ARCHDALL, Mervyn (1763-1839), of Castle Archdall, Enniskillen, co. Fermanagh

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832, ed. D.R. Fisher, 2009
Available from Cambridge University Press

Constituency

Dates

1802 - 22 May 1834

Family and Education

b. 27 Apr. 1763, 1st s. of Mervyn Archdall†, MP [I], of Castle Archdall and Hon. Mary Dawson, da. of William Henry, 1st Visct. Carlow [I]. m. 7 Nov. 1805, Jane, da. of Gustavus Hume Rochfort*, s.p.; 1s. 1da. illegit. suc. fa. 1813. d. 26 July 1839.

Offices Held

Ensign 12 Drag. 1782, lt. 1787, capt. 1790, maj. 1793, lt.-col. 1794; col. (Portugal) 1796; brevet col. 1798; maj.-gen. 1805; lt.-gen. 1811; gen. 1825.

Lt.-gov. I.o.W. 1815.

Gov. co. Fermanagh 1813-31; grand master, Orange Order 1818-22; trustee, linen board [I] 1819.

Biography

Archdall, an army officer and placeman, followed his grandfather Nicholas Archdall (formerly Montgomery), 1731-60, and his father and namesake, 1761-1802, as Member for Fermanagh, where he was again returned unopposed on the family interest at the general election of 1820.1 An aging, one-armed ministerialist and anti-Catholic, as well as a prominent Orangeman, he continued to give lacklustre support to Lord Liverpool’s administration, but by this period was largely inactive in the Commons.2 He was granted a month’s leave on urgent private business, 30 June 1820. He attended the county meeting which agreed a loyal address to George IV, 15 Jan. 1821. He voted against Catholic claims, 28 Feb. 1821, and the Catholic peers bill, 30 Apr. 1822. He divided against abolition of one of the joint-postmasterships, 2 May 1822, and repeal of the Foreign Enlistment Act, 16 Apr. 1823. He voted for inquiry into the legal proceedings against the Dublin Orange rioters, 22 Apr. 1823, and vindicated the conduct of Fermanagh juries relative to Orange outrages, 11 May 1824.3 He divided for the Irish unlawful societies bill, 25 Feb., and against Catholic relief, 1 Mar., 21 Apr., 10 May, bringing up his county’s hostile petition, 18 Apr. 1825. No evidence of parliamentary activity has been traced for the 1826 session.

Archdall had been hesitant in giving his backing to Earl Belmore’s elder son, Lord Corry, at the Fermanagh by-election in 1823, but he offered his support to his other son, Henry Thomas Lowry Corry*, in Tyrone in 1825 and the following year to Corry, with whom he was returned at the general election of 1826, when nothing came of a rumoured challenge.4 He spoke strongly in defence of the Protestant cause at the Fermanagh meeting, 30 Oct. 1826, and presented the ensuing anti-Catholic petition, 2 Mar. 1827.5 Absent sick, for which he was given a month’s leave on 10 Apr. 1827, he wrote to the leading anti-Catholic Peel, after the latter’s secession from Canning’s ministry that month, that ‘I am most conscientiously attached to your principles and ... beg you may command me whenever circumstances may require’.6 He, who apparently suggested the formation of a constitutional club in Fermanagh that summer, missed the meeting there the following spring, but brought up the county’s hostile petition, 5 May 1828.7 He divided against Catholic claims, 12 May, and provision for Canning’s family, 13 May. His brother Edward excused his absence, on account of the state of his nerves, from the Protestant celebration in Enniskillen, 12 Aug., but he attended the county meeting, 7 Oct. 1828, to applaud the formation of the Fermanagh Brunswick Club.8 As well as being a vice-president of the Ulster Club, he presided over branches at Kilskerry and Kesh.9 He signed the requisition for, but apparently missed, the Fermanagh Protestants’ meeting in January 1829.10 Listed by Planta, the Wellington ministry’s patronage secretary, as ‘opposed to the principle’ of the emancipation bill, he told Peel that his constituents were not satisfied with the securities, 9 Mar. 1829, and divided steadily against emancipation that month. Having been given a month’s leave on urgent private business, 8 Mar., he voted for repeal of the Irish coal duties, 13 May, and presented Fermanagh petitions against the introduction of poor laws to Ireland, 21 May, and for alteration of the grand jury laws, 8 June 1830.

