the lobby and were hauled before the Speaker and warned to take the quarrel no further. Sheridan, who by now hated Whitbread, wrote that ‘all parties say that he is coarse and vulgar, overbearing, and is become past endurance’. He extracted official confirmation of Buonaparte’s return, 10 Mar., and three days later entered his ‘solemn protest’ against ‘any interference on the part of this country in the internal affairs of France’. On 20 Mar. he arraigned Castlereagh and the Allies for ‘having disregarded the lesson which the fate of Buonaparte presented’ and obtained the production of all relevant papers on the peace settlement. Although Whitbread, who was said to be ‘all for Boney’, did not attend the meeting at Ponsonby’s to determine the line to be taken on the address concerning events in France, it was known that he intended to move an amendment; when he did so, 7 Apr., he deplored a ‘fresh crusade for the purpose of determining who should fill the throne of France’ and begged opposition not to ‘give an instrument to ministers which would enable them to commit the country in a war of aggression’. To the surprise of Sir Samuel Romilly the amendment, which sought to limit the means entrusted to ministers to those of self-defence, got 37 votes.47

Whitbread supported inquiry into the civil list accounts, 14 Apr. and 8 May, and opposed the aliens bill, 17 and 18 Apr., and renewal of the property tax, 19 Apr. and 5 May; but it was the situation in Europe which obsessed him and his pronouncements on it became almost hysterical. On 20 Apr. he denied having eulogized Buonaparte, observing that he had ‘discovered some littleness in his conduct when in prosperity, which took away from his greatness’, but that he had ‘perceived in the conduct of his imitators in the Congress of Vienna’, including Castlereagh, ‘a degree of littleness which was still worse’. He tormented Castlereagh over the terms of the allied treaty of March; moved an address of protest against a war of extermination against Buonaparte, 28 Apr., which was lost by 273 votes to 72; voted for receipt of the City petition, 1 May; accused Castlereagh of involvement in ‘diplomatic treachery’ over Naples, 2 May, and quizzed him on the official attitude to renewed war, 22 May. He gave a silent vote for the Whig amendment to the address, 25 May; mustered 17 votes against the grant of war subsidies, 26 May; spoke for Catholic relief, 30 May, and voted for inquiry into the Regent’s expenditure the following day.

The decline in Whitbread’s health, which had been indifferent for about six years, became marked in April 1815 and accelerated alarmingly in June. To his long-standing symptoms of excessive increase in weight and blinding headaches were added lassitude and insomnia. His mood oscillated between extreme agitation and hopeless despondency and he told his daughter that ‘when the fit of apoplexy arrived’ he hoped ‘it might take him off, and that he might not survive his reason’. He lost the verve and exuberance of his parliamentary manner and became sluggish and torpid in debate. He criticized the ordnance estimates, 9 June, and opposed the Dutch loan, 12 June. On the news of Waterloo and Buonaparte’s abdication, 23 June, he bestowed qualified but none the less surprising praise on Wellington and the ministry. He acquiesced in the vote of credit, hoping for temperance in victory, and voted against the address on the Duke of Cumberland’s marriage grant, 28 June. When speaking against the subsequent bill, 30 June, he regretted Wellington’s slighting references to his beaten enemy. A day or two later Brougham and Bennet grew seriously alarmed at his condition, and on 3 July he showed signs of the paranoia which his wife had detected the previous autumn. He voted against the ducal marriage bill later that day and on 4 July made his last speech in the House which, ironically, was on Marjoribanks’s motion to thank the Duke of York for his exertions as commander-in-chief. He made a brief show of defiance, but ended by tamely acquiescing in the vote. He spent the evening of 5 July in frenzied discussion of the finances of Drury Lane with his solicitor, and on the morning of the 6th, after a badly disturbed night, killed himself by cutting his throat.48

The surviving evidence seems to suggest that while Whitbread retained his sanity until the moment he took his own life, he suffered from a severe physical disorder of the brain which, with the immense exertion required to fulfil his manifold commitments, destroyed his metabolism and deeply disturbed his mind. As a result, he began to exaggerate his financial problems and became increasingly prone to unreasonable agitation over trifles. Whether he was driven to suicide by a sense of guilt over the failure of the Drury Lane venture to realize the expectations of the investors, or by a paranoiac belief that the fall of Buonaparte symbolized the failure of his own career, must remain a matter for speculation.49

