PARES, Thomas (1790-1866), of Kirby Frith; Ulverscroft Cottage, Leics. and Hopwell Hall, Derbys.
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Family and Educationb. 30 Oct. 1790, 1st s. of John Pares, hosier and banker, of The Newarke, Leicester and Agnes, da. and coh. of Adam Lightbody of Liverpool, Lancs. educ. Eton; Trinity Coll. Camb. 1808; L. Inn 1808, called 1818. m. 19 May 1821, Octavia, da. of Edward Longdon Mackmurdo of Upper Clapton, Mdx., 3s. surv. 4da. suc. uncle Thomas Pares to Kirby Frith 1824; fa. to Hopwell Hall 1833. d. 26 Apr. 1866.
Sheriff, Derbys. 1845-6.
Pares, the conventionally educated son of a Nonconformist Leicester hosiery manufacturer and banker, who evidently did not practise after his call to the bar, was returned unopposed for the borough in 1820, having ousted the corporation candidate in 1818. In his address he promised his continued ‘undeviating endeavours to protect ... liberties, and guard against every increase in the public burthens or improvident use of the public money’.1 He had been admitted to Brooks’s Club on 11 Feb. 1819, and he continued to vote with the Whig opposition to the Liverpool ministry on most major issues, at least up to 1825. In early July 1820 he complained to his sister of the ‘unwearied attention’ he was obliged to give to his parliamentary duties:
I am almost run off my legs by hard work and ... of the last 27 hours, 22 have been passed in the House of Commons. The truth is I am on ... [the Grantham] election committee ... Six or seven hours is the usual period of our confinement and when [to] this occupation of the morning, late night sittings in the House are added, it is difficult (if not impossible) to find time for one’s ordinary meals and rest.
But there were compensations, as when the committee unseated a ministerialist, 11 July, thus giving ‘a death blow to the influence of one of the corruptest corporations in the kingdom’. The Queen Caroline affair ‘engages all the attention of everybody’, he told his sister, 25 July 1820, but ‘of her innocence I am sorry to say not even the Whigs themselves seem to entertain very much strong conviction’. He joined in the parliamentary attack on ministers’ conduct towards her, but, curiously, did not vote for the opposition censure motion, 6 Feb. 1821. He approved making Leeds, proposed for enfranchisement in place of Grampound, a scot and lot borough, 2 Mar. He was twice granted six weeks’ leave to attend to urgent private business, 7, 14 May (he got married on the 19th), but was present to vote for parliamentary reform, 9 May 1821, as he subsequently did on 25 Apr., 3 June 1822, 24 Apr., 2 June 1823, 26 Feb. 1824, 27 Apr. 1826. He was an occasional voter for economy, retrenchment and reduced taxation in 1821 and continued to muster for significant divisions on these issues in 1822. He voted in condemnation of Sir Robert Wilson’s* dismissal from the army, 13 Feb. 1822, and observed that ‘such a manifest determination on the part of the Tory Members to support and whitewash all the acts of administration right or wrong indiscriminately, must speak volumes in favour of reform’. He voted for Catholic relief, 28 Feb. 1821, 1 Mar., 21 Apr. (when he thought Canning’s ‘capital’ speech did ‘more than justice to the liberal spirit of the times’), 10 May 1825. He divided for inquiry into the Irish government’s legal proceedings against the Dublin Orange rioters, 22 Apr. 1823, but
did not much like the company ... [since] the result may be the discomfiture of the more liberal half of the cabinet and a consequent triumph to the less liberal one ... I should not wonder if our late success against ministers is ... objected to as a convincing proof that the H. of C. is not so corrupt as we aver it to be.
He voted against the Irish insurrection bill, 24 June 1823, and for inquiry into the state of Ireland, 11 May 1824, but was reluctant to criticize the government’s Spanish policy and could not support Lord Nugent’s motion, 17 Feb. 1824. He presented petitions for the abolition of slavery, 9, 17 Mar. 1824,2 and voted to condemn the indictment of the Methodist missionary John Smith for inciting rebellion among the slaves in Demerara, 11 June 1824, and the Jamaican slave trials, 2 Mar. 1826. He was granted a fortnight’s leave because of the illness of a close relative, 15 Feb. 1825. Pares backed his ministerialist colleague Mansfield in supporting the Leicester petition against the wool duties, 9 May 1820, and presented petitions against the Marriage Act, 6 May 1822, and for repeal of the malt duties, 14 May 1823.3 He welcomed the chancellor of the exchequer’s speech on the financial state of the country, 23 Feb. 1824, and abstained from the division on the reduction of the assessed taxes, 3 Mar. 1825, since he approved wholeheartedly of government’s plans. He gave evidence to the select committee on artisans and machinery (of which he was a member), 23 Mar. 1824.4 He applauded Peel’s speech on the amelioration of the criminal code, 9 Mar. 1826, which, together with the financial speeches of Huskisson and Robinson, 23 Feb., 13 Mar., he felt formed ‘a capital specimen both of the talent and the liberal opinions of those by whom we are now governed’. He approved the government’s legislation to regulate country banks early in 1826 as a ‘very great improvement ... [from which] the public will derive infinite advantage’.
Pares retired from Parliament at the dissolution in 1826, but did not relinquish his political interest. He supported the candidature of the reformer William Evans* at Leicester in 1826.5 Thomas Babington Macaulay*, Evans’s counsel, acknowledged Pares’s civility and assistance and described him in an election jeu d’esprit as the ‘good and gentle knight of the Frith’.6 He was active in local politics throughout the 1830s. The Whig Thomas Spring Rice*, writing to his fellow minister Lord Holland in 1831 (when Pares declined an invitation to stand for Leicester with Evans at the general election), described him as a man of ‘public spirit and perfect integrity’ who could be depended on to supply ‘all local knowledge’ regarding the administration of Wigston’s hospital in Leicester.7 He acted as a director of Pares’s Leicestershire Banking Company, some time after it had been converted into a joint-stock company in 1836, but appears to have preferred the life of a country gentleman on his estates in Leicestershire and Derbyshire. He owned considerable property in Charnwood Forest and built the ‘elegant but unostentatious’ residence of Ulverscroft Cottage.8 He died in April 1866.
Ref Volumes: 1820-1832
Author: Simon Harratt
- 1. Leicester Jnl. 3, 10, 17 Mar. 1820.
- 2. The Times, 10, 18 Mar. 1824.
- 3. Ibid. 7 May 1822, 15 May 1823.
- 4. PP (1824), v. 267.
- 5. Leicester Jnl. 2, 9, 16, 23, 30 June; Pares mss, Pares’s election scrapbk. .
- 6. Macaulay Letters, i. 212; Pares mss, Macaulay to Pares .
- 7. Add. 51573, Rice to Holland, Sat. ; Nottingham Rev. 6 May 1831.
- 8. C.J. Billson, Leicester Mems. 24-25; R. Potter, Hist. Charnwood Forest, 150.