DAVIES, Thomas Henry Hastings (1789-1846), of Elmley Castle, Worcs.

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

Constituency

Dates

1818 - 1834
1837 - 1841

Family and Education

b. 27 Jan. 1789, 1st s. of Thomas Davies, adv.-gen. to E.I. Co., and Anna, da. of Hugh Baillie of Monckton, Ayr. educ. Sandhurst. m. 17 Jan 1824, Augusta Anne, da. and h. of Thomas Champion Crespigny† of Ufford Park, Sudbury, Suff., s.p. suc. fa. 1792; grandfa. Thomas Davies of New House, Herefs. 1795. d. 11 Dec. 1846.

Offices Held

Ensign 52 Ft. 1804, lt. 1805, capt. 1808; lt. and capt. 1 Ft. Gds. 1809, capt. and lt.-col. 1815; lt.-col. Chasseurs Britanniques (half-pay) 1818; brevet col. 1837; col. 6 Drag. 1839, ret. 1839.

Dir. Equitable Loan Co.

Biography

Davies, a wealthy East India stock owner and distinguished veteran of the Peninsula and Waterloo, continued to sit for Worcester with the aid of a large purse. At the 1820 general election he denied having ‘uniformly voted with opposition’ from ‘a spirit of faction’, claiming that he was motivated by the need to ‘obtain retrenchment’ and ‘relieve the country from an oppressive load of taxation’. He was returned unopposed.1 A regular attender, praised as a ‘valuable Member’ and a ‘rare example of military independence’ by a radical commentary of 1823, he continued to vote with the opposition to the Liverpool ministry on most major issues, including economy, retrenchment and reduced taxation, for which he was frequently a minority teller.2

An outspoken critic of military expenditure, who incessantly berated the army departments for their ‘shameful waste’, he was one of the leaders of the obstructive campaign against the estimates launched by the advanced wing of opposition in 1821. On 8 Mar. Lord Harrowby informed Lord Castlereagh* that the Whig Commons leader Tierney ‘has resigned his command, and ... we are to have a Pindari [marauding] warfare for the remainder of the session, conducted by a committee of which Hume, Creevey, Bennet and Davies are the chiefs’.3 He divided for Catholic claims, 28 Feb. 1821, 21 Apr. 1825, but was absent from the other divisions of that year. He was a steward at the London Tavern reform dinner, 4 Apr., and voted for parliamentary reform, 9 May 1821 (as a pair), 25 Apr. 1822, 20 Feb., 2, 3 June 1823, 27 Apr. 1826. In what the radical Whig Henry Grey Bennet considered ‘an indifferent speech’, he ‘animadverted on the extensive patronage’ of the crown, 31 May, when he was a minority teller for better securing the independence of Parliament.4 He deprecated giving one shilling more towards the coronation ‘beyond what had already been voted’, 30 June. He welcomed Scarlett’s poor relief bill, 2 July 1821. The following day he presented a petition in favour of Captain Romeo, which Grey Bennet thought ‘ill-advised’ as his ‘case does not seem so good as heretofore’.5 On 5 Feb. 1822 he secured confirmation that the government had no ‘intention to interfere with the metallic currency’. He argued that suppression of Irish disturbances ‘ought to be followed up by investigation and conciliatory measures’, 8 Feb., and contended that Ireland ‘by mismanagement, had been made a terrestrial hell’, 8 July 1822, when he was a minority teller for limiting the duration of the Irish insurrection bill, against which he again divided, 12 May, 24 June 1823. He urged a ‘temporary appropriation of the sinking fund, or the remission of an amount of taxes equivalent to it, in the present distressed state of the country’, 15 Feb. 1822. His motion that revenue expenses ‘be brought under the view of the House by estimates’ was defeated by 93-25, 12 Mar. 1822.

