POLLEN, Sir John Walter, 2nd bt. (1784-1863), of Redenham, nr. Andover, Hants.
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Family and Educationb. 6 Apr. 1784, 1st s. of John Pollen of Redenham and 1st w. Louisa, da. of Walter Holt of Redenham. educ. Eton 1799; Christ Church, Oxf. 1803; L. Inn 1806. m. 9 Sept. 1819, Charlotte Elizabeth, da. of Rev. John Craven of Chilton Foliat, Wilts., s.p. suc. fa. as 2nd bt. 17 Aug. 1814. d. 2 May 1863.
Col. S. Hants militia 1827-53.
Pollen’s great-grandfather John Pollen (c.1642-1719) sat for his local borough of Andover, 1689-95, as did his grandfather John Pollen (c.1702-75), a Welsh judge, 1734-54. His father, also named John Pollen (c.1740-1814), was granted a baronetcy by Pitt in 1795. He was a bencher of Lincoln’s Inn from 1802, where Pollen was himself admitted, though he was never called to the bar. Both were commended by obituarists for assiduous performance of their duties as Hampshire magistrates.1 On the death of his father in 1814 Pollen succeeded to the baronetcy and to the Redenham estate that had belonged to his maternal grandfather. He bought the neighbouring manor of Fyfield the same year and made further additions to the property by later purchases. He was the residuary legatee of his father’s personal estate, which was proved under £10,000.2
In 1818 Pollen was reported to have considered reviving the family interest at Andover, which had lain dormant for some fifty years.3 Prior to the 1820 general election, he was said by Lord Malmesbury to be engaged in a canvass of the borough ‘with every chance of success’. After one of the sitting Members retired he was returned unopposed, topping the token poll of the corporation. Malmesbury had rated Pollen as a ‘very desirable’ candidate for a vacancy for Hampshire, and though he had declined to come forward, pleading an inadequate fortune, he did nominate the successful aspirant, John Fleming of Stoneham.4 He chaired meetings of the Hampshire Pitt Club and when present in the House could generally be relied on to support the Liverpool ministry, though he demonstrated a degree of independence.5 He is not known to have delivered a full speech before 1832. He was in the minority against the appointment of an additional Scottish baron of exchequer, 15 May 1820. He voted with ministers on the Queen Caroline affair, 6 Feb., but in favour of repeal of the additional malt duty, 21 Mar. 1821. He divided against Catholic relief, 28 Feb. 1821, 1 Mar., 21 Apr., 10 May 1825, and the removal of disabilities from Catholic peers, 30 Apr. 1822. He voted against more extensive tax reductions, 21 Feb., but for abolition of one of the joint-postmasterships, 13 Mar., 2 May 1822. He divided against repeal of the Foreign Enlistment Act, 16 Apr., and inquiry into chancery delays, 5 June 1823. On 23 Feb. 1824 he presented an Andover petition for repeal of the coal duties.6 He voted against inquiry into the conviction of the Methodist missionary John Smith in Demerara, 11 June 1824. He divided for suppression of the Catholic Association, 25 Feb., and against the bill to disfranchise Irish 40s. freeholders, 26 Apr. 1825. He voted for the duke of Cumberland’s annuity bill, 30 May, 6, 10 June 1825. He presented an Andover petition in support of a bill to facilitate recovery of small debts, 24 Feb. 1826.7 He was in a protectionist minority for a select committee on silk trade petitions that day, and voted against the emergency admission of foreign corn, 8, 11 May 1826.
