HOTHAM, Beaumont, 3rd Bar. Hotham [I] (1794-1870), of South Dalton, Yorks. and 36 Davies Street, Mdx.

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

Constituency

Dates

1820 - 1831
22 Dec. 1831 - 1841

Family and Education

b. 9 Aug. 1794, 1st s. of Beaumont Hotham of South Dalton and Philadelphia, da. of Sir John Dixon Dyke, 3rd bt., of Horeham, Suss. educ. Westminster 1806-8. unm. suc. grandfa. Beaumont Hotham† as 3rd Bar. Hotham [I] and 13th bt. 4 Mar. 1814. d. 12 Dec. 1870.

Offices Held

Ensign 2 Ft. Gds. 1810, capt. 1813, maj. Jan. 1819, half-pay Oct. 1819; lt.-col. 1825; col. 1838; maj.-gen. 1851; lt.-gen. 1858; gen. 1865.

Commr. on army recruitment 1859-60.

Biography

The Hothams, a family with a long and distinguished record of military and public service, were the descendants of Sir John de Trehouse, who came from Normandy with the Conqueror. Hotham, who, partly because of his old fashioned clothes, was considered somewhat eccentric in later life, was born at Lullington Castle in Kent and named after his soldier father and his paternal grandfather, an exchequer court judge and close friend of the prime minister, the 3rd duke of Portland. He was barely five when his father died at Weymouth in 1799, leaving a widow enceinte and two young children, and spent much of his childhood in a cottage close to his grandfather’s home at East Molesey, Surrey, which led the admiralty secretary John Croker*, who later rented it, to suppose that he had been born there.1 Like his relations, he attended Westminster School, leaving around the time of his mother’s death in May 1808. In June 1810 he joined his father’s old regiment, the Coldstream Guards, and served with them in the Peninsula from 1812-14. He fought at Nive, Nivelle, Salamanca (where he was wounded) and Vitoria, and was present at Waterloo, where, being occupied with the defence of Hougoumont, he saw little of the action.2 When he succeeded his grandfather in 1814, the family estates yielded only £7,075 a year from a nominal rental of £15,742, and he took half-pay in October 1819 to devote time to improving them and to enter Parliament, which his Yorkshire agent John Hall thought he would ‘much like’.3 He continued to live in London, and at the 1820 election he deliberately chose not to fall back on his family interests in Beverley and Hedon, where, as Hall pointed out, representation would require ‘great expense and a great deal of personal application and trouble’, especially during visits to South Dalton.4 Hylton Joliffe*, a friend of his father, now returned him in absentia for Petersfield;5 but he went to Leominster, which welcomed rich strangers. Drawing on his reputation as a soldier and sporting Waterloo blue, he topped the four-day poll.6 He chose to sit for Leominster when Parliament met. That summer he sold part of his Scarborough estate for £14,448, and spent £29,590 on lands closer to South Dalton.7

Hotham was an anti-Catholic Tory who cherished his independence, attended the House regularly and served on many minor committees. He stated his opinions boldly and sought to remain aloof from Leominster politics. He divided with the Liverpool ministry on the revenue, 4 July 1820, Queen Caroline’s case, 6 Feb., the malt duty repeal bill, 3 Apr., and the army estimates, 11 Apr., but in the minority for repeal of the agricultural horse tax, 5 Mar. 1821. He voted against Catholic relief, 28 Feb. 1821, 30 Apr. 1822, becoming one of its leading opponents. He divided against parliamentary reform, 9 May 1821, 26 Feb. 1824, and the proposed disqualification of civil officers of the ordnance from voting in parliamentary elections, 12 Apr. 1821. He voted against making forgery a non-capital offence, 23 May, and with government against omitting arrears from the grant to the duke of Clarence, 18 June, and on public expenditure, 27 June. He commended the unsuccessful Yorkshire polls bill in his maiden speech, 31 May 1821, which was ‘quite inaudible in the gallery’ and not reported.8 He spoke and was a minority teller for a similar measure, 7 June 1822. That session he divided with government against more extensive tax reductions to relieve distress, 11, 21 Feb., but cast wayward votes for admiralty economies, 1 Mar., abolition of one of the joint-postmasterships, 2 May, and reductions in the Swiss embassy, 16 May. He voted against inquiries into Irish tithes, 19 June, and the lord advocate’s treatment of the Scottish press, 25 June, and to renew the Aliens Act, 19 July. He also presented his constituents’ petition for revision of the criminal code, 3 June 1822.9