Davies ‘could not conceive’ how neutrality could be preserved ‘consistently with honour’ if France invaded Spain, 5 Feb., and, apprehending that war was ‘almost inevitable’, announced that he would waive his customary opposition to the estimates, 10 Mar. 1823. He duly condemned consideration of the national debt reduction bill as ‘peculiarly ill-advised’ when the ‘continent was about to be convulsed by a war’, 13 Mar. He called for papers on Spain, 10 Apr., and protested to an inattentive House, 30 Apr., that ‘if ministers had taken the firm and decided tone which became this country, they would have effectively deterred France from her aggression’. He presented and endorsed a petition from Colonel Allen complaining of the loss of his commission, 6 Mar., and condemned ‘the dismissal of officers of the army without trial by a court-martial’, 14 Mar. He voted to refer the Catholic petition complaining of the administration of justice in Ireland to a grand committee, 26 June 1823, and spoke in favour of emancipation the following day. At the start of the 1824 session he resumed his opposition to the estimates and the casual voting of vast sums. He asserted that ‘it was in vain to look for the extinction of smuggling to the preventative service’, 16 Feb., and campaigned steadily for the diminution of import duties, claiming that this would ‘reduce nearly the whole expense of the preventative service’, 12 Mar. He criticized the expense of colonial army appointments, 12, 15 Mar. 1824, and later derided the ‘whole management of the colonies’ as ‘the most infamous system of jobbing on the face of the globe’, 6 Mar. 1826. He spoke and was a minority teller for his own motion for leave to bring in a bill reducing the Irish militia, 5 May 1824. He voted against the beer duties bill, by which ‘a numerous class of persons would be ruined’, 24 May 1824.

Davies defended the Catholic Association, which was ‘struggling to protect the Catholic people’ in a country where ‘there was one rule for the rich, and another for the poor’, 11 Feb., and divided against its suppression, 15, 21 Feb. 1825. On 23 Feb. he protested that a proposal to prevent Members from voting on private bills in which they had a personal interest would ‘stop all private business, and paralyse the energies of the country’. He advocated repeal of the present settlement laws and making birth the only claim to provision, 22 Mar. He called for inquiry into the mutiny of the Indian army, 24 Mar. That day he was a majority teller for a bill of the Equitable Loan Company, of which he was a director. Despite the rejection of Catholic relief by the Lords, he hoped that the accompanying bill to disfranchise Irish 40s. freeholders would still be ‘brought forward at some future period’, 27 May. He called for a repeal of the Bubble Act relating to joint-stock companies, 2 June 1825. He voted against the promissory notes bill, blaming ‘the over-issues of the Bank of England’ for the ‘present misery’, 20 Feb. 1826. He divided in condemnation of the slave trade, 2 Mar. He doubted whether the ‘corruption of an individual’ during an election should be ‘sufficient to disfranchise the entire borough’, 14 Mar., but voted for Lord John Russell’s bribery bill, 27 Apr., arguing next day that such a ‘measure was much to be desired’. He welcomed the proposed relaxation of the corn laws but would have preferred ‘a complete and final revision of the whole system’, 5 May 1826.

At the 1826 general election Davies offered again for Worcester, explaining that the ‘great object of his parliamentary life had been to reduce the enormous taxation of the country’ and stressing his support for free trade in corn and parliamentary reform. Despite his earlier votes for relief, he denied ‘most unequivocally’ that ‘he was on the side of Catholic emancipation’, saying that he ‘never had been, and never would be, the supporter of that cause’. After a protracted contest he was returned in second place.6 He voted against the address, 21 Nov. 1826. The following day he called on the House to ‘correct the abuses with which the business of elections was conducted’. He derided Littleton’s proposal to reform committees on private bills as ‘worse than the disease’, 28 Nov., and refuted allegations that the Equitable Loan Company had ‘carried on a base traffic in shares’, 5 Dec. 1826. He argued that ‘for the preservation of the discipline of the army, it was essential to have recourse to corporal punishment’, 12 Mar. 1827. He moved and was a minority teller for papers on the mutiny at Barrackpoor, 22 Mar., but apologized to Richard Hart Davis for the ‘very considerable excitement’ of his language the following day. He voted for information on the Lisburn Orange procession, 29 Mar. He divided for a committee on the Irish estimates and information on chancery delays, 5 Apr. That day he called for limiting the length of polls and the introduction of separate booths and was appointed to a select committee on the problem. He obtained leave to bring in his election polls bill, 7 June, but it was deferred until the next session. He advocated the transfer of the franchise from Penryn to Manchester, 8 May, and voted for Penryn’s disfranchisement, 28 May, when he divided for the election expenses bill. On 14 May he urged Canning, the new premier, to make ‘every possible reduction’ and thereby render ‘himself the most popular minister that this country ever had’. He condemned the ‘selfishness’ of a petition from the wool trade complaining of foreign imports, 28 May. He contended that the ‘disturbances and rebellion in Portugal’ had been ‘formulated by Spain’ and welcomed the deployment of British troops there, 8 June 1827.

