HELY HUTCHINSON, John I (1787-1851), of Palmerston House, Dublin

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



1826 - 1830
1831 - 29 June 1832

Family and Education

b. 1787, 1st. of Hon. Francis Hely Hutchinson, MP [I], and Frances Wilhelmina, da. and h. of Henry Nixon of Belmont, co. Wexford. educ. Trinity, Dublin 1803, aged 16. m. (1) 15 June 1821, Hon. Margaret Gardiner (d. 13 Oct. 1825), da. of Luke, 1st Visct. Mountjoy [I], 1s. 1da. d.v.p.; (2) 5 Sept. 1827, Barbara, da. of Lt.-Col. William Reynell of Castle Reynell, co. Westmeath, 1s. 3da. suc. fa. 1827; uncle John Hely Hutchinson†, Bar. Hutchinson, as 3rd earl of Donoughmore [I] and 3rd Visct. Hutchinson [UK] 29 June 1832; KP 8 Apr. 1834. d. 14 Sept. 1851.

Offices Held

Ensign 1 Ft. Gds. 1807, lt. and capt. 1812, half-pay 1819.

PC [I] 17 Nov. 1834; commr. for charitable donations and bequests [I] 1844-51.

Sheriff, co. Tipperary 1822-3, ld. lt. 1832-d.


Hely Hutchinson was portrayed by Richard Sheil* in 1831 as ‘what is commonly called a "good fellow", who does not set up any claims to eminent faculty, but whose title to good sense is beyond dispute’. Dubbed ‘the Captain’ by his family in order to distinguish him from his cousin and namesake, Member for Cork, 1826-1830, but more widely known as ‘Lavalette’ Hutchinson, he had followed his uncle General Lord Hutchinson into the army in 1807 and served in the Peninsula, where he was present at Corunna.1 A veteran of Waterloo, he was afterwards with the occupying forces in Paris, where, together with Sir Robert Wilson* and Michael Bruce*, he was put on trial for assisting the escape of General Lavalette, Buonaparte’s postmaster-general, whom he concealed in his lodgings overnight and next day accompanied to the border. Acquitted of treason but found guilty of an illegal act, he and his accomplices, whose ‘humanitarian’ motives had evoked the sympathy of the press, were sentenced to three months’ imprisonment with costs, the ‘very lightest sentence that the law could allow’, and publicly admonished by the prince regent. Following his return to England in August 1816 he was deprived of his commission but soon reinstated. He retired from the service in 1819.2 Shortly before the 1820 general election Lord Hutchinson informed Hely Hutchinson’s father Francis that ‘when at Knocklofty’, the family seat of their eldest brother Richard, 1st earl of Donoughmore, ‘I discovered that John had some dream about the county of Tipperary. Put that out of his head. He would not have the slightest chance’.3 Rumours that he would come forward on the ‘independent interest’ for Clonmel came to nothing.4 In February 1822 he was appointed sheriff of county Tipperary, much to the dismay of Lord Hutchinson, who complained, ‘He is not fit for it. The present state of the country must call for great energy and exertion on the part of that officer, of which he is quite incapable’.5 That November he refused an application by Lord Glengall, Donoughmore’s main political rival, for a county meeting to draw up a petition for the commutation of tithes.6 In March 1823 Lord Hutchinson advised Francis that Knocklofty was ‘falling down’ and proving ‘ridiculously expensive’, and predicted that ‘your son with his encumbrances ... would never be able to live here’ on his succession to the earldom.7