The patronage secretary Arbuthnot suggested to Canning, as leader of the House, that ‘Lord Hotham would do famously if he could be prevailed upon’ to move or second the 1823 address, but nothing came of it.10 He voted with ministers on taxation, 3, 10, 13 Mar., and was one of their spokesmen on the mutiny bill, 14 Mar., but, not perceiving ‘that any inconvenience would arise’ thereby, he divided against them for information on, 24 Mar., and inquiry into the prosecution of the Dublin Orange rioters, 22 Apr., when they were defeated. He had warned that he would insist on the House being called over whenever the Catholic question was raised, 11, 12 Feb., and, challenging Plunket to explain its repeated postponement, he complained of the inconvenience this had caused him, 10 Apr. He protested again before presenting (as he had done, 10 May 1822) an anti-Catholic petition from Beverley, 16 Apr. 1823.11 He divided with government for the grant for Irish churches and glebe houses, 11 Apr., on the Aliens Act, 16 Apr., and chancery delays, 5 June; but cast a critical vote on the lord advocate’s handling of the Borthwick case, 3 June 1823. Hotham voted against altering the usury laws, 27 Feb. 1824 (and again, 17 Feb. 1825). He divided against abolishing flogging in the army, 5 Mar., and against condemning the indictment in Demerara of the Methodist missionary John Smith, 11 June. He had presented petitions from Leominster against the Insolvent Debtors Act, 20 Feb. 1823, and repeal of the assessed taxes, 10 May 1824, and an anti-slavery one from Maidstone, 15 Mar. 1824.12 He was overlooked when Lord Morpeth† was appointed lord lieutenant of the East Riding in October 1824 and sent a letter of complaint to the home office under-secretary George Dawson*, whereupon the secretary Peel, confirming that he would have been well suited for the post, informed Lord Liverpool of this unintended slight to ‘one of the best supporters of the government in the House of Commons’. Replying to Hotham, Peel deliberately praised his politics and ‘high and independent character’; but Hotham remained highly critical of Morpeth, and annoyed that he had not pressed his own claim sooner, lest he ‘give anyone even the shadow of a reason to suppose that in the line of conduct I have pursued during the time I have been in Parliament I had been looking only to my own private advantage’.13 He naturally voted for the Irish unlawful societies bill, 25 Feb., and against Catholic relief, 1 Mar., 21 Apr., 10 May, and the Irish franchise bill, 26 Apr. 1825. His pertinent questions in committee had forced its supporters to concede that the intended changes in the franchise and financial provisions for the Irish clergy could not be enacted in the same bill, 23 Mar. A radical publication of 1825 noted that he ‘attended frequently and voted in general with ministers’.14 He was expected to stand for Leominster and requisitioned for Yorkshire when a general election was anticipated that autumn, but refused to be harried into spending on a premature canvass and asked Peel to notify him promptly of a dissolution, lest he be defeated through neglect.15 Before it was called in 1826, he presented an anti-slavery petition, 8 Feb., and another against the importation of foreign gloves, 16 Mar., and assisted with the Leominster canal bill, which was enacted, 26 May 1826.16 He had turned down an offer of one of the duke of Newcastle’s seats and topped the poll on both returns made for Leominster after a costly four-way contest. Hall, as usual, kept him abreast of developments in Yorkshire.17

Hotham drew attention to the peculiarity in his return when Parliament met, and the House decided that in his case it was not a double one, 21 Nov. 1826.18 He defended the army estimates, 20 Feb. 1827.19 Following Lord Liverpool’s stroke, he divided against Catholic relief, 6 Mar., and with his partisans the ‘three baronets’ against the pro-Catholic Canning’s corn bill, 2 Apr. He sent a supportive letter to Peel, who resigned rather than serve under Canning as premier, 12 Apr.20 He nevertheless declared in the House, 7 May 1827, that he had ‘never given a vote on the Catholic claims or on any other question, as a mere party question’ and ‘had fully made up his mind to give his support’ to Canning’s administration:

He felt unfeigned respect, at the same time, for those members of the late administration who had gone out, and regretted that in any allusions to them the word conspiracy, how casually soever, or with whatever qualifications, had been made use of. But, would anybody who observed the course which the business of tendering in their resignations had taken get up in his place and say that there had not been, at least, a tacit understanding?

