Co. Waterford


Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832, ed. D.R. Fisher, 2009
Available from Cambridge University Press

Background Information

Number of registered freeholders:

6,104 in 1829; 779 in Mar. 1830; 1,210 in 1830


20 Mar. 1820RICHARD POWER 
1 July 1826RICHARD POWER1426
 Lord George Thomas Beresford527
2 Mar. 1830LORD GEORGE THOMAS BERESFORD vice Villiers Stuart, vacated his seat461
 John Barron318
 Thomas Wyse 

Main Article

Waterford, a mountainous shire and Ireland’s ‘chief dairy county’, had a thriving export market in agricultural produce and ‘fisheries of much value’, but other than a small cotton industry had ‘very inconsiderable’ manufactures. There were several market towns, including Dunmore, Tramore and the seaport of Passage East, the disfranchised boroughs of Lismore and Tallow, and the parliamentary seats of Dungarvan and Waterford, the venue for county elections.1 The representation had long been dominated by two leading magnates: the Whig 6th duke of Devonshire, an absentee, whose nominee Richard Power of Clashmore House had succeeded his father as Member in 1814, and the Tory 2nd marquess of Waterford, head of the resident Beresford family at Curraghmore and brother of John, the Irish primate, whose youngest brother Lord George Beresford had sat since the elevation of their illegitimate half-brother William Carr Beresford to the peerage in 1814. Both grandees had ambitions of capturing two seats, but after a close-run by-election in 1814 a tacit compact had emerged between them, to the frustration of a growing Catholic ‘independent’ interest, so that, as one of their leaders later observed, ‘the duke of Devonshire on one side, and the marquess of Waterford on the other, were the joint lords paramount’.2

At the 1820 general election Power and Beresford offered again. Attempts to get up an opposition, backed by a subscription among the ‘wealthy electors’ to ‘defray the expenses of any independent character who will come forward on the independent interest’, came to nothing, leaving the Members to be returned unopposed. By agreement they declined to be chaired, citing the ‘useless and mischievous waste of money amongst the rabble’, and instead subscribed ‘liberally’ to local charities.3 In the House Power supported and Beresford opposed Catholic claims, for which petitions reached the Lords, 23 Feb. 1821, 18 June 1824, 17 May 1825, and the Commons, 24 June 1824, 1 Mar. 1825. (The last, prepared at a well-publicized meeting, 12 Feb. 1825, was signed by 12 leading magistrates and 13 Protestants ‘of note’.)4 A hostile petition was presented to the Lords, 11 Apr. 1821.5 In July 1824 Henry Villiers Stuart, the 21-year-old pro-Catholic heir to the estates of the earl of Grandison, took up ‘permanent’ residence at Dromana and began lavishly entertaining and attending to the neglected registration of his tenants, over 600 of whom were soon on the rolls at Slievegrine mountains. The ‘Beresford family will not be enabled, as heretofore, to nominate one of its Members’, commented a report of that month on the ‘prospects’ of a future contest.6 In June 1825 a county registration committee was established by local activists of the Catholic Association. Next month, in what was later described as the ‘seed of all the after events’, Villiers Stuart was proposed as a candidate at a Catholic dinner for the 12 magistrate petitioners, which was attended by Richard Sheil*, a leading member of the Association.7 During rumours of a dissolution that August, a committee, later dubbed the ‘young committee’ on account of its inexperience, was established in his support and began actively canvassing under the direction of Thomas Wyse*, a close associate of Sheil who had just returned from abroad. (The other leading members were Sir Richard Musgrave* of Tourin, Henry Winston Barron† of Belmont House, Ballyneale, proprietor of the radical Waterford Chronicle, and the treasurer John Matthew Galwey† of Duckspool, Dungarvan.) Under their direction a network of parochial subcommittees was established to attend to the registers and manage the electors, with the assistance of salaried agents.8 The ‘Catholics are making uncommon exertions’ remarked Sir John Newport, Member for Waterford city, that month, adding, ‘the result ... will ... depend in a great degree on the period of dissolution, in consequence of the state of the registry. If, as is generally supposed, the elections are held in October, the Beresfords will be completely beaten’.9 On 20 Aug. Devonshire’s agent James Abercromby*, who was determined to maintain the duke’s ‘neutrality’ with respect to the second seat, observed that he had ‘heard so much of the zeal with which the Catholics are promoting their object of ousting Beresford, that I am almost afraid of facing the county’.10 Five days later Power, apparently under local pressure, signed an agreement with Villiers Stuart at Facthlegg House, stating that ‘in order to secure at the next election the return of two friends to Catholic emancipation’ they would

