CARRINGTON, Sir Codrington Edmund (1769-1849), of New House Place, Chalfont St. Giles, Bucks.

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 - 1831

Family and Education

b. 22 Oct. 1769, 1st s. of Rev. Codrington Carrington of Blackmoor, Barbados and Martha, da. of Rev. Edmund Morris, rect. of Nursling, nr. Southampton, Hants. educ. Winchester 1780-4; M. Temple 1787, called 1792. m. (1) 1 Aug. 1801, Paulina (d. 9 Aug. 1823), da. of John Belli of Southampton, 4s. (2 d.v.p.) 9da. (1 d.v.p.); (2) 2 Oct. 1830, Mary Anne, da. of John Capel*, 1s. 3da. kntd. 24 June 1801. d. 28 Nov. 1849.

Offices Held

C.j. Ceylon 1801-6; bencher, M. Temple 1832, recorder 1836.

Chairman, Bucks. q.s.

Biography

Carrington was descended from a branch of a Norman family, long established in Cheshire, which had migrated to Barbados. His father was born in Bridgetown in 1749, educated at Eton and Cambridge, but apparently succeeded to the Barbados estates of an uncle and returned to the West Indies. No trace has been found of Codrington senior’s ordinations or benefices, though his style of Rev. is confirmed by the memorial inscription in St. Michael’s, Chenies, Buckinghamshire, to his widow; the date of his death is unknown.1 Carrington, who was born in Hampshire, was called to the bar in 1792 and went to Calcutta, where he practised as an advocate and served for a time as junior counsel to the East India Company. Ill health obliged him to return to England in 1799. He was employed by Henry Dundas†, president of the board of control in Pitt’s ministry, to prepare a code of laws for Ceylon, and in the spring of 1801 was appointed the first chief justice of its supreme court, with a guaranteed life retirement pension of £1,200 per annum after five years’ service. He was subsequently made head of a new tribunal to adjudicate on ‘matters of prize in India’, and compiled a system of law from the Hindu, Mussulman and Dutch codes. However, he was compelled by persistent poor health to resign in 1806, having presumably secured his pension.2 He purchased a Buckinghamshire estate at Chalfont St. Giles, built a new house there and established himself in county society, serving for several years as chairman of quarter sessions.3 He ingratiated himself with the lord lieutenant, the 2nd marquess of Buckingham, head of the Grenville family, to whom he addressed his public Letter of 1819 on prison discipline; Buckingham expressed his ‘anxious wish that your abilities were employed in the service of your country upon some more extended scale’. Later that year, after the Peterloo massacre, he published An Inquiry into the Law relative to Public Assemblies of the People, in which he emphasized the need to check ‘the mad career of hatred and contempt of ... [the] sacred constitution’ and argued that while the people had a right to deliberate and petition, ‘much of dangerous error has prevailed in the exercise of that right’.4 In June 1824 he was offered through Buckingham, who had received a dukedom two years earlier as his reward for aligning himself and his followers with Lord Liverpool’s ministry, the chief justiceship of Madras or Bombay, or a puisne judgeship at Calcutta. ‘After much deliberation’, and consulting the East India Company’s physician, ‘whose opinion was decidedly against it, on the ground that I could not possibly survive remaining in India even for a short time’, he declined it.5 Buckingham had already decided to return him at the next opportunity for his borough of St. Mawes, partly to avert any threat he might pose in Buckinghamshire. Carrington agreed to support Catholic relief and, as Buckingham put it, to ‘resign that seat should any difference of political opinion arise between you and your friends, and should you in consequence be called upon so to resign it’. He duly came in at the general election of 1826.6

