BARING, Sir Thomas, 2nd bt. (1772-1848), of Stratton Park, nr. Winchester, Hants and 21 Devonshire Place, Mdx.

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

Constituency

Dates

1806 - 10 June 1832
22 June 1832 - 1832

Family and Education

b. 12 June 1772, 1st s. of Sir Francis Baring†, 1st bt., of Stratton and Harriet, da. and coh. of William Herring of Croydon, Surr.; bro. of Alexander Baring* and Henry Baring*. educ. by E. Florijn, Amsterdam. m. 13 Sept. 1794, at Calcutta, Mary Ursula, da. of Charles Sealy, barrister, of Calcutta, 4s. 5da. (3 d.v.p.). suc. fa. as 2nd bt. 12 Sept. 1810. d. 3 Apr. 1848.

Offices Held

Writer, E.I. Co. (Bengal) 1790; asst. to sec. to government in secret dept. 1790; commr. of ct. of requests 1790, 1794; 3rd asst. to collector of Rajshahye 1792; registrar, diwani adalat of Dinajpur 1793; asst. to examiner and reporter, the presidency sadar diwani adalat 1794; translator to the sadar diwani and nizamat adalat 1796; collector of the 24 pargannas 1796; jun. merchant 1797; home 1798.

Biography

Baring, a wealthy and influential Hampshire landowner of 9,000 acres, had no direct involvement in the family financial business after 1809. Unlike his younger brother Alexander, he ‘never entered much into political affairs’, but he was an energetic county magistrate, with a particular interest in prison administration.1 A connoisseur and collector of fine art, he was a liberal landlord and generous philanthropist, having been inspired to active Evangelicalism by the pious example of his Quaker wife.2 At the general election of 1820, disregarding the notion of others that he should stand for Hampshire, he was returned unopposed for Chipping Wycombe, where he had sat since 1806 on the former Lansdowne interest, with corporation backing.3 He remained a steadfast Whig, in the family tradition, but he was not a thick and thin attender.

His only known votes in the 1820 session were against the Liverpool ministry on the civil list, 3, 5, 8 May. He was given three weeks’ leave on account of a family illness, 29 June 1820. His only recorded vote on the Queen Caroline affair was for the opposition censure motion, 6 Feb. 1821. He was in their minority on the repression of liberalism in Naples, 21 Feb. He divided for Catholic relief, 28 Feb.1821, 1 Mar., 21 Apr., 10 May 1825. After three months apparent absence from the House he was present to vote for the forgery punishment mitigation bill, 23 May 1821. He divided to exclude arrears from the grant to the duke of Clarence, 8 June 1821. He voted for more extensive tax reductions, 11, 21 Feb., to condemn Sir Robert Wilson’s* dismissal from the army, 13 Feb., in Hume’s minority on naval pay, 22 Feb., and for gradual reduction of the salt duties, 28 Feb. 1822. He divided for admiralty reductions, 1 Mar., abolition of one of the joint-postmasterships, 13 Mar., 2 May, and inquiries into the board of control, 14 Mar., the government of the Ionian Islands, 14 May, and diplomatic expenditure, 15 May. He was in a minority of 33 for postponing the public works grant, 29 Mar., but only paired for Russell’s parliamentary reform motion, 25 Apr. His last recorded vote that session was as one of Hume’s minority of 35 for use of the sinking fund to pay the deadweight pensions, 24 May, when he presented the Wycombe residents’ petition for relaxation of the penal code.4 Named to the select committee on prison laws, 5 Mar. 1822 (and again, 18 Mar. 1824), he corresponded at the turn of the year with Peel, the home secretary, on the use of treadmills, which he favoured, encouraged by the ‘very best effects’ experienced in Winchester gaol.5

