CLEMENTS, Robert Bermingham, Visct. Clements (1805-1839).
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Family and Educationb. 27 May 1805, 1st s. of Nathaniel Clements†, 2nd earl of Leitrim [I] (d. 1854), and Mary, da. and coh. of William Bermingham of Ross Hill, co. Galway; bro. of William Sydney Clements, Visct. Clements† and Charles Skeffington Clements†. educ. priv. sch. Beaconsfield, Bucks.; priv. sch. Thorpe Hall, Yorks.; Christ Church, Oxf. 1823. unm. d.v.p. 24 Jan. 1839.
Capt. co. Donegal militia.
Clements’s father, who represented Leitrim at Dublin and Westminster from 1797, was Lord Charlemont’s brother-in-law and had been a member of Brooks’s since 1796, but he only moved unequivocally into the ranks of the Whig opposition on inheriting his peerage in 1804.1 He was thereafter increasingly at odds with his Tory and anti-Catholic cousins Henry John Clements, who sat for the county from 1805 to 1818, and John Marcus Clements, who came in at the general election of 1820. He was fastidious in his disdain for his family’s grasping and place-holding antecedents, and mostly kept away from Leitrim and what he once described as its ‘pauper tenants’; but he was flattered by Viscount Sydney for being, like his son, ‘much liked wherever you are known’ and was determined to retrieve his branch of the family’s interest in that county.2 His heir, Lord Clements, despite being still slightly under age, offered for the county in January 1826 and stood on his father’s ‘independent and liberal principles’ at the general election that summer. Their relative in the end withdrew, pleading ill health, and Clements, whose success was considered by the Irish government as a Protestant vote lost, was returned unopposed.3 Early the following year, and intermittently until 1837, he served as foreman of the Leitrim grand jury.4
Clements voted with opposition against the duke of Clarence’s grant, 16 Feb., and for a select committee on the Irish miscellaneous estimates and information on chancery administration, 5 Apr. 1827. He brought up the Leitrim Catholics’ petition, 21 Feb., and divided for their claims, 6 Mar.5 He was granted three weeks’ leave on urgent private business, 7 Mar. On 26 May he joined Brooks’s, sponsored by Lord Fitzwilliam and John Calcraft*. He was in the majority for the disfranchisement of Penryn, 28 May 1827. He voted for repeal of the Test Acts, 26 Feb., and Catholic relief, 12 May 1828. He was listed in minorities for making the pivot price of corn 60s. not 64s., 22 Apr., and against the misapplication of public money on Buckingham House, 23 June 1828. He presented petitions for repeal of the Irish Subletting Act, 12 Feb. (when he dissented from its prayer) and 7 Apr., in favour of Catholic relief, including ones from his constituency, 26 Feb., 9, 25 Mar., and against the reduction of the Irish militia from the Donegal regiment, 23 Mar. 1829. Planta, the Wellington ministry’s patronage secretary, listed him among those ‘who will probably support the securities rather than endanger the passage of the bill’, and he duly divided for Catholic emancipation, 6, 30 Mar. On 9 Apr. 1829 he asked Leveson Gower, the Irish secretary, if the salary of assistant barristers would be raised to compensate for the additional duties involved in the new registration of freeholders. He voted for the Irish vestries bill, 27 Apr., information on the affair at Terceira, 28 Apr., and inquiry into the state of Newfoundland, 11 May 1830. He joined in the revived opposition’s campaign for reduced taxation and expenditure that session. He intervened on the case of the dismissed Irish excise officer James Kelly, 18 May, and brought up the Mohill petition against the increased Irish stamp duties, 11 June. His only other known votes were for the abolition of capital punishment for forgery, 24 May, and Lord Morpeth’s amendment to the libel bill against printers being required to provide additional securities, 6 July 1830.
At the general election of 1830 Clements, who stood on the basis of his liberal record, was defeated by his kinsman John Clements, ending only six votes behind his former colleague Samuel White, with whom he had an acrimonious quarrel.6 Although he promised to try again on a future occasion, nothing came of the expectation that he would stand at the dissolution in April 1831.7 His father, who consolidated his interest by becoming lord lieutenant of county Leitrim and was given a United Kingdom barony that year, voted for the Grey ministry’s reform bill, 7 Oct. 1831, 13 Apr. 1832. Clements, who earlier that year had commissioned a new residence at Rynn House in the county, triumphed over his relative in another contest at the general election of 1832.8 In May 1835 Lord Holland suggested his name to Lord Melbourne, the prime minister, as a possible vice-chamberlain of the household, but he declined the position.9 An agricultural improver and author of a pamphlet on The Present Poverty of Ireland (1838), he was Liberal Member for Leitrim until his death, caused by inflammation of the lungs, in January 1839.10 His army officer brothers William Sydney (1806-78), later 3rd earl of Leitrim, and Charles Skeffington (1807-77), were respectively Liberal Members for Leitrim, 1839-47 and 1847-52.
Ref Volumes: 1820-1832
Author: Stephen Farrell
- 1. Hist. Irish Parl. iii. 430-1; HP Commons, 1790-1820, iii. 448.
- 2. A.P.W. Malcomson, Nathaniel Clements, 3, 41, 305-6, 329, 414-15, 421, 433-4.
- 3. Roscommon and Leitrim Gazette, 14 Jan., 10, 24 June 1826; Add. 40334, f. 171.
- 4. A. Harrison, Leitrim Sheriffs, 10-11.
- 5. The Times, 22 Feb. 1827.
- 6. Roscommon and Leitrim Gazette, 17 July, 14, 21 Aug.; Dublin Evening Post, 17 Aug. 1830.
- 7. Roscommon and Leitrim Gazette, 30 Apr. 1831.
- 8. Ibid. 2 June, 8, 22, 29 Dec. 1832.
- 9. Holland House Diaries, 300.
- 10. Roscommon and Leitrim Gazette, 2 Feb. 1839; Gent. Mag. (1839), i. 333.