At the 1826 general election Hely Hutchinson came forward for a last minute opening in Tipperary with the support of Lord Hutchinson, now 2nd earl of Donoughmore. ‘His gallant delivery of Lavalette has gained him the unqualified praises of British soldiers’, observed the local press. ‘You don’t seem quite to approve of John’s offering’, Donoughmore told Francis, 18 June, but ‘his election is secure and ... it would have been ... a dereliction of duty towards my family, if I had not seized this opportunity’. At the nomination he declared his support for Catholic emancipation and the abolition of slavery and denounced attempts by the Glengalls to ‘barter’ the representation. ‘He did very well and is on the hustings at least as good a speaker as needs be’, Donoughmore conceded.8 After an eight-day contest he was returned in second place.9 A lax and mostly silent Member, Hely Hutchinson’s votes in the 1826 Parliament were subject to confusion with those of his cousin, whose campaign he assisted at the 1826 Cork by-election, incurring criticism from Donoughmore for ‘spending immense sums of money’. Deputizing for him at the declaration, Hely Hutchinson stated, ‘I am convinced that if all of us had been in Parliament last session we would have been found among the firmest supporters of ... government’.10 Commenting on the cousin’s return, Donoughmore told Francis, ‘He will be of great use to the Captain, as they both mean to live together in London. John will read Acts of Parliament and public papers and communicate his knowledge to your son, who would never take the trouble of doing so himself’.11 He joined Brooks’s, sponsored by Donoughmore and Lord Cowper, 24 Feb. 1827. He voted for Catholic claims, 6 Mar. 1827, 12 May 1828, and presented a favourable Tipperary petition, 28 Feb. 1828. He was granted a month’s leave on urgent business after serving on an election committee, 15 Mar. 1827. That month, following Lord Liverpool’s incapacitation by a stroke, Donoughmore told him:

You must certainly always continue an opposition man ... but ... you should be on your guard against [Lord] Castlereagh* [whose] father Lord Londonderry ... hates Canning ... I would do anything in my power to weaken the present government and to strengthen the opposition. If you have any doubts ... you had better consult [James] Abercromby* ... As for your father’s dream, that you can never support any government till there is a cabinet favourable to the Catholics, it is quite out of the question.12

On 31 Mar. his cousin informed him that the landlady of their lodgings at 10 Mount Street was ‘anxious to know whether you mean to come over by the beginning of May’.13 Following the appointment of Canning as premier his cousin added, 21 Apr., ‘It is absolutely necessary that you should come over here for the meeting of Parliament. You owe it to your constituents and yourself not to be absent during the present eventful crisis ... So put yourself in motion without delay’.14 He was appointed to the select committee on Irish grand jury presentments, 6 June 1827. Either he or his cousin voted for repeal of the Test Acts, 26 Feb., against the public expenditure on Buckingham House, 23 June, and for ordnance reductions, 4 July 1828. He presented constituency petitions against the Irish Subletting Act, 30 Apr., and the Irish butter bill, which he ‘strongly urged’ ministers to abandon as ‘it would cause great inconvenience’, 7 July. His public refusal that summer to attend a Munster provincial dinner for the friends of civil and religious liberty and associate with leaders whose ‘depraved ingenuity’ was driving Ireland towards a ‘state of insurrection’, and his condemnation of their ‘unconstitutional’ mode of demanding pledges and getting up declarations, provoked the wrath of the Catholic Association, which launched a campaign against his family. ‘I rather regret young Hutchinson giving so many reasons in his letter to the Munster people, but nothing ever was so annoying to anyone who really wishes well to the Catholics as their attacks upon the Hutchinsons en masse’, observed Henry Brougham* to Wilson, 12 Aug. 1828. He ‘incurred ... a good deal of popular disrelish by writing what was certainly a very incautious letter of admonition’, Sheil later remarked.15 He presented petitions for Catholic emancipation, 17 Feb., 30 Mar., and voted accordingly, 6, 30 Mar. 1829. On 21 Feb. he vainly urged Donoughmore to come over from Ireland, explaining that the ‘absence of all our names from the Protestant declaration has already been remarked’ on, and although ‘I do not care one farthing what the Catholics feel ... I would not allow the rascals the gratification of complaining that we had become lukewarm in their cause, at the very moment of its triumph’.16 He presented and endorsed a Tipperary petition against militia reductions, criticizing the lack of provision for those ‘persons who during the war had been employed in recruiting’, 24 Mar. 1829. It was probably he rather than his cousin who voted for the transfer of East Retford’s seats to Birmingham, 11 Feb. 1830, for during his subsequent election campaign he claimed to have opposed ministers on this issue. (A subsequent vote, however, was attributed to his cousin, 5 Mar.) He was granted a month’s leave on account of family illness, 9 Mar. On 13 Mar., in a letter copied to the duke of Wellington, Donoughmore advised Hely Hutchinson that ministers had ‘a strong claim’ to the family’s support since their settlement of the Catholic question, which ‘may even have placed an obligation’ on them.17 Either he or his cousin was nevertheless in the minorities for repeal of the Irish coal duties, 13 May, returns of privy councillors’ emoluments, 14 May, and the second reading of the Jewish emancipation bill, 17 May. He presented Tipperary petitions against the Irish Vestry Act, 28 May, and the regulations governing Irish medical appointments that day and 10 June. He voted against abolition of the death penalty for forgery and was in the majority for the grant for South American missions, 7 June 1830.

