MABERLY, John (c.1775-c.1840), of Shirley House, Croydon, Surr.
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Family and Educationb. c. 1775, 1st s. of Stephen Maberly of London and Reading, Berks. and w. Mary Herbert. m. (1) 31 Mar. 1796, Mary Rose (d. ?14 Apr. 1810),1 da. of William Leader, coachmaker to the prince of Wales, of Bedford Row, Holborn, Mdx., 2s. (1 d.v.p.) 2da.; (2) 13 Apr. 1813,2 Anne Bailie, 2s. 3da. suc. fa. 1831. d. by 25 Feb. 1840.
Cornet London and Westminster light horse vols. 1800, lt. 1803, capt. 1804, maj. 1814.
Maberly, a hard-bitten, forceful and abrasive entrepreneur, self-confident to the point of arrogance, had prospered initially as a London contractor for army clothing, and subsequently as the owner of the Broadford linen and sailcloth factory in Aberdeen and founder of the Exchange and Deposit Bank in Edinburgh, with branches eventually established in Aberdeen, Dundee, Glasgow and Montrose. As Member for Rye from 1816 to 1818 he had supported the Liverpool ministry, but he had fallen out with them in somewhat mysterious circumstances at the time of the dissolution of the 1812 Parliament. After he had secured an unopposed return for the single Member borough of Abingdon, which he had been cultivating for several months, his politics underwent a complete transformation, as he moved into uncompromising opposition, though he never joined Brooks’s. There were suggestions that his conversion owed more to disappointed ambition, possibly for a peerage or to supplant the existing government-backed patron of Rye, than to conviction; but on the hustings in 1830, while hinting that there was some truth in the latter story, he attributed it largely to his disgust at the government’s failure to reform the fiscal system and promote economy and tax reductions.3 These, indeed, became his pet subjects, which, as a member of the opposition’s parliamentary awkward squad and a frequent though rarely a lengthy speaker, he pursued remorselessly.
His unopposed return for Abingdon at the general election of 1820 was a foregone conclusion.4 He secured returns of information on the national finances and linen export bounties, 2 May 1820.5 On 11 May, moving for an account of outstanding exchequer bills and Irish treasury bills, he called for an end to chancellor Vansittart’s system of ‘temporary expedients’ and ‘the adoption of a permanent system of finance’. In an argument which he was to repeat ad nauseam, he put the case for the creation a genuine sinking fund from a real surplus of revenue over expenditure, the repeal of taxes on raw materials and of the assessed taxes and their replacement by a tax on landed property, and, to underpin and facilitate these reforms, ‘the most rigid economy in every branch of public expenditure’. He was critical of Vansittart’s bargain with the Bank for a loan of £7,000,000 in exchequer bills and of the proposal to enable the Bank to secure repayment out of the revenue, 30,6 31 May, and damned his budget statement of 19 June with the faint praise that it was the best he had ever presented, though he warned that it would only realise half the amount of sinking fund anticipated. He was successful in having the linen export bounties reconsidered, 1, 30 June, but not in his attempt to have the duty charged on the importation of foreign yarn. A bill to continue the Act of 1756 became law on 15 July 1820.
On 18 Sept. 1820 he spoke and voted, in the minority of 12, for Hobhouse’s motion for a prorogation of Parliament, explaining that he had divided in good faith for Wilberforce’s compromise resolution of 22 June, but that ministers had since proceeded with the prosecution of Queen Caroline in the teeth of public opinion. As the owner of a ‘charming’ property at Croydon, he signed the requisition for and attended the Surrey county meeting to petition in her support, 2 Feb. 1821, when he called for economies and tax reductions and attacked the county Member, Holme Sumner, for his assertion of the queen’s guilt.7 He joined fully in the parliamentary campaign on her behalf, and renewed his criticism of Holme Sumner when presenting the petition, 8 Feb. Unlike his eldest son William, who had been returned for Northampton, Maberly was at this stage hostile to Catholic relief, as were most of his constituents, and he duly voted against it, 28 Feb. He broached the subject of the national finances, with particular emphasis on the savings which he thought could be made in the cost of revenue collection, 1 Feb., and again badgered ministers on the problem of the linen bounties, 27 Feb.8 On 6 Mar., appealing to disgruntled agricultural backbenchers for support, he made what the ‘Mountaineer’ Henry Grey Bennet considered ‘a clear, good, and convincing case’ for a 50 per cent reduction in the window tax from 1822, and was only beaten by 109-83;9 but his subsequent resolution for the repeal of almost £2,000,000 in taxes was negatived without a division. Thereafter he was a regular voter for economy, retrenchment and tax reductions. Among his several interventions in debate on these topics, he denied that his scheme for tax savings was ‘an attempt to delude the public’, 12 Mar.; said that ‘the wanton extravagance of ministers was not to be endured’, 18 May; argued in favour of ordnance rationalizations, 25 May; spoke in favour of repeal of the tax on husbandry horses, 14 June; and clashed with Lord Londonderry over government’s failure to implement the recommendations of the agricultural distress committee for economies, 25 June.10 On 12 Apr. he was excused further attendance at the Callington election committee on account of gout, to which he was a martyr. He attacked ministers for borrowing at great expense from the Bank of Ireland, 10 May, moved unsuccessfully to equalize the interest paid on Irish treasury and exchequer bills, 30 May, and tried in vain to veto certain appointments to the Irish revenue commission, 15 June. He peddled his usual nostrums on the budget statement, 1 June, and on 8 June complained that ministers had yet again brought in the ways and means before the supplies had been voted.11 He supported Hume’s accusations of jobbery in the purchase of the new stamp office in Edinburgh, 27 June, when he also spoke and voted for his call for economy and retrenchment. (Grey Bennet, reflecting on Hume’s verbosity, observed that Maberly, ‘as a rival artist in the same line, is no bad evidence of what can be done in the way of economy’.)12 Maberly had a clause added to the audit of accounts bill for the production of an annual comparison of income and expenditure, 1 July.13 He was no radical reformer, but he voted silently for parliamentary reform, 18 Apr., 9 May, and for reform of the Scottish county representation, 19 May. He paired for the forgery punishment mitigation bill, 23 May, and commented that a forger would be mad to copy Bank notes when, by this bill, he could forge those of country banks at much less risk, 25 May. He endorsed Hume’s complaint of numerous delays and failures in the production of information, 10 July 1821.14
At the Surrey county meeting to petition for relief from agricultural distress, 4 Feb. 1822, Maberly urged the reformers not to create discord: ‘though parliamentary reform was the most desirable thing they could have, it was inexpedient to connect it with the present petition’.15 At the meeting which petitioned for tax reductions and reform, 18 Feb., he attacked Holme Sumner for failing to support the former in the House.16 He spoke and voted for inquiry into the Scottish burghs, 20 Feb., contending that an overwhelming majority of burgesses wanted reform. He voted silently for Russell’s reform motion, 25 Apr., and for Hume’s amendment to the royal burghs accounts bill, 19 July. He voted for more extensive tax reductions to relieve distress, 21 Feb., and went on to support various proposals to that end. He asserted that economies in revenue collection could finance repeal of the salt tax, 28 Feb., and he spoke and voted for it again, 28 June.17 On the army estimates, 15 Mar., he betrayed his frustration by advising Hume, who had ‘undoubtedly done more good for the country than any man who had sat in Parliament for the last 20 years’, to give up
the useless task of disputing the estimates, item by item, since all exertions were rendered unavailing by the overwhelming majorities of ministers. He entreated ... [Hume] not to exhaust his own strength, and that of his friends, night after night, but to propose at once a reduction of taxation to the amount which he considered fair and reasonable, and then to leave the country to decide between him and ministers.
