Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Background Information

Right of Election:

in the freemen and 40s. freeholders

Number of voters:

about 650 in 1815


(1821): 18,145


27 July 1802EDWARD HARDMAN213
 Henry Meade Ogle208
 Henry Meade Ogle174
6 July 1818HENRY MEADE OGLE201
 Thomas Wallace191

Main Article

Drogheda, the fifth city in Ireland, specialized in linen manufacture and was governed by an exclusively protestant corporation. Representatives of two mercantile families vied for the representation: the Meade Ogles, whose interest dated from over 30 years before the Union and who were abetted on the corporation by Alderman Ralph Smyth; and Edward Hardman, who was sponsored by the veteran neighbouring politician, John Foster* of Collon, whose interest was of a personal, rather than a territorial kind. These competitors (who were relatives) came to terms in 1812 after two keen contests. Subsequently, Drogheda elections focused on the tension between the protestant corporation and Catholic community, which had shared in the growing prosperity of the town and made its voice heard through the freeholder vote.1

Edward Hardman, John Foster’s nominee since 1797, was successful on the Union ballot and in November 1801 asked for an ‘early declaration’ of government support when challenged by Henry Meade Ogle, who also applied for the government interest. Although Hardman tried to force a decision by absenting himself from Westminster to canvass, the ministry postponed its decision between the two.2 On 9 June 1802 the chief secretary recommended to the viceroy that, on the advice of his predecessor and Isaac Corry*, to which the premier Addington was ‘strongly inclined’, Hardman should be ‘thrown out if possible’, owing to his connexion with John Foster, who was expected to be hostile to government ‘next year’. The Speaker preferred Ogle’s pretensions, while Corry recommended John Ball, a Dublin barrister who had contested Drogheda in opposition to Foster’s interest in 1797.3 The Castle supported Ogle, believing him most likely to succeed through his ‘natural interest’. There was an ‘unlucky misunderstanding’ when Addington, who denied he was of the opinion imputed to him by the chief secretary, openly espoused Hardman’s cause on 12 July, too late in the day for the Castle to change their minds. As there were about 45 voters connected with government at Drogheda, this news perplexed Ogle, who was reassured by the Castle, but lost the election by five votes. It appears that a number of the placemen in question were committed to Hardman and that John Foster had not scrupled to procure them for him; also that Ogle’s own father remained neutral ‘between his son and his steward’.4

When Ogle petitioned against the return, Hardman appealed to government to stop him, making much of his grievance against the Castle for their part in the election. On condition that he promised to support ministers ‘as if nothing had happened at Drogheda’, Hardman was maintained in his seat, the petition against him being discharged on 7 Feb. 1803 and it being understood that Ogle might come in with Hardman’s concurrence at the next election.5 Ogle was duly unopposed in 1806, though beforehand the Grenville ministry had been prepared to support ‘Mr [?Eccles] Cuthbert’ if he proposed himself.6 Their doubts about Ogle’s support proved unwarranted and in 1807, Hardman being no longer available, John Foster put up his son and heir, a place-holder in the Portland ministry, and secured his return, at the expense of £2,500, by mopping up the outvoters. Ogle’s supporters made much of the ‘foreign influence’ that was opposed to him, a native and resident, and, using a Whig circular for the purpose, defended his vote for Brand’s motion against the protestant alarmists, claiming that he was an independent and not ‘at the head nor the tail of any power-hunting party’. Ogle received strong Catholic support.7

Ogle’s unopposed return for Drogheda in 1812 caused general surprise: he himself had given up hope of defeating Foster, not having succeeded in a bid to win over the Hardman interest in 1811 and fearing the expense of a contest. There was talk of ‘Counsellor [Eccles] Cuthbert’, a barrister of local origin, standing instead. But the chief secretary thought Ogle might succeed and Col. Foster had no wish to retain his seat, so without consulting his father he came to terms with Ogle. The result was, in the chief secretary’s words, 5 Oct. 1812: ‘Colonel Foster gives up Drogheda, but I have reason to believe that its future Member Mr Ogle will change politics and support us’. That is what happened, except that Ogle reserved his freedom to support Catholic relief. Foster allowed him the local patronage.8

This alliance proved a safeguard against the growing Catholic freeholder interest at Drogheda, which was boosted by the fact that freedom cost eight times as much to register as freehold. In April 1817 Thomas Wallace, a Dublin barrister, came forward on behalf of this independent interest, which deplored the Foster-Ogle pact, and it was alleged on his behalf that he was in favour at Carlton House. There was some doubt as to who the Foster candidate would be: Ulysses Burgh had been mentioned the year before, but he now had a seat. Lord Henry Seymour Moore* was interested, but it was feared that if Ogle stood the corporation alliance would be split, Moore drawing off the protestant alarmists. In the event, the Foster interest was again awarded to Ogle who, with the support of Edward Hardman junior, defeated Wallace in a rowdy and violent contest. He survived a petition which turned on the legality of the votes of many of his freemen supporters, but stood down in 1820.9

Author: P. J. Jupp


  • 1. A. P. W. Malcomson, John Foster, 159-91.
  • 2. PRO 30/9/1, pt. 2/4, Hardman to Abbot, 13 Nov.; pt. 3/4, Ogle to same [24 Nov.]; 30/9/13, pt. 2, Hardman to ?Addington, 29 Dec. 1801.
  • 3. Add. 35713, f. 122.
  • 4. Add. 35708, f. 42; 35713, f. 182; 35772, f. 17; Keele Univ. Lib. Sneyd mss, Beresford to Auckland, 12 Aug.; Dublin SPO 520/131/8; Sidmouth mss, Hardwicke to Addington, 29 July 1802.
  • 5. Dublin SPO 620/62/56; Wickham mss 5/15, Hardman to Wickham, 18 Oct., 7 Nov.; 1/46/19, Wickham to Addington, 3 Sept.; 5/10, Ld. Hardwicke to Wickham, 6 Sept. 1802; CJ, lviii. 27, 129.
  • 6. Spencer mss, Irish list, May 1806; Saunders’s News Letter, 24 Oct. 1806.
  • 7. PRO NI, Foster mss, Drogheda election pprs. 1807; NLW, Coedymaen mss 30, Saxton to Williams Wynn, 28 May; Wellington mss, Foster to Wellesley, 24 May 1807.
  • 8. Add. 40222, f. 93; 40280, 35-37, 50; 40288, ff. 117, 142; PRO NI, T2419/4/1398, Pentland to Foster, 28 Sept. 1812.
  • 9. Add. 40210, ff. 1, 40; 40266, f. 248; 40271, ff. 24, 29; 40277, ff. 101, 304; 40278, f. 44; 40293, f. 88; 40295, f. 114; The Late Elections (1818), 471; CJ, lxxiv. 23, 83; U. Corbett and E. R. Daniell, Controverted Elections (1821), 93.