Davies called for restrictions on the printing of petitions ‘conveying the same general sentiments’ and a reform of the procedures governing their presentation, 19 Feb. 1828. He spoke again in similar terms, 21 May 1829, 3 Nov. 1830, 28 Feb. 1831, 2 Mar., 9 May 1832, when he was appointed to a select committee on the subject. He presented a Worcester petition for repeal of the Test Acts, 19 Feb., and voted thus, 26 Feb. 1828. He brought up others against the Malt Act, 21 Feb., 12 Mar., 17 Apr. On 22 Feb. he introduced his elections polls bill to limit polling to eight days and provide multiple booths for the larger cities and boroughs. He steered it through committee, where it encountered stiff opposition from Robinson, his colleague at Worcester, and was a majority teller for its recommitment, 15 May. It passed the Commons, 28 June, and the Lords, 8 July, and received royal assent, 15 July (9 Geo. IV, c. 59). On 4 Mar. he attacked the ‘costly’ emigration proposals of Robert Wilmot Horton. He wanted action to obtain the repayment of South American debts, 1 Apr. He advocated reform of the poor laws, 17 Apr., and was appointed to a select committee on them, 22 May. He presented a Worcester petition for Catholic relief, 18 Apr., but on 12 May, in an ambivalent speech, opposed its consideration by a committee of the whole House, explaining that he was hostile to any ‘unqualified concessions’ but favourably disposed to the appointment of a select committee on the ‘importance of emancipation and its probable effect’. He called for a more ‘liberal and enlightened system’ to be adopted towards New South Wales, 18 Apr. He urged inquiry into the costs of private bills, 7 May. He protested that the reconstruction of Buckingham House was in the ‘worst taste’ and ‘a disgrace to all concerned’, 6 June, and voted to condemn it, 23 June. He divided for the usury laws amendment bill, 19 June. That day he denounced the voters registration bill, which would ‘open the door to every species of fraud and mismanagement’. He presented and endorsed a Worcester petition against the import of foreign gloves, 23 June, and demanded that the trade receive the ‘same protection’ as that ‘extended to the growers of corn’, 26 June 1828.

Davies denounced a Worcestershire petition against Catholic claims as unrepresentative, 19 Feb., and presented one in its favour, 5 Mar. 1829. He voted for the Wellington ministry’s concession of emancipation, 6, 30 Mar., and cautioned against giving more time for the ‘people to express their opinions’ on a subject which ‘by this House alone should be determined’, 9 Mar. He had been listed by Planta, the patronage secretary, as likely to be ‘opposed to securities’, but on 18 Mar. he welcomed the Irish freeholders bill, as the existing franchise there was ‘a mockery’. He divided for allowing Daniel O’Connell to take his seat unimpaired, 18 May. He was in the minorities for the transfer of East Retford’s seats to Birmingham, 5 May, and the issue of a new writ, 2 June. He praised a bill to prevent arrest on mesne process in Ireland for debts under £20, 14 May. He condemned and voted against the marble arch grant, 25 May, and secured the appointment of a select committee on the handling of crown leases by John Nash, 27 May, but he accused their report of bias in ‘exculpating’ him, 19 June 1829. He pressed for further inquiry, 12 Feb., 2 Mar., when he protested that the chancellor of the exchequer had ‘a mind biased in favour of the accused’, 30 Mar. 1830, 15 Feb. 1831. ‘Davies is his opponent’, Thomas Frankland Lewis* noted of Nash, 6 June 1830, but ‘there is no case of fraud against him’.7 Davies voted for the transfer of East Retford’s seats to Birmingham, 11 Feb., 15 Mar. 1830, when he was in the minority of 21 for adopting the ballot there. He spoke and voted for Lord Blandford’s reform scheme, 18 Feb., and the enfranchisement of Birmingham, Leeds, and Manchester, 23 Feb., and divided for Russell’s reform motion, 28 May. He continued to campaign against the estimates, on which he was a minority teller, 19 Feb., and voted steadily with the revived opposition for economy and retrenchment from March 1830. He opposed giving some parishioners ‘more than one vote’ under the St. Giles’s vestry bill, 2 Apr. He divided for Jewish emancipation, 5 Apr., 17 May. He presented Worcester petitions in favour of the forgery punishment mitigation bill, 26 Apr., for which he voted, 24 May, 7 June. He brought up another Worcester petition for the sale of beer bill, 11 May, but expressed concern about the ‘extensive ruin’ of those who had invested their property in public houses and divided against it, 1 July. He voted for abolition of the Irish lord lieutenancy, 11 May, and proper use of Irish first fruits revenues, 18 May. He demanded the ‘severest reprimand’ for the solicitor of the London and Birmingham Canal Company who was accused of submitting a fraudulent list of subscribers to the House, 20 May. The following day he called for more severe secondary punishments and inquiry into the penal system. He spoke against the Irish and Scottish poor removal bill, 24 May. He believed that Littleton’s truck bill was ‘erroneous in principle’ and urged inquiry into the subject, 1 July 1830.

