PAKENHAM, Hon. Hercules Robert (1781-1850), of Pakenham, co. Westmeath

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

Constituency

Dates

27 Feb. 1808 - 1826

Family and Education

b. 29 Sept. 1781, 3rd s. of Edward Michael Pakenham, 2nd Bar. Longford [I] (d. 1792), and Catherine, da. of Hercules Langford Rowley, MP [I], of Summerhill, co. Meath. educ. Armagh; Caius, Camb. 1799. m. 25 Dec. 1817, Hon. Emily Stapleton, da. of Thomas, 2nd Lord Le Despenser, 6s. 3da. CB 4 June 1815; KCB 19 July 1838. d. 7 Mar. 1850.

Offices Held

Ensign 40 Ft. 1803; lt. army 1804; lt. 95 Rifles 1804, capt. 1805; maj. 7 W.I. Regt. 1810; lt.-col. army 1812; lt.-col. 26 Ft. 1812, 2 Ft. Gds 1814; half-pay Portuguese service 1817-37; col. army 1825; a.d.c. to the king 1825-37; maj.-gen. 1837; col. 43 Ft. 1844-d.; lt.-gen. 1846.

Trustee, linen board [I] 1826.

Biography

Pakenham, a veteran of the Peninsular war whose sister was married to the duke of Wellington, continued to sit for county Westmeath on the interest of his brother Thomas, 2nd earl of Longford, an Irish representative peer. Like Longford, who received a British peerage in 1821, he continued to support the Liverpool ministry, but he was a lax attender.1 He voted in defence of their conduct towards Queen Caroline, 6 Feb., and against Catholic relief, 28 Feb. 1821. He took a month’s leave, 7 May, but was present to vote for the duke of Clarence’s grant, 18 June, and against retrenchment, 27 June 1821. Early the following year he proposed Lord Beauchamp* in the county Antrim by-election.2 His next known votes were not until 1823, when he divided with ministers on the assessed taxes, 10, 18 Mar., but against them on the legal proceedings against the Dublin Orange rioters, 24 Mar. (He did not vote in the related division of 22 Apr. 1823.) No trace of activity has been found for 1824. Next session he voted for the suppression of the Catholic Association, 15, 25 Feb., and was in the majority against the usury laws repeal bill, 17 Feb. By now he had become a convert to Catholic relief, for which he voted, 1 Mar., 21 Apr., 10 May. ‘Many people have become converts who were most adverse’, Lord Palmerston* noted after the second vote, citing Pakenham and adding, ‘their change results perhaps less from their own individual connection, than from a change of opinion among the Protestants of Ireland whom they represent’.3 Pakenham was later said to have spoken for it during this session, but if he did so his words escaped the notice of the reporters.4 His last recorded vote was for the duke of Cumberland’s annuity, 10 June 1825.

At the 1826 general election Pakenham, who had been elected for Westmeath on an anti-Catholic ticket, abandoned his seat amidst reports that he had been ‘discarded’ by his brother and the ‘high Protestant interest’, which he tried to deny. He was ‘the victim of the vote he gave ... in favour of emancipation’, declared the Catholic press.5 He later took up residence at Langford Lodge, county Antrim, where at Wellington’s prompting he supported and proposed Edmund McDonnell in opposition to an Ultra Tory at the 1830 general election, to cries of ‘why doesn’t Pakenham stand!’.6 In February 1831 he joined other leading Antrim residents in signing a requisition for a county meeting against repeal of the Union.7 He refused to support McDonnell’s attempt to offer again at that year’s general election, on the grounds that it would have ‘created much excitement in the county, have given infinite annoyance to the late Members and terminated in defeat’, and was himself pressed to offer as a Conservative by Wellington in October 1832.8 Rumours of his candidacy, however, came to nothing at that year’s general election, when he again proposed McDonnell and on the hustings denounced the