BUCK, Lewis William (1784-1858), of Daddon House, Moreton and Hartland Abbey, nr. Bideford, 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

1826 - 1832
18 Mar. 1839 - 1857

Family and Education

b. 25 Apr. 1784, 3rd but 2nd surv. s. of George Stucley Buck (d. 1791) of Bideford and Martha, da. of Rev. Richard Keats, rect. of Bideford. educ. Blundell’s sch. Tiverton; Emmanuel, Camb. 1805. m. 18 Apr. 1808, Anne, da. of Thomas Robbins of Roundham, Berks. 1s. 2da. (1 d.v.p.) suc. bro. George Pawley Buck 1805. d. 25 Apr. 1858.

Offices Held

Sheriff, Devon 1825-6.

Biography

Buck’s family was originally from Ireland, but they settled in Devon in the late seventeenth century and subsequently acquired various properties in the north of the county through marriage and inheritance. His father died when he was seven and his grandfather, George Buck, who died in 1794, had intended that he should take holy orders and be presented with the ‘rectories and advowsons of West Worlington and Bideford’.1 However, he inherited the family estates on the death of his elder brother; administration was granted to him, 9 May 1806.2 In March 1826 he accepted a requisition to stand for Exeter at the next general election, declaring that he was attached to ‘our glorious constitution in church and state’ and ‘decidedly averse to any further concessions’ to the Catholics, but that he remained ‘strictly independent’. He was returned unopposed that summer with another Tory, Samuel Kekewich.3

He divided against Catholic relief, 6 Mar. 1827, 12 May, and presented two hostile petitions from Exeter, 7 May 1828. He presented a Bideford petition for repeal of the Test Acts, 31 May 1827,4 and voted in this sense, 26 Feb. 1828. He was granted one month’s leave on urgent business, having served on an election committee, 19 Mar. 1827. He divided against Canning’s ministry to separate bankruptcy jurisdiction from chancery, 22 May, but with them against the disfranchisement of Penryn, 28 May, and the Coventry magistracy bill, 18 June 1827. He voted against the duke of Wellington’s ministry for information on civil list pensions, 20 May 1828. He presented an Exeter petition in favour of the continued circulation of small banknotes, 30 May, and voted against the small notes (Ireland and Scotland) bill, 16 June. He introduced a savings banks bill to consolidate and amend the existing law, 5 June, which gained royal assent, 28 July (9 Geo. IV, c. 92). He withdrew his tithes commutation bill, 10 June, ‘out of respect’ for the universities and other bodies which had ‘taken up an erroneous opinion on the subject’, although he had merely sought to end the disputes between clergymen and their parishioners. He attended the Exeter meeting to uphold the Protestant constitution, 15 Nov. 1828, when he declared that he remained ‘firmly established’ in his views.5 In January 1829 Planta, the patronage secretary, mentioned him as a possible mover or seconder of the address, but the following month correctly predicted that he would be ‘opposed to the principle’ of Catholic emancipation. He presented and endorsed hostile petitions from Barnstaple and Bideford, 4 Mar., voted accordingly, 6, 18, 27, 30 Mar., and denied that a pro-Catholic petition from Exeter represented the popular mood, 16 Mar. He voted against the Maynooth grant, 22 May. He presented a Bideford petition for repeal of the coastwise coal duty, 1 June 1829. The Ultra leader Sir Richard Vyvyan* did not list him as one of the disaffected Tories that autumn, but he regularly divided with the opposition on military and civil retrenchment motions during the 1830 session. He replied to an Exeter requisition, 25 Mar., by accepting the ‘injustice’ of the coastwise coal duty and promising to give the ‘fullest consideration’ to any other proposals for tax reductions that came before the House;6 he voted to repeal the Irish coal duties, 13 May. He presented an Exeter petition against the death penalty for forgery, 26 Apr., and voted in this sense, 24 May, 7 June. He divided against the Galway franchise bill, 25 May 1830. At the general election that summer he was returned unopposed for Exeter with the politically indistinct James Wentworth Buller, after promising to ‘act on the good old constitutional principles which I avowed at the commencement of our connection’ and to ‘support every reduction in the public burthens as far as consistent with the interests of the country’.7

