CLIVE, Robert Henry (1789-1854), of Oakly Park, Salop.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832, ed. D.R. Fisher, 2009
Available from Cambridge University Press



1818 - 1832
1832 - 20 Jan. 1854

Family and Education

b. 15 Jan. 1789, 2nd s. of Edward Clive†, 2nd Bar. Clive [I], afterwards 1st earl of Powis (d. 1839), and Lady Henrietta Antonia Herbert, da. of Henry Arthur Herbert†, 1st earl of Powis; bro. of Edward Herbert, Visct. Clive*. educ. Eton 1802-5; St. John’s, Camb. 1807. m. 19 June 1819, Lady Harriet Hickman, da. of Other, 5th earl of Plymouth, sis. and h. of Other Arthur, 6th earl, afterwards (8 Nov. 1855) s.j. Baroness Windsor, 3s. 3da. d. 20 Jan. 1854.

Offices Held

Capt. S. Salop militia 1809, yeoman cav. 1817, col. commdt. 1833.

Commr. on ‘Rebecca’ riots in Wales Oct. 1843.


Clive, on whom the Oakly Park estate on the outskirts of his father Lord Powis’s borough of Ludlow was settled, had been returned there with his brother Lord Clive in 1818.1 A lifelong Tory who served on numerous committees, he was an affable, somewhat indolent and generally silent Member who accepted his elder brother’s political leadership and acted with Powis’s Members on local and national issues. An arrangement with their potential opponents Edward Rogers, who was brought in for Bishop’s Castle on Powis’s interest, and Edmund Lechmere Charlton† ensured that he and his brother came in unopposed at the general election of 1820.2

Amid strong constituency support for Queen Caroline, Clive joined his relations in promoting the adoption of a ‘ministerialist’ loyal address in Shropshire, and his absence from the debate and paired vote against the opposition censure motion, 6 Feb. 1821, attracted comment.3 He voted with his brother against Catholic relief, 28 Feb. 1821, 30 Apr. 1822, 1 Mar., 21, 10 May, for the attendant Irish franchise bill, 26 Apr. 1825,4 and against parliamentary reform, 26 Feb. 1824. He divided with government against the malt duty repeal bill, 3 Apr., and a call for economy and retrenchment, 27 June 1821. Moving the address in a ‘miserable’ speech,5 5 Feb. 1822, he expressed regret at the Russo-Turkish war and domestic unrest, which he attributed to local causes ‘unconnected with any political or religious feelings’; praised the planned reductions in military and naval expenditure; acknowledged that agriculture remained severely depressed; insisted that the sinking fund would have to be retained, and looked to the investigations of the agriculture committee to provide ‘some remedy’. He divided with his brother against more extensive tax reductions, 21 Feb., and abolition of one of the joint-postmasterships, 13 Mar., and without him against repealing the salt duties, 23 June. He assisted in the passage of the Bishop’s Castle roads bill, which received royal assent, 15 May 1822.6 He divided with government against repealing the Foreign Enlistment Act, 16 Apr., providing information on, 24 Mar., and inquiring into the prosecution of the Dublin Orange rioters, 22 Apr., when they were defeated, and inquiry into chancery arrears, 5 June 1823. As a party to the agreement between his brother-in-law Sir Watkin Williams Wynn* and the 1st Baron Forester for the future representation of Wenlock, he intervened with his brother on Williams Wynn’s behalf in September 1823 to prevent a potential breach.7 He may have been the Clive who voted against the abolition of flogging in the army, 5 Mar., and certainly voted against condemning the indictment in Demerara of the Methodist missionary John Smith, 11 June 1824.8 He presented the Shropshire iron masters’ petition against the coal duties, 12 Apr.9 The ‘ardently wished’ birth of his heir, 24 May 1824, was ‘of much importance ... with respect to money arrangements’ and was widely celebrated.10 The Clives were granted a fortnight’s leave ‘on urgent private business’, 15 Feb. 1825, and attended and addressed the Ludlow meeting on the abortive Ludlow and Severn railway bill the next day.11 Following the collapse in March 1826 of the Ludlow Bank of Coleman and Wellings, Clive secured concessions for the borough from the treasury concerning the payment of assessed taxes.12 He successfully contested Ludlow with his brother at the general election in June 1826.13