Both friends and opponents acknowledged his outstanding qualities of honesty, courage and humanity. He had, in the words of Lord Glenbervie, a ‘powerful coarse intellect’ and, as Holland noted, an ‘extraordinary readiness and indefatigable application in business’. The remarkable range of the interests and causes which he espoused prompted Sir Robert Heron to judge that ‘few men have been so extensively useful to the country’. His passionate oratory and fearlessness in debate made him one of the half-dozen dominant figures in the House after 1807. Williams Wynn wrote that when he got hold of ‘the right nail’ he ‘drove it with a sledge-hammer, in a manner which no other man in the House of Commons could reach’. But there was an unfinished quality about Whitbread, whose coarseness more often than not intruded into his speeches. Byron called him ‘the Demosthenes of bad taste and vulgar vehemence, but strong, and English’, and William Wilberforce recalled that ‘he spoke as if he had a pot of porter at his lips and all his words came through it’.50

More serious defects in Whitbread as a politician were vanity, arrogance, lack of judgment and wilfulness. Holland wrote that ‘vanity made him impracticable’ and that ‘flatterers and dependants engrossed his society, and not infrequently perverted his manners and judgment’. Williams Wynn commented:

I have seen him repeatedly quit a strong question which he could have urged with great power to run after some tub which had been purposely thrown out for him by his adversaries, and which he struck at totally without effect.

Heron’s observations on the same theme were:

In Parliament, his bad taste, and, what is perhaps the same thing, want of judgment: above all, his impracticable disposition, and total want of co-operation, diminished greatly the advantages which might otherwise have been derived from his great ability as an orator, his experience, and his incorruptible firmness.

Romilly was more charitable and thought that ‘the only faults he had proceeded from an excess of his virtues’.51

Whitbread’s career ended in political failure and personal tragedy. It might have been otherwise had he obtained office with the ‘Talents’, though this can hardly be taken for granted. By 1808 the breach which had been opened between him and Grey was being inexorably widened by the intrusion of basic differences in their political attitudes. Whitbread’s personal disappointment and political extremism became mutually sustaining. It would be unfair to question the sincerity of his espousal of reform, even more so that of his campaign for peace; but his motives were complex, his emotions tangled, his ties with orthodox Whiggism too close to be severed completely and his ambitions for office still keen. Consequently, his extremism was fitful, erratic and often equivocal and his radical potential was never fully realized. He might well have been able to make a valuable contribution to the development of the Whig party, but such opportunities as occurred after 1808 to re-establish a durable working relationship were lost as a result of his own wilfulness, his jealous resentment of Grey, his susceptibility to the flattery of the mischievous and largely insignificant men with whom he surrounded himself and, not least, Grey’s failure to assert his authority over Whitbread, whose waywardness was a symptom as much as a cause of the disarray of opposition in this period.

As a parliamentarian, he certainly made his mark. Holland wrote at the time of his suicide that

it is no slight homage to his character that at a moment when the grief of everybody seemed to be engrossed by some loss in the battle of Waterloo, his death should have made so deep and so general an impression. Truth is that, with all his failings—and some he had—he was not only an able and honest, but a most useful public man.

Wilberforce commented that Whitbread, ‘with all his coarseness, had an Anglicism about him, that rendered him a valuable ingredient in a British House of Commons’.52

