RICE, Hon. George Rice (1795-1869), of Barrington Park, Glos. and Dynevor Castle, Carm.
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Family and Educationb. 5 Aug. 1795, 1st. s. of George Talbot Rice† (sometime De Cardonnel), 3rd Bar. Dynevor, and Hon. Frances Townshend, da. of Thomas Townshend†, 1st Visct. Sydney. educ. Westminster 1806-12; Christ Church, Oxf. 1812. m. 27 Nov. 1824, Frances, da. of Lord Charles Fitzroy† of Wicken, Northants. 4 da. (2 d.v.p.). Took name of Rice in lieu of De Cardonnel 4 Feb. 1817; suc. John Trevor, 3rd Visct. Hampden, to Bromham, Beds. 9 Sept. and took additional name of Trevor by royal lic. 28 Oct. 1824; fa. as 4th Bar. Dynevor 9 Apr. 1852. d. 7 Oct. 1869.
Lt.-col. Carm. militia and militia a.d.c. to Queen Victoria 1852-d.
The Rice (Rhys) family, who traced their descent from the Lord Rhys of Deheubarth, relied heavily on traditional loyalties and the evocative name of Dynevor to preserve their status as the first family and leaders of the Red or Tory party in Carmarthenshire. Rice’s father (then known as De Cardonnel) had had to relinquish the county seat in 1793 on succeeding his mother in the peerage; but, by giving his interest to the Williamses of Edwinsford and subsequently Sir Robert Seymour† of Taliaris, he tried to keep it available for Rice at the first election after he came of age.1 Sir James Williams’s† display of pique at not being consulted before Seymour’s sudden resignation at the dissolution in 1820 was overcome;2 and, by persuading John Jones* of Ystrad (a Red) not to stand against the 1st Baron Cawdor’s heir John Frederick Campbell* in Carmarthen, Dynevor ensured that Rice was returned for the county unopposed.3 Any patronage requests were referred to Dynevor.4
Rice’s father and grandfather had fostered the West Wales Reds’ preference for reform rather than abolition of the Welsh courts of great sessions, and he was naturally named to the select committees on the issue, 2 June 1820, 21 Feb. 1821; it was the only one on which he made a major Commons speech before 1833. He divided with the Liverpool ministry against economies in revenue collection, 4 July, and could usually be relied on to vote with them in the 1820 Parliament, but some doubt remains concerning pro-retrenchment votes attributed to him on the estimates, 16 Feb., 15 Mar., 30 Apr. 1821.5 Others credited to him for printing the Nottingham petition for the impeachment of ministers and inquiry into the conduct of the sheriff of Cheshire, 20 Feb. 1821, can be discounted. Lord Eldon summoned Dynevor to the Lords to vote for the bill of pains and penalties, 17 Aug. 1820, and Rice divided with ministers against censuring their handling of the Queen Caroline affair, 6 Feb. 1821.6 He divided against Catholic relief, 28 Feb. 1821,7 30 Apr. 1822, 1 Mar., 25 Apr., 10 May, and against the attendant Irish franchise bill, 26 Apr. 1825. A radical publication of that session noted that he ‘attended frequently and voted with ministers’.8 He presented petitions from Carmarthenshire great sessions complaining of distress and calling for repeal of the salt duties, 24 Apr., and from the county’s tanners for repeal of the leather tax, 29 Apr. 1822.9 When the county met at Llandeilo to petition for government action on distress, 28 Jan. 1823, he strongly opposed the Unitarian George Thomas’s resolution to include parliamentary reform in the petition’s demands and helped to secure a compromise petition requesting repeal of the assessed taxes and a modified property tax.10 His remarks on presenting it to the House, 17 Feb., could barely be heard, but they prompted Hume to ask if he would ‘now support measures of economy, as he was not aware that they had yet had the benefit of a single vote from him’. Rice was cheered when he replied that
he should continue to vote as hitherto upon measures as they came before the House. He did not conceive that he or any Member was called upon to pledge himself to a particular line of conduct during the session. The present was not the usual and regular mode of extracting information; and if ... [Hume] brought forward any motion of economy, he should, as before, exercise his discretion as to its fitness or otherwise.11
