BAYNTUN, Samuel Adlam (1804-1833), of Cockspur Street, Mdx.
Available from Cambridge University Press
Family and Educationb. 15 Mar. 1804, 1st s. of Rev. Henry Bayntun (d. 1857), rect. of Bromham, of Browfort House, Devizes, Wilts. and w. Lucy Adlam. educ. Westminster 1817; Pembroke, Oxf. 1821; L. Inn 1828. unm. d.v.p. 28 Sept. 1833.
Cornet 1 Drag. Gds. 1826; cornet and sub-lt. 1 Life Gds. 1828; lt. army June 1831; lt. 1 Life Gds. July 1831; ret. 1832.
Bayntun, a professional soldier, came from a Wiltshire family who could trace their origins in the county to the twelfth century. Like his father, who had been given a church living in the family’s gift, he was a member of Devizes corporation.1 While stationed at York in 1827, he intimated his willingness to contest that city at a future election on behalf of the ‘Protestant Tory party’, and shortly before the dissolution in 1830 he renewed his offer. The local Tory committee were informed that he was a ‘gentleman of an independent mind and a large fortune’ who, though ‘at present unconnected with the county’, was willing to ‘purchase an estate and come to reside part of the year in Yorkshire, should it be considered desirable’. In his published address, he condemned the Wellington ministry’s concession of Catholic emancipation the previous year and promised to ‘zealously oppose any measure which may tend to endanger the Protestant ascendancy’. He pledged support for measures to ‘alleviate the public distress ... protect industry and reduce the enormous pressure of taxation’ and advocated the abolition of slavery. He appealed to those ‘old true blue principles’ which had ‘raised this country to the highest rank among the nations of Europe’ and maintained that it was ‘to the departure from them that the tremendous evils which now threaten us ... are mainly to be attributed’. He was returned at the head of the poll with the Whig Thomas Dundas, defeating the Whig Catholic candidate, Edward Petre*. At a celebration dinner, he repudiated accusations that he had been sent to Parliament as the nominee of the East India Company and expressed a wish to see the game laws reformed, as they led ‘to a bad neighbourhood ... to a demoralization, to theft and often to bloodshed’.2
The ministry regarded him as one of their ‘friends’, but he was absent from the crucial division on the civil list, 15 Nov. 1830. He presented an anti-slavery petition from York, 7 Dec. 1830, but failed in his bid to have it printed, as it contained no new information. He supported the York petition for repeal of the assessed taxes, 10 Feb. 1831, and proposed replacing the house and window taxes with ‘a graduated property tax’. On 9 Mar. he explained that he intended to support the Grey ministry’s reform bill in order to preserve ‘that constitution under which we have the happiness to live’. He argued that ‘a measure framed by men having so deep a stake in the preservation of public order ... cannot be deemed of a revolutionary or even a dangerous tendency’, and warned that its rejection would ‘entail a state of things which no man can think of without shuddering’: the ‘necessity of conciliating the people, a course advisable at all times’, was ‘absolutely requisite now’. He believed that the practice of packing the Commons with the sons of peers or their nominees effectively disfranchised one of the three components of the constitution, making it ‘king, lords and dependents, instead of the free choice of the commons of England’. He divided for the bill’s second reading, 22 Mar. On presenting a friendly petition from York, 30 Mar., he acknowledged that there was local dissatisfaction with the clause disfranchising future generations of freemen. When a hostile petition from Devizes corporation was presented, 18 Apr., he told the House that he had not signed it and that other members of the corporation also favoured the bill. He voted against Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr. 1831. At the ensuing general election he was invited to come forward at Devizes, but stood again for York. He maintained that he was still a Tory, but said that he was resolved to ‘vote for such measures as he conceived to be the most beneficial to the country without any regard to who brought them forward’; he commended the reform bill as a measure of constitutional ‘renovation’. He was returned unopposed with Dundas. At his victory dinner, he alluded to the proposed disfranchisement of freemen and claimed that the alterations that had been made in the measure were due in part to his own and other Members’ representations. Afterwards, he attended the election at Devizes, where he spoke against the sitting anti-reform Members.3
He divided for the second reading of the reintroduced reform bill, 6 July 1831, and generally for its details. In the debate on Estcourt’s amendment to preserve the existing voting rights of freemen, 27 Aug., he explained that while he ‘fully concurred in the view taken by ministers regarding the disfranchisement of non-resident voters in towns’, he could not understand ‘upon what principles of necessity government can propose to deprive the future actual inhabitants of large towns of their rights’. He believed that ‘we ought to be exceedingly cautious how we take away the franchise from those who now possess it’, as it risked removing ‘that connecting link of political feeling between the lower and middle classes ... which might be so effectually preserved by the maintenance of [these] rights’. He subsequently informed The Times that he had nevertheless ‘voted against this amendment’, as it sought to ‘preserve the right of non-resident freemen, of which I disapprove’.4 He voted in the minority for Edmund Peel’s amendment to preserve the rights of resident freemen, 30 Aug. He divided for the bill’s passage, 21 Sept., the second reading of the Scottish bill, 23 Sept., and Lord Ebrington’s confidence motion, 10 Oct. He voted to punish only those found guilty of bribery at the Dublin election and against the motion condemning the Irish administration for using undue influence, 23 Aug. He divided for the second reading of the revised reform bill, 17 Dec. 1831, steadily for its details and for the third reading, 22 Mar. 1832. He voted for the motion for an address asking the king to appoint only ministers committed to carrying an undiluted measure, 10 May, and ‘readily acceded’ to the York petition calling for the withholding of supplies until the bill was carried, 24 May. He divided for the second reading of the Irish reform bill, 25 May, and an alteration of Perthshire’s boundaries, 15 June. He voted against ministers on the Russian-Dutch loan, 26 Jan., 12, 16 July, but with them on relations with Portugal, 9 Feb. On the presentation of a petition from William Cobbett† complaining about the use of public money to encourage emigration, when there was a shortage of labourers to gather the harvest in Lancashire and Yorkshire, 14 Mar., he remarked that the shortfall was small and that there was ‘always an abundance of Irish labourers to be had’. He voted against government for Fowell Buxton’s motion for the abolition of slavery, 24 May 1832.
Despite his support for reform, Bayntun offered again for York as a Conservative at the general election of 1832 and was returned in second place, behind Petre. The following year he brought an action against his agent, Cattle, for embezzling money from his election fund in 1830. The defence counsel emphasized Bayntun’s gratitude at the time and also read extracts from letters which suggested that he had not, at the time of the election, possessed the necessary property qualification and that he had asked for this information to be suppressed. The jury found in Cattle’s favour.5 Bayntun died v.p. of scarlet fever in September 1833. One newspaper suspected that his death had been ‘accelerated by mental anxiety, arising out of pecuniary circumstances’, while another noted that ‘a reconciliation had taken place between Mr. Bayntun and his father before his illness’, but did not elaborate on the nature of their quarrel.6 Bayntun appears to have died intestate.