BYRON, Thomas (1772-1845), of Bayford, Herts.; Coulsdon, nr. Croydon, Surr. and 22 Nottingham Place, Marylebone, Mdx.
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Family and Educationbap. 4 Nov. 1772,1 2nd s. of Richard Byron (d. 1798) of St. Anne, Westminster and Ann, da. of Richard Iles of Hertford. m. 29 Dec. 1803,2 Louisa, da. of Nathaniel Brassey, banker, of 71 Lombard Street, London and Roxford, Hertingfordbury, Herts., 3s. 4da. (1 d.v.p.). suc. uncle Thomas Byron to Surr. estates 1821. d. 8 Apr. 1845.
Byron’s grandfather, Edmund Byron, was a London attorney, who in 1721 was a clerk to George Walter of Worcester Park, Surrey, a trustee of the Leicester estate in Soho and an owner of property there. Walter, who was knighted in 1727, died in 1742, and in his will of 19 Nov. 1741 named Byron as one of his trustees and executors.3 Byron, too, became an urban landlord and mortgagee. By the time he made his will on 1 July 1778 he owned at least a dozen houses and tenements in Leicester Square, Frith Street, Gerrard Street and Greek Street. He himself occupied a house at 11 Nassau Street (later Gerrard Place) from about 1735 to 1775. With his wife Elizabeth, Byron, who died of ‘an inflammatory fever’ in about October 1778, had two surviving sons, Thomas and Richard, born in 1737 and 1741 respectively. When Thomas married Lucy Ann Witham in 1770 his father settled on them and their issue ‘a considerable real and personal estate’; and by Edmund’s will he inherited eight of the Soho houses, ground rents from others and £2,000.4 In the 1780s he bought estates at Coulsdon, Surrey (to which he added the nearby property of Hooley in 1801) and at Oxgate, Willesden, Middlesex.5 His first wife died in 1790, and in 1798 he married Harriet, the daughter of William Latham of Nottingham Place, Marylebone, where he owned a leasehold house. Both his marriages were childless.6
In 1768 Richard Byron married Ann, the daughter of Richard Iles of Hertford (d. 1777), whose sister Ann was the second wife of Thomas Dimsdale (1712-1800), the Quaker inoculist, sometime London banker and Member for Hertford, 1780-90. His father settled on them stocks, funds and securities in excess of £8,000 and gave them entitlement to a trust fund of £4,000 on the death of Richard’s mother, which occurred not long afterwards. By Edmund Byron’s will, Richard received a freehold house in Gerrard Street and three copyhold houses at Highgate, Middlesex. His wife, who died in 1781, bore him three sons, Richard Iles, Thomas and Edmund; and four daughters, Lucy, Ann, Elizabeth and Charlotte. Their grandfather devised a house each in Leicester Square to Lucy and Ann and left £2,500 in trust to be invested and divided equally between their five siblings when they came of age.7 Richard Byron moved to Hertford, and was mayor of the borough in 1793-4. He died there, 28 July 1798.8 By his will, dated 13 June 1796, he confirmed his own marriage settlement, whereby on his death his children received equal shares in ‘divers messuages, lands, tenements and hereditaments’ and ‘divers sums of money, stock, funds and securities’. The trust fund embodying the latter amounted to £15,857 in bank stock and three per cent consols, and was in addition to the £22,500 left as an accumulating fund by Edmund Byron for Richard, Thomas, Edmund, Elizabeth and Charlotte.9 Richard Iles Byron died, aged 29, on 4 June 1799, while his sisters Lucy and Elizabeth died in 1803 and 1805 respectively.
Nothing is known of Thomas Byron’s life before his marriage in 1803 to the daughter of Nathaniel Brassey (1752-98), another Hertford Quaker and London banker, whose aunt Elizabeth, the wife of John Iles, had been Byron’s great-grandmother. At that time he was living at Bengeo, on the northern fringe of Hertford. He subsequently resided at nearby Ware, and then at Bayford, three miles south of Hertford.10 He was the principal beneficiary of the will of his uncle Thomas Byron of Hooley and Nottingham Place, which was made on 5 Jan. 1821, two weeks before his death, and proved under £40,000. He inherited absolutely Coulsdon and the other Surrey estates, with remainder to his issue, and the Middlesex properties and London house subject to the life interest of his aunt Harriet, who in the event outlived him, dying in 1848. He was empowered to charge the Surrey estates with sums not exceeding £1,000 each for his surviving daughters Georgiana Lucy, Harriet Brownlow and Mary. The residual personal estate, which also fell to him, was estimated at £18,886.11
Byron was returned unopposed for Hertford in 1823 on the interest and in the room of Lord Cranborne, a member of the board of control, who had just succeeded his father as 2nd marquess of Salisbury. He was evidently not the most assiduous of attenders, and is not known to have spoken in debate. He divided with the Liverpool ministry in defence of the prosecution of the Methodist missionary John Smith in Demerara, 11 June 1824. He voted against Catholic relief, 21 Apr., 10 May, and the Irish franchise bill, 26 Apr., and for the duke of Cumberland’s annuity, 10 June 1825. He voted against reform of Edinburgh’s representative system, 13 Apr. 1826. He stood again for Hertford at the 1826 general election, when he was nominated as an opponent of Catholic claims and a supporter of the abolition of slavery. A Dissenting minister attacked him for his vote on the Smith case and pressed him to say if he would support repeal of the Test Acts; but he refused to give any pledges or to apologize for his vote on Smith, and claimed that he
had never given a vote ... but upon the conviction that the measure he supported was best calculated to uphold the welfare of the people, the honour of the crown, and the constitutional independence of the empire.