At the 1826 general election Pollen was returned unopposed. On 22 Sept. he moved resolutions against relaxation of the corn laws at a meeting of local landowners and farmers, warning that such a move would add to the privations of the rural poor. ‘It is melancholy to see the poor devils with scarcely a rag to their backs’, he remarked, adding, ‘I really believe that they now suffer more than the manufacturing labourers’. The radical Henry Hunt*, who effectively commandeered the meeting, denounced Pollen’s expressions of concern as a cloak for self-interest and detected condescension in his use of the term ‘poor devils’. The speech, and that phrase in particular, also aroused the wrath of William Cobbett†, who hoped that ‘the people are no longer to be deceived by such stupid attempts at disguising hypocrisy’.8 Unabashed, Pollen presented Andover petitions against alteration of the corn laws, 16 Feb., 12 Mar., and voted against the government’s corn bill, 2 Apr. 1827.9 He presented a petition from Droitwich against the Malt Act of the previous session, 5 Mar., and from Andover for an end to restrictions on the circulation of small notes, 4 June 1828. He voted against Catholic relief, 6 Mar. 1827, 12 May 1828. On 19 Aug. 1828 the prime minister the duke of Wellington professed ‘great respect’ for Pollen, but was nonetheless unable to appoint his brother Richard, a barrister, to a vacant Welsh judgeship.10 The latter was an Oxford contemporary of the home secretary Robert Peel and supported his re-election bid for the University following the ministry’s announcement of its plans to concede Catholic emancipation.11 But Pollen himself presented Hampshire petitions against the measure, 26 Feb., was listed by Planta, the patronage secretary, as ‘opposed’ to its principle, and divided accordingly, 6 Mar. 1829, though not subsequently, as far as is known. His vote against Jewish emancipation, 17 May 1830, was his only recorded parliamentary activity of that session.
At the 1830 general election Pollen offered again. A reported canvass gave him ‘every certainty of success’, but the anticipated opposition failed to materialise and he was returned unopposed.12 He was listed by the administration as one of the ‘moderate Ultras’, but with the endorsement ‘a sincere friend’, and he was in their minority in the crucial division on the civil list, 15 Nov. 1830. On 25 Nov. he was granted a fortnight’s leave ‘on account of the disturbed state of his neighbourhood’. Apparently he had returned to Hampshire the previous day, too late to prevent extensive damage being done by three days of rioting, during which a deputy had been appointed to assume command of his militia troop, 20 Nov. 1830.13 He voted against the second reading of the Grey ministry’s reform bill, 22 Mar., and for Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr. 1831. At the ensuing dissolution he retired from Andover, where the corporation had joined the inhabitants in supporting the bill.14 At the 1832 general election he supported Lord Porchester’s* abortive candidacy for the Northern division of Hampshire.15 He was in Italy at the dissolution in 1834, when his brother commenced a canvass on his behalf at Andover, and he was narrowly returned as a Conservative at the general election early in the new year.16 After an unopposed election in 1837, he was defeated by a candidate of more liberal inclinations in 1841, when an unsympathetic newspaper denounced him as a ‘confirmed and bigoted Tory of the old and intolerant school’.17 He was still suffering the taunts of the ‘Andover Rads’ in 1843, when he decided to let Redenham for two years.18 He apparently made no attempt to revive his Commons career thereafter.
Pollen’s brother Richard died in 1838, and his son John Hungerford Pollen (1820-1902), who won fame as an artist and writer, converted to Catholicism in 1852. He was followed a year later by his elder brother Richard Hungerford (1815-81), the heir to Pollen’s baronetcy. Pollen thereupon disowned his nephews, on whom he had hitherto doted. Though friendly relations were nominally restored later, in his will of 16 Apr. 1862 Pollen made membership of the established church an absolute condition for the inheritance of Redenham, described in 1859 as ‘a large mansion, pleasantly situated in a finely wooded park of about 120 acres, near the borders of Wiltshire’.19 His wife assumed a life interest in the property when Pollen died in May 1863, and was appointed sole executrix and residuary legatee. After her death, 2 Oct. 1877, Redenham passed, according to the terms of his will, to Pollen’s great-nephew Richard Hungerford Pollen (1846-1918), who succeeded his father and namesake to the baronetcy four years later.20
Ref Volumes: 1820-1832
Authors: Philip Salmon / Howard Spencer
- 1. Gent. Mag. (1814), ii. 294; (1863), i. 791-2.
- 2. Wilts. RO, Pollen mss 2216/8,13,14; PROB 11/1560/530; IR26/621/773.
- 3. Ipswich Jnl. 16 May 1818.
- 4. Hants RO, Malmesbury mss, Malmesbury to Fitzharris, 22 Jan; 19 Feb.; Salisbury Jnl. 6, 13, 20 Mar. 1820.
- 5. Cobbett’s Rural Rides ed. G.D.H. and M. Cole, iii. 1020; Black Bk. (1823), 185; Session of Parl. 1825, p. 481.
- 6. The Times, 24 Feb. 1824.
- 7. Ibid. 25 Feb. 1826.
- 8. Ibid. 25 Sept. 1826; Rural Rides, ii. 468.