On the budget, 1 July, when he called for greater economies, he observed that ‘the country would go on increasing in prosperity, not in consequence of its good government, but in spite of its bad one’. Next day, supporting repeal of the house and window taxes, he denied that in attacking the ‘delusion’ of the sinking fund, the opponents of ministers were seeking to undermine public credit. He supported amendments to the navy five per cents bill, 25 Feb., 4, 8 Mar. He made some progress in his campaign to secure an improvement in the way the public accounts were presented, explaining on 1 Mar., when he gave notice of a motion and expressed his pleasure that ministers intended to act, that he had recently gone to the treasury himself to point out an error. His demands for the production of large quantities of relevant papers, 4, 13 Mar., ruffled ministerial feathers. When he moved for the appointment of a select committee of inquiry into the means of simplifying the accounts, 14 Mar., government moved a restrictive amendment; but when Vansittart offered to take up the question at a later date, Maberly withdrew his motion. On 27 Mar. he complained that accounts ordered the previous May had not yet been produced.18 Welcoming the government’s proposal to set up a public accounts committee, to which he was named, 18 Apr., he extolled the virtues of the balance sheet, which even thick-headed country gentlemen would be able to understand. He voted against Canning’s bill to relieve Catholic peers of their disabilities, 30 Apr. He was contemptuous of the ministerial plan to relieve the immediate burden of naval and military pensions by granting contractors a fixed annuity of 45 years, 1 May: it was ‘a perfect delusion’, which amounted to a new loan. He supported amendments to safeguard the sinking fund, 3, 24 May. He was anxious that when the Bank’s charter was renewed, steps should be taken to curb its excessive profits, 7, 14 May, 20 June. He presented an Abingdon petition for revision of the criminal code, 9 May, when he also voted for a 20s. duty on wheat.19 He was appointed to the select committee on the Irish linen trade, 18 May, and presented a petition against the beer retail bill, 17 July.20 In his parting shot of the session, 31 July 1822, he criticized ministers for only tinkering with tax reductions and for throwing ‘additional burdens upon posterity’ in the form of massive interest on the public debt and additional expenditure of £25,000,000.
Maberly attended the Surrey reform and distress meeting, 10 Feb. 1823, but evidently remained silent while William Cobbett† created trouble.21 In the House that day, and on 14 Feb., he secured the production of a variety of financial accounts. He presented an Abingdon merchants’ petition for reform of the laws dealing with insolvent debtors, 12 Feb.22 He voted for inquiry into the parliamentary franchise, 20 Feb., parliamentary reform, 24 Apr., and reform of the Scottish representative system, 2 June. On the government’s proposal to raise £20,000,000 in exchequer bills, 21 Feb., he disputed the new chancellor Robinson’s argument that the only way to support public credit was to apply the £5,000,000 excess of taxation revenue to redemption of the debt, and put his own case for dealing with the debt through redemption and purchase of the land tax, thus allowing £7,000,000 of oppressive taxes to be repealed. He moved resolutions to this effect, 28 Feb., when Ricardo supported the scheme, though he would have preferred to restrict the tax remissions to £5,000,000; the plan was rejected by 157-72. Two days later Mrs. Arbuthnot alleged that Maberly and Ricardo had taken advantage of advance knowledge of Canning’s speech to the effect that hopes of staying neutral in the Franco-Spanish conflict had diminished to sell out of the funds ‘to a large amount, anticipating a fall’.23 He supported Hume’s amendment to the national debt reduction bill, 13 Mar., pressing ministers to limit the sinking fund to a real surplus of revenue and, at all events, not to proceed immediately with the measure and so nullify in advance the various motions for tax remissions of which notice had been given.24 He voted against the third reading, 17 Mar., and the next day was defeated by 94-48 on his motion for a repeal of assessed taxes. He questioned the sense of and voted against the military and naval pensions bill, 11, 14 Apr., and on the 18th seconded Hume’s unsuccessful wrecking amendment to its third reading.25 On 30 Apr. he was one of the opposition Members who were trapped in the House to form part of the nominal minority against Stuart Wortley’s pacific amendment to Macdonald’s motion on the negotiations with Spain, though it was known that he had intended to vote for it.26 He welcomed the government’s plan to remove restrictive regulations on Scottish linen manufacturing, 9 May, but he regretted the continuance of the ‘useless’ stamp commissioners. He denounced the beer duties bill as ‘most unjust towards the brewer’, arguing that the impost should be levied on the malt instead, 12 May; and on 28 May he moved for an inquiry into this proposition, but was beaten by 119-27. He repeated his objections to the measure, 13 June, and divided the House against its third reading, 17 June. He called for repeal of the hemp duties, 12 June.27 He thought the grant for the British Museum should be placed in the hands of a committee, 20 June. On 2 July he generously congratulated Robinson on his unprecedentedly candid financial statement, which seemed to hold out good prospects of future tax reductions, and applauded the ‘liberal principles’ which he and his colleagues had applied to trade. At the same time, he encouraged them to reduce the land tax and lower Irish taxes. His motion for printing the petition of Thomas Hazard, who had been taken up on suspicion of involvement in the Cato Street conspiracy, 7 July, was rejected by 60-31.28 He advised Hume to withdraw his resolutions concerning the collection of the land tax, 8 July 1823, because they were founded on ‘an erroneous assumption’.
Maberly secured the return of another clutch of financial papers at the start of the 1824 session.29 He voted for reform of Edinburgh’s representation, 26 Feb. He demanded inquiry into the Bank’s profit from its management of the public debt and denounced the ‘most wanton bargain’ with it over the dead weight of half-pay and pensions, 19 Feb. He repeated his criticism of this contract, which was reminiscent of Vansittart’s fumbling expedients, 23 Feb., but he welcomed the ‘enlarged and liberal principles’ of tax remissions outlined by Robinson, even though he carped at their exact application. The following day he presented a petition for repeal of the assessed taxes, giving notice of his intention of renewing the subject later in the session.30 He called for even-handed justice for England, Ireland and Scotland on the linen bounties, 26 Feb., when he was not disposed to back Hume’s motion for information on the Austrian loan, the recovery of which he regarded as a ‘God-send’. He spoke and voted for reductions on the ordnance estimates, 27 Feb. Seconding Hobhouse’s motion for repeal of the window tax, 2 Mar., he spoke at some length in his usual terms about the sinking fund and redemption of the land tax, though he promised to support the ministry’s tax reductions, as far as they went. He said that their intention to implement a graduated relaxation of the linen bounties was ‘highly satisfactory’ to the Scottish manufacturers, 5 Mar.;31 but on 12 Mar. he complained that the ill-digested plan to rescind the low scale Irish bounties, without at the same time repealing the duty on hemp, had caused much unemployment. He spoke in the same vein on 18 Mar., and the next day, contesting the wisdom of repealing the bounties on fish, argued that if Ireland was not treated as an exception to the application of liberal commercial principles, many of her people must starve.32 He deprecated the ignorant clamour against the government’s ‘most politic’ proposal to relax prohibitory duties on imports of foreign silk, 8 Mar. On 15 Mar. he again moved for inquiry into transferring the beer duty to malt, but he mustered only 26 votes against 130; and he repeated his strictures on the bill, which had caused ‘almost unparalleled’ anger in the country, 13 May. When Robinson said that he would not press that part of the measure which imposed a new scale of duties, 21 May, Maberly protested that the retailing provisions were its most obnoxious feature, and he duly divided the House against the bill and tried in vain to amend it in committee, 24 May.33 He supported the prayer of a Canterbury petition for repeal of the assessed taxes, 25 Mar., presented one from Abingdon to the same effect, along with one for the abolition of slavery, 29 Mar., and called for repeal of all the coal duties, 29 Mar., 5 Apr.34 Robinson would not countenance his motion for redemption of the land tax as it stood, 6 Apr., but encouraged him to embody it in a bill. He presented it on 21 May, but it was thrown out at the report stage, 14 June, despite his boast that it would liberate £34,000,000 to be applied to the unfunded debt and permit £5,000,000 of tax reductions. He was not happy with the ministerial proposal to repeal the Hides and Skins Acts, 14 Apr., when he was a teller for the minority of six against its introduction. He presented three petitions against it, 4 May, and one from Dartmouth for repeal of the house and window taxes, for which he moved in a long and wide-ranging speech, 10 May, when his scheme was rejected by 171-78.35 On 4 May 1824 he spoke and voted for his son’s motion for an advance of capital to Ireland: ‘if the people were not employed, rebellion would break out again’.