At the 1830 general election he offered again for Tipperary. Denounced on the hustings as an enemy of Daniel O’Connell*, and criticized for being ‘either absent’ or a ‘ministerial hack’, he retorted that ministers were ‘entitled to credit’ for having passed the ‘great measure’ of emancipation, but denied being among their ranks, citing his votes on the East Retford and Galway bills. After a seven-day contest in which he complained of ‘gross misrepresentations of his public conduct’ and intimidation by a ‘hireling mob’ he was defeated, to the delight of O’Connell, who welcomed the ‘glorious victory over the last of the fallen Hutchinsons’.18 His ‘imprudence cost him the county’, Sheil remarked of his earlier skirmish with the Catholic leaders, adding, ‘he did not regret it, but it grieved old Lord Donoughmore to the heart’.19 Notwithstanding his statements to the contrary, he was listed by Henry Brougham* as one of those who had backed ‘the duke in the last session’. An attempt to seat him on petition came to nothing.20 At the 1831 general election he offered again as a supporter of the Grey ministry’s reform bill, amid reports that he was ‘hated’ and had ‘no chance’ but was prepared to spend ‘on a most liberal scale’. On the hustings he again denied having been ‘a supporter’ of the Wellington ministry but admitted having assisted them on ‘minor questions’ following emancipation. After the late withdrawal of another candidate he was returned unopposed. At the declaration he promised to ‘resign should any difference arise between my constituents and myself on any question on which their wishes shall be strongly expressed’ and to earn their ‘good opinion’ by a ‘strict attention to my parliamentary duties’.21 Rumours that he would ‘very shortly’ succeed Donoughmore, who, on the day after his election suffered ‘a fresh attack’ and was not expected ‘to last the week’, came to nothing.22

Hely Hutchinson voted for the second reading of the Grey ministry’s reintroduced English reform bill, 6 July, and gave generally steady support to its details, though he was in the minorities for the disfranchisement of Saltash, 26 July, and Aldborough, 14 Sept. 1831. He divided with ministers on the Dublin election controversy, 23 Aug. He voted for the bill’s third reading, 19 Sept., its passage, 21 Sept., and Lord Ebrington’s confidence motion, 10 Oct. Following the bill’s rejection by the Lords, Donoughmore instructed him to tell ‘Grey that you and I have gone great lengths in supporting the present plan of parliamentary reform, but as to going any further no human power shall ever induce us to consent’, 30 Nov.23 There was evidently some notion of his going to the Lords to support the bill, for on 16 Dec. 1831 Donoughmore commented:

It is not desirable certainly to pay money for a new peerage, when in the course of nature you must be one very soon. However, if Lord Grey requires it I certainly would accept. At the same time I would tell him fairly that you considered it as doing him a great act of kindness, because it could be no object to you to pay £600 or £700 for a peerage, when you were on the eve of being one without expending any money ... I differ very much with you about the reform bill. I think the alterations are most material ... but ... I am quite of your opinion about O’Connell. I think that he has been used ill and foolishly by the government.24

Hely Hutchinson, who was repeatedly urged by Donoughmore ‘to go over and attend your duty in Parliament’, divided for the second reading of the revised reform bill, 17 Dec. 1831, but was absent from the third reading, 22 Mar., and the division on the address calling on the king to appoint only ministers who would carry reform unimpaired, 10 May 1832.25 Early that year he appears to have assumed management of the family estates. On 8 Jan. Donoughmore, who was by now ‘very ill indeed’, wrote:

In the name of God exert yourself by a little business or I shall be disgraced ... I wish you knew more about my affairs, or rather of your own ... You say nothing about the new tenants. I suppose you have not time to take into your consideration such trifling matters. They may hereafter prove of great consequence to you and your family.26