At the 1830 general election Davies stood again for Worcester, denying that he was the ‘author of the Act which prohibits the use of ribands at elections’ and insisting that his measure had given ‘increased facilities to voters coming to the poll’. He stressed his opposition to the monopolies of the East India Company and Bank of England and gave qualified approval for the abolition of slavery, but again disclaimed being a ‘factious opponent of government’, promising to support Wellington if he pursued ‘rigid economy’. He was returned unopposed.8 On 5 Nov. 1830 he insisted that returning officers, rather than Members, should provide details of the number of electors in their constituencies. Three days later when Peel, the home secretary, read the contents of the lord mayor’s letter advising Wellington to cancel the king’s visit to the City, Davies was reported to have ‘sneered’ loudly. He defended his conduct later that day, objecting to Peel’s construction of his action as approval of mob violence.9 Listed by the ministry as one of their ‘foes’, he voted against them on the civil list, 15 Nov. He advised postponing the appointment of many election committees until after Christmas, on account of large numbers of absences occasioned by the ‘disturbed state of the country’, 22 Nov. 1830. He spoke against Lord Chandos’s proposal to disfranchise Evesham, 18 Feb. 1831. He quibbled with the Grey ministry’s estimates but withdrew a hostile amendment after assurances that ‘economy shall be carried in every branch of the public expenditure’, 21 Feb., although he continued to press ministers over expenditure, 11, 25 Mar., 12, 14 Apr. He moved for and was appointed to a select committee on transportation, 17 Mar. He voted for the second reading of the ministerial reform bill, 22 Mar., and presented a favourable Worcester petition the following day. He accused Hunt of doing ‘as much as the worst enemy of reform could do against the bill’, 12 Apr. He voted against Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr., but opposed a dissolution, observing that the bill’s support came ‘principally from those who have not the elective franchise’, 21 Apr. 1831.