He expressed his ‘horror’ at the petition from Deists asking to be allowed to swear in courts of law on ‘works of nature’, 29 Nov. 1826. He defended the grant for the Royal Military College, which had filled ‘a chasm’ in the educational system, 19 Feb. 1827. He voted for Catholic relief, 6 Mar. He divided with government for the duke of Clarence’s annuity bill, 16 Mar. He spoke and voted for the spring guns bill, 23 Mar., arguing that their unrestricted use was ‘an unauthorized usurpation of the powers of prevention or of vengeance’. At the end of May he was lectured by Buckingham on the impossibility, on current information, of opposing Canning’s ministry with the Protestant Tories or of giving it wholehearted support, and the following month he was instructed to ‘take whatever line may present itself which will best show our determination to support the Catholic claims’.7 He opposed the disfranchisement of Penryn for electoral corruption, 18 May, and voted in that sense, 28 May, 7 June, when he ‘forcibly’ reiterated his objections. He was in the Tory minorities against the Coventry magistracy bill, 11, 18 June, but voted with ministers for the grant for Canadian canals, 12 June 1827. He divided with the duke of Wellington’s government against the transfer of East Retford’s seats to Birmingham, 21 Mar., inquiry into delays in chancery, 24 Apr., and reduction of the ordnance estimates, 4 July 1828. He seconded Inglis’s attempt to make it obligatory for pauper lunatic asylums with 50 or more inmates to have a resident doctor, 1 Apr., and supported Macqueen’s proposal to revise the law of settlement by hiring, which was ‘fertile in litigation’, 29 Apr. On the home secretary Peel’s law of evidence bill, 5 May, he conceded that Quakers’ affirmations in court had proved to be acceptable, but warned that it would be ‘a dangerous innovation ... to admit the affirmation of those various sects which spring up day by day to a transient notice, and then sink into oblivion’. Later that day, on the offences against the person bill, he contended that acquittal by a foreign court could be pleaded as a bar to a subsequent indictment in Britain. His protest against the provision in the Indian justice bill for natives to be permitted to affirm was unavailing, 10 July. He voted for Catholic relief, 12 May 1828. That summer he maintained that the conduct of Buckingham’s friends had been, ‘under circumstances of some difficulty ... at once discreet and constitutional’.8 He divided, as expected, for the government’s Catholic emancipation bill, 6, 30 Mar. 1829. He spoke briefly for the bill to disfranchise Irish 40s. freeholders, 26 Mar., and supported the Maynooth grant, 22 May. He defended the archbishop of Canterbury’s estate bill against Hume’s strictures, 10 Apr, when he opposed a Whig amendment to the Swan River settlement bill. He had serious objections to the juvenile offenders bill, which offered ‘a premium for the commission of a first offence’, 12 May. He spoke and voted in the minority for the issue of a new writ for East Retford, 2 June 1829. He divided against the transfer of its seats to Birmingham, 11 Feb., Lord Blandford’s reform scheme, 18 Feb., and the enfranchisement of Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester, 23 Feb. 1830. He voted against Jewish emancipation, 5 Apr., 17 May. He supported Lord Ellenborough’s divorce bill ‘as a gentleman’, 6 Apr. He objected to what he considered a technically inept amendment to the sale of beer bill concerning magistrates’ powers to fine for drunkenness, 1 July 1830. At the general election that summer he and his colleague were opposed at St. Mawes, in a local attempt to widen the franchise, but they were returned by the mayor and confirmed in their seats by the subsequent election committee.9

Ministers listed Carrington as one of their ‘friends’, and he voted with them in the crucial division on the civil list, 15 Nov. 1830. Two days later, with his own constituency situation in mind, he opposed an attempt to postpone the consideration of election petitions on account of the change of ministry. He called for adequate relief for West India proprietors, 11 Mar. 1831. He denounced Newport’s resolutions on the Irish first fruits fund as ‘bad in principle and bad in precedent’, 14 Mar. Supporting inquiry into secondary punishments, 17 Mar., he stated his preference for transportation. He divided against the second reading of the Grey ministry’s reform bill, 22 Mar., and for Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr. 1831. He retired from the House at the ensuing dissolution. He spent some of his later years in Jersey and at Castle Park, Exmouth, Devon, where he died in November 1849. He devised his real estate to his second wife, who survived him by 49 years, and divided his holdings of government stock among the ten surviving children of his first marriage.10

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: David R. Fisher

Notes

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