He voted against reform, 20 Feb. 1823. He presented petitions from Carmarthen for repeal of the coal duties, 23 Apr., and Carmarthenshire against the window tax, 11 May 1824.12 He spent the recess in Gloucestershire, London and at Dynevor, where he was anxious to dissuade his guest, the Breconshire Member Thomas Wood, from taking his wife on electioneering visits. On 31 Aug. he informed his fiancée, ‘I have never liked to increase popularity at the expense of my mother and sisters and vow I will not at yours’.13 Early in September he accompanied his father to the sessions and meetings about the proposed Kidwelly canal, receiving word shortly thereafter that John Trevor, Lord Hampden, to whom he was related through his paternal grandmother, had died leaving him his encumbered estate at Bromham and a third of his personalty estimated at £150,000.14 Hampden had only succeeded his brother Thomas Hampden† to the title in August, and Rice knew that ‘the will was made at the instigation of the dowager Lady Hampden, who pressed it on as much as possible; and it was completed only the day before Lord Hampden’s death’.15 He had to change his surname to inherit and wrote to his fiancée:
Now you must make up your mind to know me by another name too for I am to be Trevor for the future; that is, when the king shall give me leave. I have been changing my name often enough for one of my age. I was first De Cardonnel, then Rice and shall be Trevor ... I am to take the Trevor arms also.16
As Rice Trevor, he voted to outlaw the Catholic Association, 25 Feb., and presented his constituents’ petitions against Catholic claims, 24 Apr., and corn law revision, 4 May 1825. He was named as one of those who had been unable to hear the question put before the division on the Southwark paving bill, 15 Apr.17 He brought up anti-slavery petitions from Haverfordwest, 21 Mar., and Llanelli, 26 Apr. 1826.18 With opposition pending, he had canvassed early, and at the 1826 dissolution promised his constituents that he would ‘consult the welfare and interests of every class’. John Jones, a hardened Welsh-speaking politician who since 1821 had represented Carmarthen on the same interest, rallied their supporters and Rice Trevor was eventually returned unopposed, but his voting record was criticized and he found it difficult to ‘explain and vindicate’ his parliamentary conduct.
He divided against Catholic relief, 6 Mar., and, having served on an election committee, was granted a month’s leave on urgent business, 23 Mar. 1827. His constituents petitioned strongly for repeal of the Test Acts and he may have brought up a favourable petition, 17 Feb., but he did not vote on the issue when it was opposed by the duke of Wellington’s new ministry, 26 Feb. 1828. As urged by John Johnes of Dolaucothi, he introduced, 21 Feb., and did all he could to secure the passage of the Carmarthen roads bill.19 On moving the second reading of the Llanelli railroad and docks bill, 26 Feb., he pointedly declared without foundation that he had no private interest in it beyond ‘its having been represented to him to be one of public utility and from his being the Member of the county in which it was intended to take effect’. Despite opposition from Lord William Powlett, Tennyson and Waithman, who proclaimed it unnecessary, Rice Trevor’s argument that the undertaking was justified because navigation in the Bury estuary was dangerous held sway and he carried the bill without a division. He presented anti-Catholic petitions from Calvinistic Methodist congregations in Carmarthenshire and other South Wales counties, 29 Apr., and divided against the relief bill, 12 May, and with government against ordnance reductions, 4 July 1828. Later that month he travelled to Carmarthen for the official opening of the memorial to Sir Thomas Picton†.20
Rice Trevor disagreed with the government’s decision to concede Catholic emancipation in 1829 and felt obliged to explain his attitude. Bringing up a series of hostile petitions from Carmarthenshire, 9 Feb., he declared that he was
ignorant of the nature of the measure which it is intended to submit to the House, and can therefore have no distinct notion of what securities may be proposed for the Protestant church establishment. If ... I should find that those securities are not sufficient to satisfy my mind, my vote shall be what it always has been on this subject.