At the ensuing general election he offered as a ‘reformer’, but found himself ‘mistaken’ in apprehending that many Worcester freemen would oppose reform since it ‘tended to deprive them of their rights’. A last minute opposition was aborted and he was returned unopposed.10 He voted for the second reading of the reintroduced reform bill, 6 July, and at least twice against adjourning the debates, 12 July 1831, when he berated Sir Henry Hardinge for his attempts to ‘throw obstacles in the way of the great measure’. Charged in response with Whig factionalism, Davies declared, 14 July, ‘I am no supporter of theirs: when they are right I will support them; when they are wrong I will oppose them, and I will continue as independent of this government as I was of the last’. He gave general support to the bill’s details in committee, where he complained that its slow progress was beyond ‘human endurance’, 18, 28 July, but voted against the inclusion of Guildford in schedule B, 29 July, for separate representation for Methyr, 10 Aug., and against the proposed division of counties, 11 Aug., when he explained that he was ‘as much adverse to democratic influence as any man’ but ‘equally adverse to aristocratic nomination’. On 17 Aug. he proposed an amendment to prevent freeholders in boroughs with county status from voting in neighbouring shire elections, which was defeated by 164-124. Citing the example of Leeds where, as well as ‘the 500 persons who have votes for the town’, there were ‘1,800 of the smaller freeholders to deluge the county’, on 24 Aug. he moved another amendment to restrict the votes of all urban freeholders to boroughs and so prevent ‘large bodies of votes in the manufacturing districts from controlling the county elections’, which was defeated by 225-136. He spoke and voted for the similar unsuccessful amendment made by Mackworth Praed, 1 Feb. 1832. He divided for Chandos’s amendment to enfranchise £50 tenants-at-will, 18 Aug. 1831. He recommended raising the minimum household qualification in large manufacturing towns from £10 to £20, but withdrew his proposal for this, 24 Aug. 1831, though he pressed again for it on the grounds that ‘master manufacturers have a great number of small houses which they let out to their workmen’, 3 Feb. 1832. On 25 Aug. 1831 he warned that ‘a man might let another a house at a rent of £8, but in order to give his tenant a vote’ could charge £10 and ‘return £2 to the tenant’, and voted for Campbell’s amendment to withhold the franchise from weekly tenants and lodgers. Next day he expressed concern that the joint-occupiers clause would ‘give rise to a most enormous multiplication of fictitious votes’. He voted for the bill’s passage, 21 Sept., but was absent from the division on Lord Ebrington’s motion of confidence in the ministry, 10 Oct. He attacked the grant for French refugees, 8 July, but defended that for the duchess of Kent, 3 Aug. He voted for printing the Waterford petition for disarming the Irish yeomanry, 11 Aug., and argued against introducing poor laws to Ireland, 12 Aug. He voted with ministers on the Dublin election controversy, 23 Aug., and spoke against the sale of beer bill, 22 Sept. 1831.

Davies ridiculed a Worcestershire petition presented by Lord Eastnor complaining of intimidation by local reformers, 16 Dec., and voted for the second reading of the revised reform bill, 17 Dec. 1831, but criticized many of its details. He spoke and divided for an amendment to enfranchise all ratepayers above £10 annual value, 3 Feb., and questioned the proposed remuneration for revising barristers, 11 Feb. 1832. He also doubted that charging candidates for the erection of booths would be ‘productive of economy’, 15 Feb., and warned that returning officers might abuse their power to erect booths in every parish, 16 Feb. On 20 Feb. he attacked the ‘maze of figures and calculations’ used to compile the revised schedules as ‘erroneous’ and ‘absurd’ and insisted that ‘taxation and houses should not be compared’. Defending his vote against the inclusion of Dartmouth in schedule B, 2 Mar., he compared it with Totnes, which did ‘not contain so many £10 houses’ and yet was ‘still to return two Members’. He divided against the inclusion of Gateshead in schedule D, 5 Mar. He demanded ‘further explanation’ of the government’s advice to the king on the creation of peers, 9 May, voted for the address calling on the monarch to appoint only ministers who would carry the bill unimpaired, 10 May, and argued in favour of withholding the supplies until ‘some full and efficient measure of reform has received the royal assent’, 15 May. He divided for the second reading of the Irish bill, 25 May, and paired against a Conservative amendment to the Scottish bill, 1 June, but voted to extend the Irish county franchise to £5 freeholders, 18 June, when he presented and endorsed a reform petition from the Worcester Political Union. Rebutting claims that he was attempting to ‘promote Whig influence’, he spoke and was in the minority against the boundaries proposed for Stamford, 22 June 1832.

He presented a Worcester petition against the import of foreign gloves, 15 Dec. 1831, and was a minority teller for his own motions of inquiry into the trade, 31 Jan., 3 Apr. 1832. He divided with government on relations with Portugal, 9 Feb., and spoke thus, 17 Feb. He called for tighter regulations to prevent naval officers from offering their services to foreign powers, 19 Mar. He jibed at the estimates, but postponed any further opposition ‘till we have a reformed Parliament’, 28 Mar. He secured returns on New South Wales and Van Diemen’s Land, 6 Apr. He urged the ‘most strenuous exertions to diminish, as much as possible, the infliction of corporal punishments in the army’, but warned that they could not ‘with safety be abandoned altogether’, 19 June. He complained that there was ‘no security’ in the government’s proposed loan to the West Indian colonies, 29 June. He disapproved of paying the Russian-Dutch loan, but, apprehending that ‘a vote of censure’ would ‘attain no earthly good