That month Hely Hutchinson refrained from informing Lord Anglesey, the Irish viceroy, about Donoughmore’s determination to resign as lord lieutenant of Tipperary in protest at the government’s plans to appoint Anthony Ryan, a former member of the Association, to the magistracy. ‘You managed the business as well as it could be done’, Donoughmore later conceded, urging him, however, to treat government ‘with the same indifference they treated me’, 24 Jan., and, following a volte face by Anglesey on the issue, to ‘break off contact with Dublin Castle’ 2 Feb.27 He voted for the second reading of the Irish reform bill, 25 May. Commenting on the rumours of peerage creations to ensure the passage of reform that month, Donoughmore observed, ‘If you choose to be a peer, it would be a foolish act. I don’t see how you could pledge yourself to the imbecile party ... I assure you, you must be a peer in the course of a few months’.28 Hely Hutchinson duly succeeded as 3rd earl the following month and took over as lord lieutenant of Tipperary shortly thereafter.29 On 19 Aug. 1832 Grey informed him of the ‘advancement’ of his ‘brothers and sisters to the honorary rank of the younger sons and daughters of earls’.30 He was made a knight of St. Patrick and a privy councillor in 1834 and appointed one of the commissioners of charitable donations and bequests in Ireland by the Peel ministry in 1842, having become a Conservative in about 1839. He died ‘from an attack of paralysis’ in his ‘64th year’ at Palmerston House, Dublin in September 1851. He was succeeded in the earldom by his eldest son Richard John (1823-66), vice-president of the board of trade, 1858-9, and president, 1859, in the Derby administration.31

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: Philip Salmon


  • 1. R. Sheil, Sketches, Legal and Political ed. M. W. Savage, ii. 340-1; TCD, Donoughmore mss F/13/155, 157.
  • 2. The Times, 17, 19, 20 Jan., 17 Feb., 22, 27 Apr., 2 Aug. 1816; Raikes Jnl. iii. 47; Gent. Mag. (1851), ii. 539.
  • 3. Donoughmore mss F/13/26.
  • 4. Dublin Evening Post, 11 Mar. 1820.
  • 5. Donoughmore mss F/13/36.
  • 6. Ibid. F/13/105.
  • 7. Ibid. F/13/83.
  • 8. Southern Reporter, 17, 20, 24 June 1826; Donoughmore mss F/13/152, 153.
  • 9. Southern Reporter, 29 June 1826.
  • 10. Ibid. 30 Dec. 1826; Donoughmore mss F/13/162; G/6/33; G/7/6.
  • 11. Donoughmore mss F/13/155.
  • 12. Ibid. G/7/7.
  • 13. Ibid. G/6/15.
  • 14. Ibid. G/6/20.
  • 15. Tipperary Free Press, 18 Aug. 1830; Add. 30115, f. 87; Sheil, ii. 341.
  • 16. Donoughmore mss E/361-362.
  • 17. Wellington mss WP1/1101/9.
  • 18. Tipperary Free Press, 18, 21, 25, 28 Aug. 1830; O’Connell Corresp. iv. 1713.
  • 19. Sheil, ii. 341.
  • 20. NLI, Wyse mss 15024 (2), Scully to Wyse, 13 Sept., 3, 16 Oct. 1830.
  • 21. Tipperary Free Press, 4, 7, 14 May 1831; Wyse mss 15024 (11), Egan to Bianconi, 2 May; 15024 (13), Maher to Wyse, 4 May 1831.
  • 22. Wyse mss 15024 (11), Marshal to Wyse, 13 May 1831.
  • 23. Donoughmore mss G/7/23.
  • 24. Ibid. G/7/25.
  • 25. Ibid. G/7/24.
  • 26. Ibid. G/7/29-31.
  • 27. Ibid. G/7/34, 38A, 38B, 42, 47.
  • 28. Ibid. G/7/76.
  • 29. The Times, 5 July 1832.
  • 30. Donoughmore mss G/6/24.
  • 31. Oxford DNB.; The Times, 15 Sept. 1851; Gent. Mag. (1851), ii. 539-40.