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: David R. Fisher

Notes

  • 1. R. Fulford, Samuel Whitbread (1967), 5, correcting DNB and other works of reference where Whitbread is said to have been born in 1758, gives 17 Jan. 1764; but Beds. Par. Reg. viii. p. vii gives 18 Jan. 1764, a date confirmed by a letter to Whitbread from his father, 18 Jan. 1785 (Waldegrave mss).
  • 2. Waldegrave mss, Whitbread I to Whitbread II, 25 Jan., 27 May, 6 Sept. 1785, 17 May 1787, Whitbread II, 25 Jan., 27 May, 6 Sept. 1785, 17 May 1787, Whitbread II to Whitbread I, 8, 13 May, 1, 22 June, 13 July, 18 Sept. 1787; Verney Letters of 18th Cent. ii. 289; Whitbread mss W1/1807-11, 1817-22; Le Marchant, Althorp, 176; Fulford, 46-47.
  • 3. Sheridan Letters ed. Price, i. 238.
  • 4. Fox Corresp. iii. 67; Portland mss PwF237; Geo. III Corresp. ii. 1329; Beds. RO, Lucas mss L30/9/73/16, 18.
  • 5. J. R. Poynter, Society and Pauperism, 55-61.
  • 6. Fulford, 88-96; P. Mathias, Brewing Industry in England, 308-9; D. Rapp, ‘Social Mobility in 18th Cent.’, Econ. Hist. Rev. (ser. 2), xxvii (1974), 383-4.
  • 7. G. Chalmers, Parl. Portraits (1795), ii. 83; Geo. III Corresp. ii. 1521; The Times, 19 May 1797; Jnl. of Lady Holland, ii. 38; Whitbread mss W1/870, 2328-43.
  • 8. Grey mss, Whitbread to Grey, 7 Dec. 1801, 28 Jan., 5 Feb., reply 31 Jan. 1802.
  • 9. Grey mss, Whitbread to Grey, 28 Oct., 12 Dec. 1802, 22 June, 12 Nov., 6 Dec. 1803, 31 Mar., 18, 19 Apr., Grey to his wife, 7 Mar. 1804; Whitbread mss W1/886; Add. 47565, ff. 123, 127.
  • 10. Geo. III. Corresp. iv. 3071; PRO 30/9/15, Whitbread to Abbot, 11 Apr. 1805; HMC Fortescue, vii. 261-2; Howell, State Trials, xxix. 625-71, 1392-1423; Horner mss 3, f. 48; Leveson Gower, ii. 190, 199; Holland, Mems. Whig Party, i. 234.
  • 11. Holland, i. 219; Le Marchant, 179; Grey mss, Grey to Whitbread [3], [7], [8], replies 7, 9 Feb. 1806.
  • 12. Grey mss, Grenville to Howick, 6 Aug., 18, 21 Sept., Whitbread to same, 4, 7, 9, 19, 22, 23, 26 Sept., 14 Oct., replies 19, 20, 22, 26 Sept. 1806; HMC Fortescue, viii. 257, 320, 338, 347, 349.
  • 13. Whitbread mss W1/896-7; Morning Chron. 5, 8 Nov., 2, 5 Dec.; Grey mss, Whitbread to Howick, 10, 12, 16 Dec., replies 17, 27 Dec. 1806; Beds. RO, Antonie mss UN 422-3; Brougham, Life and Times, i. 391-2; Holland, ii. 76; Jnl. of Lady Holland, ii. 194-5, 196-7, 208-10; Add. 41852, f. 287; Harewood mss, Canning to his wife, 6, 7, 9 Mar. 1807.
  • 14. Grey mss, Whitbread to Howick, 15, 17 Feb. 1807; Melville, Cobbett, ii. 5; Poynter, 207-22.
  • 15. Holland, ii. 221.
  • 16. Ibid. ii. 237; Grey mss, Grey to Holland, 6 Dec., Tierney to Grey, 7 Dec., Bedford to Grey, 19 Dec. 1807; Add. 41852, f. 323; HMC Fortescue, ix. 147-9; Buckingham, Court and Cabinets, iv. 218; Lansdowne mss, Holland to Petty, 11 Dec. 1807; Herts. RO, Panshanger mss D/EP, box 16, Lamb’s autobiog.
