BASTARD, Edmund Pollexfen (1784-1838), of 13 New Street, Spring Gardens, Mdx. and Kitley, nr. Plymouth, Devon

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

Constituency

Dates

1812 - 30 Apr. 1816
13 May 1816 - 1830

Family and Education

b. 12 July 1784, 1st s. of Edmund Bastard† of Sharpham, Devon and Jane, da. of Capt. Philemon Pownall, RN, of Sharpham; bro. of John Bastard*. educ. Eton 1799-1802; Christ Church, Oxf. 1803. m. 22 Jan. 1824, Hon. Anne Jane Rodney, da. of George Rodney†, 2nd Bar. Rodney, 3s. suc. fa. 1816. d. 8 June 1838.

Offices Held

Lt.-col. commdt. S. Hams yeomanry 1820.

Biography

Bastard, who was returned for Devon at a by-election in 1816 following the death of his uncle, John Pollexfen Bastard of Kitley, inherited that estate soon afterwards from his father.1 In 1820 he was returned in second place behind the liberal Tory Sir Thomas Dyke Acland, but ahead of the Whig Lord Ebrington*, with whom he had fought three successive contests. His address referred to the Cato Street conspiracy, which demonstrated that ‘laws recently enacted to preserve both church and state from the parricidal attacks of blasphemy and treason were not unadvisedly supported’, and he promised a ‘strict adherence to the independent principles which I originally pledged myself to maintain’.2 He was an almost silent Member who continued to attend fairly regularly and gave general support to Lord Liverpool’s ministry, but his voting behaviour vindicated his claims to be considered independent. No record of any parliamentary activity has been found for 1820. He was absent from the early part of the 1821 session owing to ‘the effects of a fall on the ice’, but returned to present the Devon petition against Catholic claims, 23 Mar.3 He divided against ministers for repeal of the additional malt duty, 21 Mar., 3 Apr., and military retrenchment, 6 Apr., 4, 31 May, but with them against Russell’s parliamentary reform resolutions, 9 May 1821. He attended the county meeting on agricultural distress, 1 Feb. 1822, and promised to support the resulting petition in the Commons; in fact he did not speak.4 He voted against more extensive tax reductions, 11, 21 Feb., but for reduction of the salt duties, 28 Feb., and the junior lords of the admiralty, 1 Mar., and abolition of one of the joint-postmasterships, 13 Mar. He divided against the removal of Catholic peers’ disabilities, 30 Apr. Either he or his brother John called for the silk manufacturers to be heard by counsel against the navigation bill, 20 May. He voted against inquiry into the conduct of the lord advocate in relation to the Scottish press, 25 June, and for the aliens bill, 19 July 1822. He divided against repeal of the Foreign Enlistment Act, 16 Apr., but for inquiry into the prosecution of the Dublin Orange rioters, 22 Apr. 1823. No sign of parliamentary activity has been found for 1824. He was named as a defaulter, 28 Feb., but attended next day to vote against Catholic relief, as he did again, 21 Apr., 10 May 1825. He divided against the Irish franchise bill, 26 Apr. 1825. He voted against the spring guns bill, 27 Apr.,5 and the corn importation bill, 11 May 1826. At the general election that summer he was again returned for Devon with Acland, after a token contest in which he confirmed his adherence to ‘principles of loyalty and independence’.6

He presented numerous petitions from Devon parishes for the maintenance of agricultural protection, 22, 26 Feb.,7 and voted against the corn bill, 2 Apr. 1827. He or his brother presented a petition from Brixham ship owners complaining of distress arising from changes in the navigation laws, 26 Feb.8 He divided against Catholic relief, 6 Mar. 1827. In January 1828, after the formation of the duke of Wellington’s ministry, Bastard informed Peel, the leader of the Commons, that though he was ‘one of those who would have preferred a government more decidedly if not entirely Protestant, I rejoice exceedingly in the prospect afforded to the country of the re-establishment of a better order of things’.9 He divided against repeal of the Test Acts, 26 Feb., Catholic claims, 12 May, and the financial provision for Canning’s family, 13 May 1828. In February 1829 Planta, the patronage secretary, listed him as being ‘opposed to the principle’ of Catholic emancipation. He had attended the county meeting on this issue, 16 Jan.,10 and presented the resulting hostile petition, 24 Feb., when he declared that ‘my sentiments on this subject remain unchanged’; he voted accordingly, 6, 18, 23, 27, 30 Mar. He divided against the Maynooth grant, 22 May. He voted against the silk trade bill, 1 May. He maintained that Exeter corporation had ‘never made any improper use’ of the power vested in it to receive forfeitures of personal property from convicted felons, 3 June. In September 1829 he wrote to Sir Richard Vyvyan*, the Ultra Tory leader:

I agree with you in the necessity of firmness and unanimity in our party in the next session; although I fear our numbers may be so thinned by the overtures and intrigues of the duke before the meeting of Parliament, that we shall scarcely be entitled to the designation of a party. I cannot help taking a very gloomy view of the state of affairs. In Ireland, everything is coming to pass that we anticipated, only with more rapid strides. In the East we are beginning to reap the fruits of the disgraceful battle of Navarino, and the fall of the Turkish empire must be very perplexing to the duke ... The state of the country is very discouraging ... The farmers however complain less than I expected; but I fear they have not yet seen the worst of it ... For myself I cannot have any confidence in the duke ... after his conduct on the Catholic question, and many other measures adopted by him since, nor am I disposed to support any ministry of which he is the head, whatever may be the other component parts of it. I wish to see a thorough illiberal Protestant government, but I fear such is not to be obtained in the present state of public affairs.11

Vyvyan duly listed him the following month as one of the ‘Tories strongly opposed to the present government’. He excused himself from attending the county meeting on tithes reform, 15 Jan. 1830, on account of his wife’s confinement.12 He divided for Knatchbull’s amendment to the address on distress, 4 Feb., and reduction of the grant for public buildings, 3 May. He voted against the transfer of East Retford’s seats to Birmingham, 11 Feb., and the enfranchisement of Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester, 23 Feb. He divided against Jewish emancipation, 5 Apr., 17 May. It was probably he, not his brother, who presented a Plymouth publicans’ petition against the sale of beer bill, 3 May, as he voted to prohibit or postpone on-consumption in beerhouses, 21 June, 1 July. He divided against abolition of the death penalty for forgery, 7 June 1830. That month he was a member of the deputation to Wellington which represented the views of claimants on the French government.13 Prior to the general election that summer he assured one of his friends in Devon that his failure to appear at public meetings did not mean he intended to retire, observing that ‘my habits are as much part of myself as my mind, and it must have been known to everyone ... that I did not possess the faculty of public speaking and that my habits were retired’. He was also determined to give no pledges on policy, although he said he would ‘rejoice to see slavery and the punishment of death in all cases of forgery abolished, if it can be effected with safety to public and private property’.14 He came bottom of the poll behind the pro-Catholics Ebrington and Acland, after a severe contest dominated by the issues of retrenchment and tax reductions. In October 1830 he informed his supporters that he would not stand at any future election.15

Bastard died in June 1838, and his estate passed to his eldest son, Edmund Pollexfen Bastard (1825-56), and in turn to his other sons, Baldwin and William; his personalty was sworn under £30,000.16

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: Terry Jenkins

Notes

  • 1. He was the residuary legatee of his father’s estate, which was proved under £40,000 (PROB 11/1588/2; IR26/696/17).
  • 2. Trewman’s Exeter Flying Post, 9-23 Mar. 1820.
  • 3. Alfred, 30 Jan., 13 Mar.; The Times, 24 Mar. 1821.
  • 4. Alfred, 5 Feb. 1822.
  • 5. Norf. RO, Gunton mss 1/21.
  • 6. Trewman’s Exeter Flying Post, 15, 22 June 1826.
  • 7. The Times, 23, 27 Feb. 1827.
  • 8. Ibid. 27 Feb. 1827.
  • 9. Add. 40395, f. 96.
  • 10. Woolmer&