WHITE, Henry (1787-1873), of Hacketstown, co. Dublin

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

Constituency

Dates

11 Feb. 1823 - 1832
1837 - 1847
1857 - June 1861

Family and Education

b. 1787,1 4th s. of Luke White* (d. 1824) of Woodlands, co. Dublin and 1st w. Elizabeth, da. of Andrew de la Maziere of Fleet Street, Dublin; bro. of Luke White† and Samuel White*. educ. Trinity, Dublin, aged 17 1/3, 2 Oct. 1804. m. 3 Oct. 1828, Ellen, da. of William Soper Dempster of Skibo Castle, Sutherland, 6s. (4 d.v.p.) 2da. suc. bro. Luke to Woodlands and Rathcline, co. Longford 1854; cr. Bar. Annaly 19 Aug. 1863. d. 3 Sept. 1873.

Offices Held

Ld. lt. co. Longford 1850-d.

Cornet 14 Drag. 1811, lt. 1812, res. 1813.

Lt.-col. co. Dublin militia; col. co. Longford militia 1837-d.

Biography

White, who saw action in the Peninsula and was awarded a medal with two clasps following the battles of Badajoz and Salamanca, was initially, like his brothers, brought forward for Parliament by his father Luke, a self-made man who had purchased a large estate near Dublin and gained a seat for Leitrim. Unexpectedly, when a vacancy arose for county Dublin in the winter of 1822 it was not his eldest brother and fellow militia officer Colonel Thomas White, who had fought contests there at the general elections of 1818 and 1820, nor his other brothers Samuel and Luke, who later represented Leitrim and Longford, but Henry who offered. Thomas was perceived to be ambivalent in his attitude to the Catholics, which may have been partly why he declined, but Henry, whose father was venerated locally, was considered their friend and rapidly gained popular support. In his address, 26 Dec. 1822, he exploited the recent Dublin theatre riot to emphasize his loyal but anti-Orange sentiments, and he moved the congratulatory address to the pro-Catholic lord lieutenant Lord Wellesley at a county meeting, 8 Jan. 1823. He claimed to be of no party on the hustings the following month, when he was enthusiastically endorsed by Daniel O’Connell*, and after a lengthy contest he triumphantly defeated his Tory opponent, despite the latter’s extensive territorial interest.2

He voted to reduce taxes by £7,000,000, 28 Feb., and, unless it was his father, by £2,000,000, 3 Mar. 1823.3 He divided for inquiries into the Irish church, 4 Mar., and the state of Ireland, 12 May. He voted for information on Inverness municipal elections, 26 Mar., parliamentary reform, 24 Apr., and alteration of the Scottish representative system, 2 June. He divided for inquiry into the legal proceedings against the Dublin Orange rioters, 22 Apr. He was in opposition minorities for abolition of the death penalty for larceny, 21 May, condemning the conduct of the lord advocate in the Borthwick case, 3 June, and inquiry into chancery administration, 5 June 1823. He criticized the taxes levied by Dublin corporation at a county meeting, 16 Feb. 1824, and apparently missed the start of the new session following the death that month of his father, under whose will he received £13,000 a year.4 He voted for an advance of capital to Ireland, 4 May, inquiry into the state of Ireland, 11 May, and to condemn the trial of the Methodist missionary John Smith in Demerara, 11 June 1824. White, who that summer announced his intention of standing at the next election, was made a member of the Catholic Association in October 1824.5 He divided steadily against the Irish unlawful societies bill in February 1825, and on the 23rd presented a petition from Rathmines against it, being convinced, as he wrote to the petition’s sponsor, that ‘the passing this bill, without another to emancipate the Catholics of Ireland, will have no other effect than to perpetuate the animosities which have so long distracted that country’.6 He duly voted for Catholic relief, 1 Mar., 21 Apr., 10 May. He was admitted to Brooks’s, 4 Mar., proposed by Lord Duncannon* and Sir John Newport*. He divided for repeal of the window tax, 17 May 1825, and regulation of the Irish first fruits fund 20 Mar. 1826. In February 1826 he attended the O’Connellite dinner for the friends of civil and religious liberty, signing the ensuing Protestant petition for Catholic relief, and another in Dublin in honour of Henry Villiers Stuart, the soon-to-be Member for county Waterford.7

