WARRE, John Ashley (1787-1860), of Cheddon Fitzpayne, Som.

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



1812 - 1818
1820 - 1826
1831 - 1834
1857 - 18 Nov. 1860

Family and Education

b. 5 Oct. 1787, 1st s. of John Henry Warre of Queen Square, Bloomsbury, Mdx. and Belmont Lodge,1 Herts. by Brathwaite, da. of John Ashley of Barbados. educ. Harrow 1796-1804, Christ Church, Oxf. 1804. m. (1) 2 Mar. 1819, Susanna (d. 4 July 1820), da. of John Cornwall of Hendon, Mdx., 1s. d.v.p.; (2) 9 June 1823, Florence Catherine, da. of Richard Magenis*, 5s. 1da. suc. fa. 1801; uncle Thomas to West Cliff, Kent 1824.

Offices Held

Charity commr. 1835-7

Sheriff, Kent 1848-9.

Maj. W. Som. militia 1811.


Warre came of an ancient family of Hestercombe, Somerset, which had latterly flourished in colonial trade. His great-grandfather William Warre went to Madras, his grandfather of the same name to Oporto; two of his father’s brothers, William and James, were of Oporto, and another, Thomas, of St. Petersburg. His father married a West Indian heiress. They were not a parliamentary family, but the above-mentioned Thomas Warre seems to have attempted with John Kingston*, who was a neighbour of the Warres at East Barnet and like them one of the ‘grand names in the vinous history of Oporto’, to find a seat at Newcastle-under-Lyme in 1802. He may also have been interested in contesting Hull in 1807.2

John Ashley Warre probably purchased his first seat in Parliament, coming in on the interest of Lord Mount Edgcumbe in 1812. Although the latter’s nominees were usually friends of government, Warre’s conduct was independent from the start, and when present he seems invariably to have voted with opposition on questions of public economy. He voted against the vice-chancellor bill, 11 Feb., for the sinecure reform bill, 29 Mar., and against the civil list, 27 May 1813. He favoured Catholic relief in 1813, 1816 and 1817. He voted against Christian missions to India, 12 July 1813. His first known speech was in commendation of the equitable distribution of relief to the Portuguese war victims, 6 July 1814. On 14 Nov. he questioned the Admiralty secretary about some allegedly ‘useless’ ships. He supported Tierney’s motions critical of the civil list in April-May 1815, and from then onwards spoke as well as voted for motions aimed at reducing government expenditure. On 4 Mar. 1816 he criticized the army estimates, said he regarded the newly acquired colonies as a burden and called taxation ‘the great and permanent cause of the misfortunes of the country’.

Warre was opposed to the continuation of the property tax, 18 Mar. 1816, and dissatisfied that government was effectually attempting to reduce military expenditure, 20, 29 Mar., 5 Apr. He opposed the Bank restriction bill, 1 and 3 May 1816 and again in May 1817. He was in the minority objecting to the unconstitutional use of the military, 13 May 1816. On 14 Feb. 1817, having opposed the address a fortnight before, he remarked wrily apropos of petitions for parliamentary reform, that it was a pity that those who presented them to the House were so ready to reveal the corruption that provided them with seats. He voted against parliamentary reform, 20 May 1817. On 25 Feb. 1817 he spoke on the Portuguese wine trade. On the same day he agreed with Ridley’s proposition that two of the lords of the Admiralty were ‘unnecessary to the public service’ and on 6 May said he thought Canning’s mission to Lisbon unnecessary. On 12 May in the debate on the army estimates, he ‘animadverted’ on the ‘unnecessary’ increase in the Life Guards and in the colonial staff. He was in the minority on the choice of a new Speaker, 2 June. He opposed the secret committee and the consequent suspension of habeas corpus that month, although he had not done so four months before: he now saw no grounds for it, 27 June, and he went on opposing it during the next session. He complained of prison conditions on 16 Feb. 1818, alleging that prisons appeared ‘in court dress’ on occasions when there were official visitors. He expressed distaste for the game bill, against which he quoted Blackstone, 18 Feb. 1818. Between then and the dissolution he remained critical of the cost of government. On 20 May he said he was prepared to give credit to stories of the ill-treatment of slaves. He opposed the aliens bill, 22 May 1818.

Left without a seat in 1818, Warre declined an offer to stand for Sandwich on an independent interest and unsuccessfully contested Weymouth. A year later he joined Grillion’s Club, which had a predominantly parliamentary membership. In October 1819 the Whig leader Tierney wished Earl Fitzwilliam would bring him in for Peterborough on a vacancy. He found a seat nearer home in 1820, at Taunton, offering as a friend of civil and religious liberty, of parliamentary reform and of rigid public economy. Tierney rejoiced at his success, but noted that he had ‘got into a heavy expense’.3 He died 18 Nov. 1860.

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: R. G. Thorne


  • 1. After Warre’s death, Belmont Lodge was sold to John Kingston (J. Cass, East Barnet, 148).
  • 2. C. Sellers, Oporto Old and New, 1, 39, 55, 227; Wentworth Woodhouse mun. F36/30.
  • 3. Oldfield Key (1820), 247; Grey mss, Tierney to Grey, 7 Oct. 1819, 22 Feb., 22 Mar.; Som. RO, DD/SAS/TN 160/1, Warre’s address, 10 Feb. 1820.