Maberly endorsed Hume’s criticism of the navy estimates, 14 Feb. 1825.36 He voted steadily against the bill to suppress the Catholic Association that month, presented a petition from Meath Catholics against it, 23 Feb.,37 and, for the first time, voted for Catholic relief, 1 Mar., and did so again, 21 Apr., 10 May. The presentation of an Abingdon petition for tax reductions enabled him to bring out his usual old chestnuts, 17 Feb.38 On the budget statement, 28 Feb., he pointed out that the vaunted increase in revenue was the natural result of the application of ‘sound commercial principles’. He deplored the ‘thin state of the House’ which rejected his motion for a repeal of assessed taxes by 11-64, 3 Mar., when he asserted that the government ‘must give way to the petitions of the people’, another one of which he presented himself, 30 Mar.39 He wanted prior and thorough investigation before the duties on iron and copper were considered, 11 Mar. He suggested that the select committee on the Irish linen trade, to which he was appointed, 14 Apr., should consider the ‘ruinous’ protecting duties; but, while he concurred in the ‘wisdom’ of the government’s general commercial policy, he thought it ‘desirous that they should travel by degrees’ as far as Ireland was concerned. He called for relaxation of the corn laws, which impaired the beneficial effects of commercial liberalization, 29 Apr. Yet on the presentation of petitions for reform of the Combination Acts he wore his factory master’s hat, stating that while workers were entitled to bargain for wages to keep pace with prices, they had no right to combine to dictate to employers, as had some Aberdeen operatives over the apprentices issue. He later voted for amendments to the combination bill dealing with intimidation and jury trial, 27 June. Another indifferent House voted down his motion for repeal of the beer duties by 88-23, 5 May. He supported Hobhouse’s attack on the window tax, in resisting which ministers were ‘in opposition to the sentiments of the whole country’, 17 May. His only known vote against the grant to the duke of Cumberland was on 10 June. On the 17th he defended the government’s customs consolidation proposals against Parnell’s strictures and praised Huskisson, the president of the board of trade, but voted against the judicial salaries bill. He clashed with Hume over a petition complaining of country bank notes not being honoured in gold, which he thought should be thrown out, 27 June. Maberly’s campaign for tax reductions was very popular with most of his constituents, and at the annual visitation feast of the Abingdon free school, 7 Aug. 1825, he was lavishly praised by the mayor.40 The following month John Smith, Member for Midhurst, whose nephew was married to Maberly’s daughter, told Henry Brougham* that Maberly had refused to subscribe to the planned London University:
It is hinted to me that he considers he ought to have been invited to our committee and has taken offence. He hinted that the original idea of a metropolitan institution came from himself. As he is by no means an agreeable man to act with I hope you will agree with me that he is not worth conciliating. His claim of originality in this scheme is equally unfounded and ridiculous.41
On the address, 2 Feb. 1826, Maberly joined in praise of the Bank for its conduct during the recent financial panic, though he carped that it would have done even better if it had not been ‘crippled ... by the dead weight of mortgages’. He thought that the difficulties had been exacerbated by the government’s deluging the country with bank notes. He secured the production of a series of accounts, as usual, 6, 7, 10 Feb.42 He asked why small notes should be suppressed only in England, 13 Feb., when he voted against going into committee on the Bank Charter Acts. He called for greater openness in transactions between the Bank and the government and urged legislation to force the Bank to give distressed merchants longer discounts on the security of deposited goods. He spoke and voted against the government’s proposal to exempt the Bank from the provisions of the promissory notes bill, 20 Feb., and moved an unsuccessful amendment to extract more disclosures from the Bank, 24 Feb., but he opposed Hume’s amendment requiring deposits with the exchequer equal in amount to notes issued, 27 Feb. On 10 Mar. he argued at some length that the Bank had ‘added greatly to the previously existing causes of distress’ by mismanaging the unfunded and funded debts. On 13 Mar. he said that Robinson’s budget statement contained some ‘complete fallacies’, especially concerning the diminution of the charge on the public debt; but he approved of the scheme to fund £10,000,000 of exchequer bills and apply the sinking fund to the unfunded as well as the funded debt, and rejoiced at the improved prospects held out by the chancellor. He presented Abingdon petitions for relief from the assessed taxes and the burdensome mode of poor rate collection, 22 Mar., complained that although half the former had been taken off, the intolerable expense of collection still remained, 10 Apr., and on 28 Apr. moved for returns to illustrate their ‘severe pressure’.43 He thought the president of the board of trade should have the same salary as the secretaries of state, 6 Apr., but only if the treasurership of the navy was got rid of; he seconded Hume’s amendment to that effect, and paired on the same side, 10 Apr. He voted to revise the corn laws, 18 Apr., and on 12 May demanded an assurance that they would be properly dealt with in the next Parliament, as the government’s ‘vacillating and uncertain policy’ had created universal dissatisfaction. On 4 May Maberly, who three days earlier had given evidence to the Lords committee on the currency, came out against any alteration to the Scottish banking system.44 Supporting Hume’s motion on the state of the nation later that day, he said that the national debt had not really been reduced and offered his assistance to ministers in the execution of their plan to produce a thorough examination of the public accounts. His bid to add a clause to Estcourt’s alehouses licensing bill to provide a regular adjournment day for applications, 12 May, was moved in his temporary absence from the House by Hume; it was defeated by 40-12.45 He voted for reform of Edinburgh’s representation, 13 Apr., parliamentary reform, 27 Apr., and Russell’s resolutions to curb electoral bribery, 26 May 1826. (He later claimed that he and his son had gone up from Epsom races to vote for them and so ensure their success.)46
On 10 May 1826 Maberly, confident of an unopposed return for Abingdon at the approaching general election, had treated a dinner gathering of 280 of his constituents to an elaborate and boastful explanation and defence of his conduct in the expiring Parliament. Claiming to be attached to no party, he stressed his campaign for tax reductions, reform of the sinking fund, an improvement in public accounting and ‘just and fair corn laws’. On parliamentary reform, he declared his strong preference for a ratepayer franchise to anything approaching universal suffrage; and, justifying his conversion to support of Catholic relief, for which ‘the proper time was then come’, he promised to be bound by his constituents’ views on the subject in the next Parliament. The appearance of a local Tory challenger a few days later sent him hastily back to the borough to canvass again; but the opposition collapsed after a fortnight. At his uncontested election, Maberly repeated his account of his ‘stewardship’, denied having ‘pursued a systematic opposition to government’, whose recent implementation of liberal commercial policies he applauded, and repeated his pledge to take the ‘instructions’ of his constituents on the Catholic question. After the formalities he rushed off to Northampton, where his son was involved in a fierce but ultimately successful struggle against a Tory backed by the corporation. From a window of the Peacock inn he angrily denounced their alleged misappropriation of corporate funds. 47
Maberly had taken one Richards into partnership with him in the Aberdeen linen works in March 1825, and in about 1826, when his long-running dispute with the older Scottish banks over the time in which a draft on a London bank could be cashed came to a temporary end, he seems to have established a branch of his own bank in London, initially in Upper Thames Street and later in Bread Street.48 He supported Hume’s amendment to the address, 21 Nov. 1826, because the king’s speech had made no reference to distress, the corn laws or the reduction of heavy taxation, ‘the great disease under which they laboured’. He threatened to resist the voting of all grants of public money until he had submitted his planned motions for tax cuts. He was called to order, 28 Nov., when he digressed from a notice of motions for accounts into a commentary on trade and Bank issues.49 Later that day he agreed with Littleton that some change in the regulations governing Members’ conduct in private bill committees was necessary, but thought it absurd to prohibit them from voting on subjects which they had not heard discussed. He pressed Waithman to lay the charges concerning James Brodgen’s* involvement in the Arigna Mine Company fairly before the House, 30 Nov. He supported Graham’s call for an advance of public money to relieve distress, 7 Dec. 1826. On 12 Feb. 1827 he backed Hume’s demands for a candid statement of the national balance sheet before voting the navy estimates, but, having divided with ministers for sending troops to Portugal, felt that he could not fairly oppose the provision for 30,000 seamen. He was less accommodating on the ordnance estimates, 16 Feb., and the army estimates, 19, 20 Feb. On the latter day, he said that although he had advised Hume not to persevere in his detailed objections, because the estimates could be examined more effectively in a finance committee, for the appointment of which he devoutly wished, he conceded that in doing so Hume was providing ‘a wholesome check to the expenditure’. He complained of the way in which ministers had dealt with the currency problem, creating a paper monopoly without prior inquiry, 22 Feb. He voted for Catholic relief, 6 Mar. He divided for a 50s. corn import price, 9 Mar., and for Hume’s proposal to reduce the duty in stages to 10s., 27 Mar. Supporting petitions from Bolton cotton manufacturers for lower wheat prices, 26 Mar., he criticized the government’s revision of the laws, contending that the landed interest had no right to be exclusively protected.50 He called for abolition of the linen board, 12 Mar.,51 and the hackney coach office, 14 Mar., but approved the new arrangements for the post of solicitor to the customs, 13 Mar. He voted for inquiry into Leicester corporation’s supposed application of their funds to electoral purposes, 15 Mar. He had voted against the resolutions on the duke of Clarence’s grant, 16 Feb.; but on 16 Mar., pleading that his action had been misunderstood and arguing that the heir presumptive to the throne must be adequately provided for, he voted to go into committee on his annuity bill; he admonished Hume for putting forward the sufferings of the working classes as a reason for withholding the grant. He supported investigation of the mutiny at Barrackpoor, to which he hinted there was more than met the eye, 22 Mar. He opposed going into committee of supply in the ‘deranged state’ of the national finances, 26 Mar., and voted to withhold supplies until the ministerial uncertainty had been resolved, 30 Mar. He divided for inquiries into the Irish miscellaneous estimates and chancery delays, 5 Apr. 1827.