Chairing the Hampshire reform meeting, 1 Mar. 1823, he declined to censure the sheriff for initially vetoing it, but asked, ‘Did not the veriest reptile turn when trod upon; and were the people of England, when overwhelmed and oppressed, not to complain of their oppression?’ He explained that ‘his idea of reform went to the entire eradication of corruption’, on which he blamed the ‘alarming amount of the national debt’ and the ‘lamentable’ 1797 cash restriction, but condemned ‘specious and plausible’ radical schemes as ‘pregnant with infinite though latent mischief’.6 He voted for Russell’s reform plan, 24 Apr., and endorsed the Hampshire petition, 12 May.7 He was in small minorities to reduce the grant for colonial agents and for information on the Orange attack on the Irish viceroy, 24 Mar. He divided against the naval and military pensions bill, 14 Apr. On the 25th he defended two clerical Hampshire magistrates against a charge of excessive harshness towards a violator of the game laws; he supported William Cobbett’s† petition for reform of these, 7 May. He spoke and voted for Burdett’s motion to end punishment by whipping, 30 Apr. He voted for inquiry into the problems of Ireland, 13 May, to equalize the East and West Indian sugar duties, 22 May, and against treasury control over the appointment of the new London Bridge engineer, 20 June. He presented McAdam’s petition for further remuneration for his road improvement techniques, 14 May, secured a select committee on the subject, 22 May, and presented its report, 20 June 1823.8 His only recorded votes in 1824 were for reform of Edinburgh’s representation, 26 Feb., to accuse lord chancellor Eldon of a breach of privilege and reduce the grant for Toulonese emigrants, 1 Mar., for repeal of the window tax, 2 Mar., and investigation of the Scottish judicial system, 30 Mar., and against the aliens bill, 12 Apr. On 1 Mar. he said that ‘many’ royal palaces, including the new ‘Kremlin’ at Brighton, could be ‘pulled down with advantage’. He advocated the limited and well-regulated use of treadmills in prisons, 5 Mar., and was named to the committee on the county gaols bill, 12 Apr. He presented anti-slavery petitions from Guildford, 25 Mar., and Wycombe, 8 Apr., and one from the London Missionary Society deploring the prosecution of the Methodist missionary John Smith in Demerara, 31 May; but he did not vote in that sense, 11 June.9 He wanted third-time offenders against the game laws to be sent for trial at assizes, 15 Apr. 1824.10

Baring voted against the Irish unlawful societies bill, 15 Feb., and to hear defence by counsel on behalf of the Catholic Association, 18 Feb. 1825. He supported inquiry into turnpike trusts, which he said put £1,500,000 a year into the hands of ‘irresponsible persons’, 17 Feb., when he was named to the select committee.11 He approved the grant to McAdam, 13 May, but voted against that to the duke of Cumberland, 30 May 1825. He was in minorities of 39 and nine against the government’s plans to deal with the aftermath of the recent financial crash, 13, 27 Feb. 1826. He presented Wycombe corporation’s anti-slavery petition, 16 Feb.,12 and was added to the select committee on the slave trade at Mauritius, 12 May. He voted to disfranchise non-resident Irish borough voters, 9 Mar., and for reform of Edinburgh’s representation, 13 Apr., and Russell’s reform motion, 27 Apr. As a former East India Company civil servant, he welcomed the bill to relax the regulations governing their training, said that it was desirable to reduce the length of their residence in India, where they got involved in ‘the greatest dissipations’ and moved but abandoned an amendment to make attendance at Haileybury non-essential, 28 Apr.13 He divided against giving the president of the board of trade a ministerial salary, 10 Apr., and to allow defence by counsel in felony trials, 25 Apr. He opposed the ‘unwarrantable’ bill for the erection of a new London corn exchange and was a teller for the minority, 17 Apr. He spoke and voted for an unsuccessful attempt to establish regular adjournment days for alehouse licensing, 12 May 1826.14

His return for Wycombe at the 1826 general election was unopposed, but some of the unfranchised residents abused him for his supposed criticism on the Hampshire bench of the high level of allowances for the poor; his hat was hit by a stone and his hasty departure from the borough impeded.15 He divided against the Clarences’ annuity bill, 2 Mar., for Catholic relief, 6 Mar., inquiry into Leicester corporation’s electoral malpractice, 15 Mar., and in the opposition minority to postpone supply until the ministerial crisis was resolved, 30 Mar. 1827. He voted for the spring guns bill, 23 Mar. He voted for the disfranchisement of Penryn, 28 May 1827. He presented petitions for repeal of the Test Acts, 25 Feb. 1828, and voted accordingly next day. His only other known votes that session were against the Wellington ministry for enhanced control over crown excise prosecutions, 1 May, and inquiries into civil list pensions, 20 May, and the currency, 5 June. On 5 May he failed to convince Peel, home secretary again, of the desirability of allowing convicted murderers more than two days between sentence and execution, and called for the exemplary punishment of the perpetrators of cruelty to children. He opposed any reduction in the grant for the Refuge for the Destitute, which did good work in the rehabilitation of criminals, 30 May. He presented a Marylebone householders’ petition in favour of the local vestry bill, which he defended, 6 June; he was a teller for the minority. He was named to the select committees on vestries, 1 May 1829, 10 Feb. 1830. He was expected to side ‘with government’ for Catholic emancipation in 1829, but he evidently abstained, in deference to hostile opinion at Wycombe, though he voted to allow Daniel O’Connell to take his seat unhindered, 18 May. He argued that children should not be sent to common gaols, 12 Mar. He approved a proposal to require friendly societies to use reliable tables of rates, 15 May, when he said that Littleton’s truck bill was ‘a hazardous experiment’ which would create difficulties for magistrates; he got one vote for his opposition to its reduction of the parochial family allowance. He was added to the select committee on the metropolitan police, 1 May 1829.

