CRIPPS, Joseph (1765-1847), of Coxwell Street, Cirencester, Glos.

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

Constituency

Dates

1806 - 1812
1818 - 1841

Family and Education

b. 10 Mar. 1765, 1st s. of Joseph Cripps of Cirencester and Hester, da. of William Hall of Arlington. m. (1) 27 Apr. 1786, Elizabeth (d. 15 Apr. 1799), da. of Benjamin Harrison of Lee, Kent, gov. and treas. Guy’s Hosp., 3s. 2da.; (2) 1 Oct. 1801, Dorothea Harrison, sis. of his 1st w., 5s. (1 d.v.p.) 3da. suc. fa. 1782. d. 8 Jan. 1847.

Offices Held

Dir. Van Diemen’s Land Co. 1825-d., dep. gov. by 1829, gov. by 1838-?1842.

Capt. Cirencester vols. 1798, lt.-col. commdt. 1803.

Biography

Cripps, who had banking and brewing interests at Cirencester, was returned unopposed throughout this period as the representative of the townspeople in conjunction with a Member representing the landed interest.1 He attended and spoke quite frequently, continuing to give general but independent support to Lord Liverpool’s ministry. He welcomed the Western Union Canal bill as ‘likely to be beneficial’, 15 May, ‘spoke in favour’ of the labourers’ wages bill, 23 June, and was granted one month’s leave for ‘urgent private business’, 29 June 1820. He voted to condemn the omission of Queen Caroline’s name from the liturgy, 23, 26 Jan., but in defence of ministers’ conduct towards her, 6 Feb. 1821. He divided against Catholic claims, 28 Feb. He denied that the resumption of cash payments was the cause of low prices, attributing this to the ‘extraordinary crop of the present year’, 2 Mar.,2 but he criticized the plan for the total withdrawal of £1 notes, 9 Apr., and declared that ‘the wants of the community could not be adequately supplied by a cash circulation’, 13 Apr. He voted for repeal of the husbandry horses tax, 5 Mar., and the additional malt duty, 21 Mar., and he defended the lottery as a ‘less objectionable mode of taxation’, 1 June. He voted against Maberly’s resolutions on the state of the revenue, 6 Mar. He divided against parliamentary reform, 9 May. He voted for the forgery punishment mitigation bill, 23 May, and after the third reading, 4 June, moved an amendment to except promissory notes, bills of exchange and money orders drawn on bankers, which was carried by 109-102; he was a majority teller. However, the leader of the House, Lord Londonderry, secured the bill’s defeat on the motion for its passage, to the fury of the Whig opposition.3 Cripps hoped the Commons would ‘try an experiment’ with the vagrant laws amendment bill, 24 May 1821, when he was a minority teller for recommitting the metropolis roads bill. He divided against more extensive tax reductions, 21 Feb., and abolition of one of the joint-postmasterships, 13 Mar. 1822. He argued that Londonderry had ‘conferred a benefit on the country by adhering to the sinking fund’, as there was ‘no better mode’ of providing relief from the burden of taxation, 3 May, and he supported the naval and military pensions bill, 24 May. He considered ‘a fixed and permanent protection’ to be the only solution for agricultural distress, 6 May, but regretted that Lethbridge’s plan was ‘impossible without bringing all the other interests of the country before them as petitioners’ and therefore accepted the government’s resolutions, 8 May, although he wished ‘the importation price to have been rather higher’. He seconded Chetwynd’s motion for a vagrant laws consolidation bill, 12 Mar.4 He voted against removing Catholic peers’ disabilities, 30 Apr., and supported petitions for repeal of the Truck Act, 17 June 1822.5