Maberly presented petitions from retail brewers of Gloucestershire for alteration of the licensing laws and from Blackburn cotton spinners for a minimum wage, 9 Apr. 1827.52 On 7 May he declared his support for Canning’s ministry, repudiating taunts that he had abandoned his struggle for reform of the sinking fund and the appointment of a finance committee. He strongly and successfully urged Canning to appoint such a committee early the next session, and thereby ‘completely establish the government’ in the ‘eyes of the country’. He declared his undiminished enthusiasm for parliamentary reform and repeal of the Test Acts, but made it clear that he would not support them merely to gratify any ‘factious’ opposition to the government. On 11 May he announced that he had postponed all his financial notices until next session and would not oppose any of that year’s estimates, even though he had strong objections to that for Millbank penitentiary, and urged Hume to follow suit, in view of Canning’s promise of a finance committee. However, when repeating these remarks on 25 May, he implored Canning not to be too lavish in his demands on the public purse.53 He dismissed as misguided a Glasgow manufacturers’ petition against the use of machinery, 8 May.54 He seconded Wilmot Horton’s motion for inquiry into the administration of Lord Charles Somerset† at the Cape, 17 May, praising Donkin’s preceding regime, after which there had occurred ‘insecurity, murder, plunder, dissatisfaction, and ... utter ruin’. He expressed regret that the inquiry had been abandoned, 29 June. He was in the minority for separating bankruptcy jurisdiction from chancery, 22 May. He presented petitions for repeal of the Test Acts, 7 June.55 On Davenport’s motion for inquiry into industrial and commercial distress, 14 June, he said that there could be no sound system of currency while the Bank was free to expand and contract the circulation as it pleased. He called for examination of the beer duties, 15 June, and presented a petition from an individual who wanted permission to grind foreign corn, 21 June 1827.56 The following day he withdrew his planned motion to outlaw the application of corporate funds to electoral purposes, but warned Northampton and other errant corporations to watch their steps in future, and complained of misrepresentation of his son’s conduct in the dispute. Maberly was friendly with his fellow banker John Herries*, whose appointment as chancellor of the exchequer by Goderich after Canning’s death in August, which almost drove the Lansdowne Whigs in government to resignation, he was reported to have described as ‘a very proper one’. He subsequently tried to root out the author of hostile articles in the Whig Morning Chronicle.57 His connection with Herries gave him advance knowledge of the impending collapse of the Goderich ministry in January 1828 and of the shape of the duke of Wellington’s administration which succeeded it.58
Maberly began the 1828 session in belligerent mood, pressing for economies in the estimates and threatening to oppose ‘every grant of money’ unless proper and full accounts were first laid before the House, 1, 4, 6 Feb. On 11 Feb. he voiced his suspicion that Peel, the new home secretary, would not go into the business of the finance committee, for full details of which Maberly was desperate, with the same ‘fairness’ as would Canning. In committee on the navy estimates, he attacked the sinking fund in its present guise as a permanent charge on the consolidated fund, and demanded to know whether the finance committee would be allowed to go beyond ‘a bare examination of accounts’ and to recommend future levels of expenditure: if not, he was determined to divide against every supply proposal, which he now did on the grant for 30,000 seamen, being defeated by 48-15. The next day he expressed pleasure that Peel, contradicting Huskisson, had given assurances that the committee would have the same remit as that of 1817, but he was still suspicious enough to hope that it was ‘not intended as a delusion, to amuse and gull the public’. He recommended Poulett Thomson to drop his opposition to the navy estimates, but was in a minority of eight for Hume’s amendment for economies. In drawing up lists of candidates for the finance committee, to which Maberly was duly appointed, 15 Feb., Peel and Herries had been at pains to achieve a balance between safety and appearance. Maberly and Hume were included among five ‘reformers’; but, so Herries hoped, they would ‘in some material points counteract each other. Maberly will support establishments and run at the sinking fund, while Hume will be ultra violent against both’.59 On 19 Feb. Maberly suggested that the expense of producing returns of information could be reduced if all papers likely to be of interest during a session could be laid on the table at its start. He cautioned the House against accepting the large army estimates on the mistaken assumption that they could be reduced by the recommendation of the finance committee, 22 Feb. John Croker*, the secretary to the admiralty, who was examined by the committee that day, was predictably contemptuous of the ‘blockheads’ Hume and Maberly: ‘The latter asked me if the entry books and records of the office could not be copied by a machine to save clerks! And all his other questions were of the same force’.60 Maberly voted for repeal of the Test Acts, 26 Feb. He presented an Abingdon maltsters’ petition against the Malt Act and called for the system of army promotions to be referred to the finance committee, 12 Mar. He said that the penalties for infringing the laws governing the retailing of beer were already severe enough, 2 Apr. On behalf of manufacturers, he dismissed a demand for increased protection for British wool producers, 17 Apr., arguing that restrictions damaged all interests, not least the agricultural. He attacked the corn laws, 28, 29 Apr., when he voted for a fixed duty of 15s. He divided for inquiry into chancery delays, 24 Apr. He spoke and voted for Hume’s bid to wreck the Aberdeen harbour bill, 5 May, and expressed surprise that agriculturists should resist repeal of the usury laws, 15 May. He voted for Catholic claims, 12 May. On 16 May he was involved in a tetchy running battle with ministers on the navy estimates, complaining that they had been brought on without reference to the findings of the finance committee. Croker reflected:
We see now the folly, as we before saw the cowardice, of putting Hume and Maberly on this committee. They are more troublesome than ever, because being placed on the committee has redeemed their characters, and increased their information ... I whispered this to Peel, whose act it was, and he was very little pleased with the remark.61
Maberly kept up his refrain of the need for better information and an extension of the powers of the finance committee on the navy estimates, 19 May, the vote for civil contingencies, 30 May, when he called for an annually renewable select committee to examine details before they were submitted to the House, the vote for volunteer corps, 13 June, and the governorship of Dartmouth Castle, 20 June, when he voted for a reduction in the salary. On 19 May he presented a petition from Abingdon corporation against the alehouses licensing bill, which he spoke against, 19 June. He objected to the bill to restrict the circulation of Scottish bank notes in England, 3 June, and voted for inquiry into the question, 5 June. He divided to postpone consideration of the grant for missionary work in the colonies, 6 June, and in favour of the Irish assessment of lessors bill, 16 June, and on 30 June opposed the additional churches bill, against which he presented a petition from Westminster, 3 July. The following day he explained the grounds on which the finance committee had recommended reduction of the salary of the lieutenant-general of the ordnance, for which he now voted, and later supported Hume’s adjournment motion, complaining that it was unfair to keep hard-working members of the committee up late on these ‘most extravagant of all’ estimates. He demanded further reductions, 7 July, when his own motion to halve the cost of the ordnance survey was rejected by 126-9, and he voted against the grant for Canadian military canals. On 8 July, however, he acknowledged the government’s willingness to implement all the recommendations of the finance committee except that concerning the lieutenant-general’s salary, as well as accepting their bill to regulate public pensions and salaries. On 10 July he expressed his hope that the projected 30 per cent maximum duty on East Indian silk would be strictly adhered to, and protested against a surreptitious attempt to bring forward the date for repeal of the linen bounties. He had more to say on the silk duties, 15, 16 July, when he supported Poulett Thomson’s amendment to limit the duty to 30 per cent and urged ministers to drop the measure. He voted for the corporate funds bill, 10 July, and on 17 July supported Otway Cave’s call for inquiry into the conduct of Leicester corporation. He voted against the archbishop of Canterbury’s registrar bill, 16 June. He would have been one of the majority who voted by 10-9 in the finance committee, 23 June, to recommend the application of a real surplus of revenue rather than a fixed sum to the sinking fund;62 and on 11 July he welcomed chancellor Goulburn’s announcement that ministers had at last decided to adopt this principle, though he stated his own preference for allocating half the surplus to the remission of taxes. In a clash with Herries, he denied having opposed in the committee any reduction of the national debt by the sinking fund. He approved the subsequent national debt reduction bill, 15, 17 July 1828.
