WEST, Frederick Richard (1799-1862), of Ruthin Castle, Denb.
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Family and Educationb. 6 Feb. 1799, o.s. of Hon. Frederick William West† of Chirk Castle, Denb. and Culham Court, Berks. and 2nd w. Maria, da. of Richard Myddelton† of Chirk Castle. educ. Eton 1811; Christ Church, Oxf. 1818. m. (1) 14 Nov. 1820, Lady Georgiana Stanhope (d. 14 Aug. 1824), da. of Philip, 5th earl of Chesterfield, s.p.; (2) 11 Sept. 1827, Theresa Cornwallis, da. of Capt. John Whitby, RN, 3s. (1 d.v.p.) 3da. suc. mother 1843; fa. 1852. d. 1 May 1862.
Steward, Ruthin 1820; mayor, Holt 1822.
West, whose father was the placeman son of the courtier John, 2nd Earl De La Warr, was brought up at Chirk Castle and in London. His father, a Tory, had represented Denbigh Boroughs on his wife’s Myddelton interest in the 1802 Parliament and had hoped to make the seat his own, but he was defeated there in 1806 by his sister-in-law’s husband, the Foxite Whig Robert Myddelton Biddulph, who had also taken up residence at Chirk Castle.1 Litigation between them was eventually settled in 1819, when chancery apportioned Llangollen to Mrs. West, and Chirk Castle and Ruthin Castle to her sisters, Mrs. Biddulph and Miss Myddelton; but their dispute, which had strong political overtones, continued.2 West’s father had meanwhile reached agreement with his cousins over their Hampshire and Sussex estates and had decided that his son should try to recapture Denbigh Boroughs at the earliest opportunity. Burgesses were created at Ruthin in his interest in 1819, and he was the symbolic choice to chair celebrations there when Miss Myddelton took formal possession of her estate, 30 Nov.3 He was newly of age and contested Denbigh Boroughs at the general election of 1820. His bilingual notices stressed his lineage and projected him as a ‘church and state’ Tory. His inexperience, the De La Warr connection, doubts concerning the legality of recent burgess creations and his father’s reputation for turning out tenants who resisted him marred his prospects, and he conceded defeat to the sitting Whig, the recorder of Denbigh John Wynne Griffith, after a two-day poll and promised to stand again at the first opportunity.4
West’s marriage in November 1820 was widely celebrated, and the lavish dinner with which he marked the coronation in 1821 encouraged speculation that he was about to be raised to the peerage.5 His friends failed to take control of Holt in 1820, but succeeded there in 1821, paving the way for his election as mayor. He was thought to be ‘in a decline and his young wife very little likely to survive him’ in 1822, but he recovered and made Blythe Hall in Staffordshire his country home until he was widowed in 1824, residing thereafter at Ruthin and Pentre Pant, near Oswestry.6 At the 1826 general election his party controlled the Denbigh Boroughs writ and fixed the nomination for 13 June, a week before his cousin and rival Robert Myddelton Biddulph* came of age. The bitter contest against Biddulph’s locum Joseph Ablett ended in a double return and reputedly cost West £40,000.7 After petitioning, he was declared elected, 29 Mar. 1827. He took his seat the following day and was probably the ‘M. West’ who voted against the spring guns bill, 30 Mar.8 A sporadic attender who made few speeches, in May 1827 he was added to and testified before the select committee on borough polls. His second wife (d. 1868), whom he married in September 1827, was an heiress of Admiral Cornwallis, ‘pretty and pleasing and sings marvellously well, having learned in Italy’. They divided their time between his Welsh homes, De La Warr’s Arnwood and her Newlands estate in Hampshire.9 He voted against repeal of the Test Acts, 26 Feb., and Catholic relief, 12 May 1828, and presented Denbigh’s petitions for repeal of the Malt Act, 21 Feb., and of the Promissory Notes Act, 20 June. His first-born son died in December 1828, when barely three months old.10 West and his political ally Lord Kenyon presented most Denbighshire anti-Catholic petitions.11 Doing so, 9 Feb. 1829, West praised Peel as home secretary and leader of the House, stated that his ‘conversion’ surprised him, and requested further information on securities. He declared