BURLAND, John Berkeley (1754-1804), of Steyning, Stogursey, Som. and Stock House, Stock Gaylard, Dorset.
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Family and Education
b. 6 Jan. 1754. o.s. of Sir John Burland, baron of Exchequer 1774-6, of Steyning by Laetitia, da. and h. of William Berkeley Portman of Orchard Portman, Som. educ. Westminster 1764-71; Corpus, Oxf. 1771; M. Temple 1769, called 1778. m. (1) 29 Jan. 1779, Theophila (d. 12 Feb. 1802), da. and h. of John Farr of Stock Gaylard, s.p.; (2) 29 Jan. 1804, Anne, da. and eventual h. of Stephen Nash of Bristol, Glos. and Leweston, Dorset, wid. of William Gordon, merchant, of Bristol, s.p. suc. fa. 1776.
Maj. Som. fencible cav. 1794, col. 1797; col. 1 E. Som. vol. inf. 1803; maj. Sherborne vols. 1804.
Burland, whose family had owned the manor of Steyning since the 14th century,1 was related through his mother to the Seymours: he was second cousin to Francis Seymour Conway*, 2nd Marquess of Hertford, and second cousin of the half-blood to the 9th and 10th Dukes of Somerset. He was bred to the bar, like his father before him, but almost certainly did not practise after his first marriage, which brought him property in Dorset. He made a name for himself in Somerset as an active and conscientious magistrate and in 1795 was briefly in contention for the vacant county seat. In 1801 he unsuccessfully contested Bath on the Camden interest and at the dissolution of 1802 he came forward for Wells in opposition to one of the sitting Members, but withdrew almost immediately on discovering that the influential support which he had been encouraged to expect was not forthcoming. He was eventually returned for Totnes, nominally on the interest of the Duchess of Bolton, though he may have owed his introduction there to Hertford, who had an interest in the borough.
In the House he supported the Addington ministry and gave indications that he might have become a useful backbench Member. He was appointed to the civil list committee, 16 Mar. 1803. Opposing Patten’s censure motion, 3 June, he argued that ‘the people were so well satisfied with peace, that Mr Pitt could not have carried on the war another year’. At Addington’s invitation he seconded the address, 22 Nov. 1803, calling for national unity to meet the French threat;2 and he apparently stood by the ministry when the opposition groups combined to bring it down in 1804.
Burland, who was teller for the minority against the woollen manufacturers’ bill, 15 June 1803, approved a limited increase in coroners’ fees, 5 Apr., thinking it important to put such vital local officials ‘beyond the reach of corruption’; but on 2 May he objected to the coroners’ bill being passed as it stood and contended that the discretionary power which it lodged in magistrates would set them at one another’s throats at every quarter sessions. He spoke on the clergy residence bill, 18 and 26 May 1803, and the volunteer consolidation bill, 9 Mar. 1804, when he proposed a clause empowering justices to commit offenders for non-payment of fines. On 8 May 1804 he urged Wilberforce to suspend his proposed bill for the better regulation of parish apprentices in order to give magistrates time to consider its implications. To Burland’s offer to combine the bill with one of his own, in which he had intended to deal with related matters, Wilberforce replied that he would be glad to have his advice on a subject with which he was ‘known to be so well acquainted’.
Burland was placed under ‘Addington’ in the ministerial list of May 1804, but there is doubt about his loyalty to the former premier after his fall from power. He did not vote against the second reading of the additional force bill, 8 June, but declared his opposition to it in the debate of 11 June. Addington accordingly reported that he would ‘in future vote against the bill’,3 yet he apparently did not do so in the divisions of 15 or 18 June. In September he was listed under ‘Pitt’, but his name was subsequently deleted, probably as a result of his sudden death on 2 Nov. 1804.