CLAUGHTON, Thomas (1773-1842), of Long Compton Hall, Winwick, Lancs.
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Family and Educationbap. 23 Aug. 1773,1 s. of William Claughton of Warrington and his w. née Maire. educ. Rugby 1787. m. 2 Oct. 1806,2 Maria, illegit. da. of Thomas Peter Legh† of Lyme Hall, Cheshire, 5s. 3da. d. 8 Mar. 1842.
Capt. 3 batt. Lancs. supp. militia 1797; lt.-col. commdt. Newton vols. 1803; lt.-col. Wigan regt. Lancs. militia 1808.
A former attorney turned businessman and land speculator, in 1818 Claughton had been brought in for the pocket borough of Newton, where he held certain manors and properties, on the controlling interest of his brother-in-law Thomas Legh, who returned him again in 1820.3 He had recently been involved in a dispute with Lord Liverpool over the proposed purchase of several royal manors adjoining the Hafod estate in Cardiganshire, to which he had acquired the reversion in 1814. Liverpool mistakenly assumed that he had applied for the stewardship, and despite Legh’s explanation, he refused to consider Claughton’s offer.4
In the House, he made no reported speeches and took an independent line. He divided against Catholic relief, 28 Feb. 1821, 30 Apr. 1822. He voted in the minority against Wilberforce’s compromise resolution on the Queen Caroline affair, 22 June 1820, but was absent from the division on the opposition censure motion, 6 Feb. 1821. He divided against government for repeal of the duties on husbandry horses, 5 Mar., and the additional malt duty, 21 Mar., refraining from voting on the latter when it was made a test of party loyalty, 3 Apr. He was in the minority on the timber duties, 5 Apr., but divided with ministers on economy and retrenchment, 27 June 1821. He voted against them on the address, 5 Feb., and for inquiry into the Scottish royal burghs, 20 Feb., with them against additional tax reductions, 21 Feb., and inquiry into the lord advocate’s treatment of the Scottish press, 25 June, but against them for investigating chancery arrears, 26 June 1822, 5 June 1823. He voted for information on the prosecution of the Dublin Orange rioters, 24 Mar., but was in the government minority when defeat made them concede inquiry, 22 Apr. 1823. A radical publication that session noted that he had ‘never’ voted for ‘reform, reductions, or retrenchment’.5
Claughton’s speculations in land apparently led him to attempt to maintain his liquidity by issuing promissory notes. In January 1824 he brought an unsuccessful suit to restrain a creditor from attempting to recover the value of certain notes from him, and was ordered to pay the debt.6 When next month he and Legh were sued for recovery of the value of a bill of exchange, it was alleged that ‘the defendants had issued a great number of bills of exchange for their mutual accommodation’, but Claughton’s case that this bill had been fraudulently obtained, as the claimant Thornhill was a debtor, prevailed.7 Nevertheless, he was declared bankrupt, 5 Mar. 1824, which ensured that his proposed purchase of Hafod for £90,000 fell through (the contract was surrendered, 29 Sept. 1829, and the estate remained in chancery until 1832).8 His financial collapse also damaged charities in the Lyme area, for which he had been a trustee, for Legh apparently made no attempt to make good the deficit.9 He resigned his seat, 25 Jan., shortly before a creditors’ meeting on 11 Feb. 1825 revealed the extent of his debt to his brother-in-law, which in a recovery suit against Legh that month was estimated at £100,000.10 During litigation in 1827, Claughton’s creditors alleged that he had tried to impede their attempts to sell his property for £120,000 by posting placards around it discouraging bidders, but he said that he had neither countenanced its sale to Sir William Gerard nor attempted to prevent it.11 His family tried to stop further sales and his daughters Mary and Sarah endeavoured to sue the purchasers of his property.12
In retirement Claughton lived at Long Compton Hall, Winwick. His dealings with Legh apparently ceased, but his son Thomas’s diary reveals that the family remained close to Legh’s brother Peter.13 A new fiat of bankruptcy was issued against Claughton, 24 Oct. 1838.14 He died in March 1842, ‘in his 68th year’, recalled as a salt manufacturer, dealer, chapman and bankrupt.15 Two of his sons became bishops: Thomas Legh Claughton (1808-92), was bishop of Rochester 1867-77, and St. Albans, 1877-90, and Piers Calveley Claughton (1814-84) was bishop of St. Helena, 1859-62, and Columbo, 1862-71.16
Ref Volumes: 1820-1832
Authors: Stephen Bairstow / Margaret Escott
- 1. IGI (Yorks.).
- 2. J.P. Earwaker, E. Cheshire, ii. 306.
- 3. HP Commons, 1790-1820, iii. 445-6; Cheshire and Chester Archives, Newton by Daresby manor and estates DDX233/19, 34.
- 4. E. Inglis-Jones, Peacocks in Paradise, 230-1; Add. 38281, ff. 240, 362; 38282, ff. 84, 192, 229, 280, 362.
- 5. Black Bk. (1823), 146.
- 6. The Times, 20, 21 Jan. 1824 [Claughton v. Harrison].
- 7. Ibid. 27 Feb. 1824 [Thornhill v. Claughton and another].
- 8. Ibid. 29 Mar. 1824; NLW, Trawsgoed mss ii. 889; Inglis-Jones, 240.
- 9. Earwaker, ii. 101.
- 10. London Gazette, 18 Jan. The Times, 2 Mar. 1825 [Usher v. Legh].
- 11. The Times, 13 June 1827; Lancs. RO, Anderton supplementary mss D/An/bdle. 50/523; Gerard fam. of Garswood mss DDGE(M), box 13, bdle. 13, 1205-10.
- 12. London Gazette, 2 Jan., 10 July 1827.
- 13. Lambeth Palace Lib. MS 1835.
- 14. London Gazette, 23 Nov. 1838, 21 May 1841, 27 Sept. 1842.
- 15. Gent. Mag. (1842), i. 452.
- 16. Oxford DNB sub Claughton, Piers Calveley and Claughton, Thomas Legh; VCH Lancs. iv. 124, 170.