Clive voted with his associates against Catholic relief, 6 Mar., and corn law revision, 2 Apr. 1827. Powis’s allegiance to the Canning, Goderich and Wellington ministries was uncertain, and a barony with special reversion to Clive was among the ‘sweeteners’ which he rejected in the winter of 1827-8.14 As a corporator, Clive declined nomination to the committee on the Ludlow franchise petition for which he was balloted, 22 Apr., and he presented Ludlow’s petition against the importation of foreign gloves, 30 June 1828. The president of the India board Lord Ellenborough commented in September 1828 that he was ‘very eager for Catholic emancipation’, and he approved his brother’s decision to move the address on the king’s speech announcing its concession, 5 Feb. 1829.15 He divided for the measure, 6, 30 Mar., having presented a hostile petition from Ludlow on the 9th. When Lord Clive was detained in the country after Powis suffered a slight stroke in January 1830, Clive voted against Lord Blandford’s reform proposals, 18 Feb., and the enfranchisement of Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester, 23 Feb. He did not divide with his brother against Jewish emancipation, 17 May. Their mother died on 3 June 1830 and it is unlikely that either attended again that Parliament.16 At the general election in July Lechmere Charlton was belatedly ‘bought off’ and a contest thus averted.17

Clive, whom Greville considered a ‘thick and thin government man’, divided with them when they were brought down on the civil list, 15 Nov. 1830, notwithstanding his reported belief that Wellington should make concessions on parliamentary reform to quell the current unrest.18 Addressing the Ludlow reform meeting, 22 Jan. 1831, he declined to commit himself to supporting the Grey ministry’s reform bill before its details were announced and declared strongly against the secret ballot sought by the petitioners.19 He was alarmed by the bill’s proposals and ‘the bad tactics and want of union of the [Tory] party’, especially ‘Peel’s inactivity and backwardness’, and made no comment when presenting Ludlow’s petition endorsing it, 19 Mar.20 He divided with his brother against its second reading, 22 Mar., and assisted him afterwards in negotiations with the ministry and the Tory opposition.21 They confirmed their opposition to the bill, 16 Apr., and divided for Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr. 1831.22 Nothing came of a threatened opposition at Ludlow at the ensuing general election.23

Clive, who had foreseen that the fate of the reintroduced reform bill would dominate the new Parliament,24 voted against its second reading, 6 July, and to use the census of 1831 to determine borough disfranchisements, 19 July 1831. He chose not to vote on the schedule A boroughs, but voted against taking a Member from Chippenham, 27 July, and the bill’s passage, 21 Sept. Following its rejection by the Lords, he briefed Lord Malmesbury on the negotiations with Lord Harrowby, Lord Clive’s conciliatory speech of 12 Dec., and their decision to leave London before the division on the second reading of the revised bill, 17 Dec. 1831.25 He voted against its committal, 20 Jan. 1832. According to Greville, by February he was convinced that the Tories would achieve nothing by issuing a pro-reform declaration and that the opportunity for securing a moderate cross-party solution had been lost.26 Powis was said to be preparing to sever his political connections with his Ultra son-in-law the 3rd duke of Northumberland and Wellington, and the patronage secretary Ellice informed Grey:

I have had a long conversation with Robert Clive which satisfies me that you will carry the reform bill. Speaking of his party, he says they take it for granted the bill must pass. That they have made up their minds to schedule A and to the £10 franchise, with the alteration of making the provisions on residence the same as in the last bill. That they have no great objection to any other provision except the metropolitan Members, and that they were even prepared for a verba termine on that point. He added that he wished to see a good division on the metropolitan Members in the House of Commons, but that must cut both ways ... Not voting could be as dangerous to all parties as any appearance of compromise or concession on the part of ministers. An understanding that they would not abandon the bill, if amendments to the extent he mentioned were carried in the committee, was all that was required.27

Clive divided with Powis’s other Members against the enfranchisement of Tower Hamlets, 28 Feb., and the reform bill’s third reading, 22 Mar. He voted against government on the ‘miserable business’ of the Russian-Dutch loan, 26 Jan., 12 July 1832.28 He may have divided against inquiry into military punishments, 16 Feb., and certainly voted for inquiry into the downturn in the glove trade that affected his constituency, 3 Apr. 1832.

