PLEYDELL BOUVERIE, Hon. Duncombe (1780-1850), of Clyffe Hall, Market Lavington, Wilts.
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Family and Educationb. 28 June 1780, 2nd s. of Jacob Pleydell Bouverie†, 2nd earl of Radnor (d. 1828), and Hon. Anne Duncombe, da. of Anthony Duncombe†, 1st Bar. Feversham; bro. of Hon. Philip Pleydell Bouverie* and William Pleydell Bouverie, Visct. Folkestone*. educ. Harrow 1790; Portsmouth naval acad. 1793. m. 27 Dec. 1809, Louisa, da. of Joseph May of Hale House, Hants, 1da. d. 5 Nov. 1850.
Midshipman RN 1795, lt. 1799, cdr. 1801, capt. 1802; col. marines 1830-37; r.-adm. 1837; adm. supt. Portsmouth dockyard 1837-42; v.-adm. 1846.
Pleydell Bouverie served in the navy almost continuously until 1813, being involved in numerous successful skirmishes with enemy shipping.1 He later admitted that he had seen no general action, ‘having been detached by Lord Nelson with other frigates up the Mediterranean two or three days only before his memorable and last action’, and had no ‘distinguished services to boast of, or have recorded’.2 His father, the 2nd earl of Radnor, briefly had him returned for his pocket borough of Downton, and, after the war, settled on him his estate at Clyffe Hall in his native county, where he became a magistrate and a deputy lieutenant.3 His political opinions were not so advanced as those of his elder brother, Lord Folkestone, who sat on their father’s interest for Salisbury, a corporation borough, but it was perhaps because of his Whig views that Radnor set his face against returning him to Parliament on Folkestone’s attempted resignation in 1812, or later. In 1818 the corporation considered asking Radnor to replace Folkestone with his less objectionable brother, but nothing came of it.4 He split for Thomas Calley* and Robert Gordon* for Cricklade, and (having nominated them) for Paul Methuen† and William Pole Tylney Long Wellesley* for Wiltshire at the general election of 1818, but proposed and voted for the Tory John Dugdale Astley* at the county by-election in 1819.5 He may have been present with Folkestone to witness Queen Caroline’s return to London in November 1820.6 He signed the requisition for a Wiltshire county meeting on her case, 17 Jan. 1821, when he proposed a petition to the Commons in her defence, declaring that the charges against her had not been proved. He used his own experience to argue that the canvas sheeting employed on board her polacca would not have afforded enough privacy to deceive the crew.7 In 1827 he approved Folkestone’s plan to have him returned for the vacancy that would be created by the death of their father, but feared that
from my not being much accustomed to business and my inability to speak, I shall be putting myself in a situation where comparison to my disadvantage will often be made; I also feel that my means will be but little adequate to fill the situation of representative of the city as I could wish; but I think I ought to keep these feelings secret to myself and you, and that I should be wanting to myself, were I willingly to forego the chance of a situation which many people have considered me as likely to succeed to, and towards my attainment of which you, knowing all my defects, are willing to lend your powerful aid.