In January 1829 a public meeting at Cheltenham voted thanks to Maberly for his efforts to secure a reduction of the assessed taxes. In reply, he doubted whether any minister would lower taxation sufficiently ‘until he shall be convinced of its necessity by the manifestations of the people, through their representatives’.63 That month his second son died at Naples.64 In the House, 13 Feb., he attacked Goulburn for refusing to deal with the potentially ruinous debt. On 20 Feb. he opposed proceeding to consider the army estimates in order to register his bitter protest against the extinction of the finance committee, by which the country would ‘lose considerably’ and ‘all chance of reduction of taxation will be put an end to’. He observed that ‘the government never will, constituted as it is’, with each department fighting for its own interests, ‘form any consistent plan of retrenchment’. He called for considerable reductions in the navy estimates, in line with the committee’s recommendations, 27 Feb., though he gave credit to Hardinge, the secretary at war, for doing his best to make economies. He carped at details of the ordnance estimates, 2 Mar., while admitting the futility of such protests. He silently presented an Abingdon inhabitants’ petition against Catholic emancipation, 2 Mar., but he voted for the measure, 6 Mar., and on 9 Mar. said that none of the talentless Members who had blindly opposed it, among whom he included Pallmer of Surrey, had offered ‘a single remedy in any way applicable to the disease’ of Irish unrest and looming insurrection. Later that day he presented the hostile petition of Abingdon corporation, which he had earlier referred back to them, on the advice of the Speaker, after being clandestinely informed by the two bailiffs, who were nominally included among its authors, that they in fact dissented from its prayer; he now brought it up as the petition of the individual signatories and dissociated himself from it. The episode provoked a row in his constituency.65 He presented a favourable petition from Abingdon, 16 Mar., when he also approved the government’s plan to suspend militia balloting. At the Surrey anti-Catholic meeting, 21 Mar., he criticized Denison, the other county Member, but was howled down after stating that without emancipation ‘they would have a rebellion in Ireland in less than six months’.66 Maberly, whose eccentric and rabidly anti-Catholic brother Frederick Herbert, curate of Bourn, near Cambridge, was foaming at the mouth over the measure, voted for the third reading of the relief bill, 30 Mar. 1829.67
Returning to financial questions, he said that revival of the finance committee would check the potential increase in expenditure, 2 Apr., when he moaned that without it, individuals such as himself were powerless to prevent the voting of vast sums of public money by thin and indifferent Houses. He welcomed ministers’ agreement to refer the Irish miscellaneous estimates to a select committee, 4 Apr. He again complained that without proper accounts and information, ‘we are granting money in the dark’, 6 Apr. He had reservations about details of the assessed taxes composition bill, 9 Apr. On 13 Apr. he moved for the continued production of accounts of the national debt, with the object of demonstrating that its redemption had last year cost £157,000. He gave ‘warm support’ to the silk trade bill and countered Sadler’s protectionist arguments, 1 May. He voted to transfer East Retford’s seats to Birmingham, 5 May, and for Lord Blandford’s parliamentary reform scheme, 2 June. On the budget, 8 May, he again applauded ministers’ change of heart on the sinking fund, but also deplored the loss of the finance committee and denounced the issue of £3,000,000 in exchequer bills as ‘a profligate waste of the public money’. He returned to the latter theme, 11, 14, 22 May, when he estimated the loss at £480,000 and, regretting that Goulburn had adopted this tortured course after seeming to be on the right track, commented that ‘there is ... something in the constitution of a chancellor of the exchequer which leads him out of the straight road into complicated ways’. On 21 May he joined in Hume’s opposition to the ecclesiastical courts bill which Peel, the home secretary, reeling after eighteen hours unbroken labour, denounced at three in the morning as ‘the most vaxatious within the memory of the House’; Maberly was in Hume’s minority of three. He voted to reduce the grant for the marble arch, 25 May. He supported the appointment of as select committee, to which he was named, to investigate the conduct of the architect John Nash over the leasing and sale of crown lands, 27 May; but he thought its sponsor, Davies, went too far in making allegations before it had reported, 19 June. He voted to reduce the duties on hemp, 1 June, considering the ministerial proposal a dereliction of the principle of removing imposts on raw materials. On the presentation of a Blackburn petition complaining of manufacturing distress, 12 June, he said that the best remedy was a programme of tax reductions and called for mass petitioning on the subject if ministers did not act in the next session. At the August 1829 school visitation feast at Abingdon, where there were increasing mutterings about distress and unemployment in the local hemp and flax manufacturing industries as a result of competition from Scotland, Maberly pledged to continue to work for tax reductions.68
He duly did so, with implacable determination, in the 1830 session, when he set the tone by supporting the amendment to the address, 4 Feb. His remarks on the currency, which he wanted to see established on a sound paper system, drew some satirical comment the next day from Sir Joseph Yorke, from whom Maberly extracted an apology. He described the ‘monopoly’ created by the corn laws as ‘a law to starve the people’, 8 Feb. Supporting Hume’s motion for a revision and reduction of taxation, 15 Feb., when he went into considerable detail in his ‘long and dull’ review of the national finances, he repeated his lament for the finance committee, as he did on several more occasions during the session.69 He voted to postpone going into committee of supply that day, and objected to proceeding with the army estimates without due consideration, 16 Feb. He supported economies in them, 19, 22, 26 Feb., though on the 22nd he conceded that ‘as the finance committee has been abolished, the time for making any useful opposition to extravagant expenditure has gone by’, and advised Hume to give up dividing the House in vain. He attacked the admiralty and the navy board for failing to economize after the French wars and voted to halve the grant for the Royal Military College, a particular bete noir of his, 26 Feb. Supporting cuts in the navy estimates, 1 Mar., he drew attention to the threat posed to the country by the massive pension fund; but on 8 Mar. he praised Hardinge for savings made in this area, though he did not neglect to observe that the system of exchequer fees was ‘a disgrace to the country’. In a further concession, 9 Mar., he admitted that ministers had given every indication of wanting ‘a full and fair inquiry into the public expenditure’. He exposed the fallacies which he detected in the London merchants’ anti-free trade petition, 12 Mar., when he voted against giving the treasurer of the navy a ministerial salary. He commended the new budget as ‘the best I ever heard’, 15 Mar., approving particularly of the proposed reductions in the beer and leather taxes and increase in that on spirits. Yet he still called for greater reductions in the estimates, and spoke and voted to that effect on the naval establishment, 22 Mar. He supported Poulett Thomson’s motion for a wholesale revision of taxation, 25 Mar., though he had no time for his notion of a vote of credit to indemnify the government against any deficiency, and disliked a property tax. Believing that ministers had been ‘driven’ into lowering taxes