assist each other with all the support and interest which we mutually possess ... that the sum of two thousand pounds be lodged by ... Villiers Stuart ... and that a sum of one thousand pounds be lodged by ... Power in the same account ... which may be ... at the disposal of the committee, their order to be always signed by ... Robert Power*, the brother of Richard Power and by Sir William Homan as their nominees. And it is further understood that Power shall bring in his tenants at his own expense and [Villiers] Stuart at his own expense, all other expenses to be borne by the parties in the proportion [deposited] above ... and that all agents employed shall mutually act for both parties.11

Reporting to Peel, the home secretary, 2 Sept., Sir George Hill* observed:

Whigs and radicals, demagogues, Pope, priests and Papists, have combined to procure ... a triumph for the Roman Association by ousting the Beresfords ... Every source of influence has been resorted to and the most active measures employed ... Lord Waterford is firm and holds in utter contempt the insidious and offensive proposal of Stuart at a public meeting, ‘That if the Beresfords would abandon their opposition to ... Catholic claims he would not oppose Lord George’ ... Power ... has in consequence formed a junction with Villiers Stuart which he asserts he was forced into ... without the sanction or knowledge of the duke. I know the priests and Roman squires peremptorily told him he should be turned out if he hesitated, and he struck and yielded. Power is the duke’s Member, but if the duke as heretofore lets his tenants by private mutual understanding give their second votes for Beresford, then Lord George will succeed, otherwise from the present state of the registry, he will be beat. An estate bill of last session gave Lord Waterford leasing powers which he has largely exercised but the registry will not be available ... until next year, when he may defy his Grace.12

‘Beresford has no chance unless he be supported by the duke’, remarked Goulburn, the Irish secretary, a few days later.13 On 9 Sept. Devonshire, to the dismay of the committee, declined to break his ‘pledge’ of ‘neutrality’, explaining that he would give his ‘undivided support to Power’, in whose support he expected his own tenants to ‘vote singly’, and leave the contest to ‘the free choice’ of the remaining electors.14 In a response which Barron, their messenger, feared would ‘give offence’, the committee protested ‘that this neutrality, so far from operating in the sense in which your Grace desires it, will resolve itself into a violent support of Lord George Beresford’ and ‘debar the Catholic freeholder from the honest declaration of his sentiments’, 28 Sept.15 The ‘declaration of the duke that he will take no part save supporting Power has been a severe blow to our opponents’, Waterford informed Hill, 27 Sept., adding, ‘The dissolution not taking place at the moment will be of most essential service to us, our forty shillings [freeholders] will all come in no fuss ... the violent mania (if I may term it so) will be in some degree subsided’ and ‘many who are now actuated by terror and fear to vote against us will rally and join our banners’.16 Prospects of a dissolution faded during October, when it was reported that the Catholics of Dungarvan had subscribed an additional £2,000 towards Villiers Stuart’s return.17 Meetings in his support were held in Waterford in January 1826 and Dublin that February, when Daniel O’Connell* spoke. ‘The election of Mr. Stuart must be considered as the harbinger of civil freedom in Ireland’ and ‘will be a battle ... which ... will decide the Catholic question’, declared the Dublin Evening Post next month.18 On 7 May the committee appointed two solicitors ‘to investigate all the affidavits of registry and note our objections’, a task which ‘occupied eighteen days’.19 That month Wyse received various suggestions about how to improve their prospects. On the 13th Thomas Kirwan recommended placing ‘a certain fund in the hands of every parish priest’ enabling them to ‘advance cash or make some recompenses’ to voters ‘for opposing their landlords’. ‘If the Beresfords be met with their own weapons, that is with money, the victory will undoubtedly be ours’, he declared. On 22 May Barron urged the necessity of ensuring that ‘every freeholder should be personally canvassed by the priests’, adding, ‘I do not think this is a legitimate or constitutional way of carrying on an election, but we are not placed in a legitimate or constitutional position’.20 Reporting a canvass of Devonshire’s tenants that month, Galwey noted that ‘the answers of some people (£20 freeholders from their wealth and expenditure) to Currey [Devonshire’s steward] was capital, they had him wild when they said they [had] promised Mr. Stuart but would never vote singly for him’.21 Shortly before the dissolution, in an arrangement ‘understood’ to have been ‘planned by Devonshire’, it was reported that ‘Beresford keeps his seat, Stuart comes in and Power will be returned for a borough. Thus all parties will be satisfied’.22

