TUDWAY, John Paine (1775-1835), of New Street, Wells, Som.

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



19 July 1815 - 1830

Family and Education

b. 21 Apr. 1775, 1st s. of Robert Tudway of Wells and Mary, da. of Rev. Thomas Paine, canon of Wells; educ. St. Mary Hall, Oxf. 1793. m. 1806, Frances Gould, da. of Lucas Pulsford of Wells, 2s. 7da. suc. fa. 1800; uncle Clement Tudway† 1815. d. 28 June 1835.

Offices Held

Lt. Wells yeoman cav. 1800, capt. 1818.


Tudway, the third generation of his family to represent Wells, in an unbroken succession dating back to 1754, had effectively inherited the seat in 1815 from his uncle Clement, along with properties in Somerset and the 1,096-acre Parham Hill plantation in Antigua.1 He was the residuary legatee of his father’s property in Wells, where the family’s political influence derived from control of the corporation and generous support for local causes.2 He was again returned unopposed at the general election of 1820, in alliance with Charles William Taylor, a Whig.

He was a very poor attender and is not known to have spoken in debate. He divided with Lord Liverpool’s ministry against more extensive tax reductions, 11 Feb. 1822. A radical publication of 1823 exaggerated only slightly when it claimed that there was ‘no trace of this man’s attendance’ during the previous three sessions.3 He voted against Scottish parliamentary reform, 2 June 1823, and inquiry into the prosecution of the Methodist missionary John Smith in Demerara, 11 June 1824. He divided against Catholic relief, 1 Mar., 10 May 1825. It was said of him at this time that he ‘attended very seldom and voted with ministers’.4 His neglect of his parliamentary duties was an ostensible reason for the opposition that emerged to him at Wells in the mid-1820s. One inhabitant dismissed him as ‘a sort of amphibious, ambiguous, nondescript and indescribable character, of whom it is difficult to say to what party he belongs’. Sir Thomas Lethbridge, the county Member and a prominent supporter of the opposition party, accepted that poor health might have prevented Tudway from fulfilling his responsibilities, but argued that he should retire. Tudway’s connection with the pro-Catholic Taylor was a more serious liability, but their alliance remained firm during the bitter general election contest of 1826 and the subsequent unsuccessful attempt to unseat them on petition.5 He divided against Catholic relief, 6 Mar. 1827. In February 1829 Planta, the Wellington ministry’s patronage secretary, listed him as likely to be ‘with government’ for Catholic emancipation, but in fact he voted against it, 6, 18, 23 Mar. Having lost control of Wells corporation in 1828, he retired at the dissolution in 1830, expressing regret that the city had become ‘inflamed by party zeal and embittered by political animosities’.6

He died in June 1835, ‘a martyr to that excruciating tormentor, the gout’.7 His properties in Somerset and Antigua had been placed in trust for his eldest son Robert, and the proceeds from the sale of his remaining real estate were invested for the benefit of his nine-year-old son, Henry; his personalty was sworn under £14,000.8 Robert Tudway (1808-55) renewed his family’s connection with the representation of Wells as a Protectionist, 1852-5.

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: Terry Jenkins


  • 1. The personalty was sworn under £70,000 (PROB 11/1572/480; IR26/658/744); V.L. Oliver, Antigua, iii. 152-3.
  • 2. PROB 11/1354/139; Bristol Mercury, 11 July 1835.
  • 3. Black Bk. (1823), 199.
  • 4. Session of Parl. 1825, p. 488.
  • 5. Bristol Mirror, 1 Apr., 8 July 1826.
  • 6. Ibid. 10 July 1830.
  • 7. Bristol Mercury, 4 July 1835.
  • 8. PROB 11/1854/678; IR26/1402/800; Oliver, iii. 151-2.