He introduced an apprenticeships bill to increase the powers of magistrates, 25 Mar.; it gained royal assent, 17 June 1823.6 He voted against repeal of the Foreign Enlistment Act, 16 Apr., inquiry into the prosecution of the Dublin Orange rioters, 22 Apr., and for recommitting the silk bill, 9 June 1823. He divided against reform of Edinburgh’s representation, 26 Feb. 1824. He opposed transferring the duty on beer to malt, as the latter tax was easily evaded, 15 Mar. He regarded the ministerial plan to remove the prohibition on raw cotton exports as inexpedient, 26 Mar., maintaining that the whole produce of the country was needed to keep artisans employed in manufacturing. He argued that warehoused corn from abroad should be sent out of the country as soon as possible to avoid great fluctuations in the domestic price, 17 May. On 25 Mar. he introduced a bill to amend and consolidate the Turnpike Roads Acts, ‘one evil’ of which was ‘their inordinate length’ and complexity; he withdrew on advice from other Members, but explained that his action was prompted by practical experience as a magistrate and turnpike commissioner. He approved of Lord Althorp’s settlement of the poor bill, but thought it would be found objectionable in the manufacturing towns, 30 Mar. He welcomed the government’s qualification of jurors bill as ‘productive of great public benefit in rendering a most desirable class of persons eligible’ for selection, 4 June 1824.7 He spoke and voted against the usury laws repeal bill, observing that the country had ‘attained its present height of prosperity and glory’ under the existing legislation, 17 Feb. 1825. That day he warned that Stuart Wortley’s game bill ‘went too far’, although he supported its third reading, 29 Apr. He divided for the Irish unlawful societies bill, 25 Feb., and against Catholic claims, 1 Mar., 21 Apr., and the Irish franchise bill, 26 Apr. It was probably he, not George Gipps of Ripon, who denounced the ‘monstrous reduction’ in the duty on imported wool, which would lead to a flood of foreign cloth, 25 Mar. He supported Huskisson’s resolutions on bonded corn, 2 May. He opposed the Severn Valley railway bill, 28 Apr.8 Either he or Gipps moved on 27 May that the duke of Cumberland’s son should be educated in Britain; this was defeated by 79-64, but he certainly voted for the grant, 30 May. He dismissed the petitions against the combination bill, 29 June 1825, observing that it was ‘easy ... to procure such petitions signed by workmen under the pretext that it was to preserve their privileges’, denying that ‘the mechanics were even fit judges of their own interest’ and arguing that the bill’s provisions were ‘calculated to prevent future outrages’ such as those that had occurred in Gloucestershire.9 On the address, 2 Feb. 1826, he defended the country banks from criticism and urged caution about making precipitate changes in their regulation, hoping that ‘they might bring their affairs round’ if left alone. He advised the government to act quickly on its decision to withdraw £1 country bank notes, supported the issue of exchequer bills and trusted that valuable lessons would be learned from the financial crisis, 17 Feb. He thought the banks had cause for complaint at the way restrictions had been imposed on their note circulation without prior inquiry, 26 May. He voted that day for Russell’s resolutions to curb electoral bribery. In July 1826 he wrote to Peel for help in procuring a more lucrative church living for one of his sons, explaining that he had ’12 children and never yet ... asked the slightest favour of any ... member of His Majesty’s government either for them or any other person’; the home secretary was unable to oblige.10