Baring voted for the amendment to the address, 4 Feb., to reduce taxes, 15 Feb., and for various economies in public expenditure, 1, 9, 12, 22, 26, 29 Mar. 1830, when he argued that there was no need to fund a private chapel at Pembroke dockyard. He divided for the enfranchisement of Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester, 23 Feb., and for investigation of the Newark petition accusing the duke of Newcastle of electoral interference, 1 Mar. He welcomed Peel’s proposal to abolish the fees payable to clerks of the peace, 17 Feb., and was appointed to the select committee, 23 Feb. He was in the minority of 26 for preventing Members from voting on bills in which they had a personal interest, 26 Feb. He presented a Wycombe petition for mitigation of the penal code, 23 Mar. He voted for Jewish emancipation, 5 Apr., 17 May. He was unhappy with Slaney’s poor bill and unsuccessfully divided the House (9-91) against its clause stipulating parish care for children whose parents could not provide for them, 26 Apr. He voted to reduce the salary of the assistant treasury secretary, 10 May, for repeal of the Irish coal duties, 13 May, reform of the Barbados pensions fund, 21 May, inquiry into the civil government of Canada, 25 May, and to reduce the grant for South American missions, 7 June. He argued that transportation or solitary confinement would more effectually curb forgery than execution, 13 May, and voted in that sense, 24 May, 7 June. Supporting a London bakers’ petition against enforced Sunday working, 25 May, he said that ‘the custom of Sabbath breaking is a rapidly increasing evil’. He divided for reform of the divorce laws, 3 June 1830.

After his quiet return for Wycombe at the 1830 general election Baring was involved in the abortive bid to bring in Lord Porchester* for Hampshire in place of the Tory Fleming. Announcing Porchester’s refusal to stand, he declared that it was essential to have Members who would support reform and ‘an unsparing and uncompromising economy of the public purse’.16 He helped to vote the ministry out of office on the civil list, 15 Nov. 1830.17 On 25 Nov. he was given three weeks’ leave on account of the ‘disturbed state of his neighbourhood’ in Hampshire, where he was prominent in the restoration of order and the processing of ‘Swing’ rioters. Shortly before Christmas he wrote to his eldest son:

I have apprehended about twenty of the worst and most active of our mob ... Those I have been most kind to and who were the best provided for have taken the lead. The motive which has operated upon the minds of my people has not been distress but a revolutionary spirit. The language they have used has been, ‘We are going to have another constitution; the heads have been in power long enough, and now it is our turn’; and to the farmers they said, ‘When we are in possession you shall have the land at ten shillings the acre’.18

He complained of the refusal of solicitors’ access to prisoners in some London prisons, 10 Feb. 1831. At the Hampshire county meeting to petition in favour of the Grey ministry’s reform bill, 17 Mar., he said, as ‘a most zealous friend to the great cause’, that it would give the people ‘their just rights’, but he acknowledged his brother Alexander’s embarrassing turncoat hostility to the measure.19 He voted for the second reading, 22 Mar., presented and endorsed the Hampshire petition, 29 Mar., and voted against Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr. At his unopposed return for Wycombe at the ensuing general election he called on the people to rally round the king under ‘the standard of reform’ and bragged of his efforts to promote the cause in supine Hampshire, where he had declined an invitation to stand himself. Nominating Sir James Macdonald* there, 6 May 1831, he claimed to be ‘no new reformer’, criticized both Cobbett and the duplicitous ‘Tory reformers’ and urged the abolition of slavery.20

Baring voted for the second reading of the reintroduced reform bill, 6 July, and throughout the night against the opposition’s adjournment motions, 12 July 1831. Tom Macaulay* reported that he ‘sent for his razor’, being ‘resolved to spend the whole day in the House rather than give way’.21 He was a steady silent supporter of the bill’s details, though he voted for the enfranchisement of £50 tenants-at-will, 18 Aug. He divided for the third reading, 19 Sept., and passage of the measure, 21 Sept. He repudiated the Deacles’ allegations of assault by his nephew William Bingham Baring* as a Hampshire magistrate, 22, 29 Aug., backed his brother’s demand for a full inquiry, 19, 22 Sept., and voted for one, 27 Sept. He joined in calls for government regulation of steamboats after the Rothay Castle catastrophe, 20 Sept. He pleaded ‘ill health’ as his excuse for not attending a Wycombe meeting to petition the Lords for the reform bill, 4 Oct.22 He voted for the motion of confidence in the ministry, 10 Oct., but next day, giving ‘cordial support’ to Sadler’s poor bill, deplored ‘large and tumultuous’ popular meetings, citing the example of his well paid gardeners at Stratton who through ‘an infatuation’ had last winter joined in a destructive mob rampage. He attended but did not address the Hampshire reform meeting, 26 Oct. 1831.23