Later that month the patronage secretary Planta predicted that he would vote ‘with ministers’ for emancipation; but he presented further unfavourable petitions, 27 Feb., 3, 10, 12, 16, 20, 30 Mar., and divided 6, 18, 30 Mar., and paired, 23, 27 Mar., against the measure. The fate of its courts and judicature had become a major political issue in West Wales following publication in April 1829 of a law commission’s report advocating their abolition and redesigning the Welsh circuits.21 Rice Trevor kept a low profile at the county meeting in Carmarthen, 24 Oct. 1829,22 but presented its petition against altering the present system, 9 Mar. 1830, when, taking his father’s line, he criticized the government’s administration of justice bill by which the change was to be enacted. He suggested making alterations ‘without destroying the system altogether’ and was the first speaker to point out that Welsh justice was not ‘some strange code’ and differed from the English only in its ‘mode of administration’. He raised objections to the proposed partitioning of Breconshire and Cardiganshire; claimed that the extra expense of the new courts would fall on a landed interest which was already hard pressed; and said he would wait to hear the attorney-general before ‘pronouncing a positive opinion’, but threatened opposition ‘if the object ... should be to divide counties so as to form parts of different assize districts’. He spoke similarly and brought up further unfavourable petitions at the bill’s second reading, 27 Apr., and presented another from the sheriff, magistrates, grand jury and clergy of Carmarthenshire, 28 Apr. He did not object to going into committee on the measure, 18 May 1830, and apparently waived his objections when a late amendment left the existing assize structure almost intact.
He voted with the Ultras to condemn the omission of distress from the king’s speech, 4 Feb., but divided against Lord Blandford’s parliamentary reform scheme, 18 Feb., and paired against enfranchising Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester, 23 Feb. 1830. He had a vested interest in the deliberations of the select committee on the coal trade in London and the south-east, to which he was appointed, 11 Mar. On the 18th he presented a private petition against the Breconshire roads bill. When the miscellaneous estimates were considered, 10 May, he spoke of the need for better communications with southern Ireland, despite greater expense. He voted against Jewish emancipation, 17 May, and amending the Galway franchise bill, 24 May, when he presented a petition from Stowe against the sale of beer bill.23 Alarmed by the early success of the Whig Edward Bowles Symes of Brynhafod, who was manoeuvring against him in Carmarthenshire, on 1 July 1830 he requested the support of Johnes of Dolaucothi at the forthcoming general election, explaining that he was ‘almost a constant prisoner to the house from my strain, the effects of which I have not yet got over’.24 Illness forced him to remain in London until shortly before the nomination, at which he faced no more than a show of opposition from Symes, but he had to endure much heckling and questioning about his votes. He defended those on the Catholic question and the judicature as ones of conscience, reasserted his right to act independently, defended the corn laws and pointed to differences among the reformers. When criticized for failing to vote with the revived Whig opposition, he said privy councillors’ emoluments were justified, but claimed that he would have voted against the Bathurst and Dundas pensions had he been present. He remained under pressure to support some measure of reform, and his statement of support for the gradual extinction of slavery did not go far enough for the Dissenters.25