by the pressure of public opinion, he called for redoubled efforts to push them further. He denounced pluralism in civil offices, suggested that Cockburn, a lord of the admiralty, was being prevented by senior ministers from fully implementing his wish to economize, and opposed the Bathurst and Dundas pensions, 26 Mar. He supported abolition of the lieutenant-generalship of the ordnance, 29 Mar., and recommended a merger of the Tower Hill and Pall Mall offices and closure of the arms factory at Enfield, 2 Apr. He urged ministers not to persist with the bill to grant bounties on Irish tobacco, 8 Apr. He now refused to support Blandford’s reform bill, 18 Feb., because it was ‘full of inconsistencies’;70 but he professed his continued support for practical reform, and voted for the enfranchisement of Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester, 23 Feb., investigation of the Newark petition of complaint against the duke of Newcastle, 1 Mar., and the transfer of East Retford’s seats to Birmingham, 5, 15 Mar., when he was in O’Connell’s minority of 21 to incorporate provision for the ballot in the East Retford bill. He voted against government on relations with Portugal, 10 Mar., and divided for Jewish emancipation, 5 Apr., 17 May. He spoke and voted against the grant for the Woolwich Academy, 30 Apr., and voted against that for public buildings, 3 May. That day he divided for Hume’s motion for a bill to deal with a demise of the crown. He wanted decent colonial accounts to be furnished, 10 May, when he supported reduction of the salary of the assistant secretary to the treasury. He voted for abolition of the Irish lord lieutenancy, 11 May, and repeal of the Irish coal duties, 13 May, and almost certainly divided for the production of information on privy councillors’ emoluments, 14 May. He backed Hume’s motion for production of the law officers’ opinion on the customs duty payable in discharge of the four and a half per cent duties and condemned the waste of money on Millbank penitentiary, when hulks were available, 21 May. He welcomed changes to the coinage system which relaxed the Bank’s monopoly, 4 June. He spoke and voted for reductions in the grant for South American missions, 11 June, and for the Canadian colonies, 14 June. He took exception to Littleton’s bill to end payment in truck as an interference with trade, 23 June, 1 July, though he admitted that it was ‘an experiment to put down an objectionable system’. He thought West India proprietors were entitled to complain about the rum duties, but not those on sugar, 30 June, 1 July, when he voted for greater reductions in the latter than those proposed by government. He generally approved of the principle of the sale of beer bill, 4 May, but had misgivings over the effects on publicans who had invested considerable capital in the trade of opening it suddenly and completely. Accordingly, he moved on 1 July to add a clause to postpone for two years the option to sell beer for consumption on the premises; he was beaten by 133-91. On 2 July 1830 he thanked Sir James Graham for moving an amendment concerning the financial surplus, which had aired an important question, but advised him to withdraw it because he had misunderstood the accounts. He went on to explain why he intended to vote for various estimates which had been criticized by Brougham: speaking as one of the few Members who had that year ‘discussed the voting away the public money’, whereas Brougham and others had only lately joined in, he said that as the two crucial issues of the regency and the civil list had now been settled, opposition to individual items was pointless. He vowed to return to the attack in the next Parliament.71
At the general election of 1830 he was challenged by the Tory Ebenezer Fuller Maitland*, a Berkshire squire, whose backers sought to blame Maberly, as a Scottish manufacturer, for the decline in the local fabric industries. He had already denied responsibility for these problems, bluntly blaming the Abingdonians’ own lack of enterprise and offering to pay for a delegation to go to study the improved techniques used in Scotland, and he made an elaborate defence of his parliamentary conduct at a dinner on 6 July. He boasted of his determined campaign for tax reductions and economies, declared his support for ‘gradual reform’ of Parliament, particularly by enfranchising large towns, stood by his opposition to restrictive duties on trade and high protection and took credit for having secured the adoption by ministers of a proper national balance sheet and the appointment of the finance committee. As for Catholic emancipation, he said that if his constituents had censured him for his vote at the time he would have resigned his seat, but that as they had remained silent they could not fairly impugn him retrospectively. He largely repeated this performance on the hustings, adding some ad hominem jibes at his opponent and alleging bribery and interference by the corporation. He had a comfortable victory at the poll.72 At the Surrey election at Guildford, 5 Aug. 1830, he attacked Hylton Jolliffe, the unsuccessful Tory candidate, for having opposed every proposition for reform and retrenchment as Member for Petersfield, and called for abolition of the county’s four rotten boroughs.73 He intervened by letter and address in Aberdeen Burghs on behalf of the candidature of his son-in-law, Robert George Smith, a London banker, but they gave it up before the elction meeting.74
At a party meeting before the opening of the new Parliament, 31 Oct. 1830, Maberly was reported to have put and end to ‘a good deal of talking which came to very little’ by asserting that ‘a party could only act upon some principle’, whereupon it was ‘agreed that reform and retrenchments were to be our great objects’. However, his advocacy of ‘opposition to every sort of monopoly’ cut little ice.75 In the House, 3 Nov., he suggested that two days in the parliamentary week be devoted exclusively to ministerial business. On the report of the address later that day, he registered his protest against the ‘extraordinary’ speech from the throne, which had ignored the two burning issues of tax reductions and reform. He argued that if the finance committee had been continued, the entire financial system would have been renewed and streamlined, and that
tranquillity will not continue without reform. There is no disaffection abroad; the people are well inclined, and all they want is that to which they are fairly and honestly entitled. If that is not conceded to them, I fear a state of things will arise which we shall regret.
He thought Hume was wasting valuable time by pressing for information on the official printers, 5 Nov. He was an absentee from the decisive division on the civil list, 15 Nov., when, according to a local newspaper, he was ‘accidentally shut out’.76 He was appointed to the resultant select committee. He paid tribute to Peel for his introduction of the metropolitan police force, 18 Nov. He spoke in defence of Lord Exeter’s influence at Stamford, which he deemed to be limited and legitimate, 30 Nov., 14 Dec. On 6 Dec. he cautioned Althorp, chancellor in the new Grey ministry, not to fall into the trap of laying out public money one day and borrowing it the next, and encouraged him to do all in his power to reduce expenditure and abolish useless offices. He foreswore his opposition to the scandalous Canadian waterways grant because ministers had indicated their willingness to curb it in future. His assertion that Irish petitions for repeal of the Union were ‘frequently got up by designing persons’, and his advice to nationalists to discourage rather than stir up agitation, in order to create the calm conditions necessary for economic improvement, led to heated exchanges with O’Connell and the O’Gorman Mahon, 11 Dec. On 13 Dec. he again warned ministers that they ‘cannot expect the support of the friends who now sit behind them’ unless they fulfilled their pledges on ‘reform and retrenchment’; and as far as the former was concerned, he said that they ‘cannot rely upon the support of the aristocracy, but must look to the people’, by dissolving Parliament if they were defeated. When the Evesham election was declared void that day, he issued an address declaring the candidature of his absent son who, though currently out of the House, was in line for an ordnance place. The success of an opposition bid to have the writ suspended on account of the blatant bribery which had been uncovered forced Maberly to explain himself in the House, 16 Dec.; the suspicion of ‘a most corrupt job’ having been thwarted stayed with Croker.77 On 17 Dec. Maberly called for petitions for ‘a general modification’ of the tax system rather than against specific items and opposed high protection of the Irish cotton trade, as he did that of the barilla industry, 20 Dec. 1830.
