BOUGHEY, Sir John Fenton, 2nd bt. (1784-1823), of Aqualate Hall and Betley Court, Staffs.

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



1820 - 27 June 1823

Family and Education

b. 1 May 1784, o.s. of Sir Thomas Fletcher, 1st bt., of Betley and his cos. Anne, da. and h. of John Fenton of Newcastle-under-Lyme. educ. Christ Church, Oxf. 1803. m. 9 Feb. 1808, Henrietta Dorothy, da. of Sir John Chetwode, 4th bt.†, of Oakley, 9s. (1 d.v.p.) 4da.1 Took name of Boughey by royal lic. 21 May 1805 on inheriting Audley estates of cos. George Boughey (d.1788); suc. fa. as 2nd bt. 14 July 1812. d. 27 June 1823.

Offices Held

Capt. commdt. Betley and Audley vols. 1803; lt.-col. N. Staffs. militia 1810, lt.-col. commdt. 1813.


Boughey, a wealthy coal owner, had been ousted from his seat for Newcastle-under-Lyme in 1818 when the 2nd marquess of Stafford exerted himself to regain control of the borough. Eager for revenge, he cut loose from Stafford’s collusive coal price fixing, earning himself local popularity, and at the 1820 general election accepted an invitation from the independent Staffordshire Freeholders’ Association to challenge Stafford’s son Lord Gower for his county seat.2 ‘Boughey transformed into a Whig is the candidate supported by Lord Anson’, noted Sir James Mackintosh*.3 In his public pronouncements Boughey, whose expenses were paid by subscription, declared himself hostile to Catholic claims and promised to ‘obey the instructions of his constituents’, but otherwise confined himself to denunciations of Stafford’s ‘system of private nomination’. It came as a surprise when Gower, whose father quailed at the fearful cost of a contest, abandoned the field, leaving Boughey to be returned unopposed ‘on the modern Whig interest’, as the local diarist Dyott lamented.4 (It later emerged that Boughey’s supporters ‘could not have commanded the means ... for a long poll’.)5 Gower’s uncle Lord Granville, who thought the family interest should have been defended, denounced Boughey as ‘a vulgar minded, disagreeable fellow and no Popery man, instigated to stand by the Whigs and supported by many of the Catholics’.6 The Globe reported that his ‘support may be reckoned upon by the Whigs’ and he duly voted with the opposition to the Liverpool ministry on most major issues, including economy, retrenchment and reduced taxation, although he never joined Brooks’s.7 (A radical commentary of 1823 inaccurately stated that he had failed to support parliamentary reform and repeal of the Blasphemous and Seditious Libels Act in 1821 and the reduction of admiralty lords and repeal of the salt duties in 1822, but correctly noted his absence from the minorities against crown influence and the aliens bill that year.)8

Boughey presented a petition from Wednesbury artisans against the truck system, 23 June 1820.9 In December that year, in common with all the leading landowners in Staffordshire, he resisted a radical proposal to vote an address for the dismissal of ministers over their handling of the Queen Caroline affair, despite having joined the opposition campaign on her behalf.10 He was nevertheless in their minorities on the omission of her name from the liturgy, 23, 26 Jan., 13 Feb., but he did not vote on their censure motion, 6 Feb. 1821. Nor did he in the division on Catholic relief, 28 Feb. 1821, though he subsequently opposed the bill to remove Catholic peers’ disabilities, 30 Apr. 1822. He was granted a fortnight’s leave on account of family illness, 16 Mar. 1821. On 21 Mar. he obtained leave for a bill to amend the acts governing county rates, which he took up to the Lords following its third reading, 17 May, and which received royal assent (1 and 2 Geo. IV, c. 85), 2 July. He had something to say on the army estimates which escaped the ears of the reporters, 30 Mar.11 On 3 Apr. he declared that he could not support repeal of the additional malt duty unless he was assured by its advocates that it was ‘looked upon as a measure of economy, and not as a substitute for any other measure of taxation’. His reservations were presumably overcome, for he appeared in the minority for repeal later that day. He voted for parliamentary reform, 9 May 1821, 25 Apr., 3 June 1822, 20 Feb., 24 Apr. 1823, and the exclusion of subordinate placemen from the Commons, 31 May 1821. Yet he opposed criminal law reform, 23 May 1821. According to his county colleague Edward Littleton, he avoided the ceremonial founding of West Bromwich church, 25 Sept. 1821, because he was ‘afraid of affronting his Dissenting friends’: he had pleaded ‘his mother’s state of health’ as his excuse, but this did not prevent him from going to Walsall races the following day.12 He presented petitions against the tithes system, 1 May, and the navigation bill, 4 June 1822.13

Boughey was less in evidence in the opposition division lobby in 1823. He expressed support for an alteration in the laws concerning insolvent debtors, 13 Mar.14 He voted in the minority for repeal of the assessed taxes, 18 Mar., but was listed (probably in error) in the majority by The Times.15 He divided for inquiry into the prosecution of the Dublin Orange rioters, 24 Mar., 22 Apr. On 10 Apr. 1823 he obtained leave for a bill to enlarge the powers of magistrates in the determination of disputes between masters and apprentices, which after being amended by the Lords received royal assent (4 Geo. IV, c.34), 17 June 1823. Ten days later Boughey, whose fifth son had died on 1 June, died at the age of 39, leaving his pregnant widow with 11 children, of whom the eldest was only 14. His complex will of 20 Sept. 1814 with later codicils, the most recent dated 4 June 1823, provided generous annuities for his widow, children and other beneficiaries, some of which were later subject to chancery suits, and was proved under £150,000. He was succeeded in the baronetcy by his eldest son Thomas Fenton Fletcher Boughey (1809-80).16

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Authors: Philip Salmon / David R. Fisher


  • 1. PROB 11/1676/559; Gent. Mag. (1823), ii. 285, 637.
  • 2. E. Richards, ‘Social and Electoral Influence of Trentham Interest’, Midland Hist. (1975), iii. 131-2; Hatherton diary, 21 Mar. 1820.
  • 3. Add. 52445, f. 88.
  • 4. Staffs. Advertiser, 11, 18, 25 Mar.; The Times, 13 Mar.; Hatherton diary, 15 May [1820]; Dyott’s Diary i. 333.
  • 5. Hatherton mss D260/M/7/5/11, introductory note by Littleton.
  • 6. Add. 48223, Granville to Morley, 16 Mar. 1820.
  • 7. Hatherton diary, 31 Mar. [1820].
  • 8. Black Bk. (1823), 140.
  • 9. The Times, 24 June 1820.
  • 10. Hatherton diary, 11-14 Dec. [1820].
  • 11. The Times, 31 Mar. 1821.
  • 12. Hatherton diary, Sept. [1821].
  • 13. The Times, 2 May, 5 June 1822.
  • 14. Ibid. 14 Mar. 1823.
  • 15. Ibid. 20 Mar. 1823.
  • 16. Gent. Mag. (1823), ii. 375; PROB 11/1676/559; IR26/943/1597.