MASTERMAN SYKES, Sir Mark, 3rd Bt. (1771-1823), of Sledmere and Settrington, Yorks.
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Family and Education
b. 20 Aug. 1771, 1st s. of Sir Christopher Sykes, 2nd Bt.†, of Sledmere by Elizabeth, da. of William Tatton of Wythenshawe, Cheshire. educ. Westminster 1784-5; Brasenose, Oxf. 1788. m. (1) 11 Nov. 1795, Henrietta (d. July 1813), da. and h. of Henry Masterman of Settrington, s.p.; (2) 2 Aug. 1814, Mary Elizabeth, da. of William Egerton* (formerly Tatton) by 2nd w., s.p. Took name of Masterman before Sykes 27 Sept. 1796; suc. fa. as 3rd Bt. 17 Sept. 1801.
Sheriff, Yorks. 1795-6.
Lt. E. Riding yeomanry 1794; capt. Dickering vols. 1795-6; capt. commdt. Yorks. Wold yeomanry 1802, lt.-col. commdt. 1803-5, 2 batt. E. Riding militia 1808-9.
By the end of the 18th century the senior branch of the Sykes family had completed their transformation from Hull merchants to East Riding landowners. While junior branches of the family in Hull supported Earl Fitzwilliam and the Whig interest, the Sledmere branch were Pittite and Tory. Sir Mark’s father and his cousin William Tatton sat for Beverley in the late 18th century, but Sir Mark, although he was rumoured to be standing in 1806,1 never contested the seat and turned down a requisition to contest Hull in 1796.2 He was better known as an improving agriculturalist, a bibliophile and a sportsman than as a politician. Thomas Grenville, answering an inquiry from Lady Holland, knew no more of him than that he was ‘often rich and obstinate enough to outbid me at a book-auction ... but he also deals largely in hounds, and in running-horses, in prints, in pictures, in trees and in turnips’.3 In 1807, however, he emerged as a force in Yorkshire politics by taking advantage of the Whigs’ absorption in the county contest to defeat Fitzwilliam’s candidate Lawrence Dundas at York, and provided financial support for the temporarily successful attack on Fitzwilliam’s interest at Malton.4
A member of the Pitt Club in 1817, Sykes appears in no extant division list voting against the government and was classed ‘against the Opposition’ by the Whigs in 1810 and ‘Government’ in the Treasury list after the election of 1812—before he had been sent for to support the Liverpool ministry.5 But he is not known to have spoken during his 13 years in the House, and his votes for government were infrequent: on the address and the Walcheren inquiry, 23, 26 Jan. and 30 Mar. 1810; against the discharge of Gale Jones and against sinecure and parliamentary reform, 16 Apr., 17, 21 May 1810; on the Regent’s expenditure, 31 May 1815; for the property tax, 18 Mar.; on the civil list, 6 May 1816, and for the additional grant to the Duke of Clarence, 15 Apr. 1818. He opposed Catholic relief, 22 June 1812, 2 Mar. and 24 May 1813 and 21 May 1816. In January 1812 and January 1817 he negotiated a pair with his colleague Lawrence Dundas.6 In 1819 he took leaves of absence for illness.
Sykes survived a contest at York in 1818, but ill health, which had driven him abroad, compelled his retirement in 1820. He was criticized for failing to inform his friends of his withdrawal and the seat was gained by the Whigs: ‘no Tory could in this place bring such a force out as Sir Mark’, Robert Chaloner informed Fitzwilliam.7 Sykes died 16 Feb. 1823.
Ref Volumes: 1790-1820
Author: J. M. Collinge
- 1. Lonsdale mss, Muncaster to Lowther, 23 Oct. 1806.
- 2. Hull Advertiser, 28 May 1796.
- 3. Add. 51534, Grenville to Lady Holland, Sat.
- 4. E. Riding RO, DDBR/4/41.
- 5. Buckingham, Regency, i. 369.
- 6. Wentworth Woodhouse mun. F51/35; Grey mss, Tierney to Grey, 13, 20 Jan. 1817.
- 7. Sidmouth mss, Howden to Sidmouth, 13 Mar. 1820; Wentworth Woodhouse mun. F48/169.