LEFROY, Anthony (1800-1890), of Newcastle, co. Longford

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

Constituency

Dates

1830 - 1832
2 Apr. 1833 - 1837
18 Apr. 1842 - 1847
27 Mar. 1858 - Feb. 1870

Family and Education

b. 21 Mar. 1800, 1st s. of Thomas Langlois Lefroy* of 12 Leeson Street, Dublin and Carrickglass, co. Longford and Mary, da. and h. of Jeffrey Paul of Silverspring, co. Wexford. educ. Trinity, Dublin 1816; King’s Inns 1820; L. Inn 1822. m. 19 July 1824, Hon. Jane King, da. of Robert Edward King MP [I], 1st Visct. Lorton [I], 1s. d.v.p. 2da. suc. fa. 1869. d. 11 Jan. 1890.

Offices Held

Sheriff, co. Longford 1849-50.

Biography

Lefroy followed his father, a distinguished lawyer who was appointed Irish first serjeant in 1822, to Trinity, but unlike him and his younger brother Thomas, he never practised law. In April 1827 Daniel O’Connell* reported that Lefroy’s father, who had been ‘most actively canvassing the College’ for himself, had ‘announced his son for Dublin city for the next vacancy on the strongest Orange principles’.1 Two months before the 1830 general election, however, Lefroy started for county Longford as the second nominee of the dowager Lady Rosse, his wife’s maternal grandmother, prompting complaints that it was not ‘handsome of a man’ to ‘canvass during the sitting Member’s absence in Parliament’.2 At the election he denied that a ‘coalition had been formed’ in his favour and that his family’s opposition to emancipation should be ‘a reason for the Catholics opposing my present claims’. One of the sitting Members retired and he was returned unopposed. At the declaration he urged the Wellington government to ‘take warning’ from the ‘state of things’ in France and welcomed the defeat of their Irish ‘placemen’, especially at Dublin University, where his father had been returned.3

He was listed by the Irish agent Pierce Mahoney as ‘neutral’, by ministers as one of the ‘moderate Ultras’ and by Henry Brougham* as anti-ministerial, and he voted against government on the civil list, 15 Nov. 1830. He presented petitions for the abolition of slavery, 16 Nov., 2, 21 Dec. In his maiden speech, 6 Dec., he protested that a Longford petition for repeal of the Union was unrepresentative and contended that Ireland had a much better chance of relief from distress under a united Parliament. He defended the Kildare Place Society against an attack by O’Connell, observing that it educated ‘upwards of 120,000 children of Catholic and Protestant parents’ and was ‘better calculated to benefit the people ... than any other in existence’, 10 Dec. 1830, and objected to a hostile petition from Waterford, 16 Feb. 1831. He insisted that the recorder of Dublin Frederick Shaw had ‘performed all the duties of his office and discharged all the prisoners remaining for trial’ before attending as Member for Dublin, 20 Dec. 1830. He defended the conduct of the archbishop of Dublin in making a return of Irish church livings, 17 Feb. 1831. His subsequent speeches were not always clearly distinguished in the parliamentary reports from those of his father, who arrived from Ireland later that month, but it was probably he who presented a petition in support of the Kildare Place Society and called for the London coal bill to ‘be extended to the coalmeters of Dublin’, 16 Mar., and insisted that the landed proprietors of Ireland had ‘done their utmost to relieve’ distress, 18 Mar. Like his father he divided against the second reading of the Grey ministry’s English reform bill, 22 Mar., and for Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr. 1831.