He was persistently shouted down throughout a rowdy four-day contest, inspired by hostility to the Hatfield House interest. It ended in his return with a Whig, but he did not have the expected majority. Salisbury was told that he ‘has gone through it well and put up with insults, turncoats and unfounded attacks in the spirited manner which does him the highest credit’.12
Byron voted against Catholic relief, 6 Mar. 1827, 12 May 1828, and repeal of the Test Acts, 26 Feb. 1828. He presented a Hertford petition for the abolition of slavery, 12 June 1828. In February 1829 Planta, the Wellington ministry’s patronage secretary, surmised that he would divide ‘with government’ for Catholic emancipation. Although his name does not appear in the published majority lists, and he may have been the ‘Thomas Bryan’ who was named in the minority of 17 opposed to the Irish franchise bill, 19 Mar., a local newspaper reported from ‘authority’ that he had been ‘present at the whole of the debate on the Catholic question’, 5, 6 Mar., and had voted ‘with ministers’ at the end of it.13 Certainly he told Salisbury, who opposed emancipation in the Lords, that he had reluctantly decided to act ‘in opposition to your determination, and I can in truth add, contrary to my own inclination’.14 There was increasing dissatisfaction with him among Salisbury’s leading borough supporters, one of whom was reported to have complained in October 1829 that
Byron ... is not the sort of man we want. He is a very good fellow. I like him as a jovial kind of person. He is a John Bull sort of fellow ... but not cut out for Parliament.15
He divided with government against Lord Blandford’s reform scheme, 18 Feb., and the enfranchisement of Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester, 23 Feb.; but he was in the minority of 23 for a reduction in the grant for volunteers, 22 Feb. 1830. He voted against the sale of beer bill, 4 May 1830. He retired from Parliament at the dissolution that summer, when Salisbury replaced him with a kinsman of his own.
Byron died in Nottingham Place in April 1845. By his will, dated 22 Feb. 1845, he confirmed the settlement of the Surrey estates on his eldest son Thomas, his residuary legatee, whom he had provided with £2,000 on his marriage. He exercised his powers under his uncle’s will to charge the Coulsdon property with his daughters’ portions of £1,000, and to devise the London house to them on the death of his aunt. To his second son Richard Willoughby he left ‘a small copyhold property’ at Hendon, Middlesex, bought from his uncle, and a legacy of £100; and to his youngest son Cecil, who died on his way back from Australia in 1849, an annuity of £50. He charged his residual personal estate with payment of a sum of £4,000 for which he had covenanted to the trustees of his own marriage settlement.16
Ref Volumes: 1820-1832
Author: David R. Fisher
- 1. IGI (the source for most of the genealogical information in this article).
- 2. Gent. Mag. (1803), ii. 1253.
- 3. PROB 11/720/286.
- 4. Survey of London, xxxiii. 161, 181, 182; xxxiv. 411, 514; PROB 11/1047/429; Gent. Mag. (1778), 550.
- 5. VCH Surr. iv. 200-1; VCH Mdx. vii. 519; E. T. Evans, Hist. Hendon, 120.
- 6. Gent. Mag. (1798), i. 441.
- 7. PROB 11/1029/118; 1047/429; Misc. Gen. et Her. n.s. ii. 577-9.
- 8. R. Clutterbuck, Herts. ii. 148, 163; Herts. Co. Recs. viii. 374.
- 9. PROB 11/1313/639.
- 10. Herts. Co. Recs. ii. 261; iv. 171.
- 11. PROB 11/1639/63; IR26/849/69; Gent. Mag. (1848), i. 332.
- 12. Herts Mercury, 10, 24 Sept. 1825, 29 Apr., 6, 27 May, 17 June; Hatfield House mss 2M/Gen., Gilbertson to Salisbury, 15 June 1826.
- 13. Herts Mercury, 21 Mar., 4 Apr. 1829.
- 14. Hatfield House mss 2M/Gen., Byron to Salisbury, 19 Mar. 1829.
- 15. Ibid. 2M, Nicholson to same, 7 July, 7 Aug., 12 Oct. 1829.