  • 17. Grey mss, Tierney to Grey, 14 Dec. 1807; Hants RO, Tierney mss 33d, 72b, 72c; Whitbread mss W1/2434-7.
  • 18. Grey mss, Grey to Whitbread, 28 Dec. 1807, to his wife, 11, 15, 19 Jan., Whitbread to Grey, 3 Jan.; Waldegrave mss, Whitbread to unknown, 20 Jan. 1808; Holland, ii. 240-2; Jnl. of Lady Holland, ii. 236-7.
  • 19. Grey mss, Grey to his wife, 21 Jan.-2 Mar. passim; Waldegrave mss, Whitbread to unknown, 20, 23, 25 Jan., to Ponsonby, 14 Feb. 1808.
  • 20. Whitbread mss W1/2442, 4190, 4199, 4200; Waldegrave mss, Whitbread to Grenville, 10, reply 16 May; Add. 41852, ff. 354-6; Grey mss, Ponsonby to Grey, 21 May, Tierney to same, 24, 26 May, 8 June, 12 July, Whitbread to same [26 May], 6, 16 June, Grey to Whitbread, 29 May, 13 June 1808.
  • 21. Grey mss, Whitbread to Grey, 6 June, 17 Sept., 6 Nov., Tierney to same, 12 July, 7 Dec., Grey to Whitbread, 8, 10 July, 31 Oct., 13, 20 Nov. 1808; Creevey Pprs. ed. Maxwell, i. 88-89; Pol. Reg. 23 July; Lansdowne mss, Grey to Petty, 18 Nov. 1808.
  • 22. Whitbread mss W1/373/6-11, 2446, 4430-4; Creevey Pprs. i. 91-92, 94; Cartwright Corresp. i. 376-80; Grey mss, Whitbread to Tierney, 27 Dec. 1808, Tierney to Grey, 16, 18, 19 Jan.; Waldegrave mss, Ponsonby to Whitbread, 14 Jan. 1809; Add. 41853, f. 5; HMC Fortescue, ix. 269; Buckingham, iv. 300, 304.
  • 23. Grey mss, Whitbread to Grey, 29 Jan., 9 Feb., Tierney to same, 1, 10, 25 Feb. 1809; Whitbread mss W1/373/12; Tierney mss 33c.
  • 24. Whitbread mss W1/452; Grey mss, Whitbread to Grey, 29 Jan., 9 Feb., Tierney to same, 1, 25, 27 Feb. 1809; Brougham mss 413; Geo. III Corresp. v. 3832; Wentworth Woodhouse mun. F32/65; Spencer mss, Grenville to Spencer, 24, 28 Mar. 1809; HMC Fortescue, ix. 284-5.
  • 25. Procs. Westminster Elector, 29 Mar. 1809, pp. 25-32; Berks. RO, Pleydell Bouverie mss O25/69; Spencer mss, Grenville to Spencer, 30 Mar. 1809; Add. 27838, f. 347; 41853, f. 11; 41854, ff. 243, 246; HMC Fortescue, ix. 287; Whitbread mss W1/373/13, 2462, 2467, 4435-6; Morning Chron. 22 Apr., 3 May 1809; Tierney mss 72d.
  • 26. Grey mss, Grey to his wife, 13, to Whitbread [14 May], Whitbread to Grey, 14 May, Grenville to Grey, 15 May; Waldegrave mss, Whitbread to Grenville, 13 May, reply 15 May 1809.
  • 27. Creevey’s Life and Times, 44; Whitbread mss W1/373/15, 17; 2479; Grey mss, Grey to Whitbread, 26 Sept., 17 Nov., to Tierney, 18, 30 Nov., Lauderdale to Grey [10 Oct., 19, 21 Dec.], Tierney to same, 15, 23 Nov., 5, 9, 12 Dec., Whitbread to Grey, 23 Nov. 1809; Creevey Pprs. i. 98-100, 109-12; Tierney mss 33p, 72f, 72k; HMC Fortescue, ix. 407, 435, 437-8; Jnl. of Lady Holland, ii. 251; Add. 41858, ff. 1, 10; 51534, Grenville to Holland, 4 Jan. 1810; 51576, Whitbread to same, 13 Dec. 1809; 51658, Whishaw to Lady Holland, 22 Dec. [1809].
