CHOLMONDELEY, Lord William Henry Hugh (1800-1884), of Houghton Hall, Norf.
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Family and Education
b. 31 Aug. 1800,1 2nd s. of George James, 1st mq. of Cholmondeley (d. 1827), and Lady Georgiana Charlotte Bertie, da. of Peregrine, 3rd duke of Ancaster; bro. of George Horatio Cholmondeley, earl of Rocksavage*. educ. Eton 1814; Christ Church, Oxf. 1818. m. 28 Feb. 1825, Marcia Emma Georgiana, da. of Charles Arbuthnot*, 2s. d.v.p. 6da. (4 d.v.p.). suc. bro. as 3rd mq. of Cholmondeley and jt. hered. gt. chamberlain 8 May 1870. d. 16 Dec. 1884.
Lord Henry Cholmondeley, as he was known, was raised in London and at his family’s Cheshire seat, Cholmondeley Castle. His father, chamberlain to the prince of Wales, 1795-1800, was created a marquess on being appointed lord steward of the household in 1815, and made his retirement in December 1821 conditional on his elder son Lord Rocksavage joining him in the Lords, so facilitating the return of his favourite son, Cholmondeley, who had recently come down from Oxford, for their pocket borough of Castle Rising.2 No parliamentary speeches by Cholmondeley were reported before 1832, and although he served as a useful go-between in Tory circles his commitment to parliamentary business was always minimal.3 He voted against Catholic relief, 21 Apr. 1825, and a radical publication that session noted that he ‘attended occasionally and voted in favour of ministers’.4 He divided with the Liverpool administration against more extensive tax reductions, 11, 21 Feb., and the abolition of one of the joint-postmasterships, 13 Mar. 1822. Possibly because of his high social rank, nothing came of a suggestion in January 1823 that he should second the address.5 He voted against inquiry into voting rights, 20 Feb., and in the government minority against inquiry into the prosecution of the Dublin Orange rioters, 22 Apr. 1823. Mrs. Arbuthnot approved his courtship of her stepdaughter Marcia, his maternal cousin, and they were married in the red drawing room at Cholmondeley House, 28 Feb. 1825.6 The couple toured the continent during the summer recess and then took a house in Whitehall Place.7 His vote to receive the report on the salary of the president of the board of trade, 10 Apr. 1826, was his only recorded one that session. At the general election he came in again for Castle Rising, where his father had consolidated his interest.8
Cholmondeley, whose first child, a daughter, was born in December 1826, but died at 16 months, left little trace of his attendance in 1826-7, although he probably voted against Catholic relief, 6 Mar. 1827.9 On his father’s death, 10 Apr. 1827, he inherited the 1,500-acre Hatton estate and his unentailed holdings and became heir to his childless brother’s marquessate and 33,000 acres in Cheshire and Norfolk.10 He paired against Catholic relief, 12 May 1828. He was briefly considered as a possible mover or seconder of the 1829 address by which the concession of Catholic emancipation was announced, but his brother remained against it and the Wellington ministry’s patronage secretary Planta considered his support for the measure ‘doubtful’. However, he divided for it, 30 Mar. 1829.11 On reform, he voted against transferring East Retford’s seats to Birmingham, 11 Feb., and the enfranchisement of Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester, 23 Feb. 1830. He voted against Jewish emancipation, 17 May, and to consider the abolition of colonial slavery, 13 July 1830.
Ministers counted Cholmondeley among their ‘friends’ after the general election that summer, and he was in their minority on the civil list, 15 Nov. 1830. He was granted a week’s leave ‘on account of the disturbed state of his neighbourhood’, 6 Dec. 1830. Castle Rising was to be disfranchised by the Grey ministry’s reform bill, which Cholmondeley and his brother opposed, and a statement from Cholmondeley denouncing it, but expressing support for ‘moderate reform’ and the proposed increase in the representation of Cheshire, was read out at the Cheshire reform meeting, 17 Mar. 1831.12 He voted against the second reading of the bill, 22 Mar., and signed the Cheshire anti-reform declaration, but, surprisingly, he paired against Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment by which the bill was defeated, 19 Apr.13 The Cheshire anti-reformers adopted him as their candidate at the ensuing general election, but, anticipating defeat, he abandoned the attempt two days before polling was to commence, and resumed his seat for Castle Rising, where he had been returned in absentia.14 During his Cheshire canvass, he defined ‘moderate reform’ as support for giving
Members to large manufacturing towns, such as Stockport and Macclesfield, and ... [taking] away the franchise from such boroughs as shall be found to be corrupt, until the number of Members in the House ... is gradually restored to its present state, to which purpose I should wish the laws for the prevention of bribery and corruption to be considerably amended and more strictly enforced. I am decidedly opposed to the diminution of English Members, which would give an undue influence to Ireland and Scotland.15
His opposition to the reintroduced reform bill was moderate and selective. He voted against its second reading, 6 July, for an adjournment, 12 July, to make the 1831 census the criterion for English borough disfranchisements, 19 July, and against taking a seat from Chippenham, 27 July, and paired against the partial disfranchisement of Guildford, 29 July; but he was one of 15 anti-reformers who voted ‘for discussion’ of the proposed division of counties, 11 Aug. 1831.16 He divided against the bill’s passage, 21 Sept. He voted against the second reading of the revised bill, 17 Dec. 1831, the enfranchisement of Tower Hamlets, 28 Feb., the third reading, 22 Mar., and the second reading of the Irish bill, 25 May 1832. He divided with opposition on the Russian-Dutch loan, 26 Jan., 12 July 1832.
Though initially dismissive of Cholmondeley’s pretensions, Norfolk Conservatives put him forward jointly with William Peach for Norfolk East at the 1832 general election, but after a bitter and costly contest he came bottom of the poll behind Peach and two Liberals.17 He settled at Holly Hill, near Southampton in 1834 and remained out of Parliament until 1852, when, professing support for Lord Derby and moderate reform, he was brought in for a single Parliament for Hampshire South by the Conservatives.