SANFORD, Edward Ayshford (1794-1871), of Nynehead Court, Wellington, Som. and 41 Grosvenor Street, Mdx.
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Family and Education
b. 23 May 1794, o.s of William Ayshford Sanford of Nynehead and Lynton, Devon and Mary, da. of Rev. Edward Marshall of Breage, Cornw. educ. Eton 1808-13; Brasenose, Oxf. 1813. m. (1) 4 Nov. 1817, Henrietta (d. 24 Aug. 1836), da. of Sir William Langham, 8th bt., of Cottesbrooke, Northants., 5s. (2 d.v.p.) 2da.; (2) 22 June 1841, Lady Caroline Anna Stanhope, da. of Charles Stanhope, 3rd earl of Harrington, s.p. suc. fa. 1833. d. 1 Dec. 1871.
Sheriff, Som. 1848-9.
Sanford, whose family had been established in Somerset since about 1600, ‘made the tour of Europe’ after leaving university and returned to play a leading role in the magistracy of his county.1 He inherited his father’s Whig politics and joined Brooks’s Club, 18 June 1817. He made his maiden public speech at the Wellington meeting, 1 Jan. 1821, when he supported an address for the removal of ministers, condemning their ‘unjust and unconstitutional’ treatment of Queen Caroline and commenting on the ‘impoverished state of all classes’ caused by excessive taxation. In January 1822 he chaired the public meeting on agricultural distress at Taunton, which agreed a petition demanding economy and retrenchment. He signed the requisition for a county meeting on relief for the landed interest, held at Wells in January 1823, when he seconded the proposed petition, declaring that the ‘overgrown’ civil and military establishments must be cut; he also supported the call for a second meeting to consider parliamentary reform.2 In the autumn of 1829 he announced his intention of offering for the county at the next general election, stating that he was ‘unconnected with any party’ and would abstain from making any specific promises. It was assumed that he would ‘receive good countenance from the leading Whigs, which he merits as being a thorough gentleman’.3 Despite rumours that some of the ‘populous districts’ were not satisfied with him and wanted another candidate, he was returned unopposed at the election of 1830 after the retirement of the Tory sitting Member Sir Thomas Lethbridge. He professed his loyalty to the constitution of 1688, the king, the established church and the rights and liberties of the people, particularly religious liberty, and reportedly ‘had the soul of integrity legible in his countenance’. He also ‘thought a further decrease of our national burthens could be effected’.4 Addressing his supporters at a series of post-election dinners, he assured them that he would be ‘no holiday Member’ and would ‘go into Parliament an independent man’. He revealed his support for reform, arguing that ‘towns, when they have arrived at a certain degree of eminence, should have a share in the representation’, and welcoming the recent events in France.5
The Wellington ministry regarded him as one of their ‘foes’. In the debate on the address, 3 Nov. 1830, he maintained that they did not ‘understand the feelings and sentiments of the people’, as was shown by their dismissive attitude towards calls for reform and their apparent inclination to interfere in French affairs. He voted against them in the crucial civil list division, 15 Nov. He presented several anti-slavery petitions that month and supported the Sussex juries bill, hoping that its provisions would be extended to all counties, 9 Nov. 1830. He pronounced a ‘decided negative’ on Hunt’s motion for an address asking the king to pardon the agricultural labourers convicted by the recent special commissions, 8 Feb. 1831, as ‘the source of mercy is ... properly fixed in the crown and ... Parliament cannot ... constitutionally interfere in the exercise of that prerogative’. He presented but did not concur in two petitions against reduction of the coal duties, 23 Feb. He presented numerous petitions for reform in February and March but dissented from those which demanded the ballot. He divided for the second reading of the Grey ministry’s reform bill, 22 Mar. He sent a letter to the Somerset county reform meeting, 28 Mar., expressing his ‘cordial support’ for the bill and explaining that he felt obliged to remain in London to attend the debate on slavery.6 He paired against Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr. 1831, ‘being totally unable to attend from a distressing affliction’.7 His eye complaint prevented him from canvassing at the ensuing general election, but he managed to attend the nomination meeting where, ‘labouring under considerable indisposition’, he declared that the vital question was ‘whether the people would answer the appeal made to them by their king or suffer themselves to be rode over, roughshod, by an usurped oligarchy’. He was returned unopposed and free of expense, after two other candidates withdrew. He subsequently claimed that on being elected the previous year he had ‘found an administration whom I wished to support’, but that Wellington’s declaration against reform had disappointed him.8
