POWER, Robert (?1793-1842), of Whitechurch, co. Waterford

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

Constituency

Dates

1831 - 1832

Family and Education

b. ?1793, s. of Richard Power†, MP [I] (d. 1814), of Clashmore House, co. Waterford and Elizabeth, da. of Shapland Carew, MP [I], of Castleborough, co. Wexford; bro. of Richard Power*. educ. Trinity, Dublin 1 Oct. 1810, aged 17. suc. bro. Richard to Clashmore 1834. d. 30 Nov. 1842.

Offices Held

Biography

Power was described by Richard Sheil* in 1831 as a ‘sharp, active, quick-sighted man, with shrewd sense and good faculties’, who was ‘likely to be a very useful Member’.1 His father had sat as a Whig in the Irish Parliament for county Waterford, 1797-1801, and at Westminster, 1801-2, and from 1806 until his death in 1814, when he had been replaced by Power’s elder brother Richard, Whig Member until 1830. Shortly before the 1831 general election Power was solicited to stand by the county independents, but on account of their ‘disunion’ he declined to run alongside any other candidate except Sir Richard Musgrave* or his brother John Musgrave. At the last minute his demands were met and he came forward as a ‘sincere and staunch’ supporter of the Grey ministry’s reform bill, whose ‘political conduct shall be guided by the example of my family’. He was returned unopposed.2 He voted for the second reading of the reintroduced reform bill, 6 July, at least twice against an adjournment, 12 July, and gave general support to its details, although he divided against the division of English counties, 11 Aug. 1831. He voted against the grant for the Society for the Propagation of the Gospels in the colonies, 25 July. He divided against issuing the Dublin writ, 8 Aug., but with ministers on the election controversy, 23 Aug. He voted in favour of printing the Waterford petition for disarming the Irish yeomanry, 11 Aug. He divided against the Irish union of parishes bill, 19 Aug., and the issue of the Liverpool writ, 5 Sept. He was in the minority of 24 against the truck bill, 12 Sept. He voted for the third reading of the reform bill, 19 Sept., its passage, 21 Sept., the second reading of the Scottish bill, 23 Sept., and Lord Ebrington’s confidence motion, 10 Oct. Before the appointment of the first lord lieutenants of Irish counties that month, Ellice, the treasury secretary, had advised Smith Stanley, the Irish secretary:

Power came to me to ask whether there was truth in the report that a Beresford was to be appointed to Waterford ... He said he would never act as a magistrate, and he knew many others who entertain the same, if any of the Waterford [Beresford] family were appointed, but that he otherwise had no individual feeling to express about it.3

The post went to Henry Villiers Stuart*.

Power divided for the second reading of the revised reform bill, 17 Dec. 1831, and again gave general support to its details, but was absent from the division on the third reading, 22 Mar. 1832. He voted with ministers on the Russian-Dutch loan, 26 Jan., 12, 16, 20 July, and relations with Portugal, 9 Feb. In his maiden speech, 16 Feb., he expressed fear that the Dublin coal trade bill would ‘destroy a number of vested rights which have existed for centuries’ and urged that ‘ample time’ be taken for its consideration. He divided for printing the Woollen Grange petition for the abolition of Irish tithes that day, and against the government motion to consider them, 8 Mar., the Irish tithes resolutions, 27, 30 Mar., and the composition bill, 6 Apr., 13, 24 July. He voted with ministers on the navy civil departments bill, 6 Apr. He divided for Ebrington’s motion for an address calling on the king to appoint only ministers who would carry the reform bill unimpaired, 10 May, and the second reading of the Irish bill, 25 May, but was in the minority for Daniel O’Connell’s motion to extend the county franchise to £5 freeholders, 18 June. He voted against a tax on absentee landlords to provide permanent provision for the Irish poor, 19 June, and for coroners’ inquests to be made public next day. On 9 July 1832 he objected to Dublin University’s charges for a Master’s degree, conferring the vote, ‘being put into the private pockets of the fellows for the benefit of no other individuals than themselves’, saying it should be ‘applied to any literary, religious or charitable purposes’, and received an assurance that it would be used to fund professorships.