COLLETT, Ebenezer John (1755-1833), of Lockers House, Hemel Hempstead, Herts. and 19 Great George Street, Mdx.
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Family and Educationb. 22 May 1755, 4th s. of Joseph Collett of Hemel Hempstead and Sarah née Smith. m. 13 June 1795, Margaret, da. of Thomas Alsager, cloth merchant, of Newington, Surr., 5s.(1 d.v.p.) 5da.(1 d.v.p.). d. 31 Oct. 1833.
Capt. Surr. yeomanry.
‘Old Collett’, a wealthy hop merchant and ‘capable business man’, continued to be returned unopposed in absentia as a paying guest for Cashel, an Irish pocket borough placed at the disposal of the Liverpool ministry, to whom he gave steady and silent support.1 (A statement by his family that ‘in politics he was a Whig’ was inaccurate.) After becoming lame in a riding accident, he had acquired a house in Great George Street, Westminster, in order to be near the Commons, where he attended with decreasing regularity in this period: he was no longer resident there by 1829.2 He voted against an opposition call for economy and retrenchment, 4 July 1820. He divided in defence of ministers’ conduct towards Queen Caroline, 6 Feb. 1821. He voted against Catholic relief, 28 Feb. 1821, 30 Apr. 1822, 1 Mar. (as a pair), 21 Apr., 10 May 1825. He divided against tax cuts, 6 Mar., repeal of the additional malt duty, 3 Apr., the disfranchisement of civil ordnance officials, 12 Apr., and military reductions, 28 May 1821. He voted against parliamentary reform, 9 May 1821, 20 Feb. 1823. He divided against the forgery punishment mitigation bill, 23 May 1821. He voted against more extensive tax reductions, 11 Feb. 1822, 10 Mar. 1823, and abolition of one of the joint-postmasterships, 13 Mar. 1822. No trace of attendance has been found for the rest of that year.3 He divided against repeal of the Foreign Enlistment Act, 16 Apr., and inquiries into the prosecution of the Dublin Orange rioters, 22 Apr., and chancery delays, 5 June 1823. He was in the minority of two against the second reading of the Southwark court of requests bill, 2 May 1823. He voted against condemnation of the trial in Demerara of the Methodist missionary John Smith, 11 June 1824. On 5 Oct. 1824 he applied to Peel, the home secretary, for a vacancy in the foreign courier service for ‘a former clerk in my counting house before I retired from business’, as ‘a personal favour’, but was informed that the appointment was not in Peel’s gift.4 He divided for repeal of the usury laws, 8 Feb., suppression of the Catholic Association, 15, 25 Feb., and against the Irish franchise bill, 26 Apr., 9 May 1825.5 He voted for the duke of Cumberland’s annuity bill, 30 May, 2, 6, 10 June 1825.
Collett divided against Catholic claims, 6 Mar. 1827, 12 May 1828, and repeal of the Test Acts, 26 Feb. 1828. In early February 1829 Planta, the Wellington ministry’s patronage secretary, predicted that he would vote ‘with government’ for Catholic emancipation, but on 7 Feb. 1829 John Croker* recorded that he had ‘dined at the Speaker’s’, where ‘Peel made a joke about old Collett, who, not knowing Peel’s conversion, had written to him to say that he was hastening up to support the good old Protestant cause ... but in a moment he seemed to recollect himself, and looked very grave and almost discomposed at his own mirth’.6 Collett was granted a fortnight’s leave on account of ‘severe indisposition’, 4 Mar., and was absent from the divisions on emancipation, 6, 30 Mar. 1829. There is no evidence of any further parliamentary activity. He was granted a month’s leave on account of ill health, 15 Mar. 1830. At that year’s dissolution he retired.
Collett died a widower in October 1833. By his will, dated 11 Oct. 1827 and proved under £300,000, he left Lockers House and lands on leasehold from St. John’s College, Cambridge, to his eldest daughter Mary (1797-1869), and provided £30,000 (with a further £10,000 in the event of marriage) to his eight surviving children, who included John (1798-1856), Liberal Member for Athlone, 1843-7, who shot himself dead in his library, and William (1810-82), Conservative Member for Lincoln, 1841-7.7