WIGRAM, Robert II (1773-1843), of Belmont Lodge, Malvern Wells, Worcs.
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Family and Education
b. 25 Sept. 1773, 1st s. of Robert Wigram I* by 1st w., and bro. of William Wigram*. educ. privately. m. 3 Aug. 1812, Selina, da. of Sir John Macnamara Hayes, 1st Bt., of co. Clare, 6s. 5da. Kntd. 7 May 1818; suc. fa. as 2nd Bt. 6 Nov. 1830; took name of Fitzwygram instead of Wigram by royal lic. 22 Oct. 1832.
Maj. 6 Loyal London vols. 1803.
Dir. Bank of England 1807-21.
Wigram, whose parents were patrons of unitarianism, was baptized at the instigation of his paternal grandmother. He became a partner in his father’s mercantile concern at 3 Crosby Square, Bishopsgate by 1794 and, with his father and brother John, signed the London merchants’ declaration in favour of Pitt in 1795, but Farington reported in 1809 that ‘he retired from business at his father’s desire from whom he expects a large addition of property’, with £30,000 ‘independent of him’. The fact was that Wigram lacked his father’s business acumen, though he was a Bank director for many years.
In January 1806 Wigram asked the assistance of Pitt’s secretary in obtaining a seat in Parliament ‘in the present session’, believing his politics to be ‘well known’ to Dacres Adams. He mentioned Boroughbridge, if ‘not engaged’, and Leominster, but added that his father wished to avoid a contest. Adams could not then help him and Wigram wrote again that his father was ‘very sanguine of my success at the Bank in April, which adds to my wish to take my seat in the House at the opening of the session, when I shall have leisure for a constant attendance’.1 At the general election of 1806, his father secured a seat for Wexford and Wigram was returned in his place for Fowey on the Mount Edgcumbe interest, a seat placed at the disposal of friends of government and presumably purchased, for Earl Spencer described it as ‘a sure seat ... for this Parliament’.2 Wigram who espoused the commercial interests of the borough held it for 12 years and then transferred to the other Mount Edgcumbe borough of Lostwithiel.
He gave a general support to successive administrations, though he apparently refused a seat on the Admiralty board in the Portland administration (1807), because of his handicap of occasional deafness.3 He did not figure in debate but was a member of the finance committee in 1808 and 1809 under Bankes’s chairmanship. He was listed ‘doubtful’ by the Whigs in 1810, having appeared in the government minority on 5 Mar., and again voting with ministers on 16 Apr., against the discharge of John Gale Jones. He voted against parliamentary reform, 21 May 1810, and appeared in the ministerial minority on the Regency question, 1 Jan. 1811 In the next Parliament he was listed as a government supporter and his only significant minority vote was on 6 June 1815, in favour of a committee on the East India ships registry bill: like his father, he had invested in East India Company stock. He voted against Catholic relief on 2 Mar., abstained on 24 May 1813 and was again hostile on 9 May 1817. He voted for Christian missionary activity in India, 1 July 1813. On critical divisions, he rallied to government, though not an assiduous attender.
Wigram subsequently developed feudal tendencies. He was ‘one of the last of the heirs of baronets who claimed a knighthood in his father’s lifetime’, conferred on him by the Prince Regent at Carlton House in 1818. Later he changed his name to Fitzwygram, ‘a fanciful alteration’, which was not adopted by other members of his family. He died 17 Dec. 1843. The Prince Regent and Duke of Clarence, and the Dukes of York and Wellington stood sponsors to his second and third sons. His character was ‘strictly English’.4
Ref Volumes: 1790-1820
Author: R. G. Thorne
- 1. Farington, v. 278; R. S. Wigram, Wigram Fam. (1912), 60-61; PRO, Dacres Adams mss 7/1, 4.
- 2. Pole Carew mss CC/L/39, Rashleigh to Pole Carew, 21 Oct.; Spencer mss, Spencer to Bedford, 28 Oct. 1806.
- 3. R. Cornw. Gazette, 24 Oct. 1812; Gent. Mag. (1844), i. 317.
- 4. H. T. Ryall, Portraits of Eminent Conservatives, under Sir R. Fitzwygram.