PROBY, Hon. Granville Leveson (1782-1868).

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

Constituency

Dates

13 Feb. 1816 - 19 June 1829

Family and Education

b. 12 Nov. 1782,1 3rd s. of John Joshua Proby†, 2nd Bar. Carysfort [I], and 1st w. Elizabeth, da. of Sir William Osborne, 8th bt., MP [I], of Newtown, co. Tipperary. educ. Rugby 1792-8. m. 5 May 1818, Isabella, da. of Hon. Hugh Howard, MP [I], 4s. (2 d.v.p.) 4da. (2 d.v.p.) suc. bro. John Proby†, Lord Proby, as 3rd earl of Carysfort [I] 11 June 1855. d. 3 Nov. 1868.

Offices Held

Entered RN 1798, lt. 1804, cdr. 1806, capt. 1806, r.-adm. 1841, v.-adm. 1851, adm. (ret.) 1857.

Sheriff, co. Wicklow 1831-2.

Biography

Proby, whose active naval career had ended in 1816, when he had entered Parliament and joined Brooks’s, continued to sit for county Wicklow on the combined interest of his father and Earl Fitzwilliam. At the 1820 general election he offered again, promising ‘to bring passing events to the test of the most free and disinterested judgement’, and was returned unopposed.2 A lax attender, who tended to side with the Whig opposition when present (but cast no known vote for parliamentary reform), he was in their minority for postponing the motion for a secret committee on the Queen Caroline affair, 26 June 1820.3 That day he was granted a fortnight’s leave on urgent private business. No other trace of parliamentary activity has been found for that or the following session, beyond his being granted a further six weeks’ leave on account of the illness of a near relation, 12 Mar. 1821. (The mental health of his elder surviving brother John, who succeeded to the earldom in 1828, had been precarious since 1817.)4 Proby’s lassitude evidently incurred the displeasure of his father, who in January 1822 lamented to Lord Grenville that of Proby’s political views

I know nothing, nor have I courage to question him. You know how much his situation in Wicklow depends on Lord Fitzwilliam. But for two years he has not attended Parliament. I wished him much to attend the Catholic question, on his account, and my own. His not supporting it gives an impression as if I had abandoned a principle on which I have acted so long. And towards Lord Fitzwilliam it has the appearance of trying to make a party in the county independent of him ... Yet I think he would not vote against either me or you, and he feels strongly and expresses himself well, on the subject of Ireland.5

Thereafter Proby made a slightly greater impression, voting for reduction of the salt duties, 28 Feb., and the number of lay lords of the admiralty, 1 Mar. 1822. He voted against inquiry into the currency, 12 June 1823, but next day was in the minority of 20 against an increase in the barilla duty. He voted for repeal of the assessed taxes, 10 May, and the leather tax, 18 May, and to condemn the trial of the Methodist missionary John Smith for inciting slave riots in Demerara, 11 June 1824. On 2 Mar. 1825 he was ordered to be taken into custody after defaulting on a call of the House. He gratified his father’s wishes by voting for Catholic relief, 21 Apr., and was appointed to the select committee on Irish prisons, 2 May 1825. No trace of parliamentary activity has been found for the 1826 session.

Early that year he had informed Fitzwilliam’s son Lord Milton* that the registry for Wicklow had been neglected by all except their respective fathers, the effect of which had been to strengthen Fitzwilliam’s hold on the county, and that he could ‘truly say that the seat is not less agreeable to me because I owe it so much to his support’. He wished Lord John Russell* electoral success in Huntingdonshire, where his family had their English estate, but doubted his chances.6 At the general election he was again returned unopposed: given his attendance record, the first words of his election address, ‘Living entirely among you’, carried an unconscious irony.7 In his only known intervention in debate, 2 Mar. 1827, he insisted that the Protestants ‘of property’ in Wicklow were not averse to Catholic relief, for which he voted, 6 Mar. 1827, 12 May 1828. He divided for the disfranchisement of Penryn, 28 May 1827. He voted for repeal of the Test Acts, 26 Feb. 1828. He presented constituency petitions for the Wellington ministry’s concession of Catholic emancipation, 2 Mar., and voted thus, 6, 29 Mar. 1829. That June he made way for his brother-in-law Ralph Howard. Thomas Grenville informed Lord Holland, 3 Sept. 1829:

Proby resigned his seat ... because he is a devilish odd fellow who grudged the trouble of a journey to London, and therefore, as I hear, made a bargain with Lord Fitzwilliam that if [he] would consent to his brother-in-law replacing him now, he would on future occasions support Lord Fitzwilliam’s nomination ... If Lord Carysfort should ever get well, it may create an awkwardness on this subject, because he probably would not think himself bound by his brother’s agreement ... but this difficulty is not likely to occur.8

Thereafter, according to an obituarist, he was a ‘firm supporter’ of the Liberal party, but ‘took no active part in politics’.9 The reason for this may have been financial. His eldest son John Joshua Proby (1823-58) apparently wished to contest Wicklow at the 1847 general election, but Proby refused to back him, having only recently made provision for his daughter Emma Elizabeth’s marriage. (John Joshua went instead to Rome to study painting, where he became the travelling companion of the writer and artist Edward Lear.) Proby and his unmarried daughters (his wife had died in 1836, after giving birth to their youngest son William), were reportedly active in providing relief during the Irish potato famine of 1846.10 The succession to his brother’s title and estate in 1855 eased his financial difficulties and as Lord Carysfort he considerably embellished Elton Hall, his Huntingdonshire seat.11 He died there in November 1868.12 His title and estates passed to his elder surviving son and namesake (1825-72), Liberal Member for county Wicklow, 1858-68.

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: Philip Salmon

Notes

  • 1. IGI (Lincs.).