He introduced an Enclosure Acts titles bill, to remedy defects in the titles to land, 29 June 1831; it passed but did not reach the Lords. He suffered from ‘renewed inflammation in his eyes’ and paired for the second reading of the reintroduced reform bill, 6 July.9 He generally supported its details, and spoke in favour of the enfranchisement of Frome, ‘one of the most populous and thriving towns in Somerset’, 5 Aug. However, he voted for separate representation for Merthyr Tydvil, 10 Aug., against the division of counties, 11 Aug., and for the Chandos amendment to enfranchise £50 tenants-at-will, 18 Aug., as he was ‘most desirous to extend the principle of the bill’. He divided for its third reading, 19 Sept., its passage, 21 Sept., the second reading of the Scottish bill, 23 Sept., and Lord Ebrington’s confidence motion, which was necessary to ‘allay the excitement that prevails out of doors’, 10 Oct. He voted for the second reading of the revised bill, 17 Dec. 1831, and its details. He declared that there ‘never was a more gross ... foul [and] calumnious imputation’ than that made by Hunt against his friend Edward Portman, Member for Dorset, concerning the alleged coercion of tenants at the general election, 27 Jan. 1832. He supported the provision restricting the interval between nomination and election in county contests to two days, 11 Feb., as this was the period when ‘the great struggle is made’ and ‘very unworthy means’ were occasionally resorted to; two days was ‘quite sufficient for all honest purposes’. He divided for the third reading, 22 Mar., and Ebrington’s motion for an address asking the king to appoint only ministers committed to carrying an unimpaired measure, 10 May. He presented Frome and Chard petitions for withholding supplies until reform was carried, 22 May. He voted for the second reading of the Irish bill, 25 May, and against increased representation for Scotland, 1 June 1832.
He presented petitions for amendment of the Sale of Beer Act, 22 July, 28 Sept. 1831, 7 May 1832, when he observed that ‘much evil has arisen from the indiscriminate manner in which these licenses are granted’. He presented and approved of petitions for abolition of the death penalty for offences against property, 22 July, 16 Dec. 1831. He voted to print the Waterford petition for disarming the Irish yeomanry, 11 Aug. He voted to punish only those guilty of bribery at the Dublin election and against censuring the Irish administration, 23 Aug. He presented a Wells petition for tithes reform, in which ‘I most cordially concur’, 28 Sept., when he argued that tradesmen’s bills for repairs and alterations to Windsor Castle must be paid. Next day he defended the proposal to reduce the salary of the president of the board of control and supported the ‘highly beneficial’ labourers’ house rent bill, preventing the payment of cottage rents from the poor rate. Between October 1831 and May 1832 he presented numerous petitions against the general register bill, on which there was strong feeling in Somerset, and he argued unsuccessfully for it to be considered by a committee of the whole House, 22 Feb. He sympathized with petitions complaining of distress in the glove trade, 19 Jan., and voted for inquiry, 31 Jan., 3 Apr. He presented, without comment, petitions against the importation of foreign silks, 20, 24 Jan., 9 Feb. He voted against the second reading of the Vestry Act amendment bill, 23 Jan. He divided with ministers on the Russian-Dutch loan, 26 Jan., 12, 16, 20 July, and relations with Portugal, 9 Feb. However, he voted for Hunt’s motion for information regarding military punishments, 16 Feb. He supported the conservators of the River Tone in their opposition to the Bridgwater and Taunton Canal bill and was a minority teller against the second reading, 27 Feb. He favoured the addition of Edward Bainbridge, Member for Taunton, to the committee on Sadler’s factories regulation bill, 16 Mar., warning that it would do ‘incalculable mischief’ if carried in its present form, although he was not against it in principle. He presented a Somerset manufacturers’ petition against the bill, 9 Apr., and a Somerset and Dorset silk manufacturers’ petition for exemption from its provisions, 7 May. He voted for the navy civil departments bill, 6 Apr. He presented Wellington and Taunton petitions against the government’s plan for Irish education, 9 Apr., 7 May, but believed it was ‘calculated to lead to harmony and good will amongst the people of that country’. He voted for Buxton’s anti-slavery motion, 24 May. He secured the postponement of the Exeter improvement bill to ascertain the real views of the inhabitants, 30 May. He was granted ten days’ leave to attend the quarter sessions, 28 June. He supported the Somerset coroners’ petition against the coroners bill, 9 July 1832, when he had ‘great pleasure’ in presenting a Martock petition for restoration of the Polish constitution.
At the general election of 1832 Sanford offered for the new Western division of Somerset, so that he might ‘support those future measures of reform in the institutions of our country ... which are so essential to their preservation, and which of necessity must arise where the people are truly represented’. He was anxious to address the problem of abuses in the church, believing that ‘a national reformed church [is] the corner stone of national religion’. He was comfortably returned at the head of the poll and sat, representing ‘Whig principles’, until his retirement in 1841.