BRABAZON, William, Lord Brabazon (1803-1887).
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Family and Educationb. 25 Oct. 1803, 2nd but 1st surv. s. of John Chambre, 10th earl of Meath [I], and Lady Melosina Adelaide Meade, da. of John, 1st earl of Clanwilliam [I]. educ. Eton 1820; Christ Church, Oxf. 1822. m. 23 Nov. 1837, Harriot, da. of Sir Richard Brooke, 6th bt., of Norton Priory, Cheshire, 2s. (1 d.v.p.) 1da. styled Lord Brabazon 1826-51; suc. fa. as 11th earl of Meath [I] and 2nd Bar. Chaworth [UK] 15 Mar. 1851. d. 26 May 1887.
Commr. Irish lights; PC [I] 31 Mar. 1879.
Sheriff, co. Dublin 1835-6, co. Wicklow 1848-9; ld. lt. and custos rot. co. Wicklow 1869-d.
Col. co. Dublin militia 1847-81; hon. col. 5th batt. R. Dublin fusiliers; a.d.c. to Queen Victoria.
Brabazon, whose family was Norman in origin, was descended from Sir William Brabazon (d. 1552), vice-treasurer of Ireland, whose son Edward, Member for county Wicklow in 1585, was created Lord Brabazon, baron of Ardee in 1616, and whose grandson William became earl of Meath in 1627. In the eighteenth century the 5th to 9th earls represented county Dublin and (in some cases) county Wicklow, where they held high local offices, before succeeding to the peerage.1 On the death of his brother in a duel in 1797 this Member’s father inherited the title and extensive estates at Kilruddery Castle, Bray, Wicklow (which he rebuilt in the 1820s), as well as the office of custos rotulorum of that county. The 10th earl, who was later said to bear a striking physical resemblance to the duke of Wellington, was described by Lady Bessborough in 1805 as ‘the present reigning favourite of Lady Holland’ and, a prominent Irish Whig, he joined Brooks’s Club, proposed by Lord Bessborough, in 1812.2 He became a knight of St. Patrick at the coronation in 1821, but was passed over by the Liverpool administration for the vacant post of custos rotulorum of county Dublin in 1823.3
Although it was his elder brother Lord Ardee who was considered a possible candidate in the autumn of 1822, when a vacancy occurred for county Dublin, according to newspaper speculation in 1824 and 1825 it was the recently of age William who was apparently prepared to stand on their father’s interest in the event of a dissolution.4 After the death in February 1826 of Ardee, a weak but affectionate young man, from the bursting of a blood vessel in his head, William was thereafter, as the new heir, usually known by the alternative courtesy title of Lord Brabazon.5 Nothing came that year of Meath’s ambition for an Irish representative peerage and, although he was thought to have an unassailable electoral superiority, he eventually bowed to the prevailing view that it would be inappropriate for him (as yet) to supersede one of the sitting Whig Members, so his son withdrew his pretensions before the general election.6 Despite Lord Lansdowne’s recommendation, he again missed out on a representative peerage in the summer of 1827, when Canning, the prime minister, commented that he had ‘the highest respect for Lord Meath’s character’.7 Brabazon, who was present as a supporter of Catholic emancipation at the Kent Brunswick meeting in October 1828, attended the county Dublin meeting held to condemn the increased Irish spirit duties in April 1830 and signed the requisition for another against the higher stamp duties that month.8
The Wellington administration declined to give him its support while the sitting Members persisted, but he offered at the general election of 1830, when he declared that he would follow his father’s principles and called for economies and tax reductions; after Richard Wogan Talbot had retired, he was returned in first place with Henry White following a contest against a Protestant Tory.9 In September he moved a vote of thanks to Lafayette at the Dublin meeting in support of the revolution in France and chaired an anti-slavery gathering in Bray.10 Brabazon, whom Pierce Mahony† counted with the ‘neutrals’ in his analysis of the Irish elections, was listed by ministers among their ‘foes’, and although the patronage secretary Planta noted that ‘I hear from Ireland he is to be soothed’, he voted against them on the civil list, 15 Nov. 1830. He divided with Daniel O’Connell for repeal of the Irish Subletting Act, 11 Nov. On 6 Dec. 1830 he presented petitions from Bray, Grangegorman (county Dublin) and the Dublin carpet weavers for repeal of the Union, but condemned the current agitation in its favour. The following month it was to Meath and Lord Cloncurry that O’Connell briefly turned for advice and mediation at the height of the furore on this issue.11 Brabazon, who spoke for relieving the distress of the Irish kelp growers, 16 Mar., voted for the second reading of the Grey ministry’s reform bill, 22 Mar., and against Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr. 1831.
Returned unopposed as a reformer at the general election that spring, he signed the requisition for a county meeting on reform, 28 May 1831.12 He voted for the second reading of the reintroduced reform bill, 6 July, at least twice against adjourning proceedings on it, 12 July, and generally for its details, but was in the minority for withholding the vote from weekly tenants and lodgers, 25 Aug. He sided with ministers in the two divisions on the Dublin election, 23 Aug., but voted for making legal provision for the Irish poor, 29 Aug. He divided for the passage of the reform bill, 21 Sept., and Lord Ebrington’s confidence motion, 10 Oct. His father, who became lord lieutenant of county Dublin that autumn, was introduced to the Lords under the United Kingdom title of Baron Chaworth by Holland and Plunket, 14 Sept., and voted in the minority for the second reading of the reform bill, 7 Oct.13 Brabazon stated his regret about this defeat in the Lords at the county Dublin reform meeting, 3 Dec., and divided for the second reading of the revised bill, 17 Dec. 1831.14 He brought up his county’s reform petition, 9 Feb., when he voted against producing information on Portugal, and called for inquiry into Dublin road tolls, 15 Feb. 1832. He divided for the enfranchisement of Tower Hamlets, 28 Feb., and the third reading of the reform bill, 22 Mar.; the following month he was said to be among those who would be promoted if the government needed more supporters in the Lords, where his father again voted for the bill, 13 Apr.15 He divided for Ebrington’s motion for an address calling on the king to appoint only ministers who would pass it unimpaired, 10 May, and the second reading of the Irish reform bill, 25 May, and paired against increasing the county representation of Scotland, 1 June. He was in the minorities for printing the Woollen Grange petition for the abolition of Irish tithes, 16 Feb., and to postpone discussion on this subject, 8 Mar., 13 July, but he was in the government majorities for the navy civil departments bill, 6 Apr., and the Russian-Dutch loan, 12, 16, 20 July. Brabazon, who advocated further reforms but refused to pledge for repeal of the Union, was defeated at the general election of 1832, but sat again for county Dublin in the 1837 Parliament.16 Having succeeded as 11th earl of Meath in 1851, he died, ‘a Liberal of the old type’, in May 1887, when his title and estates passed to his only surviving son, Reginald (1841-1929), a career diplomat.17
Ref Volumes: 1820-1832
Author: Stephen Farrell
- 1. Hist. Irish Parl. iii. 254-8.
- 2. Scott Jnl. 436; Leveson Gower Corresp. ii. 108.
- 3. Meath mss J/3/21 (NRA 4528).
- 4. Dublin Weekly Reg. 9 Nov. 1822; Dublin Evening Post, 17 Aug. 1824, 8 Aug. 1825.
- 5. Dublin Evening Post, 21 Feb. 1826.
- 6. Ibid. 13, 23, 25, 27 May 1826; Meath mss J/3/24/8; Wellington mss WP1/851/4; 854/4.