The ministry regarded him as one of the ‘violent Ultras’, and he voted against them in the crucial civil list division, 15 Nov. 1830. He replied to another Exeter requisition by reiterating his general support for tax reductions,8 and presented Exeter and Bideford petitions for repeal of the coastwise coal duty, 9 Dec. 1830. He presented an Exeter petition in favour of parliamentary reform, 28 Feb., and another in support of the Grey ministry’s bill, 19 Mar. 1831, when he declared that ‘my mind is perfectly convinced of the necessity of reform’ but that the bill ‘far exceeded my views’. He was prepared to support the second reading while reserving his judgement as to its details, and hoped that provision would be made for apprentices and the sons of freemen, who he feared might be driven to ‘join those who clamour for universal suffrage and vote by ballot’. He divided for the second reading, 22 Mar., but also for Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr. He maintained that the opposition to slave emancipation came from the West Indian merchants rather than the colonists, 29 Mar. 1831. At the ensuing general election he offered again for Exeter, denying that he had voted with Gascoyne in order to defeat the reform bill, and describing himself as a ‘constitutional reformer’ who believed that ‘the elective qualification is carried too low’, that an ‘injustice’ was being done to the freemen and that the transfer of seats from England to Ireland might ‘prove subversive of the balance of political power ... established between the two countries at their union’. He was returned in second place, after a stormy contest, behind Buller but ahead of another reformer.9

He divided for the second reading of the reintroduced reform bill, 6 July 1831. He presented a petition from the Exeter guardians of the poor for a higher franchise qualification, 12 July, and said he would move for this in committee. He voted with ministers against using the 1831 census to determine the disfranchisement schedules, 19 July, to enfranchise Greenwich, 3 Aug., and Gateshead, 5 Aug., and against giving county votes to urban freeholders, 17 Aug. However, he voted against the disfranchisement of Downton, 21 July, to postpone consideration of Chippenham’s inclusion in schedule B, 27 July, against the partial disfranchisement of Dorchester, 28 July,10 and Guildford, 5 Aug., and for the Chandos amendment to enfranchise £50 tenants-at-will, 18 Aug. He presented an Exeter freemen’s petition against the loss of their voting rights, which they had ‘ever exercised with honesty and independence’, 4 Aug., and he ‘reluctantly’ supported Edmund Peel’s amendment to preserve freemen’s rights in perpetuity, 30 Aug. He voted for the bill’s passage, 21 Sept, but was absent from the division on Lord Ebrington’s confidence motion, 10 Oct.; his name consequently received ‘three groans’ at the Exeter reform meeting, 15 Oct.11 He divided for the second reading of the revised bill, 17 Dec. 1831, the registration clause, 8 Feb., and the disfranchisement of Appleby, 21 Feb., but against the enfranchisement of Tower Hamlets, 28 Feb. 1832. He voted for the third reading, 22 Mar., but informed The Times that he had voted against Ebrington’s motion for an address asking the king to appoint only ministers committed to carrying an unimpaired measure, 10 May, as the Grey ministry had acted ‘unconstitutionally’.12 He vainly urged them to reconsider the extension of Exeter’s boundary, which was ‘neither conducive to the interests of the place, nor in accordance with the wishes of the inhabitants’, 8 June. He voted against government on the Russian-Dutch loan, 26 Jan., but was absent from the divisions on this issue in July. He voted for inquiry into the glove trade, 31 Jan., 3 Apr. He presented Exeter and Newton Abbot petitions against the government’s plan for Irish education, 6 Apr., and promised to ‘offer it every opposition in my power’. He presented five petitions against the Exeter improvement bill, 6 Apr., 8, 11 May, but urged Ebrington to withdraw his opposition to a measure which ‘I am fully satisfied will operate for the benefit of the city’, 13 June 1832, when he was a majority teller against the amendment to extend the local franchise.

In June 1832 Buck intimated that he would not stand at the forthcoming general election and he subsequently issued a valedictory address defending his stance on Catholic emancipation and reform.13 He was returned for North Devon in 1839 and sat as a Protectionist Conservative until his retirement in 1857.14 He died in April 1858 and his estates passed to his only son, George Stucley Buck (1812-1900), Conservative Member for Barnstaple, 1855-7, 1865-8, who assumed the surname Stucley.

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: Terry Jenkins

Notes

  • 1. PROB 11/1245/242.
  • 2. PROB 6/182/572.
  • 3. Alfred, 7 Mar., 6, 13 June 1826.
  • 4. The Times, 1 June 1827.
  • 5. Woolmer's Exeter and Plymouth Gazette, 22 Nov. 1828.
  • 6. Western Times, 11 Dec. 1830.
  • 7. Woolmer's Exeter and Plymouth Gazette, 17, 31 July 1830.
  • 8. Western Times, 11 Dec. 1830.
  • 9. Alfred, 26 Apr., 3 May 1831.
  • 10. The Times, 29 July 1831.
  • 11. Besley's Exeter News, 15 Oct. 1831.
  • 12.