At the 1826 general election, however, Power offered again, citing his family’s long political connection with the county. Beresford joined him, repudiating ‘falsehoods’ that he had formed a coalition with Power and was ‘pledged to oppose emancipation’, amidst reports that his family now had majority of over 600 on the registers. (William Vesey Fitzgerald* told Peel that the ‘difference of one day in the sealing and dispatching’ of the writs from Dublin had ‘made a difference to the Beresfords of two hundred votes’.) ‘This is no ordinary contest’, Beresford warned:

A few itinerant orators, emanating from a scarcely legal association, aided by a portion of the Catholic clergy subservient to its views, claim a right to impose a representative upon the legitimate electors ... The Sabbath is profaned and the altar polluted for the almost avowed purpose of defrauding the landlord of his influence ... and of creating a spiritual despotism.

Villiers Stuart entered the field describing the ‘vital necessity’ of emancipation and appealing to the freeholders not to be intimidated by the ‘unconstitutional’ appointment of a stipendiary magistrate and an ‘army of troops’ at the behest of the Beresfords. Their ‘plan of bribery and intimidation, to an extent hitherto unknown’, he declared, would be rendered ‘perfectly harmless and abortive’ by the ‘influence of the Catholic clergy’. In comments that were later seized upon by Beresford’s supporters as evidence of his ‘hypocrisy’ in denouncing landlord influence, he added that ‘by a fatality, perhaps accidental, I am deprived of the due weight I had ... expected from my registered votes’, but insisted that he would approach the hustings with ‘no less confidence’. At a ‘decisive’ meeting at Stradbally chapel attended by over 6,000 Catholics, 11 June, a ‘numerous body’ of Waterford’s tenants demanded to ‘be allowed to be the first to vote ... against the bigoted house of Beresford’. Noting similar revolts elsewhere, the Southern Reporter asserted that the 70 tenants of Robert Uniacke of Woodhouse had ‘refused’ his instructions to ‘plump for Beresford’, whereupon

he vociferated with awful imprecations, that he would not leave a tree standing on the demesne of Woodhouse, that he would stop up the very wells and watercourses, convert his estates into a waste commonage, and betake himself to England, never, Never, NEVER!, to return to this ungovernable country.

‘Appearances in Waterford are very gloomy’, George Dawson* advised Peel:

Almost all the tenantry of two of the greatest supporters of Lord George have declared against their landlords, in one case out of 70 I hear that only four will vote for the Beresfords. It has been the cause of religion and the cry is their church and the salvation of their souls against all worldly advantages. So strong is the feeling that when one of the Beresford family went into a milliner’s shop in Waterford ... the milliner requested her to go away immediately, as she ... would lose the favour of all her friends.