that ‘till the absolute necessity of the case is proved, and till proper securities are given, I shall be the last man to allow any additional concessions to be made to the Roman Catholics’. He presented further hostile petitions, 16, 20 Feb., 4, 30 Mar. As the patronage secretary Planta had predicted in February, he divided against emancipation, 6, 27, 30 Mar., and paired, 18, 23 Mar. 1829. He voted against the army estimates, 19 Feb., the sale of beer bill, 4 May, and Jewish emancipation, 17 May 1830. Despite the strength of anti-Catholicism in North Wales, West had made little headway in Denbigh, where the Catholic banker William Sankey and others took steps to prevent him acquiring borough property during sales and land exchanges with the Biddulphs.12 He stood down there to avoid defeat at the 1830 general election and was brought in by his cousin De La Warr for East Grinstead.13
The Wellington ministry counted West among their ‘friends’, and he divided with them on the civil list when they were brought down, 15 Nov. 1830. He was granted a fortnight’s leave ‘on account of the disturbed state of his neighbourhood’, 30 Nov. 1830, a time of unrest in the Wrexham area, Hampshire and Sussex. He voted against the Grey ministry’s reform bill at its second reading, 22 Mar., and for Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr. 1831. At the ensuing general election East Grinstead, which was set to lose a Member under the bill, returned him unopposed, amid pro-reform demonstrations.14 He divided against the reintroduced reform bill at its second reading, 6 July, and voted to adjourn its consideration, 12 July, to make the 1831 census the criterion for English borough disfranchisements, 19 July, and against depriving Chippenham of a Member, 27 July 1831. He divided against the bill’s passage, 21 Sept. He was granted three weeks’ leave on account of ill health, 30 Sept. He refrained from voting on the second reading of the revised reform bill, 17 Dec. 1831, but voted against considering it in committee, 20 Jan., and its third reading, 22 Mar. 1832. He failed to defend East Grinstead, 20 Feb., but voted for Waldo Sibthorp’s amendment concerning Lincoln freeholders, 23 Mar., and recommended enfranchising rural voters in the boroughs of Arundel, 8 June, and Newry, 9 July. He divided against government on the Russian-Dutch loan, 26 Jan. 1832.
West’s interest in Denbigh Boroughs was enhanced through the addition of Wrexham to the constituency, but he declined requisitions to stand there or for Denbighshire at the 1832 general election. He remained out of Parliament until 1847, when he profited from local differences over the corn laws and church rates to come in unopposed for Denbigh Boroughs as a Liberal Conservative. He retained the seat, with one contest, until 1857, initially looking to Peel for patronage.15 Already in poor health, he retired to Ruthin, where he died in May 1862 and was buried in a new family vault in St. Peter’s church.16 His will confirmed the settlement of his Welsh estates in 1851 on his eldest son Frederick Myddelton West (1830-68) and was proved in St. Asaph, 9 Aug. 1862. He left mortgage incomes and shares to his daughters and bequeathed his Hampshire estates in trust to his second son William Cornwallis West (1835-1917), who in 1869 succeeded his brother to Ruthin Castle.
Ref Volumes: 1820-1832
Author: Margaret Escott
Generally known as Frederick Myddelton West.
- 1. HP Commons, 1790-1820, ii. 495; v. 517-18.
- 2. NLW, Chirk Castle mss F/11402-6; Private Act 59 Geo. III, c. 4; The Times, 15 Apr. 1819.
- 3. Chester Chron. 19 Nov., 10 Dec. 1819, 14 Jan. 1820; NLW, Garn mss (1956), W. Hughes to J.W. Griffith, 19 Feb. 1819, W. Shipley to same, 2 Jan. 1820.
- 4. Chester Chron. 11, 18, 25 Feb., 3, 17 Mar.; Shrewsbury Chron. 18 Feb.; Cambrian, 26 Feb.; The Times, 1 Mar.; N. Wales Gazette, 23 Mar. 1820; Chirk Castle mss C/78-85.
- 5. Chester Chron. 24 Nov., 1 Dec. 1820, 20 July 1821; Shrewsbury Chron. 17, 24 Nov., 8 Dec. 1820.
- 6. Chester Chron. 7 Apr., 30 June 1820, 12 Oct. 1821; NLW ms 2794 D, Lady Williams Wynn to H. Williams Wynn, 13 Aug. 1822, J. Powell, Holt, 52-53.
- 7. Chester Courant, 11, 18, 25 Apr., 2 May, 20, 27 June, 4 July; N. Wales Gazette, 13, 20, 27 Apr.