GORE LANGTON, William (?1760-1847), of Newton Park, nr. Bath, Som.; Dean House, Oxon. and 12 Grosvenor Square, Mdx.
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Family and Education
b. ?Dec. 1760, 1st s. of Edward Gore of Barrow Court, Som. and Barbara, da. and h. of Sir George Browne of Kiddington Park, Oxon., wid. of Sir Edward Mostyn, 5th bt., of Talacre, Flint. educ. New Coll. Oxf. 19 Oct. 1776, aged 17. m. (1) 21 July 1783, Bridget (d. 5 Dec. 1793), da. and h. of Joseph Langton of Newton Park and took additional name of Langton 9 Aug. 1783, 3s. (1 d.v.p.) 1da.; (2) c.1800,1 Mary, da. of John Browne of Salperton, Glos., 2s. (1 d.v.p.) 2da. suc. fa. 1801. d. 14 Mar. 1847.
Lt.-col. Oxf. militia 1782, col. 1798.
Gore Langton’s ancestors were prominent figures in the City of London who had established themselves in Somerset in the seventeenth century. In 1801 he inherited his father’s Barrow Court estate along with other scattered properties in Somerset, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire, having already received unspecified properties as a marriage settlement.2 However, it was his acquisition by marriage of the Newton Park estate that enhanced his standing in the county sufficiently for him to become one of its representatives. He was an active Member of the Whig opposition before 1820, joining Brooks’s Club, 11 May 1816, but his consistent support for Catholic relief alienated many of his constituents and created an opportunity for his old rival, Sir Thomas Lethbridge*, to campaign against him. At the dissolution in 1820 he sent a letter from Paris announcing his decision not to stand again, although he defended his record in ‘protecting the properties and liberties of my fellow subjects and ... opposing the encroachments of preponderating influence’.3 He continued to take an active part in Somerset politics, being one of the freeholders who signed an address urging the county meeting in January 1823 to consider petitioning for parliamentary reform; he would have moved the resolutions on this subject at the second meeting that month had he not caught a cold attending the first.4 In August 1830 he nominated Edward Sanford at the county election, commending him as one who would ‘support the rights and liberties of the people, with truth and independence’.5 The following April he was requisitioned by the freeholders of Bath to stand for the county, free of expense, as a supporter of the Grey ministry’s reform bill. He welcomed the opportunity to ‘assist in carrying into effect that important measure’, which he had advocated throughout his career, but said this was ‘his only motive in coming forward at this time of life’ and that once reform was accomplished ‘he hoped he should again be permitted to retire into private life’. He also supported triennial parliaments. He was returned unopposed with Sanford and promised to ‘fearlessly do my duty towards my king, my country, and the constitution’ and ‘show myself on all occasions the faithful guardian of the public purse’.6
He divided for the second reading of the reintroduced reform bill, 6 July 1831, and generally supported its details. However, he voted against the division of counties, 11 Aug., repudiated the insinuation that he was therefore not a sincere reformer, 16 Aug., and protested against these ‘odious and obnoxious clauses’ which would remove ‘all the honour and ... benefit of county representation’, 2 Sept., when he added that ‘nothing on earth should induce me to become a candidate for a division of a county’. He voted for the bill’s third reading, 19 Sept., its passage, 21 Sept., and Lord Ebrington’s confidence motion, 10 Oct. He divided for the second reading of the revised bill, 17 Dec. 1831, and generally supported its details, including the provision limiting to two days the interval between county nominations and elections, 11 Feb. 1832, as he thought a longer period would mean ‘we shall never have a bona fide county election ... there will be too much temptation for candidates to hang back in order [to] take their opponents by surprise’. However, he moved an amendment for the counties to remain undivided and return four Members each, 27 Jan., warning that the ministerial plan would be ‘highly injurious to the future independence of counties’. He feared that the power of large landed proprietors would increase and that of ‘the gentleman of small independent property’ diminish, while ‘those small independent freeholders, who were at once the honour and the security of this country, will be altogether destroyed’. His ‘Whig crotchet’, as one minister privately described it, was defeated by 215-89.7 He also voted with the minorities to enfranchise £10 ratepayers, 3 Feb., and against Helston remaining in schedule B, 23 Feb. He divided for the bill’s third reading, 22 Mar., expressed ‘deep regret’ at the resignation of ministers, 9 May, voted for Ebrington’s motion for an address asking the king to appoint only ministers committed to carrying an unimpaired measure, 10 May, and presented Shepton Mallet and Bath petitions for withholding supplies until it was carried, 18 May 1832.
He voted in the minorities to print the Waterford petition for disarming the Irish yeomanry, 11 Aug., and inquire into the ‘most objectionable’ corn laws, 15 Sept. 1831. He observed that such a ‘large and numerous body of my constituents’ had expressed their hostility to the general register bill that he felt it was his ‘duty to oppose it by every means in my power’, 20 Sept. He was granted three weeks’ leave ‘on the public service’, 26 Sept. He supported petitions against the importation of French gloves, 15, 16 Dec. 1831, and voted for inquiry into the trade, 31 Jan., 3 Apr. 1832. He divided against ministers on the Russian-Dutch loan, 26 Jan., and was absent from the divisions on this issue in July. He voted with them on the navy civil departments bill, 6 Apr. He reportedly paired for Buxton’s anti-slavery motion, 24 May.8 He expressed his ‘utter indignation and horror’ at the tsar of Russia’s conduct towards the Poles, 9 July 1832.
In the summer of 1832 Gore Langton accepted a requisition to offer for the new Eastern division of Somerset, explaining that the ‘warm interest’ thus shown had dissuaded him from carrying out his declared intention of retiring at the dissolution; he was returned at the head of the poll.9 In fact, he continued to sit, as ‘one of the oldest reformers in the House ... in favour of the ballot and the immediate abolition of slavery’, until his death in March 1847, ‘aged 87’.10 He left his Somerset estates to his grandson, William Henry Powell Gore Langton (1824-73), Conservative Member for West Somerset, 1851-59, 1863-73.11 His eldest son from his second marriage, William Henry Gore Langton (1802-75), was Liberal Member for Bristol, 1852-65.
Ref Volumes: 1820-1832
Author: Terry Jenkins
- 1. Smith Letters, i. 49.
- 2. The will was sworn at the ‘upper value’: PROB 11/1357/318; IR26/51/79.
- 3. Wilts. RO, Benett mss 413/485, Poole to Benett, 20 Feb.; Taunton Courier, 15 Mar. 1820.
- 4. Bristol Mirror, 25 Jan., 1 Feb. 1823.
- 5. Ibid. 7 Aug. 1830.
- 6. Ibid. 30 Apr., 7, 14 May 1831.
- 7. Add. 51573, Rice to Lady Holland 24 Jan. 1832.
- 8. Keenes’ Bath Jnl. 4 June 1832.
- 9. Bristol Mirror, 14 July, 8 Sept., 22 Dec. 1832.
- 10. Dod’s Parl. Companion (1833), 132-3; Gent. Mag. (1847), i. 545.
- 11. PROB 11/2057/499; IR26/1778/383.