PRITTIE, Hon. Francis Aldborough (1779-1853), of Corville, co. Tipperary

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

Constituency

Dates

21 Mar. 1801 - 30 June 1801
1806 - 1818
8 Apr. 1819 - 1831

Family and Education

b. 4 June 1779, 2nd s. of Henry, 1st Bar. Dunalley [I] (d. 1801), and Catherine, da. and coh. of Francis Sadleir of Sopwell Hall, wid. of John Bury of Shannon Grove, co. Limerick; bro. of Henry Sadleir Prittie, 2nd Bar. Dunalley [I]*. educ. Trinity, Dublin 1795. m. (1) 10 Sept. 1800, Martha (d. 10 Apr. 1802), da. of Cooke Otway of Castle Otway, co. Tipperary, wid. of George Hartpole of Shrule Castle, Queen’s Co., 1 da.; (2) 16 July 1803, Elizabeth, da. of George Ponsonby† of Corville, co. Tipperary, 3s. 3da. d. 8 Mar. 1853.

Offices Held

MP [I] 1800.

Custos rot. co. Tipperary 1807, sheriff, 1838-9.

Biography

Prittie, who was almost certainly the ‘Mr. Prittie’ who had joined Brooks’s, sponsored by Lord Bessborough, a cousin of his father-in-law George Ponsonby, 29 June 1807, had sat for county Tipperary on the ‘popular interest’ from 1806 until 1818, when he had been ousted by the heir of a rival pro-Catholic family. The following year he had been re-elected unopposed on a vacancy.1 At the 1820 general election he offered again with the additional backing of his elder brother Baron Dunalley, a supporter of the Liverpool ministry. ‘Dunalley will now support his brother. The death of his wife, and the accession of George IV ... make a great influence in that family’, noted Lord Hutchinson, 1 Feb. 1820. A last minute attempt by his former opponent, who had succeeded as 2nd earl of Glengall, to introduce another candidate came to nothing and he was returned unopposed.2 A mostly silent Member, he continued, at least initially, to attend frequently and vote with the Whig opposition on most major issues, including economy, retrenchment and reduced taxation.3 He was absent from the division on Catholic claims, 28 Feb. 1821, having been granted six weeks’ leave on account of the ‘death of a near relation’ that day. He divided for parliamentary reform, 25 Apr. 1822, 20 Feb., 24 Apr. 1823. In May 1822 Lady Spencer described how, during the recent unrest in Ireland, 13 magistrates ‘with Prittie at their head’ had applied repeatedly to the Irish government for military assistance under the terms of the Insurrection Act without success, whereupon ‘Prittie wrote singly to the Castle and threatened that if immediate attention was not shown to the application ... he would bring the case before Parliament; upon which he was instantly attended to and obtained the relief the district required’.4 He was in the minorities against the Irish constables bill, 7 June, and the Irish insurrection bill, 8 July 1822, and voted for inquiry into the prosecution of the Dublin Orange rioters, 22 Apr. 1823. Urging his claims on the ministry for a representative peerage in July 1823, Dunalley informed Peel, the home secretary, that ‘out of many obligations by which I think their support is due to me on this occasion, I consider it not the least to have sat opposite my brother now for some years in the House’.5 There is no trace of parliamentary activity for Prittie in 1824, and his only known votes in 1825 were for the Catholic Association to be heard at the bar of the House, 18 Feb., and Catholic relief, 1 Mar., 21 Apr., 10 May. On 16 Oct. 1825 Lord Liverpool recommended him as a suitable candidate for the representative peerage and commented inaccurately to Lord Wellesley, the Irish viceroy, that ‘his brother is in the House of Commons, and a very good friend of government’.6