The ministry listed Rice Trevor among their ‘friends’, and he spoke briefly on their behalf on the address, 3 Nov., and divided with them on the civil list when they were brought down, 15 Nov. 1830. He echoed Hobhouse’s plea for better provision for the insane, 16 Dec., joined its presenter Lord James Crichton Stuart in endorsing Neath’s petition for repeal of the coastwise coal duties, 17 Dec. 1830, and brought up another against West Indian slavery, 7 Mar. 1831. Aware that his views on reform were increasingly at variance with those of his constituents, he stayed away from county meetings, and presented but declined ‘from a conscientious feeling of public duty’ to endorse Carmarthenshire grand jury’s petition for reform, 11 Mar.26 He divided against the Grey ministry’s reform bill at its second reading, 22 Mar., and for Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr. 1831. At the magistrates’ dinner in Carmarthen afterwards he explained that he found the bill too sweeping, particularly in its provisions to enfranchise £10 householders and disfranchise boroughs which were not necessarily rotten, merely underpopulated. He stood down at the dissolution that month rather than feel obliged to support a bill ‘most mischievous in its effects to the best interests of the country’, and earned the respect of all parties by doing so.27
Dynevor continued to oppose reform in the House of Lords, and the Carmarthenshire Whigs criticized Rice Trevor for joining the ‘Conservative Oak Reform Club at Gloucester in 1831 with Beaufort and other sinecurists’.28 Standing as a Conservative, Rice Trevor, who always maintained that ‘a pledged man is an automaton’, and staunchly defended the rights of the established church and the agriculturists, topped the poll in the new two Member Carmarthenshire constituency in December 1832 and at each election until he succeeded his father to the peerage in 1852.29 He died of paralysis at Great Malvern in October 1869, recalled for the part he played, as his father’s deputy lieutenant, in quelling the Rebecca riots, and as the benefactor who restored Sir Rhys ap Tewdwr’s tomb in St. Peter’s church and helped to endow Carmarthen infirmary. He was buried in the family vault at Barrington Park, Gloucestershire.30 Having no sons, he was succeeded in the peerage by his cousin, the Rev. Francis William Rice (1804-78), rector of Fairford, Gloucestershire, to whom he bequeathed £12,000 and the Dynevor Castle and Kidwelly estates. His other Welsh estates and Barrington Park were kept in trust for his grandson Edward Rhys Wingfield (1849-1901), who was also to inherit the family town house in Prince’s Gardens.31
Ref Volumes: 1820-1832
Author: Margaret Escott
- 1. HP Commons, 1790-1820, ii. 488-91; iv. 139; v. 13, 123, 580-1.
- 2. Carm. RO, Dynevor mss 161/5, Williams to Dynevor, 17 Feb. 1820.
- 3. Carmarthen Jnl. 21 Feb. 1820. See JONES and CARMARTHEN.
- 4. Dynevor mss 154/5, 6.
- 5. Seren Gomer, iv (1821), 154 reported that John Hensleigh Allen was the only Welsh Member to vote with Hume on the ordnance estimates. This is confirmed in the version of Hume’s speech of 17 Feb. printed in The Times, 18 Feb. 1822, and cited below.
- 6. Dynevor mss 161/3; Seren Gomer, iv. 93.
- 7. Seren Gomer, iv. 124, 154.
- 8. Session of Parl. 1825, p. 482.
- 9. The Times, 25, 30 Apr.; Carmarthen Jnl. 26 Apr. 1822.
- 10. Carmarthen Jnl. 31 Jan.; The Times, 3 Feb. 1823.
- 11. The Times, 18 Feb. 1823.
- 12. Ibid. 24 Apr., 12 May 1824.
- 13. NLW ms 21674 C, f. 12.
- 14. Ibid. ff. 13-14, 19, 22; PROB 11/1693/667.
- 15. Gent. Mag. (1824), ii. 465; PROB 11/1690/518; Dynevor mss 154/12.
- 16. NLW mss 21674 C, ff. 15, 22.
- 17. The Times, 22 Apr., 5 May 1825.
- 18. Ibid. 22 Mar., 27 Apr. 1826.
- 19. NLW, Dolaucothi mss L3838, 3839; Cambrian, 23 Feb. 1828.
- 20. Carmarthen Jnl. 1 Aug. 1828.
- 21. Cambrian, 7 Mar.; Carmarthen Jnl. 18 Apr. 1829.
- 22. Cambrian, 31 Oct. 1829.
- 23. Dynevor mss 160/13.
- 24. Dolaucothi mss L3840; Carmarthen Jnl. 30 July 1830.
- 25. Carmarthen Jnl. 13 Aug. 1830.
- 26. Ibid. 25 Mar., 1 Apr. 1831.
- 27. Ibid. 22, 29 Apr. 1831; Dolaucothi mss L3841; Yr Efangylydd, i (1831), 256.
- 28. NLW mss 11772 E.
- 29. Dolaucothi mss L1726, 3844-9; Carmarthen Jnl. 6, 13 July, 17, 24, 31 Aug., 28 Dec. 1832; Dynevor mss 161/4, 5.
- 30. D.J.V. Jones, Rebecca’s Children, 69, 88-89, 223-4, 376; Carmarthen Jnl. 15 Oct. 1869.
- 31. Illustrated London News, 22 Jan. 1870.