Cripps expatiated on the ‘excellence’ of the criminal law consolidation bill and Peel’s other reforms, 22 Feb. 1827. He believed the proposed new corn duties would not harm the manufacturing interest, 12 Mar., but added that landowners ‘must give way a little’ by reducing rents to ensure that land did not go out of cultivation. He praised ministers for listening to the country and modifying their original plan, 19 Mar., and opposed Hume’s amendment for lower duties, 27 Mar., declaring that while he ‘had not the good fortune to possess much land ... he thought the corn question had been fairly settled’. He persuaded Lethbridge to withdraw his Turnpike Acts amendment bill, 27 Mar., but his hint of an alternative measure did not materialize. He was granted a fortnight’s leave, ‘being a material witness at a trial at the ensuing assizes’, 2 Apr. He said ‘a few words’ in support of the sale of game bill, 7 June 1827.11 He divided against repeal of the Test Acts, 26 Feb., and Catholic claims, 12 May 1828. He criticized the clause in the lunatics regulation bill requiring the appointment of a treasurer and clerk to each commission as ‘calculated to increase the expense to which the public was already put’, 17 Mar. He did not object to Slaney’s plan for the employment of able-bodied labourers from the poor rates, 17 Apr., but thought it would have little effect and hoped that ‘as the times mend ... the evil will decrease’. He said he would vote for the second reading of Macqueen’s settlement by hiring bill, 29 Apr., but warned that it would need careful scrutiny in committee. He trusted that the ‘really enormous’ legal fees would not be payable on the renewal of Turnpike Acts, 21 Apr. He approved of the Wellington ministry’s proposed new sliding scale for corn but favoured greater protection for oats, 28 Apr. He declared himself ‘a convert’ to the usury laws repeal bill but wanted more effective protection for landed mortgagees, 20 May. In seconding Pallmer’s bill to consolidate the laws concerning savings banks, 5 June, he observed that many people were ‘depositors in those institutions whom it was never intended should benefit by them’ and that the present legislation did not ‘guard against this evil’. He voted against reducing the salary of the lieutenant-general of the ordnance, 4 July 1828. In February 1829 Planta, the patronage secretary, predicted that Cripps would side ‘with government’ for Catholic emancipation. However, he chaired a public meeting at Cirencester which resolved to petition against it, 20 Feb.,12 and in presenting this, 4 Mar., he declared that ‘I cannot ... turn round and say ... that I have been all my life in error’. He admitted that ‘if clauses which I consider really beneficial shall be introduced ... I will not then say what change may take place in my sentiments’, but voted against emancipation, 6, 18, 27 Mar. He supported the labourers’ wages bill, 4 May, believing that an ‘efficient remedy’ was needed for the ‘crying evil of the practice of paying the agricultural labourers’ extra wages out of the poor rates’, and he suggested that parishes should be allowed to acquire land for labourers to cultivate. He supported the principle of the juvenile offenders bill while doubting its ‘practical working’, 12 May. He agreed that juveniles should be kept separate from other prisoners, as they were currently ‘turned out hardened criminals’, and stated from his own experience as a magistrate that whipping had a ‘most salutary effect’. He did not think the reformed currency was entirely to blame for economic distress, but favoured a limited circulation of small banknotes, 4 June 1829. He divided for Knatchbull’s amendment to the address on distress, 4 Feb., and confirmed the seriousness of the problem in Gloucestershire, 16 Mar. 1830, declaring that ‘things cannot remain as they are under such circumstances’. He strongly opposed a clause in the poor law amendment bill allowing parishes to provide for children whose parents could not support them, which would ‘destroy everything like mutual affection between parents and children’ and encourage irresponsible marriage, 26 Apr. His experience convinced him that it was necessary to adjust relief according to the price of bread and the size of families. He was not against inquiry into the condition of the poor, 13 May, but doubted that benefit societies were the solution as many workmen could not afford the subscriptions. He presented Cirencester petitions for mitigating the punishment for forgery, 16 Mar., 26 Apr., but regretfully differed from his constituents by opposing the bill on this subject, 7 June, as he feared it would lead to an increase in forgeries and did not consider the alternative punishments adequate. He presented a Cirencester licensed victuallers’ petition against opening the beer trade, 17 Mar., and though supporting the principle of the sale of beer bill he expressed concern about the proliferation of public houses and the weakening of magistrates’ powers for preserving order, 21 May. He voted to reduce the grant for public buildings, 3 May, and paired against Jewish emancipation, 17 May 1830.

