TYRWHITT DRAKE, Thomas (1783-1852), of Shardeloes, nr. Amersham, Bucks. and St. Donat's Castle, Glam.

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



31 Jan. 1805 - 1832

Family and Education

b. 16 Mar. 1783, 1st s.of Thomas Drake Tyrwhitt† (afterwards Tyrwhitt Drake) of Shardeloes and Anne, da. and coh. of Rev. William Wickham of Garsington, Oxon.; bro. of William Tyrwhitt Drake*. educ. Westminster; Brasenose, Oxf. 1801. m. 15 Oct. 1814, Barbara Caroline, da. of Arthur Annesley† of Bletchington Park, Oxon., 4s. 8da. suc. fa. 1810. d. 23 Mar. 1852.

Offices Held

Sheriff, Bucks. 1836-7.

Capt. S. Bucks. yeomanry 1803.


Tyrwhitt Drake, one of the wealthiest commoners of his day, with inherited landed estates in half a dozen counties, continued to sit for the family pocket borough until it was disfranchised.1 It was later said that during his time in Parliament the ‘minister of the day’ described him and his brother and

two of the best Members of Parliament - neither of them refused a vote, when required by duty to give it, or ever made a useless speech, or ever asked a favour for themselves or their families.2

In reality he was a lax attender, whose posthumous reputation for proud independence was grossly inflated.3

He only paired in defence of the Liverpool ministry’s conduct towards Queen Caroline, 6 Feb. 1821. He voted against Catholic relief, 28 Feb., took a month’s leave, 1 May, and attended to vote with government against retrenchment, 27 June 1821, as he did again, 11 Feb., 13 Mar. 1822. He divided against Canning’s bill to relieve Catholic peers of their disabilities, 30 Apr. 1822, and parliamentary reform, 20 Feb., 2 June 1823. He presented an Amersham petition for the abolition of colonial slavery, 18 Mar. 1824.4 He voted against Catholic relief 1 Mar., 21 Apr., 10 May, and the Irish franchise bill, 26 Apr. 1825. His only known deviation from his support for the ministry in the 1820 Parliament was his opposition to the duke of Cumberland’s annuity, 30 May, 2, 6, 9, 10 June 1825.

Returning thanks for his election in 1826 Tyrwhitt Drake declared that he was ‘determined to support our glorious constitution in church and state’ and to ‘vote for the abolition of what were really unnecessary sinecures and pensions’. He considered the government’s recent regulation to permit the release of bonded corn to be ‘of little consequence’, but trusted that there would be no further tampering with the corn laws, because ‘everything emanated from the land, and unless agriculture flourished none of our manufacturers would’.5 He voted against Catholic relief, 6 Mar. 1827. He divided for a separate bankruptcy jurisdiction, 22 May, and against the disfranchisement of Penryn, 28 May, 7 June 1827. He voted against repeal of the Test Acts, 26 Feb., and paired against Catholic relief, 12 May 1828. He was in the minority against the provision for Canning’s family, 13 May, but divided with the duke of Wellington’s government against ordnance reductions, 4 July 1828. He stayed aloof from the Buckinghamshire Brunswick Club promoted by Lord Chandos*, but presented a petition against Catholic emancipation, 6 Feb. 1829, and, as expected, was one of its diehard opponents in the lobbies the following month.6 He voted against the sale of beer bill, 4 May, 21 June, 1 July, for repeal of the Irish coal duties, 13 May, and against Jewish emancipation, 17 May. He divided with the Whig opposition in the first division on the regency question, 30 June 1830, but was ‘driven away’ from the second by Brougham’s intemperate speech.7

Tyrwhitt Drake, whom ministers listed among the ‘moderate Ultras’ after the 1830 general election, presented an anti-slavery petition, 15 Nov., but absented himself from the civil list division which brought down the government later that day. He voted against the second reading of the Grey ministry’s first reform bill, 22 Mar., and for Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr. 1831. He divided steadily against the reintroduced bill in July, and voted against its passage, 21 Sept. He voted against the revised bill, by which Amersham was transferred from schedule B to A, at its second reading, 17 Dec. 1831, and on the motion to go into committee, 20 Jan. 1832. He presented the Amersham inhabitants’ petition against total disfranchisement, 24 Jan. He was in the majority against an attempt to restrict polling in the smaller boroughs to one day, 15 Feb. On 21 Feb. 1832, when Amersham’s fate was confirmed, he protested against the way in which its boundary had been drawn, leaving a ‘large portion’ of the town ‘unjustly excluded’. He voted against the third reading of the bill, 22 Mar. He was in the majority against Hunt’s attack on military punishments, 16 Feb., but divided with the Conservative opposition against the second reading of the Irish reform bill, 25 May, and the Russian-Dutch loan, 12 July 1832.

After 1832 Tyrwhitt Drake ‘scarcely ever took any active part in national or county politics, further than to support generally the principles he approved’.8 Peel’s abandonment of protection in the 1840s disgusted him. He was ‘an excellent sportsman’ and esteemed master of hounds, remembered by John Fowler of Aylesbury as ‘a stern, determined man, and a scrupulously good landlord’.9 He died in March 1852, leaving his widow £1,000 and a life annuity of £1,500, payable from the trust fund which he directed to be set up to provide for his 11 younger children.10 The settled estates passed to his eldest son, ‘Squire’ Thomas Tyrwhitt Drake (1817-88), who was a more colourful character than his father. Fowler recalled trying with a friend to persuade him to stand for the county on a vacancy in 1863:

After listening to all we had to say, he replied, ‘You two fellows have known me all your lives, haven’t you?’. ‘Yes’, we answered. ‘Well, you know I have always associated with gentlemen?’ ‘Certainly’. ‘Then why the deuce do you want to send me to the House of Commons?’ He then spurred his horse, galloped down one of the rides of Tittershall Wood, and viewed the fox away, and that was the last attempt made to nominate him for Parliament.11

His first cousin once removed, Sir Garrard Tyrwhitt Drake, told this story of him:

He was one day travelling by train from London to Brighton and a lady in the same carriage tried hard to get into conversation with him without much success. As a last effort she said: ‘I suppose you will bathe in the sea when you get to Brighton, Mr. Tyrwhitt Drake?’. The Squire’s reply was: ‘No, Mam, I have been sick in it far too often to want to wash in it’.12

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: David R. Fisher


  • 1. Gent. Mag. (1852), i. 521.
  • 2. J.K. Fowler, Recollections of Old Country Life, 6.
  • 3. Black Bk. (1823), 199; Session of Parl. 1825, p. 461.
  • 4. The Times, 19 Mar. 1824.
  • 5. Bucks. Chron. 10 June 1826.
  • 6. R.W. Davis, Political Change and Continuity, 77.
  • 7. Grey mss, Howick jnl. 11 July [1830].
  • 8. Gent. Mag. (1852), i. 521.
  • 9. Fowler, 1-2.
  • 10. PROB 11/2152/392.
  • 11. Fowler, 3.
  • 12. Sir G. Tyrwhitt Drake, My Life with Animals, 5-7.