After Folkestone succeeded as 3rd earl in January 1828, Pleydell Bouverie was made a free citizen of Salisbury, and he was elected unopposed following a canvass, 20 Feb., when he promised to ‘act independently, honestly and uprightly, to the best of my judgement’.8
He took his seat, 27 Feb., and was admitted to Brooks’s, 16 Mar. 1828. It was probably he, and not his uncle Bartholomew Bouverie, Member for Downton, who presented the Salisbury maltsters’ petition against the Malt Act, 18 Mar. He divided against extending the franchise of East Retford to the freeholders of Bassetlaw, 21 Mar. He presented Salisbury petitions in favour of Catholic relief, 2 May, and voted for this, 12 May 1828. That month he was appointed to the command of the Windsor Castle, and he was stationed in the Mediterranean for the next two and a half years.9 In early 1829 he was listed by Planta, the Wellington ministry’s patronage secretary, among those ‘opposed to securities’, but he gave no further votes on the Catholic question, and presumably was not present for the rest of that Parliament. Following the accession of William IV in 1830, he was promoted to a colonelcy of marines. His absence did not create problems with the corporation of Salisbury at the general election that year, when he was represented by his brother Philip and was returned unopposed.10 His negotiations at Samos were criticized by the duke of Wellington, who asked Lord Aberdeen, the foreign secretary, 19 Oct., to inquire into the matter because Pleydell Bouverie appeared ‘to have given up altogether the decision of the allied powers in conference in London and to have encouraged the Samians to resist it’.11 He was listed by ministers among their ‘foes’, and was absent from the division on the civil list, 15 Nov. 1830, which caused their downfall. He attended the Wiltshire reform meeting, 25 Feb. 1831.12 It was almost certainly he and not Philip who presented and cordially endorsed a petition from the inhabitants of Salisbury for election by ballot, 26 Feb., and one in favour of the Grey ministry’s reform bill, 9 Mar.13 He may have been the ‘Mr. Pleydell Bouverie’ who was granted one week’s sick leave, 14 Mar.; but if so, he was present to bring up a reform petition from the inhabitant householders of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, 21 Mar., and to vote for the second reading of the reform bill, 22 Mar. He presented the Downton reform petition, 18 Apr., and divided against Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr. At the ensuing general election he was forced to canvass extensively among the mainly anti-reform corporators of Salisbury, where Wadham Wyndham, the Tory Member, and William Bird Brodie, a reformer, both offered, but his return was never really in doubt. He spoke in favour of reform, 30 Apr., and at a rowdy meeting was elected at the head of the poll, with Wyndham. He was anxious to rejoin his ship, but was dissuaded from this, apparently because it was shortly due home, which allowed him to discharge his final duties as its captain before the meeting of Parliament.14 Prompted by Brodie, and to the annoyance of Wyndham, he offered to stand again once reform had passed, and a meeting was held in his support, 8 June.15 He wrote to William Cobbett†, 12 June 1831, to deny the accusation that his family had connived in the return of an anti-reform Member for Salisbury.16
He voted for the second reading of the reintroduced reform bill, 6 July, at least twice against adjourning proceedings on it, 12 July, and against using the 1831 census to determine the boroughs in the disfranchisement schedules, 19 July 1831. He told the committee, 21 July, that Radnor, who actually wanted Downton to be abolished, was ready to submit to its decision. But, slightly out of step with his brother, he pointed out that the borough was entitled to retain one Member and that it might legitimately be preserved by being united with Wilton, and he voted against ministers on the question of its standing part of schedule A. For the same reason, he voted against the total disfranchisement of Saltash, 26 July. He otherwise divided steadily with government on the bill’s details until 18 Aug., when he voted for Lord Chandos’s amendment to enfranchise £50 tenants-at-will. He voted with ministers on the Dublin election, 23 Aug., and for the passage of the reform bill, 21 Sept., and the second reading of the Scottish bill, 23 Sept. He was given a fortnight’s leave on urgent business, 26 Sept. He signed the requisition for a meeting in Devizes, 30 Sept., when he moved a petition to the Lords in favour of the bill. Although disagreeing with more radical remarks, he said that ‘the people must at last trust to themselves; and probably there may be as little confidence to be placed in the Whigs, as a body, as in the Tories’. He no doubt attended the county meeting held in Devizes that day, and after the bill’s defeat in the Lords he signed the requisition for a further meeting of the freeholders, 28 Oct., when he expressed his confidence that the ministry and the king would carry reform, and urged those present to subscribe to the costs of William Ponsonby’s* petition against the result of the Dorset by-election.17 He voted for Lord Ebrington’s confidence motion, 10 Oct. He divided in favour of the second reading of the revised reform bill, 17 Dec. 1831, probably for both the disfranchisement clauses, 20, 23 Jan. 1832, and again for its details. Either he or Philip, now Member for Downton, was the ‘H.P. Bouverie’ who voted in the minority for the second reading of the vestry bill, 23 Jan. He divided against the production of information on Portugal, 9 Feb., and military punishments, 16 Feb., but with the minority for inquiry into Peterloo, 15 Mar. He was listed in the majority against the Sunderland (South Side) Wet Docks bill, 2 Apr. He voted for the third reading of the reform bill, 22 Mar., and paired for Ebrington’s motion for an address calling on the king to appoint only ministers who would carry it unimpaired, 10 May. He wrote to Radnor, 13 May, that ‘I don’t mean to be absent from the House after my pairing is ended, viz, after tomorrow’, and commented on Wellington’s appointment as premier that
it is quite astonishing, and impossible that the country can be satisfied that the duke should thus trip up Lord Grey’s heels and deprive him of his well-deserved fame, even if he were to give so much reform as would satisfy them.18
He presented the Salisbury petition for supplies to be withheld until the bill was passed, 21 May. He divided in the minority of ten against the second reading of the Liverpool disfranchisement bill, 23 May, and for the second reading of the Irish reform bill, 25 May. His only other known votes were with ministers for the Russian-Dutch loan, 26 Jan., 20 July 1832.