In a four-man contest which he deemed ‘remarkable for unexampled deceit and treachery’, Clive was rejected by the reformed electorate of Ludlow at the general election in December 1832, and he resolved publicly never to stand there again.29 Shortly afterwards he was nominated ‘unexpectedly’ for the safe Conservative seat of Shropshire South, which returned him after a token poll, and, notwithstanding a flurry of opposition prompted by his support for repeal of the corn laws in 1846, he remained one of its Members for life.30 He died in January 1854 in Shrewsbury, where he had been taken ill at a meeting of the Shrewsbury and Hereford Railway Company on 30 Dec. 1853, and was buried in a new family vault at Bromfield. He was commemorated as a railway company chairman and president of the Cambrian Archaeological Society, and recalled as the antiquarian responsible for purchasing Ludlow Castle and editing Documents Connected with the History of Ludlow and the Lords Marchers.31 His will, dated 24 Feb. 1843, was administered by his widow and Lord Holmesdale* as guardians of his younger children. He bequeathed Stonehouse (part of his 11,000-acre Shropshire estate) to his widow (d. 1869), and was succeeded in his remaining estates and the representation of Shropshire South by his eldest son Robert (1824-59), Conservative Member for Ludlow since 1852. His widow and children took the name of Windsor before Clive following her succession to that barony, 8 Nov. 1855.32

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: Margaret Escott


  • 1. VCH Salop, iii. 290.
  • 2. Salop Archives, Ludford Park mss 11/1001; Shrewsbury Chron. 25 Feb., 3, 10 Mar. 1820.
  • 3. The Times, 18 Sept. 1820; Salopian Jnl. 10, 17 Jan. 1821; NLW, Coedymaen mss 611.
  • 4. Buckingham, Mems. Geo. IV, ii. 242.
  • 5. NLI, Grattan mss 14137.
  • 6. CJ, lxxvii. 42-43, 267.
  • 7. Salop Archives, Weld-Forester mss 1224, box 37, Sir W. Williams Wynn to Forester, 10 June 1822; NLW ms 2794 D, Sir W. to H. Williams Wynn, 1 Oct. 1823.
  • 8. Salop Archives, diary of Katherine Plymley 1066/133, 20 June 1824.
  • 9. The Times, 13 Apr. 1824.
  • 10. Williams Wynn Corresp. 314.
  • 11. Hereford Jnl. 16 Feb. 1825.
  • 12. Shrewsbury Chron. 14 Apr. 1826.
  • 13. Ibid. 23 June 1826; Salop Archives, Ludlow Borough LB7/1847.
  • 14. Powis mss, Holmes to Powis, 17 Jan.; Lonsdale mss, Lowther to Lonsdale, 22 Jan. 1828.
  • 15. Ellenborough Diary, i. 231.
  • 16. Williams Wynn Corresp. 373.
  • 17. NLW, Aston Hall mss C.599; VCH Salop, iii. 291.
  • 18. Greville Mems. ii. 57; Ellenborough Diary, ii. 426.
  • 19. The Times, 3 Feb. 1831.
  • 20. Three Diaries, 64; Greville Mems. ii. 131.
  • 21. Three Diaries, 74; Creevey mss, Creevey to Miss Ord, 30 Mar. 1831.
  • 22. Three Diaries, 79.
  • 23. Salopian Jnl. 4, 11 May 1831.
  • 24. NLW, Harpton Court mss C/607.
  • 25. Three Diaries, 168; Coedymaen mss, bdle. 19, Lord Clive to C. Williams Wynn, 19, 23 Dec. 1831; Hants RO, Malmesbury mss 9M73/403.
  • 26. Greville Mems. ii. 245.
  • 27. Grey mss, Ellice to Grey [2 Mar.] 1832.
  • 28. Three Diaries, 187.
  • 29. Salopian Jnl. 12, 19 Dec.; Hereford Jnl. 19, 26 Dec. 1832; Coedymaen mss 235; The Times, 4, 15 Jan. 1833; VCH Salop, iii. 336.
  • 30. Salop Archives D45/1170/31-33; VCH Salop, iii. 315.
  • 31. Shrewsbury Chron. 6, 13, 20, 27 Jan. 1854.
  • 32. PROB 11/2190/347; IR26/1991/321; Salop Archives, Clive-Powis mss 552/7/277. CP, vol. xii, pt. 2, pp. 801-2 duplicates errors in Gent. Mag. (1854), i. 318-20 and erroneously dates Clive’s will as 24 Jan. 1843.