BLACKBURNE, John (1754-1833), of Hale Hall, nr. Liverpool; Orford Hall, nr. Warrington, Lancs., and Park Street, 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

1784 - 1830

Family and Education

b. 5 Aug. 1754, 1st s. of Thomas Blackburne of Hale and Ireland, da. and coh. of Isaac Greene of Childwall Abbey, Liverpool and Hale. educ. Harrow; Queen’s, Oxf. 1772. m. 19 Apr. 1781, Anne, da. of Samuel Rodbard of Evercreech, Som. 3s. 4da. suc. fa. 1768; grandfa. John Blackburne to Orford 1786. d. 11 Apr. 1833.

Offices Held

Sheriff, Lancs. 1781-2.

Capt. commdt. Hale vols. 1803.

Biography

Blackburne, like his maternal cousin Isaac Gascoyne*, had derived much of his early influence in Lancashire from the Greene interest. A staunch anti-Catholic Pittite and Tory, he had recently tended to support Lord Liverpool’s administration, but independently so. By 1820, when he sought his ninth return for Lancashire, his ‘extremely absent and otherwise odd’ demeanour and intermittent attention to constituency business had become an embarrassment to his friends, and the Liverpool ministry deemed him ‘too old’ to be relied on to defend the conduct of the Peterloo magistrates in the House.1 Attempts to replace him failed and, boosted by a show of support from Warrington, he was returned with the Whig Lord Stanley after a token poll, prompted by the late candidature of the Liverpool radical George Williams†.2 His indolence, reluctance to speak in debate, spasmodic attendance and inattention to mercantile interests continued to cause concern in the Parliament of 1820, and the Liverpool Members, Stanley and Edward Bootle Wilbraham frequently had to deputize for him. He presented hostile petitions, 27 Mar. 1821, 21 Apr. 1825, and divided against Catholic relief, 28 Feb. 1821, 30 Apr. 1822, 1 Mar., 10 May, and against the attendant Irish franchise bill, 9 May 1825. A radical publication of that year correctly described him as a Member who ‘did not attend frequently and voted with government’.3 He uttered a few perfunctory remarks in support of the Lancaster gaoler Higgins, 31 May 1820. He divided with government on their handling of Queen Caroline’s case, 6 Feb., and against the malt duty repeal bill, 3 Apr. 1821, more extensive tax reductions, 21 Feb., remission of the salt tax, 28 Feb., 28 June, and abolition of one of the joint-postmasterships, 13 Mar. 1822. He presented petitions on a wide range of issues: for concessions on the importation of wool, 16, 25 May 1820; free trade, including deregulation of the China trade, 19 May, 10 July 1820, 3 May 1822; reform of the navigation laws, 31 May, and the poor removal bill, 30, 31 May 1822. He brought up many petitions against the alehouse licensing bill, which was disliked in the manufacturing towns, 3, 5, 7 June, 15 July 1822.4 In September 1822 the home secretary Peel, to whom he had applied, refused to waive the denizenship regulations in favour of his ward’s Polish fiancé Prince Eustace Sapieha.5