When Althorp, who at the turn of the year was reported to be ‘coaxing’ Maberly, Hume and others of the same stamp ‘in small select parties’, revealed his plans to deal with the civil list, Maberly applauded his innovative plan to take out diplomatic and other expenses and put them under parliamentary control, but was not happy with the proposals touching the granting of pensions. Lord Ellenborough thought that he had expressed his reservations ‘doubtingly’ on account of his son’s appointment as surveyor-general of the ordnance.78 He supported the government’s reduction of the barilla duties and clashed again with Sadler over free trade, 7 Feb., advocated repeal of the duty on printed calico, 8 Feb., and on 10 Feb. welcomed the belated appointment of a select committee on the Canadian waterways, the subsidization of which he held out as a warning to the House never again to sanction such outlays of money without access to full information. He gave Althorp’s first budget a mixed reception, 11 Feb.: he was not displeased with its sinking fund proposals and approved the reductions of the tobacco and newspaper taxes and the repeal of the coal duties; but he jibbed at the imposition of an import duty on raw cotton and the controversial levy on transfers of funded property. At the same time, he indicated that if necessary he would swallow it whole to keep ministers in place. He thought the reductions in sugar duties, though necessarily limited by current circumstances, would be beneficial, 11 Mar., but wondered if ministers might not allow the use of sugar in distilleries. On 17 Feb., when he was named to the revived finance committee, he repudiated a Tory description of Abingdon as a corrupt borough. He presented and endorsed petitions from Croydon and Wallington for reform of Surrey’s proprietary boroughs, 28 Feb., along with one from Abingdon in favour of general reform. He supported the corporate funds bill, 11 Mar., having no doubt that Northampton corporation’s guilt had been conclusively proved. On the 17th he was at an Abingdon meeting called to express approval of the ministerial reform bill, whose petition he presented, evidently without comment, 21 Mar.79 Later that day he hoped that the ‘disjointed’ estimates would be made ‘more complete in future’. He voted silently for the second reading of the reform bill, 22 Mar. He again opposed Littleton’s truck bill, founded as it was ‘on a most erroneous principle’, 12 Apr. He was pleased with the government’s plan to abolish the lieutenant-generalship of the ordnance and praised their willingness to economize, 13 Apr. The next day he defended their civil list proposals. He voted against Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment to the reform bill, 19 Apr. His return for Abingdon at the ensuing general election was unopposed and largely unreported; but at a celebration dinner, 6 May 1831, he endorsed the reform bill, which ‘struck at the very root of corruption’ without endangering the constitution, and called on its supporters to rally behind the government in the work of further reforms which lay ahead.80
Maberly, whose father died on 3 June 1831, voted for the second reading of the reintroduced reform bill, 6 July, and was a steady supporter of its details, though he paired for the divisions of 5 and 17 Aug. He deplored the opposition’s obstructive tactics, 12 July, and ascertained that they were adopted in defiance of Peel’s prior agreement with ministers. Five days later he privately confided to Goulburn ‘his apprehension that the radical party were beginning to object to the bill and would be very troublesome’.81 He spoke for the disfranchisement of Bletchingley, which, along with the other closed boroughs of Surrey, ‘override all the interests of the people’, 20 July, and saw no compelling reason for allowing Chippenham (Fuller Maitland’s former seat) to retain two Members, 27 July. On 24 Aug. he took the reformer Davies of Worcester to task for suggesting that public support for the bill had declined and that many on the government back benches were getting cold feet. On 30 June he opposed limitations on the factory hours of children and the use of steam driven machinery as recipes for unemployment and said that all public salaries should ‘indiscriminately’ be fixed at the standard of 1797, though he again praised ministers for acting up to their promises on retrenchment. He commended George Robinson’s scheme to levy an equitable tax on real property and halve the duties on sugar and tea and the remaining assessed taxes, 1 July. He contrasted ministers’ appointment of an inquiry into the way in which exchequer accounts were kept with the inertia of their predecessors, 8 July, when he called for the grants for professors at Oxford and Cambridge to be discontinued or extended to other universities. He urged government to produce an intelligible, printed colonial budget, as recommended by the finance committee, and pressed Hobhouse to set aside, at least temporarily, the parts of his cotton factories apprentices bill dealing with Scotland and Ireland, 18 July. After Hobhouse had agreed to exclude wool and flax factories, 28 Sept., Maberly, who was against ‘meddling interference with the production of any article’, commented that if he had not done so the manufacturers of linen would have been ‘up in arms’. He could see no reason to suspend the issue of the Dublin writ, 8 Aug., and voted twice with government on the controversy surrounding the late election there, 23 Aug. His attempts to extend the benefits of the game bill beyond lords of the manor to the owners of a minimum of 300 acres, 8 Aug., 2 Sept., were thwarted. He opposed reception of a Preston petition for repeal of the corn laws because its language was disrespectful, 12 Aug., and deprecated the ‘principle of petty legislation, namely interfering with anything’, which informed the bill to regulate steam vessels, 19 Aug. On 6 Sept. he argued that the ministry had acted fairly on the subject of quarantine fees on ships and should not be badgered to reduce it before the planned date, even though he was a personal sufferer as things stood, and later expressed pleasure that the Bank of Scotland’s new charter would allow it to sue and be sued by its officials. He approved the proposed increase in the duties on Cape wines in proportion to those on French and Spanish produce, 7 Sept. He asked Hume to abandon his opposition to the grant for the works at Windsor Castle and Buckingham House, 28 Sept., as it was now simply a question of justice to the contractors who were owed money. He went on to support the government’s proposals for the sugar duties, asserting that while the West Indians did have a case for some protection, they would gain nothing from the inquiry which they sought. He advocated consolidation of the victualling and navy boards and the withdrawal of direct government involvement in the manufacturing of goods for the public service, 30 Sept. He gave his blessing to ministers’ course on the sinking fund and dismissed the criticisms of Goulburn, who when in office had blundered by taking only a retrospective view of the problem, 3 Oct. He called for the half-pay regulations to be thoroughly investigated so that equal justice could be done to all public servants, 7 Oct. 1831.
Maberly voted for the third reading, 19 Sept., and passage of the reform bill, 21 Sept. 1831. He voted for the second reading of the Scottish bill, 23 Sept., and on 4 Oct. declared that in neither counties nor burghs was ‘a single man ... fairly represented under the existing system’. On 10 Oct. he and Hume addressed a Marylebone parish meeting held in the grounds of his house in Regent’s Park: he said that in throwing out the reform bill the Lords had defied the wishes of the people, who should now assert their rights, and promised that ‘under no circumstances would he accept of any measure of reform from the detestable Tories’.82 He voted for the motion of confidence in the Grey ministry later that day. On 12 Oct. he defended the government’s low profile policing of the London parochial procession to St. James’s, in which the participants had ‘exercised their rights quietly and peaceably’. He disapproved of attempts by Hunt, 11 Oct., and Hume, 18 Oct., to turn the Commons into a tribunal for investigating the grievances of individuals who had fallen foul of the law. At the Surrey meeting called to address the king in support of the government and the reform bill, 20 Oct., Maberly, who urged rejection of Cobbett’s amendment specifically condemning the bishops, declared that ‘public opinion was now too strong any longer to be resisted by anybody’, expressed confidence that ministers would not compromise on reform, and quoted Ricardo, ‘the greatest man who had written on the subject’, in an attempt to dispel the notion that the bill would injure the agricultural interest. He took the same line at a Croydon meeting, 9 Nov., though he turned his face against violence and disorder.83 He moved for returns of information on the flax, hemp and linen trades, 9 Dec. 1831, when he got nowhere with his suggestion that the duties of the board of works should be transferred to the ordnance rather than to woods and forests, as ministers proposed. He later voiced his hope that in compensating the auditors of the land revenue, they would not, as in the case of the lottery commissioners, grant large sums to well paid and undeserving officials. In his last known intervention in debate, 12 Dec., he backed Hume’s request for an inquiry into the question of how best to reorganize the board of works. He was present to vote for the second reading of the final reform bill, 17 Dec. 1831.