He expressed ‘great confidence’ in Peel, but ‘still more’ in Canning, and, declaring party differences ‘almost extinguished’, he called on all able men to work together and for the divisive question of Catholic relief to be shelved. He assured Peel, as the Wellington ministry’s home secretary in January 1828, that ‘no one is more glad than myself to see you again in office’.21 He voted against repealing the Test Acts, 26 Feb., and Catholic relief, 12 May, and ordnance reductions, 4 July. He presented an anti-slavery petition from Leominster, 20 May, and when his constituents complained that the glove trade had collapsed and advocated protection, he called on ministers to ‘give their best attention to the subject’ during the recess and address their grievances, 26 June 1828. Hotham was listed as a possible mover or seconder of the 1829 address which announced the concession of Catholic emancipation, but his hostility to it was undiminished and he refused to be swayed by ministers’ change in policy. Informing Peel, 6 Feb., he wrote:

A sense of what is due to my own honour and conscience (for I am perfectly free from all electioneering engagements, and have no constituents to consult) will compel me to find myself opposed to you in every stage of such proceedings ... Upon other subjects I have no idea of acting otherwise than I have hitherto done, and further do express my sanguine hope that although until this unfortunate question be disposed of I may frequently be obliged to divide against you, yet, that the circumstance may not interfere with the friendship or interrupt the good feeling which has so long existed between us.22

Undeterred, though flattered, by the detailed explanation he received in reply, he apparently encouraged anti-Catholic petitioning in Yorkshire, where he was the patron of four church livings, and on presenting a similar one from Leominster, 3 Mar., he confirmed that although he regretted his differences with Peel, he would resolutely oppose concessions.23 He observed:

Government, doubtless for their own reasons, have abstained from giving the details of the measure they intend to introduce, still ... [Wellington] has not hesitated to declare that its object is to remove all the disabilities which affect the Roman Catholics ... This in itself is sufficient for those who do not think that Papists can with safety be admitted into Parliament, and this it is which induces these petitioners to come forward. This is the opinion which the petitioners give, and in it I entirely concur, as I ever have done since I came into this House; and shall continue to do so, not, however, from any idea of the mere preservation of consistency, but because these are principles which I feel I can never either compromise or abandon.

He voted steadily against the measure and presented unfavourable petitions, 11, 17, 27 Mar. A ‘serious accident [sustained] while out shooting’ prevented him from stewarding the Leominster races in August 1829.24 He voted to condemn the omission of distress from the address, 4 Feb. 1830, but does not seem to have attended again that Parliament. He was granted a fortnight’s leave on account of ill health, 2 Mar., and concern about his physical well-being persisted until the dissolution. Poor health delayed his departure for Leominster, where the late arrival of Sir Stratford Canning* dashed his hopes of a cheap election. He was returned after a mere show of opposition, but afterwards engaged in a bitter correspondence with the deputy sheriff William Pateshall, whom he accused of trying to provoke a contest by delaying the writ.25

Contributing to a discussion on the business of the House, 3 Nov. 1830, Hotham suggested appointing a deputy Speaker and said that any plan to set a dining hour to prevent Members voting without hearing the discussion was bound to fail. Ministers had counted him among their ‘friends’, and he divided with them when they were brought down on the civil list, 15 Nov. He led the criticism of the Grey ministry’s decision to create the office of inspector-general of marines for Sir James Cockburn and declared that he would vote against them ‘strictly on public grounds ... to prevent ... a most unjust and unnecessary stigma being cast on the corps of marines’, 25 Nov. Responding later in the debate to his fellow Tory Sir George Cockburn, who praised his brother’s abilities, he insisted that he intended no personal slight to Sir James, but refused to moderate his views. Joining in the opposition offensive on the question, 28 Feb. 1831, he expressed dissatisfaction with the first lord of the admiralty Sir James Graham’s explanation and dismay at the marines’ lack of parliamentary influence. He voted against the government’s reform bill, by which Leominster stood to lose a seat, at its second reading, 22 Mar. He apologized, 28 Mar., for his absence on the 25th when Peel criticized Tamworth’s inclusion in schedule B, because Leominster was ‘similarly unjustly treated’, and although he deliberately refrained from accusing the government of partiality in its scheduling of boroughs, he denounced it:

It appears that sometimes the criterion adopted has been the population of the borough, and sometimes that of the parish. The consequence is, that in some cases a borough will retain its Members, because the population of the whole parish has been taken; and in others it will lose one or both representatives, because the population of the borough only has been selected. In the case of ... Leominster ... it appears that the population is only 3,650; but there is a note at the bottom of the page, by which it appears that the population of the parish now amounts to 4,640 persons. And I am sure it would be found to be so, if the census were again taken; and if the borough has such a population I think it ought not to be deprived of one of its representatives.

The leader of the House Lord Althorp promised to look into the matter, and Lord John Russell announced that Leominster would retain its second seat, 18 Apr. Undeterred, Hotham voted for Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr. 1831. He was defeated at Leominster by two reformers at the ensuing general election.26 He did not, as initially expected, petition, but, calling for ‘reaction’ against the bill’s excesses, he defeated the wealthy reformer William Fraser at a deliberately engineered by-election in Leominster in December 1831.27 Fraser’s protests in The Times and elsewhere failed to yield a petition, which in any case Hotham was confident would fail.28

‘Detained by business in the country’, he was unable to vote on the revised reform bill at its committal, 20 Jan. 1832;29 but he called for special provision for those freemen in the armed forces liable to be disfranchised through non-residence, 7 Feb., and voted against enfranchising Tower Hamlets, 28 Feb., and the bill’s third reading, 22 Mar. He divided against the second reading of the Irish measure, 25 May, and against government on the Russian-Dutch loan, 12 July 1832. He voted for inquiry into the depressed glove trade, 3 Apr., and brought up the metropolitan cemetery bill, 17 May. He had opposed Nash’s schemes for the London parks in 1828, and he ordered papers and accounts on the implementation of the Regent’s Park and New Street Acts with a view to inquiry, 18 May 1832.30

Hotham retained his seat at Leominster as a Conservative until 1841, when he came in unopposed for the East Riding, which he represented until forced to retire through ill health in 1868. He died in December 1870, an army general, after being taken ill while on a visit to Sir James Walker at Sand Hutton, near York, and was buried in his new church in South Dalton. The York Herald noted that although a frequent visitor, well known in the county, Hotham had hardly resided there ‘beyond a day or two’.31 He never married, and his nephew Charles Hotham (1836-72), son of his late brother Admiral George Frederick Hotham (1799-1856), succeeded him in his titles and estates, which in 1873 comprised 20,352 acres, worth £20,126 a year.32

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: Margaret Escott

Notes

  • 1. Oxford DNB sub Hotham; Hotham, Beaumont, 2nd. Bar.; Hotham, Sir Henry; Gent. Mag. (1794), ii. 764; (1799), ii. 820; Croker Pprs. i. 432.
  • 2. A.M.W. Stirling, The Hothams, 347, 351; Gent. Mag. (1794), ii. 764; (1799), ii. 820; Oxford DNB; Add. 34705, f. 196.
  • 3. J.T. Ward, ‘East Yorks. Landed Estates in 19th Cent.’, E. Yorks. Local Hist. Ser. xxiii (1967), 26-27; Hull Univ. Lib. Hotham mss DDHO/8/2, Hall to Hotham, 7 Feb. 1820.
  • 4. Hotham mss 8/2, Hall to Hotham, 7, 9, 13, 24 Feb., 5, 12 Mar. 1820; T. Lawson-Tancred, Recs. of a Yorks. Manor, 335.
  • 5. Som. RO, Hylton mss DD/HY, box 17, Procs. at Petersfield Election (1820).
  • 6. Hereford Jnl. 23 Feb., 8, 15 Mar. 1820.
  • 7. Ward, 27.
  • 8. The Times, 1 June 1821.
  • 9. Hereford Jnl. 17 Apr.; The Times, 4 June 1822.
  • 10. Add. 38744, f. 49.
  • 11. The Times, 11 May 1822, 17 May 1823.
  • 12. Ibid. 21 Feb. 1823, 16 Mar., 11 May 1824.
  • 13. Add. 40304, ff. 26