Dwelling on his former victory, White stood again with his like-minded colleague Richard Wogan Talbot at the general election of 1826, when he was returned with Catholic support after another fierce contest against a local Protestant Tory landlord; he survived a petition.8 Seemingly much less active in the new Parliament, he divided for inquiry into the allegations against the corporation of Leicester, 15 Mar., and, unless it was Samuel White, took three weeks’ leave, 1 May 1827. He voted for Catholic emancipation, 6 Mar. 1827, 12 May 1828, 6, 30 Mar. 1829. He divided for O’Connell being allowed to take his seat unimpeded, 18 May 1829. He joined in the opposition’s renewed campaign for economies and tax reductions, 9 Mar., 3, 10 May, 7 (when he voted against abolition of the death penalty for forgery) and 14 June 1830. In April he was a prominent requisitionist for the two county Dublin meetings against the increased Irish spirit and stamp duties.9 His only other known votes that session were for Jewish emancipation, 17 May, to make Irish first fruits no longer nominal, 18 May, parliamentary reform, 28 May, and against the administration of justice bill, 18 June 1830.

Although it was at one point rumoured that he might retire at the dissolution of 1830, his paternal and personal claims and the withdrawal of Talbot led to his being returned in second place with the Whig Lord Brabazon against one of his former challengers. He had received the tacit support of the Wellington administration, but distanced himself from it at the end of the contest and at his election dinner.10 Like Samuel, he was reckoned by Pierce Mahony† to be ‘pro-government’, but ministers listed him among the ‘good doubtfuls’, and he voted against them on the civil list, 15 Nov. 1830. He voted for the second reading of the Grey ministry’s reform bill, 22 Mar., and against Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr. 1831. At the ensuing general election, when he advocated the introduction of poor laws to Ireland but objected to calls for repeal of the Union, he was returned unopposed as a reformer. In April he signed his county’s address thanking the lord lieutenant Lord Anglesey for defending the Union and in June 1831 he was a requisitionist for the county reform meeting.11

White divided for the second reading of the reintroduced reform bill, 6 July, at least twice against adjourning proceedings on it, 12 July 1831, and generally for its details. He was named to the Dublin election committee, 28 July, but, when it was pointed out that he had voted (presumably for the reformers Robert Way Harty* and Louis Perrin*) in the city contest, the Speaker ruled that the ballot would have to be repeated. The following day O’Connell divided the House, but only mustered 82 (including Samuel, while Henry apparently abstained) against 100 for swearing him with the rest of the original committee.12 Having registered a wayward vote with the minority for printing the Waterford petition for disarming the Irish yeomanry, 11 Aug., he sided with ministers for punishing those guilty of bribery in the Dublin election and against censuring the Irish government over it, 23 Aug. He was absent from the division on the passage of the reform bill, 21 Sept., but voted for Lord Ebrington’s confidence motion, 10 Oct. 1831. Forwarding an unsuccessful peerage application on his behalf later that year, Anglesey commented to Lord Grey that he was ‘a very staunch supporter of your government, and has always advocated liberal politics, and the family is very affluent’.13 White voted for the second reading of the revised reform bill, 17 Dec. 1831, again steadily for its details, and for the third reading, 22 Mar. 1832. He divided against the production of information on Portugal, 9 Feb., but was listed in the minority for Thomas Lefroy’s amendment to recommit the Irish registry of deeds bill, 9 Apr. Having sided with ministers for Ebrington’s motion for an address calling on the king to appoint only ministers who would carry the reform bill unimpaired, 10 May, he voted for the second reading of the Irish bill, 25 May, and against increasing the county representation of Scotland, 1 June, but he was in O’Connell’s minority for extending the Irish franchise to £5 freeholders, 18 June. Apart from the one for making coroners’ inquests public, 20 June, his only other known votes that session were in the government majorities for the Russian-Dutch loan, 16, 20 July, and in the small minorities for amendments to the Irish tithes composition bill, 1 Aug. Perhaps for reasons of ill health, he announced his resignation in an address, 20 July 1832, when he stated that his original success in establishing the county’s independence had been consolidated by the passage of reform and now enabled him to pass on the seat to another Member on the same interest.14

White returned to Parliament in two spells as Member for county Longford, where he inherited substantial estates and held local office, and was awarded a peerage in 1863. On his death in September 1873, the title was inherited by his eldest son Luke (1829-88), who, like his younger brother Charles William (1838-90), enjoyed a short career in the Commons.15

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: Stephen Farrell

Notes

  • 1. Al. Dub. 873, though Burke PB (1930), 119 gives 1789 and CP, i. 162 gives 1791.
  • 2. Dublin Evening Post, 28 Dec. 1822, 9, 11, 14 Jan., 1, 4, 11, 13, 15, 18 Feb. 1823; O’Connell Corresp. ii. 996, 999.
  • 3. Votes by ‘Col. White’ have been attributed to him throughout.