On 3 Jan. 1832 news broke that Maberly’s bank had failed, though the linen manufacturing business was unaffected. It soon afterwards emerged that he had in fact withdrawn from the latter, which overnight was restyled Richards and Company, the previous May. The failure was largely attributed to misguided transactions on the stock exchange and some disastrous foreign loans, which, according to Edward Ellice*, had forced Maberly to live from hand to mouth for the past two years. His fall elicited little sympathy, and indeed gave pleasure to many.84 Although his Abingdon supporters initially proclaimed that his difficulties were only temporary and would not prevent a speedy resumption of his parliamentary duties, his political career was finished, and rivals for his seat were almost immediately in the field.85 He was granted a nominal two month’s leave to attend to ‘urgent business’, 19 Jan. At the first meeting of his creditors, 10 Feb., which he did not attend, his debts were put at only £30,000, but the amount owing on account of deposits in the Scottish banks was reckoned at just under £110,000. He attended for the examinations of 9 Mar. and 6 and 19 Apr., when additional debts were proved, and details emerged of his indebtedness to his late brother-in-law William Leader†, and to his own son, to the trustees of whose marriage settlement of late 1830 he had been obliged to assign the Regent’s Park property as security. Ironically, for a man who had campaigned so persistently for simplicity and clarity in the public accounts, the court was far from satisfied with the state of his own; but a malicious story that a fire in his house in John Street, Berkeley Square on 28 Jan. had been started by his burning incriminating papers was discounted. He promised on 19 Apr. not to take advantage of his parliamentary privilege, and soon afterwards it was rumoured in Abingdon that he was about to resign the seat. Yet, as Ellice had predicted, he retained it until the dissolution in December 1832.86
By then he was in the Netherlands, having gone to The Hague in August armed, at his own request, with a letter of introduction and recommendation from his friend the duke of Richmond to the prince of Orange.87 In November 1832 his assignees, having ratified debts of £200,000 and assets of £20,000, declared a dividend of 2s. in the pound on his estate. The bankruptcy proceedings dragged on for several years, and in 1835 an additional dividend of 1s. 6d. was declared on debts of £158,000.88 In April 1834 he was said to be living in Brussels.89 The last trace which has been found of him alive is his involvement in a duel with a journalist of The Times in Madrid in September 1834, when he was evidently working as a foreign correspondent for the Morning Chronicle.90 The date of his death, which almost certainly occurred abroad, has not been ascertained; but according to a marginal note on the registered copy will of the fashionable London attorney Evan Foulkes, who had named Maberly as one of his executors in 1824, it had taken place by 25 Feb. 1840.91
Ref Volumes: 1820-1832
Author: David R. Fisher
- 1. Gent. Mag. (1810), i. 495.
- 2. At St. James’s, Westminster, Mdx. (IGI).
- 3. HP Commons, 1790-1820, iv. 483-5; Full Report of Speeches and Other Proceedings connected with Abingdon Election (1830), 43-44.
- 4. Jackson’s Oxford Jnl. 12 Feb., 11 Mar. 1820.
- 5. The Times, 3 May 1820.
- 6. Ibid. 31 May 1820.
- 7. Von Neumann Diary, i. 73, 102; The Times, 3 Feb. 1821.
- 8. The Times, 2, 28 Feb.; Reading Mercury, 5 Feb. 1821.
- 9. HLRO, Hist. Coll. 379, Grey Bennet diary, 31
- 10. The Times, 26 June 1821.
- 11. Ibid. 9 June 1821.
- 12. Grey Bennet diary, 106.
- 13. The Times, 28 June, 2 July 1821.
- 14. Ibid. 11 July 1821.
- 15. Ibid. 5 Feb. 1822.
- 16. Ibid. 19 Feb. 1822.
- 17. Ibid. 29 June 1822.
- 18. Ibid. 2, 5, 14, 28 Mar. 1822.
- 19. Ibid. 8, 10, 15 May, 21 June 1822.
- 20. Ibid. 18 July 1822.
- 21. Ibid. 11 Feb. 1823.
- 22. Ibid. 11, 13, 15 Feb. 1823.
- 23. Arbuthnot Jnl. i. 221.
- 24. The Times, 14 Mar. 1823.
- 25. Ibid. 19 Apr. 1823.
- 26. Ibid. 1 May 1823.
- 27. Ibid. 13 June 1823.
- 28. Ibid. 8 July 1823.
- 29. Ibid. 7, 10, 12, 13 Feb. 1824.
- 30. Ibid. 25 Feb. 1824.
- 31. Ibid. 6 Mar. 1824.
- 32. Ibid. 20 Mar. 1824.
- 33. Ibid. 14, 18, 22, 25 May 1824.
- 34. Ibid. 30 Mar., 6 Apr. 1824.
- 35. Ibid. 5 May 1824.
- 36. Ibid. 15 Feb. 1825.
- 37. Ibid. 24 Feb. 1825.
- 38. Ibid. 18 Feb. 1825.
- 39. Ibid. 4, 31 Mar. 1825.
- 40. Berks. Chron. 13 Aug. 1825.
- 41. Brougham mss, Smith to Brougham, 6 Sept. 1825.
- 42. The Times, 7, 8, 11 Feb. 1826.
- 43. Berks. Chron. 25 Feb., 25 Mar.; The Times, 23 Mar., 11, 29 Apr. 1826.
- 44. Colchester Diary, iii. 426.
- 45. The Times, 13 May 1826.
- 46. Reading Mercury, 12 June 1826.
- 47. Berks. Chron. 13, 20 May, 3, 10, 17, 24 June; Reading Mercury, 22 May, 5, 12, 26 June; The Times, 20 June 1826.
- 48. The Times, 25 Jan., 7 Apr. 1832; J.M. Bulloch, ‘Father of Maberly Street’ in Bon Accord, 24 May 1930.
- 49. The Times, 29 Nov. 1826.
- 50. Ibid. 27 Mar. 1827.
- 51. Ibid. 13 Mar. 1827.
- 52. Ibid. 10 Apr. 1827.
- 53. Ibid. 12, 26 May 1827.
- 54. Ibid. 9 May 1827.
- 55. Ibid. 8 June 1827.
- 56. Ibid. 16, 22 June 1827.
- 57. Parker, Peel, ii. 21; E. Herries, Life of Herries, i.167, 201; Add. 40394, f. 216; 57419, ff. 68, 70, 88, 90.
- 58. Bucks. RO, Buckinghamshire mss, Lansdowne to Goderich, 6 Jan. 1828; Wellington mss WP1/914/40.
- 59. B. Hilton, Corn, Cash, Commerce, 247; Add. 40395, ff. 219-21.
- 60. Croker Pprs. i. 407.
- 61. Ibid. i. 419.
- 62. Hilton, 253-4.
- 63. Berks. Chron. 31 Jan. 1829.
- 64. Gent. Mag. (1829), i. 382.
- 65. Berks. Chron. 7, 14 Mar.; Reading Mercury, 27 Apr.; Jackson’s Oxford Jnl. 2, 16, 23 May 1829.
- 66. The Times, 23 Mar. 1829,
- 67. See CAMBRIDGESHIRE and Oxford DNB.
- 68. Reading Mercury, 10 Aug.; Berks. Chron. 22 Aug. 1829.