LUSHINGTON, James Law (1780-1859), of 14 Portman Square, 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

2 Apr. 1825 - 1826
15 Dec. 1826 - 12 Apr. 1827
16 Aug. 1827 - 1831

Family and Education

bap. 24 July 1780, 3rd. s. of Rev. James Stephen Lushington (d. 1801) of Rodmersham, Kent, vicar of Newcastle-upon-Tyne and preb. of Carlisle, and 2nd w. Mary, da. of Rev. Humphrey Christian of Docking, Norf.; bro. of Stephen Rumbold Lushington*. educ. ?Durham.1 m. 1836, Rosetta Sophia Costen, s.p. CB 17 Oct. 1818; KCB 10 Mar. 1837; KGCB 20 July 1838. d. 29 May 1859.

Offices Held

Cadet, E.I. Co. (Madras) 1796, ensign 1797; lt. 4 cav. batt. 1799, adj. 1800, capt. 1804, maj. 1812, lt.-col. 1819; col. 1829; maj.-gen. 1837; lt.-gen. 1849; gen. 1854.

Dir. E.I. Co. 1827-54, dep. chairman 1837-8, 1841-2, 1847-8, chairman 1838-9, 1842-3, 1848-9.

Biography

Lushington, the younger son of a clergyman with strong East India Company connections, entered their army in 1796 and was sent as an infantryman to Madras, where his elder brother Stephen was private secretary to the commander-in-chief. He transferred to the cavalry on his arrival in 1797 and served at Malavilly and the siege of Seringapatam during the Mysore war, becoming a brigade major under the future duke of Wellington, 1800-02. After an extended leave in England, he commanded a troop against Bungurb Bawn in 1807 and was suspended, 1810-13, for alleged misconduct at the battle of Travancore (1809). Later he served with distinction under Sir Thomas Hislop against the Marathas and was made a commander of the Bath for his part in leading the relief charge at the Battle of Maheidpoor in December 1817.2 In October 1824 he left India, intending to promote the Company’s interests in Parliament in order to become one of its directors, and he was returned for Petersfield in April 1825 as the paying guest of the Jolliffes, through Stephen’s influence as the Liverpool ministry’s patronage secretary.

Lushington accepted his brother’s political leadership and confined his few reported remarks to East Indian matters. He divided against Catholic relief, 21 Apr., 10 May, the attendant Irish franchise bill, 26 Apr. 1825, and parliamentary reform, 13 Apr., 26 May 1826. He voted for the duke of Clarence’s award, 30 May, 2, 10 June, and defended the conduct of Wellington and Charles Arbuthnot* as trustees of the Deccan Prize money, 1, 5 July 1825.3 He voted to receive the report on the president of the board of trade’s salary, 10 Apr., and was one of ten ministerialists added to the select committee on James Silk Buckingham’s petition on freedom of the press in India, 11 May 1826. He was left without a seat at the general election in June, but was returned for Hastings as a treasury nominee in December 1826. He voted against Catholic relief, 6 Mar., and to consider the spring guns bill, 23 Mar. 1827, before making way in April for Joseph Planta, his brother’s replacement as patronage secretary in Canning’s administration.

Lushington defeated Sir William Young by 798 votes to 694 in a ‘sharp’ contest for a place on the direction of the East India Company, 25 July 1827.4 Next month he won a closely fought by-election at Carlisle, where the Tory whip William Holmes* had negotiated his candidature on the Lonsdale interest for £2,000 down and up to £2,000 in costs.5 He was described as ‘about 45 years of age, of very prepossessing exterior, firmness, sincerity and good humour’, a Tory Protestant and experienced parliamentarian, and caricatured as an ‘Indian juggler’ and a stranger.6 On the hustings he promised to promote commercial interests and oppose Catholic relief and maintained (but it could not be proved) that he had voted with Canning to relax restrictions on corn imports.7 He divided with the Wellington ministry against repeal of the Test Acts, 26 Feb., Catholic relief, 12 May, the corporate funds bill, 10 July, and amending the duties on silk, 14 July 1828. Planta, as their patronage secretary, predicted that he would vote ‘with government’ for Catholic emancipation in 1829, but he divided against it with the Lowthers, 6, 18, 30 Mar. On 6 May, in his only reported speech that session, he defended his brother’s decision to go to Madras as governor without resigning his Canterbury seat (the target of an opposition motion by Alexander Baring) and affirmed that he was prepared to stand down should a majority of his constituents or the House so wish. He voted against transferring East Retford’s seats to Birmingham, 11 Feb., Lord Blandford’s reform proposals, 18 Feb., the enfranchisement of Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester, 23 Feb., and Jewish emancipation, 17 May 1830. He voted for the grant for South American missions, 7 June, and against abolishing the death penalty for forgery the same day. Deliberately targeted on account of his prominence in the East India Company, whose trading monopoly he was keen to preserve in a new charter, he had to canvass assiduously in Carlisle and among the out-voters to secure re-election at the general election in August 1830.8 Ministers counted him among their ‘friends’ and he divided with them on the civil list when they were brought down, 15 Nov. 1830. He heeded the Lowthers’ request to vote against the Grey ministry’s reform bill at its second reading, 22 Mar., presented and ‘fully endorsed’ three hostile petitions from guilds of Carlisle, and protested at the proposed disfranchisement of resident hereditary freemen, 29 Mar. He divided for Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr. 1831.9 His prospects at the ensuing general election were blighted by illness and the popularity of reform. His retirement at Carlisle after a one-day poll was tactical and calculated to void the reformers’ election on petition for voter intimidation. Though presented, his supporters’ petition was not proceeded with.10 A squib writer claimed that he had desisted to avoid provoking government resentment which could jeopardize the Company’s charter negotiations.11

Lushington did not stand for Parliament again. He remained a director of the Company until 1854, serving as deputy chairman and chairman. Although initially hostile, he accepted the Company’s 1833 charter vesting power in the crown, in preference to paralyzing business by repeatedly opposing it.12 He died without issue at his London home in Dorset Square in May 1859, remembered for his service to the Company and as founder of the Addiscombe scholarship at Cheltenham College.13 By his will, dated 9 July 1849 and proved in London, 6 July 1859, he left everything to his wife (d. 1867) for life, with reversion to his nephew Charles Hugh Lushington (1813-74) of the Bengal Civil Service.

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: Margaret Escott