BEAUMONT, Thomas Wentworth (1792-1848).
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Family and Education
b. 5 Nov. 1792, 1st s. of Thomas Richard Beaumont*. educ. Eton 1805; St. John’s, Camb. 1809. m. 22 Nov. 1827, Henrietta Jane Emma Hawks, da. of John Atkinson of Maple Hayes, Staffs., 4s. 2da. suc. fa. 1829; mother in Blackett estates 1831.
Lt.-col. commdt. W. Northumb. militia 1813-24.
The intention of Beaumont’s father to transfer his Northumberland seat to his son had been predicted for some time before it was confirmed at the end of 1817. The other sitting Member, the Whig Sir Charles Monck, told Earl Grey that young Beaumont had ‘talked ultra Whiggism for the last few years’, but had recently become ‘a member of the Pitt Clubs of Newcastle and Northumberland clearly to serve his electioneering purpose’.1 The intrusion of Henry Thomas Liddell prompted Beaumont senior to ask Lord Liverpool for ‘an early interview to introduce to you my son’, with a view to securing government backing. Beaumont himself was dissatisfied with Liverpool’s offer of support on condition that he ran in harness with Liddell, or of neutrality between them if they stood singly, and pressed him to reconsider:
my political sentiments are favourable to ... ministers. At the same time, I need hardly add that my support cannot be intended to be implied by this declaration further than is consistent with that approbation of their measures which has originally influenced my decision in their favour.2
In the event Liddell withdrew and Beaumont was returned unopposed, presumably with the endorsement of government. Although the leading Whig and independent elements in Northumberland, who had been anxious to safeguard Monck’s position, generally applauded Beaumont’s ‘straightforward and liberal conduct’ in refusing to connive in the ministerial scheme, they were unable to forecast his political behaviour with any confidence. (Sir) Matthew White Ridley* thought that ‘as far as politics go Beaumont is better than Liddell, but the difference is next to nothing’; Charles Bigge considered him ‘a man of better principles than Liddell, whose connexion with Carlton House is a much stronger obstacle to an independent conduct than the fair tory principles of the other’; and Monck merely hoped that ‘he may improve’.3
From the start Beaumont took an independent line in the House. On 7 Feb. 1819 Edward Ellice* told Grey that he was ‘to vote with us tomorrow, on Calcraft’s motion to add Brougham’s name to the Bank committee’,4 and he did so. In his maiden speech, 8 Mar., on the motion for investigation of electoral corruption at Penryn, Beaumont stated that
although no friend to wild reform, he considered the transfer of the elective franchise from such corrupt boroughs ... to towns like Manchester and Leeds, the most salutary reform which the House could adopt, or the country with a view to its own good expect.
He voted with opposition on the complaint against Wyndham Quin*, 29 Mar., the lottery, 9 June, and the foreign enlistment bill, 21 June, but with government against Tierney’s censure motion, 18 May. He supported motions for inquiry into criminal law reform, 2 Mar., and charitable foundations, 23 June.
Beaumont planned to support Tierney’s amendment to the address, 24 Nov. 1819, ‘but was obliged to go away, not being well’. He made this known through The Times, an action which pleased Grey: ‘this can only proceed from real principle, and confirms the good opinion I had of him’.5 He voted for inquiry into the state of the nation, 30 Nov., but his opposition to the subsequent repressive legislation was selective. He supported the second reading of the seditious meetings bill, 2 Dec., but expressed reservations:
He trusted that as the whole of the country did not appear to be in a disturbed state, the bill would be made limited in its operation. He was perfectly willing to admit that the abominable doctrines which had of late been circulated with so much assiduity, were calculated to plunge the people into every mischievous excess, and were subversive of everything valuable in the country; but he was persuaded that the evil did not proceed altogether from the restlessness of the people, but was principally attributable to the great distress which existed. Whether or not that distress proceeded from misrule he was not prepared to say.
He tried to limit its duration to one session, 6 Dec., when he boasted that ‘he had kept himself quite unconnected with any party’. His motion was negatived, but he voted for Buxton’s amendment to restrict the operation of the measure to three years. He voted against the night search clause of the seizure of arms bill, 14 and 16 Dec., the sureties clause of the newspaper stamp duty bill, 20 Dec., and in three divisions against the blasphemous libels bill, 21, 22 and 23 Dec. 1819.
Shortly after his return for Northumberland at the general election of 1820, despite an opposition promoted by the 3rd Duke of Northumberland, to whom Liverpool wrote that Beaumont had ‘by his conduct lost any claim to our support’, he announced his formal adhesion to the Whigs and he was elected to Brooks’s on 11 July.6 An obituary described him—with some justice, in view of the turbulence of his subsequent career—as ‘a man of little stability of character’.7 He died 20 Dec. 1848.
Ref Volumes: 1790-1820
Author: David R. Fisher
- 1. Grey mss, Monck to Grey, 22 Dec. 1815, 28 Nov. 1817, 6 June 1818, Swinburne to same, 29 Nov., 17 Dec. 1817.
- 2. Add. 38458, ff. 236, 266.
- 3. Northumb. RO, Middleton mss ZMI B.16/III(b), Ridley to Monck, 2 June, Grey of Backworth to same, 3 June; Grey mss, Bigge to Grey, 14 June, Monck to Grey, 6 June 1818.
- 4. Grey mss.
- 5. Ibid. Grey to his wife, 26 Nov.; The Times, 26 Nov. 1819.
- 6. Add. 38458, ff. 279, 281; Grey mss, Grey to his wife, 26 May 1820.
- 7. Gent. Mag. (1849), ii. 95.