ARCEDECKNE, Andrew (1780-1849), of Glevering Hall, Hacheston, Suff. and 1 Grosvenor Square, Mdx.
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Family and Educationb. 8 Jan. 1780,1 1st s. of Chaloner Arcedeckne† of Cockfield Hall and Glevering and Catherine, da. and coh. of John Leigh of Northcourt House, I.o.W. educ. Eton 1793-6; Christ Church, Oxf. 1798. m. 29 Aug. 1816, his cos. Ann Harriet, da. of Francis Love Beckford of Basing Park, Hants, 1s. 1da. suc. fa. 1809. d. 8 Feb. 1849.
Sheriff, Suff. 1819-20.
Arcedeckne was named after his grandfather (d. 1763), a Galway landowner’s son and successful lawyer, who became the first of his family to relinquish Catholicism. Revenues from the large Golden Grove sugar plantation which he acquired while attorney-general of Jamaica financed the purchase of the family seat of Glevering Hall, on the north-east bank of the River Deben in Suffolk.2 His son Chaloner Arcedeckne (1763-1809), an absentee planter who bought his way into Parliament, bequeathed Glevering to Andrew Arcedeckne intact and the Jamaican properties in trust for him, his brother and two sisters.3 Their inability to realize their Jamaican revenues, already reduced by the war and the need to appoint three new colonial agents between 1813 and 1817, led to litigation against the trustees, Beeston Long and the Rev. George Turner. The business was complicated by Long’s death in 1820, before 508 of the 742 slaves at Golden Grove, registered as the property of the trustees and worth an estimated £45 apiece in 1812, could be conveyed to Arcedeckne for registration in his name in London under the 1819 Act, with his 142 slaves at Bachelors Pen. A conscientious man of business, he corresponded regularly with his Jamaican agent Thomas McCormack, lived mainly in London and kept abreast through Turner with developments in Suffolk.4 There, his standing had benefited from his services as magistrate, deputy lieutenant and sheriff, and the connection forged through the marriage of his sister Frances Catherine (d. 1815) to Joshua Vanneck, afterwards 2nd Baron Huntingfield†, of Heveningham Hall. His own marriage increased the family’s stake in the Leigh estates in Hampshire.5 Realizing its significance, he aligned with the Suffolk Whigs at the county meeting of 16 Mar. 1821, which petitioned for reform and measures to combat distress. However, his support for reform was tempered by sympathy for the West Indian planters, based on his confidence that the Arcedeckne slaves were well treated and fear of the damaging consequences of sudden emancipation.6 The precise conditions and cost of his return to Parliament in 1826 for the Suffolk rotten borough of Dunwich are unknown, for his proposer, Huntingfield, who was publicly believed to be joint patron of the borough with the Barne family of Sotterley, had in 1819 privately ceded his right of nomination to them for 21 years.7 The Barnes were anti-Catholic Tory ministerialists.
Arcedeckne was a lax attender who made no major Commons speeches. He voted for Catholic relief, 6 Mar., in the Whig minorities for inquiry into the Irish estimates, 5 Apr., and chancery delays, 5 Apr., and to disfranchise Penryn, 28 May 1827. The turmoil within the party caused by Huskisson’s taxation proposals and the appointment of the duke of Wellington as premier excited him, and he looked forward to a ‘stormy and interesting session’ in 1828; but the only records of his activity are as the presenter of a petition against the friendly societies bill from the Victorious Beneficial Society at Portsea, where the Leighs had been major landowners, 30 Apr., and a paired vote in favour of Catholic claims, 12 May 1828.8 The ministry’s patronage secretary Planta included him among the ‘doubtful’ on Catholic emancipation in 1829, but he voted for it, 6, 30 Mar., and in favour of O’Connell taking his seat without swearing the oath of supremacy, 18 May. In October 1829 the Ultras classified him as a supporter of emancipation whose views on a putative coalition ministry were ‘unknown’. His absences from the House, 26 Feb., 2, 16 Mar. 1830, were excused because he was ‘ill abroad’. Neither his pro-Catholic votes nor his poor attendance prevented his return for Dunwich with Frederick Barne at the general election.9
Ministers listed Arcedeckne among their ‘foes’ and he voted to defeat them on the civil list, 15 Nov. 1830. His votes for the second reading of the Grey ministry’s reform bill, 22 Mar., and against Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr. 1831, cost him his Dunwich seat but enhanced his reputation in the county, where newspapers hailed his votes and his generosity towards his tenants.10 When, at the dinner following the county election, 10 May, he shared a toast as a reformer with Huntingfield and the duke of Norfolk, he declared that he had been sent to the Commons as the nominee of Huntingfield, whose pro-reform sentiments he proudly shared.11 His ‘friends’ were already canvassing the Whig aristocracy with a view to returning him for the proposed East Suffolk constituency, but as J. Barthrop informed him on 11 May 1831, those influenced by Samuel Quilter thought ‘your being a West India proprietor would be very much against your succeeding’.12 Huntingfield, however, was adamant:
The attendance necessary and parliamentary duties [of a county Member] ill accords with either of our terms or pursuits, but I cannot allow this fellow Quilter to sway two Members for the county. The aristocracy will not allow that, and unless one of us takes the field, he probably will do it.13
Arcedeckne persisted with his canvass and assumed a prominent role in the East Suffolk Agricultural Society. The Suffolk Chronicle declared for him in June 1832, but his correspondence, draft speeches and press reports reveal how support for him eroded on account of his support for free trade and the prominence of slavery, a ‘cunning bait thrown out to the Quakers and Dissenters’, in the election campaign.14 Despite enlisting the support of the Beckfords, he was obliged to give way to Robert Shawe† in July 1832, to avoid splitting the Liberal vote.15 After spending over £1,000 on another abortive canvass of East Suffolk in 1834-5 he adopted a lower profile in county politics.16 In 1839, the year his daughter Louisa married Huntingfield’s son and heir, he feared financial ruin through reduced Jamaican revenues and briefly contemplated selling his Suffolk estates and settling abroad.17 He died suddenly in London in February 1849, ‘of a broken blood vessel’. By his will, his eccentric son Andrew Arcedeckne (1822-71), the defeated Liberal candidate for Harwich in 1857, inherited Glevering, which passed in 1871 to his sister Louisa, Lady Huntingfield, and her heirs.