HOY, James Barlow (?1794-1843), of Midanbury and Thornhill, Hants and The Hermitage, I.o.W.

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

Constituency

Dates

13 Jan. 1830 - 1831
1832 - 2 Apr. 1833
1835 - 1837

Family and Education

b. ?1794,1 s. of John Barlow of Dublin and w. Anne. m. 10 Sept. 1831, Marian D’Oyley, da. and h. of Shearman Bird of Harold’s Park, Essex, 1 da. suc. kinsman Michael Hoy to Midanbury and Thornhill estates and The Hermitage 1828; took name of Hoy by royal lic. 26 Jan. 1829. d. 13 Aug. 1843.

Offices Held

2nd asst. surgeon, ordnance medical dept. 1813, half-pay 1819, returned to dept. 1825, 1st asst. surgeon 1827, ret. 1828.2

Biography

Hoy, originally Barlow, was said to have been ‘a native of Ireland’ by an obituarist.3 His mother’s name is given in his will, but the identification of his father rests on the assumption that his brother and executor, the Rev. Robert Joseph Barlow, was the individual admitted to Trinity College, Dublin, 6 Nov. 1820, aged 16, who had been born in that city to one John Barlow, possibly the printer of that name listed by the trade directories at 29 Bolton Street from the mid-1790s until about 1817.4 No further details of Barlow’s origins or education have been found. He was serving as a surgeon in the ordnance medical department when a fortunate inheritance dramatically altered his life. His benefactor was Michael Hoy, a former Russia merchant of Bishopsgate, London, and later of Walthamstow, Essex, who had purchased extensive landed property in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. On his death, 26 June 1828, Barlow, a distant cousin described as a ‘friend’ in Hoy’s will, succeeded to his estates and his personalty, which amounted to almost £90,000. Probate was granted, 9 July, and Barlow left the army, 21 July, indicating that his stroke of fortune may not have been unanticipated. In January 1829 he voluntarily adopted the name of Hoy out of ‘grateful and affectionate regard’ for his kinsman.5

In December 1819 he announced his candidacy for a vacancy at Southampton and, aided by the local prestige of his late relative, who had been an honorary burgess there since 1824, secured the support of the mercantile interest. In his first address, issued from Midanbury, he professed himself to be ‘perfectly independent in principles and in politics’. A friendly newspaper added that he was ‘a Protestant by education’ and ‘of independent fortune’. With the advantage of an early canvass and the alleged backing of the Tory sitting Member, he easily defeated his radically inclined opponent, and was chaired during a blizzard.6 In his victory speeches, which contained no professions beyond a promise to judge each issue on its merits, he paid tribute to his benefactor, who, he claimed, had once been honoured with a handshake from the visiting Tsar Alexander I, and spoke of his ‘family pride at being elevated to my present status by the mercantile and trading interests’. His return reputedly cost him £9,000.7 He was belatedly elected a burgess of Southampton and sworn in as its Member, 5 Feb. 1830.8 He voted for the transfer of East Retford’s seats to Birmingham, 11 Feb., 5 Mar., and the enfranchisement of Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester, 23 Feb. He divided for a reduction of the grant for army volunteers, 9 Mar., and for omission of the Bathurst and Dundas pensions from the civil list, 26 Mar., to the approval of local newspaper, which took these votes as evidence of his genuine independence.9 He was in the minorities for abolition of the Irish lord lieutenancy, 11 May, returns of privy councillors’ emoluments, 14 May, and against the provision of the beer bill allowing on-consumption, 21 June. Most sources list him in the majority for abolition of the death penalty for forgery, 7 June, but a local press report insisted that he had abstained.10 At a meeting of the Southampton New Forest Archers in July 1830 he ‘distinguished himself by the accuracy of his aim’ and that September he took first prize in their competition.11

