KEKEWICH, Samuel Trehawke (1796-1873), of Peamore House, nr. Exeter, Devon

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

Constituency

Dates

9 Feb. 1826 - 1830
6 Aug. 1858 - 1 June 1873

Family and Education

b. 31 Oct. 1796, o.s. of Samuel Kekewich of Bowden House, Totnes and Salome, da. of George Sweet of Tiverton. educ. Eton 1811-14; Christ Church, Oxf. 1814. m. (1) 3 Apr. 1820, Agatha Maria Sophia (d. 24 Sept. 1836), da. of John Langston of Sarsden, Oxon., 3s. (1 d.v.p.) 4da. (1 d.v.p.); (2) 9 June 1840, Louisa, da. of Lewis William Buck*, 1s. 3da. suc. fa. 1822. d. 1 June 1873.

Offices Held

Sheriff, Devon 1834-5.

Biography

Kekewich’s family, originally from Lancashire, had settled in Cornwall in the early sixteenth century, but by the eighteenth they resided in London, where his grandfather, William Kekewich, was a member of the Royal Exchange Assurance. His father, a barrister, acquired the Peamore estate, served as sheriff of Devon in 1805 and was remembered at Exeter for his charitable munificence.1 Kekewich inherited Peamore in 1822 but had otherwise been ‘sufficiently provided for by the settlements made on his marriage’, according to his father’s will.2 In August 1825 he announced his candidature for Exeter at the next general election on the principle of ‘strict independence ... unshackled by any party consideration whatever’. He was returned unopposed at a by-election in February 1826, caused by the sudden resignation of one of the Members, after admitting that he needed to master the currency question, hinting that he favoured a reduction in the corn duties and declaring his opposition to Catholic relief, while giving no pledges.3 His conduct in the House was markedly independent. He divided with Lord Liverpool’s ministry against inquiry into the Jamaican slave trials, 2 Mar., and reform of Edinburgh’s representation, 13 Apr., but was in the minorities for abolishing flogging in the army, 10 Mar., inquiring into the treasurership of the navy, 7 Apr., revising the corn laws, 18 Apr., and allowing defence by counsel in felony trials, 25 Apr. 1826. He was returned unopposed for Exeter at the general election that summer, when he confirmed his opposition to Catholic relief and support for relaxation of the corn laws, maintained that he was ‘not opposed in principle to the extinction of slavery’, although the issue ‘should not be precipitated’, and admitted that he did not find the question of parliamentary reform ‘a matter of great facility’.4

He divided against Catholic relief, 6 Mar. 1827, 12 May 1828. He presented petitions for repeal of the Test Acts, 31 May, 12 June 1827,5 and voted in this sense, 26 Feb., but presented a hostile petition from the Exeter chamber, 18 Mar. 1828. He voted against Canning’s ministry for the disfranchisement of Penryn, 28 May, but with them for the grant to improve water communications in Canada, 12 June 1827. He opposed the duke of Wellington’s ministry by voting against extending the East Retford franchise to Bassetlaw freeholders, 21 Mar., 27 June, and for a lower pivot price for the corn laws, 22 Apr. 1828. He attended the Exeter meeting to uphold the Protestant constitution, 15 Nov. 1828, when he announced that ‘I fully concur in the petition you have adopted’.6 However, Planta, the patronage secretary, mentioned him as a possible mover or seconder of the address in January 1829, and the following month predicted that he would side ‘with government’ for Catholic emancipation. In presenting anti-Catholic petitions from the Exeter meeting and from the chamber, 2 Mar., Kekewich explained that ‘my own opinions ... are not decidedly made up’ and that he would judge the issue ‘upon the grounds of the preservation and protection of ... [the] Protestant religion’. In the event, he divided for emancipation, 6, 30 Mar., and his effigy was burned at Exeter.