THOMPSON, George Lowther (1786-1841), of Sheriff Hutton Park, Yorks.
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Family and Educationb. Dec. 1786, o.s. of George Wentworth Thompson of York and Sheriff Hutton and Jane Sarah, da. of John Dell of Dover, Kent. educ. Harrow 1798-1802; Trinity Coll. Camb. 1804. m. Mary Ann, da. of Rev. Edward Waldron, rect. of Hampton Lovett, Worcs., 3s. (2 d.v.p.) 1da. d.v.p. suc. fa. 1802. d. 25 Dec. 1841.
The Sheriff Hutton branch of the Thompson family was established by Edward Thompson (c.1639-1701), a York wine merchant, who represented that city in three Parliaments during the reign of William III. His son and grandson followed the same line of business, while his great-grandson, this Member’s father, was a captain in the 4th Hussars, who had retired by 1794 and died in 1802.1 Apart from the provision he made for his wife and daughter, he devised all his real and personal estate, proved under £10,000, to his only son. The remainder of Thompson’s education was placed under the supervision of his father’s cousin John Lowther* of Swillington.2 It was on the interest of the latter’s brother, the 1st earl of Lonsdale, that Thompson was returned for Haslemere in 1823. He had been promised the seat on the first intimation of the sitting Member’s resignation some months prior to the actual return, which was apparently timed to suit his convenience.3 A fairly regular attender, like the rest of Lonsdale’s parliamentary squad he was a supporter of the Liverpool ministry, but he is not known to have spoken in debate.4 Lonsdale’s son Lord Lowther* surely had Thompson in mind, among others, when he bemoaned to his father the lack of oratorical talent among their connections, 11 Jan. 1830.5 Thompson voted against repeal of the Foreign Enlistment Act, 16 Apr., and inquiries into the prosecution of the Dublin Orange theatre rioters, 22 Apr., chancery delays, 5 June, and the currency, 12 June 1823. He divided against Scottish parliamentary reform, 2 June 1823, and reform of Edinburgh’s representation, 26 Feb. 1824. The government request for his presence to oppose a motion censuring their conduct over the war between France and Spain seems to have been met, 17 Feb. 1824, although no majority list survives. That day Lowther informed his father that he had ‘begged’ Thompson to stay for the debate on chancery delays which took place without a division, 24 Feb.6 He voted against Brougham’s motion condemning the trial of the Methodist missionary John Smith for inciting slave riots in Demerara, 11 June 1824, and repeal of the usury laws, 17 Feb. 1825. He divided for suppression of the Catholic Association, 25 Feb., and against Catholic relief, 1 Mar., 21 Apr., 10 May, and the Irish franchise bill, 6 Apr. He was in the majorities for the duke of Cumberland’s annuity bill, 6, 10 June 1825. No trace of parliamentary activity has been found for 1826.
At the 1826 general election Thompson was again returned for Haslemere. He voted for the duke of Clarence’s annuity bill, 16 Mar., and the grant for Canadian waterways, 12 June 1827. With other Lowther connections he divided against the bill to reform the Coventry magistracy, 18 June 1827. He voted against repeal of the Test Acts, 26 Feb. 1828. That April Lonsdale, concerned at the Wellington government’s vulnerability on the East Retford question, asked his son, ‘Is Thompson come up? If not there is perhaps time to send for him’.7 No majority list survives for that session on that subject, but he was in his place to present a petition against changes to the corn law from Sheriff Hutton, 16 May, and to vote against ordnance reductions, 4 July 1828. He voted against Catholic relief, 6 Mar. 1827, 12 May 1828, and the ministry’s concession of emancipation, 6, 18, 27, 30 Mar. 1829. He divided against the transfer of East Retford’s seats to Birmingham, 11 Feb., Lord Blandford’s parliamentary reform motion, 18 Feb., and the enfranchisement of Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester, 23 Feb. 1830. He voted against abolition of the death penalty for forgery and reduction of the grant for South American missions, 7 June, and against cuts to judges’ salaries, 7 July 1830.
At the 1830 general election Thompson retired from Haslemere, where his seat had been earmarked for the government chief whip William Holmes. After weighing the alternatives, Lonsdale bought him a seat at Yarmouth on the Worsley Holmes interest for £3,000.8 This was apparently facilitated by the financial saving effected by Lonsdale’s compromise with his opponents in Westmorland.9 Ministers listed Thompson among their ‘friends’, but he was absent from the crucial division on the civil list, 15 Nov. 1830. In February 1831 Lonsdale lamented that Thompson was suffering from an ‘unfortunate’ illness, given the imminent introduction of the Grey ministry’s reform bill, and considered replacing him. Lowther hoped that ‘if we do not find a useful successor, perhaps Thompson might be induced to come up for the second reading’.10 He was granted two weeks’ leave on account of ill health, 1 Mar., but attended to vote against the second reading of the reform bill, 22 Mar., and for Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr. 1831. At the ensuing dissolution he retired from Parliament and public life.
Thompson died at Leamington Spa in December 1841. By his will, dated 29 Oct. 1840 and proved under £104,000, Sheriff Hutton was settled on his son Leonard, while property in neighbouring Silling passed to his wife, along with an annuity of £1,500. He also provided for the widow and child of his cleric son Edward.11
Ref Volumes: 1820-1832
Authors: Howard Spencer / Philip Salmon
- 1. Foster’s Yorks. Fams. ii. [no pagination].
- 2. PROB 11/1381/723; IR26/67/120; Clwyd RO, Lowther mss 146.
- 3. Lonsdale mss, Beckett to Lowther, 30 Jan., R. Ward to Lonsdale, 17 Feb., 21, 24, 26 Mar. 1823.
- 4. Session of Parl. 1825, p. 487.
- 5. Lonsdale mss.
- 6. Ibid. Lowther to Lonsdale, 11, 17 Feb. 1824.
- 7. Lonsdale mss.
- 8. Ibid. Lowther to Lonsdale, 24 July, Beckett to Lowther, 27 July 1830.
- 9. J.R. McQuiston, ‘Lonsdale Connection and its Defender’, Northern Hist. xi (1975), 143-79.
- 10. 10 Lonsdale mss, Lowther to Lonsdale, 19, 21, 25 Feb. 1831.
- 11. Gent. Mag. (1842), i. 228; PROB 11/1957/59; IR26/1623/114.