He voted for the second reading of the revised reform bill, 17 Dec. 1831, supported it steadily in committee, defended the proposal to give the Isle of Wight a county Member, 1 Feb., and divided for the third reading, 22 Mar. 1832. He was prepared to vote for a general fast day, 26 Jan., was named to the select committee on Sabbath observance, 2 July, and presented a Winchester petition on the subject, 13 July. He voted with government on relations with Portugal, 9 Feb., against inquiry into military punishments, 16 Feb., and for their temporizing amendment on slavery abolition, 24 May. On 8 May he supported Hume’s motion for investigation of church pluralities, but accused him of unfairly blaming the clergy for the increase in crime; he attributed this to the Sale of Beer Act, which had ‘diffused much immorality through the country’. He divided for the address calling on the king to appoint only ministers who would carry reform unimpaired, 10 May. He informed the promoters of a Wycombe reform meeting, 24 May, that his duties as a member of the Irish tithes select committee (15 Dec. 1831) prevented his attendance, but that his enthusiasm for reform was ‘unabated’.24 Next day he voted for the second reading of the Irish reform bill. Nothing had come of rumours that he might be made a peer during the reform crisis; and when Macdonald vacated Hampshire in June 1832 he accepted an invitation to stand, resigned his borough seat and came in unopposed, describing the reform bill as ‘a great means for important ends’ and exhorting the electors to ‘eradicate corruption from among yourselves’.25 He was in the ministerial majority on the Russian-Dutch loan, 12 July 1832.

Baring initially offered for the new Northern district of Hampshire, but thought better of it and brought his Commons career to an end in September 1832. According to Thomas Creevey*, Lord Grey said ‘he should have liked very much’ to have recommended him for a peerage as the head of his family and to give ‘an additional mortification’ to the renegade Alexander, but that ‘his having sons to succeed him put that quite out of the question’.26 Baring died at Stratton in April 1848. By his will, dated 16 Jan. 1845, and in which he expressed his ‘confident belief in the sufficiency of the blood of Christ and his righteousness for the atonement of sins and the mortification of my person at the solemn tribunal before which I must shortly appear’, he left to his eldest son Francis Thornhill Baring* all his Hampshire and Kent real estate. He provided annuities of £1,000 for his youngest son Charles, who was to get £25,000 on his mother’s death, and of £500 and £400 for his married daughters Charlotte and Frances, in addition to their £10,000 portions. Charlotte and her sister Emily received further legacies of £6,000.27

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: David R. Fisher

Notes

  • 1. Gent. Mag. (1848), ii. 91; R. Foster, Politics of County Power, 10, 44, 45, 54.
  • 2. R.W. Hidy, House of Baring in American Trade, 38, 43, 45; Farington Diary, xv. 5361; xvi. 5540.
  • 3. Foster, 134; Hants RO, Malmesbury mss 9M73/G2459, Malmesbury to Fitzharris, 19 Feb. 1820.
  • 4. The Times, 25 May 1822.
  • 5. Add. 40353, f. 198; 40354, f. 13.
  • 6. The Times, 3 Mar. 1823.
  • 7. Ibid. 13 May 1823.
  • 8. Ibid. 15, 23 May, 21 June 1823; Add. 40862, f. 115.
  • 9. The Times, 26 Mar., 9 Apr., 1 June; Bucks. Chron. 10 Apr. 1824.
  • 10. The Times, 16 Apr. 1824.
  • 11. Ibid. 18 Feb. 1825.
  • 12. Ibid. 17 Feb. 1826.
  • 13. Ibid. 29 Apr. 1826.
  • 14. Ibid. 13 May 1826.
  • 15. Bucks. Chron. 17 June 1826.
  • 16. Hants RO, Carnarvon mss 75M91/E4/80; Cent. Kent. Stud. Stanhope mss U1590 C353, Porchester to Mahon, 17 Aug.; Hants Chron. 9 Aug. 1830.
  • 17. Baring Jnls. i. 70.
  • 18. Wellington mss WP4/2/2/8, 20; Baring Jnls. i. 77-78; Foster, 71.