At the 1830 general election he offered again as ‘a straightforward independent man ... not calling myself Whig or Tory, a servant of ministry or radical reformer’, citing his efforts to lobby ministers for an upgrade in Southampton’s port status and attachment to church and state, but insisting that he was ‘no enemy to rational improvement’. He was returned unopposed.12 That October he attended a meeting in support of the London and Southampton railway.13 He was listed by the Wellington ministry as one of the ‘bad doubtfuls’, but divided with them in the crucial division on the civil list, 15 Nov. He presented petitions against slavery, 11, 16 Nov., 11 Dec. On 16 Dec. 1830 he clashed with Hume, who after presenting a radically inclined Southampton petition for parliamentary reform, commented that the Southampton Members had forfeited the confidence of their constituents. Hoy, who claimed to have attended the meeting at which it was drawn up, retorted that support for the petition had not been unanimous and attacked Hume’s insufferable self-righteousness, for which he won press plaudits.14 In January 1831 he made a donation of books to the Southampton Mechanics’ Institution.15 He presented an Isle of Wight petition against the proposed duty on steamboat passengers and secured returns of the relevant figures, 21 Feb. He denounced the tax as a ‘check on the improvement of civilization’, 28 Feb., and brought up a hostile Southampton petition, 14 Mar. That day he expressed concern that the Grey ministry’s reform scheme would make future alterations of the corn laws impossible through its perpetuation of the dominant influence of landed proprietors, among whom, he curiously did not count himself. He asked Poulett Thomson, vice-president of the board of trade, whether any relaxation of restrictions on silk imports was contemplated, 18 Mar., and on receiving a negative response complained that he had expected better from the ministry. He voted against the second reading of the reform bill, 22 Mar., and in a speech sprinkled with Latin tags, asserted that its disfranchisement provisions, in particular, were revolutionary, 30 Mar. He spoke against Hume’s proposals for further reductions in the civil list, 18 Apr., and divided for Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment to the reform bill, 19 Apr. His name was roundly hissed at a Southampton reform meeting, 25 Apr. 1831.16

At the 1831 general election Hoy defiantly offered again. On the hustings he claimed that ‘he was always in his place; not an evening he had missed’, and warned of the added influence that the reform bill would give to Ireland, and hence to Catholics. He welcomed the enfranchisement of new boroughs but was only willing to concede the disfranchisement of non-resident ancient right voters. Trailing badly, he retired after a four-day poll. In his parting address he defended his decision to make ‘an example of resistance to the torrent, which in my opinion threatens our constitution’.17 In September he married the young heiress to an estate near Waltham Abbey, Essex. He declined an invitation to serve as sheriff of Hampshire in February 1832, having been a deputy lieutenant since January 1831.18 At the 1832 general election he narrowly regained his Southampton seat from his former rival, but was then unseated on petition, after offering no defence to charges of voter impersonation beyond a disclaimer of personal involvement or knowledge.19 He topped the poll at the 1835 election, when he was reportedly returned free of expense and classed as a ‘moderate reformer’, but retired at the 1837 dissolution, his wife’s declining health having forced him to go abroad.20 In November 1841 Peel, the premier, sought his support for a new Conservative candidate at Southampton. Hoy, who addressed his reply from Thornhill, requested ‘a few minutes conversation’, but as Peel had surmised, had no intention of offering again.21

Hoy died in August 1843 at the Hospice de Vielle in the French Pyrenees. He had left England some month’s earlier, once more, it was stated, for the sake of his wife’s health, but met with a fatal accident in the pursuit of his hobby of collecting rare bird specimens. Whilst crossing a ravine just over the Spanish border with a shooting party his gun fell from his hand and fired, shattering his left arm. He was conveyed to hospital but died within twenty-four hours from tetanus.22 By his will, dated 18 May 1843, his wife was given a choice of residence at The Hermitage or Thornhill, on which estate his mother was provided with a cottage for life. He made generous provision for one Eleanor Maria Pera, an adopted daughter, but it is unclear to what extent his instructions were carried out, as his personal estate was dwarfed by mortgage debts of £58,500 and he was declared insolvent, suggesting another possible reason for his continental sojourns. Louisa Hoy, his only lawful child, probably derived little benefit as his residuary legatee, though at least a portion of The Hermitage estate seems to have eventually passed to her intact. In 1860 she married one Guadagno Guadagni, the son of a Tuscan aristocrat, while Hoy’s widow took a second husband, the author John Richard Digby Beste of Botleigh, Hamphire.23

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