ASSHETON SMITH, Thomas I (?1750-1828), of Faenol, Caern. and Tidworth, Hants

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

Constituency

Dates

1774 - 1780
14 Dec. 1797 - 2 May 1821

Family and Education

b. ?1750, 1st s. of Thomas Assheton (afterwards Assheton Smith) of Ashley, Cheshire and Mary Clayton, heiress of Brymbo Hall, Denb. educ. Eton 1761-5. m. 27 Apr. 1773, Elizabeth, da. of Watkin Wynne of Foelas, Caern., 3s. (2 d.v.p.) 5da. suc. fa. 1774. d. 12 May 1828.

Offices Held

Sheriff, Caern. 1774-5, 1783-4, Anglesey 1784-5; ld. lt. Caern. 1822-d.

Maj. S. Hants vol. cav. 1797, lt.-col., res. 1803; lt.-col. commdt. Caern. mercantile vols. 1803; lt.-col. Caern. militia 1808.

Biography

Assheton Smith, a collateral descendant of the former speaker and chancellor of the exchequer John Smith (d. 1723), continued to sit unopposed for the corporation borough of Andover. Noted by his son’s biographer for his ‘remarkable inflexibility of purpose’ and ‘stern’ manner, he reputedly confessed to being ‘the worst tempered man in England, except his son’ and namesake, upon whom he allegedly inflicted the most ‘unjust corporal punishment’ as a child.1 A silent attender for the brief time he sat in this period, he was given a month’s leave, 29 June 1820, paired with the Liverpool ministry on the Queen Caroline affair, 6 Feb., and voted against Catholic relief, 28 Feb. 1821. That May he handed over his seat to his son. A year later Lord Bulkeley named him among leading Caernarvonshire ‘ultra anti-Catholics’ who were ‘raving mad’ in their hostility to Canning’s bill to remove Catholic peers’ disabilities and had threatened to oppose the sitting Member if he supported it.2 Bulkeley’s death soon afterwards vacated the lord lieutenancy, which Lady Conyngham, the king’s mistress, tried to obtain for the Whig Lord Gwydir.3 Lord Liverpool, however, intervened and gave it to Assheton Smith, who was ‘particularly desirous of it’, observing that ‘his property is very large in the county and it will give desperate offence to him and other friends if Lord Gwydir ... is preferred’.4

After quarrelling with his partners in the company formed to exploit his slate quarries in 1809, Assheton Smith had assumed sole control in 1820. Six years later the quarries employed 800 men and produced 20,000 tons annually. He died ‘in his 78th year’ in May 1828, leaving his son, by a will of 7 Mar. 1828, properties in Hampshire and Wiltshire, the Ashley estate in Cheshire, 7,000 acres in Caernarvonshire, and £8,000 in trust.5

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: Philip Salmon

Notes

  • 1. Sir J.E.E. Wilmot, Reminiscences of Assheton Smith (1860), 6-8, 49, 156-7; ‘Nimrod’, Hunting Reminiscences, 302.
  • 2. Buckingham, Mems. Geo. IV, i. 334.
  • 3. Hobhouse Diary, 87.
  • 4. Add. 40304, f. 34.
  • 5. DWB; Gent. Mag (1828), i. 476; PROB 11/1743/434.

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