In the autumn of 1830 the Wellington ministry regarded Cripps as one of their ‘friends’, and on 3 Nov. he expressed general approval of the king’s speech and ‘particular satisfaction’ with the ‘assurances of economy’. However, he was absent from the crucial division on the civil list, 15 Nov. 1830. He voted for the second reading of the Grey ministry’s reform bill, 22 Mar. 1831, but stated two days later that while he was willing to give it fair consideration, it required careful examination in committee so that ‘such alterations may be made ... as will render it palatable to this House and ... consonant with the feelings and wishes of the country’. He wanted the bill ‘to confer a real benefit on the country without endangering any of its institutions’. His name does not appear in the division lists on Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr. 1831, but The Times reported that he had voted against the government.13 At the ensuing general election he was returned for Cirencester after responding to pressure from the electors by declaring himself ‘favourable to reform’ but unpledged as to details.14

He divided for the second reading of the reintroduced bill, 6 July, but gave no recorded votes for it in committee and was in the minorities for allowing counsel to be heard on the Appleby anti-reform petition, 12 July, and against the disfranchisement of St. Germans, 26 July 1831. He believed that an impartial division of counties would ‘prove beneficial’, particularly to the agricultural interest, 11 Aug. He voted for the bill’s third reading, 19 Sept., but was absent from the division on its passage, 21 Sept., and was a defaulter on the call of the House, 10 Oct. He opposed the printing of the ‘highly objectionable’ Preston anti-corn law petition, 12 Aug., maintaining that the regulations had ‘been productive of infinite good’. In seconding Sadler’s bill to improve the condition of the labouring poor, 11 Oct., he stressed the ‘want of habitations’ as a particular problem. He failed to ascertain whether the chancellor of the exchequer, Althorp, intended to reduce the stamp duty on insurance policies, 12 Dec. He let it be known that he had voted for the second reading of the revised reform bill, 17 Dec. 1831, made several minor interventions on technical details in committee, 7, 8, 10 Feb., reportedly voted against the enfranchisement of Tower Hamlets, 28 Feb., divided for the third reading, 22 Mar., and reportedly voted against Lord Ebrington’s motion for an address asking the king to appoint only ministers committed to carrying an unimpaired measure, 10 May 1832.15 He divided against ministers on the Russian-Dutch loan, 26 Jan., but with them on relations with Portugal, 9 Feb. He introduced a bill to regulate the mode of electing county coroners, 16 Feb., claiming that the ‘expense ... disorder and ... enmity’ occasioned by these contests arose from the ‘much too considerable’ freeholder electorate and proposing that counties should be divided into single districts and the parliamentary franchise applied. He was a majority teller for going into committee, 7 May, when he stated that certain suggestions had been incorporated into the bill. He made several speeches in committee of the whole House, 20 June, accepting O’Connell’s demand that Ireland be omitted from its provisions and successfully resisting an amendment requiring proficiency in medical jurisprudence, on the ground that coroners should be lawyers. However, he was surprised by Warburton’s clause to make inquests public, for which he was unprepared with arguments but feared intrusion into the private grief of families; this was carried by 94-54, with Cripps a minority teller. The bill was reported as amended, but made no further progress. He presented a Forest of Dean colliers’ petition for the Purton Pill railway bill, 22 Mar., when he moved the second reading and argued that it would create jobs and a cheap coal supply; it was defeated by 116-31, with Cripps a minority teller. He condemned the attempt by radical critics to change the title of the anatomy bill after its passage, 11 May. He had no fear of inquiry into the alienation of crown lands in Van Diemen’s Land, 7 June 1832, maintaining that the present arrangements had encouraged emigration and investment. At the general election later that year he was returned unopposed as a Conservative for Cirencester and sat until his retirement in 1841.16 He died in January 1847 and divided his estate between his 12 children.17 His fourth son, William Cripps (1805-48), was Conservative Member for Cirencester, 1841-8.

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: Terry Jenkins

Notes

  • 1. Life of Campbell, i. 288; W.R. Williams, Parl. Hist. Glos. 171-2.
  • 2. The Times, 3 Mar. 1821.
  • 3. HLRO, Hist. Coll. 379, Grey Bennet diary, 96.
  • 4. The Times, 13 Mar. 1822.
  • 5. Ibid. 18 June 1822.
  • 6. Ibid. 26 Mar. 1823.