At the ensuing general election he offered again, denouncing the bill as a ‘traitorous conspiracy’, but professing to favour ‘such constitutional measures’ as would ‘strengthen and purify the representation’. He was returned in second place after a three-day poll.4 He defended the Irish yeomanry and police against the ‘misstatements’ of O’Connell, noting that the ‘unfortunate incidents’ at Castle Pollard and Newtownbarry had ‘not yet been fully investigated’, 27 June. He voted against the second reading of the reintroduced reform bill, 6 July, and at least four times to adjourn the debates, 12 July. He divided for use of the 1831 census to determine the disfranchisement schedules, 19 July, and to postpone consideration of the inclusion of Chippenham in B, 27 July. He voted against the bill’s passage, 21 Sept., and the second reading of the Scottish bill, 23 Sept. He supported the compensation claim of the former king’s stationer in Ireland, Sir Abraham Bradley King, 11, 18 July, when he insisted that ‘a positive contract’ had been entered into by the previous government. He again rebutted criticism of the Kildare Place Society, 14 July, and presented petitions in its support, 26 July, when he clashed with O’Connell, and 2 Sept. On 8 Aug. he insisted that there was no case for removing the ‘privilege of voting’ from the Dublin freemen, of whom he was one, and demanded the immediate issue of a new writ. He denounced the ‘vain declarations and groundless assertions of those self-styled popular representatives’ from Ireland who had ‘indulged in most violent attacks upon the yeomanry’, 10 Aug., and criticised Sheil for ‘finding fault with the mode’ by which Irish juries were selected, 16 Aug. He voted for the motion of censure against the Irish government for using undue influence in the Dublin election, 23 Aug., and defended the character of one of the witnesses examined by the committee, 25 Aug. He argued against reducing the grant to the Royal Dublin Society, which had a ‘beneficial’ influence ‘in promoting the arts and sciences’, 29 Aug. He divided for inquiry into the effects of renewal of the Sugar Refinery Act on the West India interest, 12 Sept. Speaking in defence of Irish tithes, 14 Sept., he maintained that the Catholics of Ireland should ‘contribute to the support of that religion which is still as much the established religion of Ireland as of England’. He objected to a constituency petition presented by O’Connell for repeal, which ‘all the gentry in the county’ were against, 26 Sept. He voted to end the Maynooth grant that day, saying it was ‘inconsistent as a member of the Protestant church’ to ‘contribute to the support of an institution which not only maintains, but educates and sends forth through the country, the ministers of a religion which I believe to be erroneous’. He condemned the government’s appointment of non-resident lord lieutenants to counties Carlow, Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim, Limerick, Waterford and Wexford as a ‘great injustice’ and unwarranted ‘departure from principle’, 6 Oct. 1831.

Lefroy was absent from the division on the second reading of the revised reform bill, 17 Dec. 1831, but voted against the enfranchisement of Tower Hamlets, 28 Feb., and the third reading, 22 Mar. 1832. He divided against the second reading of the Irish bill, 25 May, which he argued would not ‘give peace to the country’, 14 June, and was in the minority of 39 for preserving the voting rights of Irish freemen, 2 July. He presented petitions against the new plan of Irish education, 5, 19 Mar., when he warned that Protestants would not permit ‘national education to be made subservient to a Popish priesthood’, and promised to oppose steadily ‘a plan so unscriptural’, 5 June. He presented and endorsed further hostile petitions, 20 June, 2 July, and voted against the grant for Irish education, 23 July. He insisted that the payment of Irish tithes should be enforced, accused ministers of advancing money to pay ‘a legal debt owed by the people of Ireland to the clergy’, and complained that since taking office they had ‘exercised their influence to the prejudice of Protestant institutions and in a way insulting to Protestant feelings’, 30 Mar. He was in his father’s minority of 13 against Crampton’s amendment to the arrears of Irish tithes bill, 9 Apr. He had no doubt that a breach of privilege had been committed by the newspaper responsible for publishing the report of the tithes committee, but believed that the Irish secretary Smith Stanley was wrong to prosecute this case when he had ignored others, 31 May. Greville later recorded a conversation about the ‘views of the Protestants’ and ‘the Lefroys’ on tithes, in which Lord John Russell* had stated that they

begin to admit the necessity of change ... and were willing where there was a large parish consisting entirely of Catholics that the tithes should be taken from the rector of such parish and given to one who had a large Protestant flock, an arrangement which would disgust the Catholics ... and be considered a perfect mockery.5

In a speech in which he denied using the ‘tone or language attributed’ to him by Henry Grattan, 14 June, he complained that the party processions bill did not extend to anti-tithe meetings, which ‘too frequently cause the shedding of blood’, but prevented ‘processions of the Orange