MANSFIELD, John (1778-1839), of Birstall House, nr. Leicester.
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Family and Education
b. 13 Mar. 1778, 2nd but 1st surv. s. of John Mansfield, banker, of Leicester by Mary, da. of William Pank. m. (1) 16 Feb. 1797, Sarah (d. 6 July 1813), da. and h. of Henry Ward of Stamford, Lincs., 7da.; (2) June 1815, Hannah Mary, da. and h. of Thomas Harper of Barne Hill, Stamford, s.p. suc. fa. 1798.
Maj. commdt. Leicester vols. 1799, lt.-col. commdt. 1803, 1 batt. militia 1809-11; receiver-gen. land tax, Leics. 1804-18; mayor, Leicester 1816; sheriff, Leics. 1833-4.
Mansfield inherited his father’s partnership in the Leicester bank of Boultbee, Mansfield and Boultbee and in 1802 sponsored the Members on the corporation interest. On the retirement of his current partner Thomas Babington* in 1818, he was returned unopposed as the corporation nominee. He had in 1816 championed the Leicester stockingers in their distress and as ‘the friend of the poor’ advocated the repeal of the malt tax rather than the property tax at the town meeting. He was nevertheless an alarmist whose letters to the Home secretary were laid before the secret committee on sedition in 1817.1
In the House he supported government, except on the Windsor establishment against which he spoke and voted on 22 Feb. 1819, in view of popular distress. In his maiden speech, 9 Feb., he had called on the new Poor Law committee to study the interests of the poor and not merely those of the propertied classes. He criticized the poor rates misappropriation bill, 25 Mar. and 17 May 1819, doubting whether there was a statutory remedy. Having on 15 Mar. obtained a select committee to inquire into the framework knitters’ distress, as stated in a petition he had presented, he was in the chair on their relief bill, 26 May. He still preferred a property tax to indirect taxes but said in the debate of 9 June that ‘if gentlemen would not have a property tax, he thought the taxes proposed were lenient’. He was in the ministerial majorities against Tierney’s censure motion, 18 May, and for the foreign enlistment bill, 10 June. He opposed the extension of the franchise at Penryn, 22 June.
Mansfield supported repressive measures, 30 Nov. 1819, having the day before stated his hostility to the Peterloo meeting. He criticized attempts to amend the seditious meetings bill, 7 and 8 Dec.; and on 9 Dec., on Bennet’s motion for inquiry into the state of the manufacturing districts, admitting that ‘he was really at a loss to know on which side to give his vote’ as he favoured inquiry, decided to vote against the motion because it was inspired by ‘party feeling’. He died 9 Jan. 1839.2