‘Bowed down with grief and affliction’ following the death in January 1823 of both his wife and his brother Thomas, the warden of Manchester Collegiate church, he applied unsuccessfully through his old friend Lord Sidmouth for the wardenship for his son Thomas; but he did secure the lucrative post of distributor of stamps for Manchester for his brother Isaac that year.6 He divided against repealing the Foreign Enlistment Act, 16 Apr., Scottish parliamentary reform, 2 June, and investigating chancery arrears, 5 June. He presented his constituents’ petitions for repeal of the Insolvent Debtors Act, 11 Mar., 14 Apr., 6 June, against the beer bill, 14 Apr., 6 June, and for the abolition of colonial slavery, 9 May. He voted in the minority against the usury laws repeal bill, 17 June 1823.7 He presented petitions against the proposed alterations in the silk duties, 8, 18 Mar., beer and excise licenses, 26 Feb., 26 May, and the duties on hides, 21 May, and voted in the minority against ending the prohibition on exporting long wool, 21 May, having presented a hostile petition, 18 Mar. 1824. He brought up petitions in condemnation of the indictment in Demerara of the Methodist missionary John Smith, 26 May, but failed to divide on the issue, 1, 11 June 1824.8 He presented petitions against colonial slavery, 5 Apr., 28 Feb. 1826.9 He voted to outlaw the Catholic Association, 25 Feb., and for the duke of Cumberland’s award, 30 May, 10 June 1825. He presented petitions from Manchester complaining of the distress to their trade through the importation of foreign silks, 17, 22 Feb., and voted in the opposition minority for a select committee to consider them, 24 Feb. 1826.10 On 20 Apr., at their request, he brought up and endorsed the Lancashire grand jury’s petition for reform of the game laws.11 Rightly anticipating opposition from several quarters at the general election of 1826, he turned his opponents’ disunity and the prohibitive cost of a contest to his own advantage, made virtues of his ‘church and state’ principles and long tenure, and mustered a strong show of support at Lancaster, where the nominated third man, Alexander Nowell*, declined to proceed with the poll. On the hustings, assisted by William Wilson Carus Wilson*, he challenged his opponents to prove him guilty of neglecting constituency issues and refused to be drawn into the dispute over Lancaster’s assize town status, which Liverpool and Preston coveted.12

Blackburne divided, 6 Mar. 1827, 12 May 1828, and presented petitions against Catholic relief, 14 May 1827, 3 June 1828.13 He brought up others from his constituents for corn law revision, 14 Feb., repeal of the Test Acts, 30 May 1827, and of the Malt Act, 21 Feb. 1828.14 He voted to disfranchise Penryn for corruption, with a view to securing its seats for Manchester, 28 May 1827, and divided with the duke of Wellington’s administration against ordnance reductions, 4 July 1828. Their patronage secretary Planta predicted that he would vote ‘with government’ to concede Catholic emancipation in 1829, but he brought up a hostile petition from Warrington, 4 Mar., and divided against it, 6, 18, 30 Mar. (as a pair). He presented petitions on local issues, 16 Mar., 4, 6 May 1829. He announced on 12 Nov. 1829 that he would stand down at the next dissolution.15 No further votes by him were reported, but he presented petitions in 1830 against the sale of beer bill, 6 May, the administration of justice bill, which Warrington opposed, 12 May, and another the same day against the East India Company’s trading monopoly. John Wilson Patten of Bank Hall, Warrington, for whom he made way at the general election in August, projected himself as his political heir and promised his eldest son John Ireland Blackburne† (1783-1874) his Warrington interest, should that borough be enfranchised.16

Blackburne died in April 1833 at his London home in Park Street, and was succeeded in his estates by John, Conservative Member for Warrington, 1835-47.17 His will, dated 18 Feb. 1823, was proved under £10,000 in Chester, 15 May, and £3,000 in London, 14 June 1833, which was insufficient to fulfil his many bequests.18

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: Margaret Escott

Notes

  • 1. VCH Lancs. iii. 146-7; Gronow Reminiscences, i. 159; Add. 38280, f. 19.
  • 2. British Volunteer, 26 Feb.; Manchester Mercury, 14, 21, 28 Feb., 7, 21 Mar.; Blackburn Mail, 1 Mar. 1820; Lancs. RO, Hulton mss DDHu/53/61.
  • 3. The Times, 28 Mar. 1821, 22 Apr. 1825; Session of Parl. 1825, p. 451.
  • 4. The Times, 17, 26 May, 11 July 1820, 4, 31 May, 1, 4, 6, 8 June, 16 July 1822.
  • 5. Add. 40350, f. 212; 40351, f. 32.
  • 6. Gent. Mag. (1823), i. 93, 187; Devon RO, Sidmouth mss, J.I. Blackburne to Sidmouth