FOLEY, Edward Thomas (1791-1846), of Stoke Edith, Herefs. and 41 Curzon Street, Mdx.
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Family and Education
b. 21 Dec. 1791, 1st s. of Hon. Edward Foley† of Stoke Edith and 2nd w. Elizabeth Maria, da. and h. of Thomas Hodgetts of Prestwood, Staffs.; bro. of John Hodgetts Hodgetts Foley*. educ. Brasenose, Oxf. 1809. m. 16 Aug. 1832, Lady Emily Graham, da. of James Graham†, 3rd duke of Montrose [S], s.p. suc. fa. 1803. d. 29 Mar. 1846.
Sheriff, Herefs. 1815-16.
Born into a Herefordshire and Worcestershire family which had produced several Whig Members for local seats, Foley was a first cousin of the 3rd Baron Foley and the eldest son of a immoral Foxite, whom he succeeded to a large estate at Stoke Edith in 1803.1 In 1818 he declined to stand for Worcestershire, his father’s old constituency, and before the general election in 1820 the retiring Member, William Henry Lyttelton, informed George Tierney*, the Whig leader, that ‘Lord Foley has applied in vain to his cousin, Edward Foley (the Bean). However there is no great loss there to anybody’.2 Similarly, Lord Beauchamp wrote to Sir Anthony Lechmere, 17 Feb. 1820, in relation to Herefordshire, where his first cousin Thomas Foley had sat until 1818 on the family interest:
I cannot understand Edward Foley’s motives. Lord Somers [the ministerial leader in the county] has had a letter from him declaring his intention of not offering himself. I think he never could have had a better opportunity.3
Instead, Foley, who according to Sir George Cornewall† was called ‘silly filly’ in London, gave his support to the Tory Member there, Sir John Geers Cotterell.4 In fact, it was as a Tory that he entered the House, where his brother John, Member for Droitwich, was an inactive Whig. He purchased a seat, presumably on the Everett interest, at Ludgershall at the general election of 1826, and was returned there unopposed at the two subsequent elections.5
Foley voted against Catholic relief, 6 Mar., and the corn bill, 2 Apr. 1827. He again voted against Catholic claims, 12 May, and with the Wellington ministry against reduction of the salary of the lieutenant-general of the ordnance, 4 July 1828. Listed by Planta, the patronage secretary, in February 1829 as likely to be ‘opposed to the principle’ of Catholic emancipation, he voted steadily against it during the following month. He was not named as one of the Ultras by Sir Richard Vyvyan*, their leader, later that year, but he remained somewhat disaffected. He paired for transferring East Retford’s seats to Birmingham, 5 Mar., and voted against the beer bill, 4 May, and for amendments to restrict sales for on-consumption, 21 June, 1 July 1830. He divided against Jewish emancipation, 17 May. In September he was reckoned by ministers as one of their ‘friends’, but a query was entered beside his name on Planta’s survey and he voted against them on the civil list, 15 Nov. 1830. He divided against the second reading of the Grey ministry’s reform bill, 22 Mar., and for Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr. 1831. He voted against the second reading of the reintroduced bill, 6 July, and its passage, 21 Sept., and in letters to the press denied that he had voted with ministers against adjourning proceedings on the bill, 12 July, or paired for the partial disfranchisement of Dorchester, 28 July.6 He was absent from the division on the second reading of the revised bill, 17 Dec. 1831, but voted against going into committee on it, 20 Jan., the enfranchisement of Tower Hamlets, 28 Feb., and the third reading, 22 Mar. 1832. His only other known votes were against the Russian-Dutch loan, 26 Jan., 12 July, and with the minority for inquiry into the glove trade, 3 Apr. He may have been the ‘Mr. Foley’ who presented Blockley and Foleshill petitions for relief of distress in the silk trade, 26 Mar.; if so, this was his only known verbal intervention in this period. Following the disfranchisement of Ludgershall, he started for Herefordshire as a Conservative at the general election of 1832. Described by his proposer as a ‘man of real independence both in purse and spirit’, and even praised by one of his Whig opponents, Sir Robert Price*, for his ‘high character, and amiable and excellent disposition’, he spoke in defence of agricultural protection and was elected unopposed.7 He retired from the House in 1841 because of ill health and died in March 1846.