  • 28. Grey mss, Tierney to Grey, 21, 26 Dec. 1809, Grey to his wife, 2 Jan., to Whitbread, 9, 12, 15 Jan., to Holland, 12 Jan., Whitbread to Grey, 11, 16 Jan., Grenville to same, 18 Jan. 1810; Tierney mss 72g; Whitbread mss W1/375, 2499; Creevey Pprs. i. 117-18, 121; Add. 51537, Holland to Grey [13 Jan.] 1810; Lady Bessborough and her Family Circle, 201-2.
  • 29. Creevey Pprs. i. 123, 128; Buckingham, iv. 421; Grey mss, Grenville to Grey, 29 Jan.; Harewood mss, Canning to his wife, 6 Mar. 1810; HMC Fortescue, x. 20; Fortescue mss, Fremantle to Grenville [28], [30 Mar.] 1810.
  • 30. Whitbread mss W1/2506; Cartwright Corresp. i. 395-400.
  • 31. Statesman, 20 Apr.; HMC Fortescue, x. 26-27, 29-30; Grey mss, Grenville to Grey, 23, 27 Apr.; Waldegrave mss, Grenville to Whitbread, 23 Apr., 1 May, replies 25 Apr., 4 May, Bedford to same, 5, [8] May, replies 6, 9 May; Morning Chron. 9 May; Examiner, 27 May 1810; Whitbread mss W1/4444-6, 4448; Cartwright Corresp. i. 400-2.
  • 32. Buckingham, iv. 419; Grey mss, Whitbread to Grey, 11, reply 12 Jan., Grenville to Grey, 29 Jan. 1810.
  • 33. Grey mss, Tierney to Grey, 5, 7 Nov., 22 Dec., Whitbread to same, 23 Dec. 1810, 19 Jan. 1811, Grey to Whitbread, 17, 30 Dec. 1810; Glenbervie Diaries, ii. 111-12; Add. 51549, Lady Holland to Grey [24 Dec. 1810]; Ward, Letters to ‘Ivy’, 123; HMC Fortescue, x. 98, 110-13; Horner mss 5, ff. 11, 13; Whitbread mss W1/912, 915; Creevey Pprs. i. 136-8, 142; ii. 117-18; Holland Further Mems. Whig Party, 87; Jnl. of Lady Holland, ii. 285-8; Waldegrave mss, memo, 20 Jan. 1817.
  • 34. Grey mss, Tierney to Grey, 24 Feb., 5 Mar. 1811; Phipps, Plumer Ward Mems. i. 398-9; Add. 51585, Tierney to Holland [1 June] 1811; Whitbread mss W1/2530, 4450-2, 4455.
  • 35. Lansdowne mss, Lady Holland to Lansdowne [May]; Grey mss, Tierney to Grey, 29 Oct., 23 Nov. 1811; NLW mss 2791, C. to H. Williams Wynn, 7 July 1812.
  • 36. Waldegrave mss, Waldegrave to his mother [9 Jan.]; Harewood mss, Canning to his wife, 15, 28 Jan., 20 Feb. 1812; Buckingham, Regency, i. 223.
  • 37. Harewood mss, Canning to his wife, 29 Feb., 7 Mar. 1812; Phipps, i. 436, 449; HMC Fortescue, x. 237-8, 243-6; Fortescue mss, Fremantle to Grenville, 15 Apr., 8 May; Grey mss, Grenville to Grey, 12 May 1812; Regency, i. 295.
  • 38. HMC Fortescue, x. 254, 263, 265; Creevey Pprs. i. 157-9, 164-5; Grey mss. Whitbread to Grey [6 June], Grey to Holland, 7 June 1812; Regency, i. 377; P. H. Fitzgerald, Geo. IV, ii. 102; Waldegrave mss, memo [1812].
  • 39. Add. 51545, Holland to Grey, 21 Oct., 10, 19 Dec.; Grey mss, Grey to Holland, 25 Oct., 13 Dec., Grenville to Grey, 28 Nov., Tierney to same, 28 Nov., 12 [30] Dec. 1812; HMC Fortescue, x. 313.
  • 40. Grey mss, Goodwin to Grey, 5 Feb., Tierney to same, 11 Feb. 1813; Cartw