At the 1826 general election Prittie stood again, regretting his colleague’s resignation following the introduction of another candidate by Glengall, against whom he and a new candidate formed a coalition. On the hustings he denied allegations that he was an Orangeman, explaining, ‘I am a Protestant but am friendly to my Catholic countrymen’. After an eight-day contest he was returned in first place.7 He presented ten constituency petitions for Catholic claims, 2 Mar., and voted thus, 6 Mar. 1827, 12 May 1828.8 On 10 January 1828 he informed William Lamb, the Wellington ministry’s Irish secretary, of the death of the bishop of Killaloe and successfully recommended his ‘friend’ Richard Ponsonby for the vacancy.9 He presented petitions against the Irish Subletting and Vestry Acts, 5 May 1828, 28 May 1830. Following Dunalley’s election to the representative peerage in 1828, Glengall complained to Lord Anglesey, the Irish viceroy, at having been passed over, citing the large sums Dunalley had spent in ‘returning his brother Mr. Prittie, who has uniformly supported his father-in-law Mr. Ponsonby’s politics’.10 He signed the Protestant declaration in support of Catholic emancipation at the end of that year and brought up 11 Tipperary petitions in favour of the ministry’s concession, towards which he denied that his constituents were ‘indifferent’, insisting that ‘both the Protestants and the Catholics’ were ‘alive’ to its importance, 27 Feb. 1829.11 He was absent from the division of 6 Mar., but voted for the third reading of the relief bill, 30 Mar. In October 1829 the Ultra Commons leader Sir Richard Vyvyan numbered him among those who had voted for emancipation whose attitude towards a putative coalition government was ‘unknown’. He was granted a month’s leave to attend the assizes, 5 Mar. 1830. He divided for the second reading of the Jewish emancipation bill, 17 May, and parliamentary reform, 28 May. He brought up a petition from Thurles against the assimilation of English and Irish corn spirit duties that day, commenting that it was ‘only the prelude to a county petition’, which he presented with others against increases in Irish stamp and tobacco duties, 10 June 1830.

At the 1830 general election he stood again for Tipperary, where Archdeacon Singleton predicted that he would be ‘molested but not unseated’.12 Criticized on the hustings for his failure to oppose Irish tax increases and support Daniel O’Connell’s motion to repeal the Irish Vestry Act, he insisted that he had been ‘in his place ... when the proposed taxes on stamps was brought forward and opposed them’. (No record has been found of this.) His alliance with his colleague against a popular challenger prompted the £50 freeholders to warn that if he persisted with such an ‘unconstitutional and odious aristocratic coalition’ they would ‘strenuously oppose’ him on ‘future occasions’. After abandoning his colleague he was returned in first place, promising to perform his parliamentary duties with greater ‘care and diligence’.13 Reporting the prospect of a petition against the return by his defeated colleague in October, an agent of the new Member noted that ‘Prittie as custos for this county is accountable for all the public records’ and ‘if through his negligence or connivance irregularities have occurred ... I should think the committee will be inclined to punish him ... and I should not be surprised if Prittie was unseated’. ‘Prittie will not start’ in the event of a new election, observed another commentator.14 A petition was duly presented, 4 Nov. 1830, but it went no further. Prittie was listed by ministers as one of the ‘good doubtfuls’, with a supplementary comment, ‘a friend, asks patronage’, but he was absent from the crucial division on the civil list, 15 Nov. 1830. He presented petitions for the abolition of slavery, 23 Nov. 1830. He did ‘not concur’ with a petition he presented from the tradesmen of Clonmel for repeal of the Union, but conceded that it had been ‘signed most respectably’, 8 Feb. 1831. He voted for the second reading of the Grey ministry’s reform bill, 22 Mar., presented a petition for the Irish measure from Tipperary’s high sheriff, 13 Apr., and divided against Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr. 1831.

At the ensuing general election he offered as a reformer, having obtained the backing of Glengall and, through a neighbour Stephen Egan, a declaration of support from O’Connell saying ‘Prittie is your first object’. In the face of hostility from both the Protestants and his former colleague, however, he resigned two days before the anticipated contest, citing his unwillingness to ‘draw upon that sum of liberality from which I have always been so generously supplied’ and the probability that the new Parliament would only last ‘a few short months’. During his 25 years in the House, observed the Clonmel Herald, ‘he was scarcely ever absent from his parliamentary duties’.15 Prittie died as heir presumptive to his brother in 1853, leaving his eldest son Henry (1807-85) to succeed as 3rd Baron Dunalley the following year.16

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: Philip Salmon

Notes

  • 1. Add. 40357, f. 210.
  • 2. TCD, Donoughmore mss F/13/26; Dublin Evening Post, 21 Mar. 1820.
  • 3. Black Bk. (1823), 186; Session of Parl. 1825, p. 481.
  • 4. Add. 75937, Lady to Lord Spencer, 13 May 1822.
  • 5. Add. 40357, f. 210.
  • 6. Add. 37303, f. 253.
  • 7. Southern Reporter, 24, 27, 29 June 1826.
  • 8. The Times