Despite feeling himself unequal to canvassing the county, Archdall offered again at the general election of 1830, when he and his colleague were challenged by their neighbour, Sir Henry Brooke, but, acclaimed for his consistently anti-Catholic conduct, he was returned in first place after a week’s poll. At his initiative, in September the country gentlemen met to promote a bill to establish turnpikes in the north of Ireland.11 He was listed by ministers among the ‘violent Ultras’ and was absent from the division on the civil list which precipitated their resignation, 15 Nov. He was granted three weeks’ sick leave, 23 Nov. 1830. He paired against the second reading of the Grey ministry’s reform bill, 22 Mar., and voted for Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr. 1831. He was returned in his absence as an anti-reformer at the ensuing general election, when he was praised for his concern for local improvements.12 With the session starting in June, his brother William commiserated with him that ‘as you say, it is very hard to lose your summer in such a way’.13 He divided against the second reading of the reintroduced reform bill, 6 July, for using the 1831 census to determine the boroughs in schedules A and B, 19 July, to postpone consideration of the partial disfranchisement of Chippenham, 27 July, and against the bill’s passage, 21 Sept. He was listed in minorities for reducing the grant for civil list services, 18 July, and Waldo Sibthorp’s complaint of a breach of privilege, 13 Sept. He defended the treatment of Catholic recruits by the Fermanagh yeomanry, 9 Sept., and paired against the Maynooth grant, 26 Sept. 1831. He signed the requisition for another Protestant county meeting in January 1832, when he attended the national gathering in Dublin.14 Having paired against the second reading of the revised reform bill, 17 Dec. 1831, his only other known votes were against the enfranchisement of Tower Hamlets, 28 Feb., the third reading of the bill, 22 Mar., and the second reading of the Irish reform bill, 25 May; he took another month’s sick leave, 9 July 1832.

Archdall, who was returned for the tenth time for Fermanagh at the general election of 1832, resigned on account of ill health in May 1834.15 He died of a stroke in July 1839, when he was remembered as ‘a gallant soldier, a good landlord, a kind friend and a staunch Conservative’.16 By his will, dated 28 Sept. 1829, he made provision for his relations, including his ‘reputed’ children Henry and Jane Grey, but left his residual estate to his brother Colonel William Archdall (1768-1857).17 He, in turn, was succeeded to Castle Archdall by his nephews (Edward’s sons) Mervyn Edward (1812-95) and William Humphrys (1813-99), Conservative Members for Fermanagh, 1834-74 and 1874-85, respectively. Five members of the family, over four generations, therefore provided representatives for the county in an unbroken run of 154 years, which is thought to be a unique record (at least, in relation to Ireland).18

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: Stephen Farrell

Notes

  • 1. Hist. Irish Parl. iii. 103-7; H. B. Archdale, Mems. of Archdales, 33-40; Dublin Evening Post, 1 Apr. 1820.
  • 2. HP Commons, 1790-1820, iii. 83-84; Add. 40298, f. 20; Black Bk. (1823), 136; Session of Parl. 1825, p. 448.
  • 3. The Times, 23 Apr. 1823.
  • 4. PRO NI, Belmore mss D3007/H/7/12; 14/6, 19; Enniskillen Chron. 8, 15, 29 June 1826.
  • 5. The Times, 3 Mar. 1827.
  • 6. Add. 40393, f. 245.
  • 7. Impartial Reporter, 16 Aug. 1827; Enniskillen Chron. 10 Apr. 1828.