Although he had initially intended to withdraw from politics after the passage of the Reform Act, he decided to contest Salisbury again at the general election later that year. In various addresses and speeches, he pledged himself to the ballot and shorter parliaments, and reiterated his reasons for voting against the disfranchisement of Downton, the earlier gift of a seat for which he was rumoured to have refused because of his difference of opinion with his father. He also promised to support economies and boasted that he had offered to resign his position as colonel of marines for the sake of retrenchment. After a bitter contest, Pleydell Bouverie, whom Denis Le Marchant† described as ‘an excellent man’, was seated on petition, but he left the House at the following dissolution and never sat again.19 Of an ‘erect figure and light and active step’ until his last illness, he died in November 1850, being succeeded by his wife (d. 1852) and their only child Louisa (1811-98), the widow of Samuel Hay (1807-47), a younger son of the 17th earl of Erroll.20
Ref Volumes: 1820-1832
Author: Stephen Farrell
- 1. J. Marshall, Naval Biog. iv. 550-2; W.R. O’Byrne, Naval Biog. i. 103-4; Gent. Mag. (1851), i. 197-8; Countess of Radnor, Cat. of Pictures in Collection of Earl of Radnor, ii. 89.
- 2. Add. 38040, f. 165.
- 3. HP Commons, 1790-1820, iv. 826; VCH Wilts. x. 93.
- 4. Berks. RO, Pleydell Bouverie mss D/EPb O28, Radnor to Folkestone, 18 Aug. 1812; VCH Wilts. vi. 122; Longford Castle mss 30/7, Folkestone to corporation of Salisbury, 31 July 1827.
- 5. Pleydell Bouverie mss O11; Late Elections (1818), 403; Salisbury Jnl. 26 July 1819; Wilts. Pollbook (1819), 128.
- 6. Creevey’s Life and Times, 134.
- 7. Devizes Gazette, 11, 18 Jan. 1821.
- 8. Longford Castle mss 30/7, Pleydell Bouverie to Folkestone, 6 Aug. 1827, 7, 8, 10 Feb.; Salisbury Jnl. 25 Feb. 1828; Wilts. RO, Salisbury borough recs. G23/1/7.
- 9. O’Byrne, i. 103-4.
- 10. Longford Castle mss 30/7, Boucher to Radnor, 1, 5, 16 June, 3 July; Salisbury Jnl. 2 Aug. 1830.
- 11. Wellington mss WP1/1148/40; Wellington Despatches, vii. 311.
- 12. Salisbury Jnl. 28 Feb. 1831.
- 13. Ibid. 7 Mar.; The Times, 27 Feb., 10 Mar. 1831.
- 14. Salisbury Jnl. 18, 25 Apr., 2, 9 May, 13 June; Wilts. RO, Radnor mss 490/1375, Pleydell Bouverie to Radnor, 19, 24-28, 30 Apr., 1 May, Boucher to same, 24, 26, 28 Apr., 3 May 1831; R.K. Huch, The Radical Lord Radnor, 117-19.
- 15. Salisbury Jnl. 16 May, 6, 13 June; Radnor mss 490/1375, Pleydell Bouverie to Radnor, 5 May, Boucher to same, 5, 13 May 1831.
- 16. Pol. Reg. 18 June 1831.
- 17. Devizes Gazette, 29 Sept., 6 Oct., 3 Nov. 1831.
- 18. Longford Castle mss 30/7.
- 19. Ibid. 30/7, Pleydell Bouverie to Radnor, 13 May, 13, 17 June; 36/3; Salisbury Jnl. 18 June, 1 Oct., 26 Nov., 3, 10, 17 Dec.; Add. 51688, Lansdowne to Holland, 23 Dec. 1832; Three Diaries, 288.
- 20. Devizes Gazette, 14 Nov. 1850; Radnor, ii. 90.