On 14 June Dominick Ronayne of Dungarvan informed a meeting of the Association in Dublin of the likelihood of success, despite Devonshire’s ‘deplorable’ decision to ‘stand aloof’. Four days later O’Connell arrived to begin a public tour, during which he implored the electors ‘not to give their votes to the base, tyrannical, the flogging, and the torturing Beresfords’ and urged Devonshire’s tenants to rebel.23 (It has been suggested by Wyse’s biographer that O’Connell ‘was of little assistance’, for ‘although he was qualified to vote ... he made no effort to register ... so hopeless of success did he think the case to be’.)24 Writing to his wife from Dromana, where he had been invited to stay by Villiers Stuart, 19 June, O’Connell related:

At Kilmacthomas, a town belonging to the Beresfords ... the people ... came out to meet us with green boughs and such shouting you can have no idea of. I harangued them from a window of the inn, and we had a good deal of laughing at the bloody Beresfords. Judge what the popular feeling must be when in this, a Beresford town, every man their tenant, we had such a reception. A few miles farther on we found a chapel with the congregation assembled before mass. The priest made me come out and I addressed his flock, being my second speech. The freeholders here were the tenants of a Mr. [Wray] Palliser, who is on the adverse interest, but almost all of them will vote for us. We then proceeded to Dungarvan on the coast. There are here about four hundred voters belonging to the duke of Devonshire. His agents have acted a most treacherous part by us, and our committee at Waterford were afraid openly to attack these voters lest the duke should complain of our violating what he calls his neutrality. But I deemed that all sheer nonsense, and to work we went ... The clergy of the town most zealously assisted us. We have, I believe, completely triumphed, and I at present am convinced we shall poll to the last man of these voters.

‘The election of Stuart now appears to be me quite certain’, he added two days later: ‘The priests have gained over a sufficient number of the adverse voters to ensure us a decided majority ... Devonshire was to have been neutral but I believe I have helped to put an end to the absurd notion of neutrality’.25

At the nomination, 22 June 1826, Power was proposed by John Odell and seconded by Wyse, who urged the necessity of supporting both pro-Catholic candidates. Richard Smyth of Ballinatrea proposed Beresford, citing the disastrous effects of breaking the bonds between landlord and tenant and asking, ‘If distressed, to whom could they appeal?’ Beresford was seconded by William Christmas of Whitfield. Villiers Stuart was proposed by Musgrave. Pressed on the hustings, Beresford reiterated his determination not to become ‘pledged’ to such ‘an indefinite measure’ as Catholic relief and to ‘exercise his judgement’ when ‘anything should be proposed’. In reply O’Connell, whose lapsed status as a registered freeholder meant that he had to be proposed in order to speak, protested that emancipation was a ‘very definite term’ whose ‘meaning was very easily explained’, before declining a poll. (It was later asserted that this was the first Catholic candidacy since the Union.)26 An ‘absolutely astonishing’ six-day contest ensued, widely hailed as one of the ‘most important’ popular triumphs of this period.27 The first day’s poll, which secured Villiers Stuart 151 votes, Power 127, and Beresford 103, was ‘considered decisive, as in some of the booths where Beresford’s main strength was supposed to lie, his agents could not even get a tally’. (O’Connell, however, had privately hoped for ‘a majority of from sixty to hundred’.)28 ‘The government will lose’, William Carr Beresford advised the duke of Wellington that day, blaming the ‘desertion of the Protestant landlords by their tenants’, but adding that the ‘methods employed’ afforded hope of a petition.29 Thereafter Beresford’s agents began a campaign of legal obstruction, lodging objections of the ‘most frivolous and vexatious kind’ against ‘almost every man who polled for the popular candidates’. ‘They are now practising every species of delay’ and ‘there is no artifice whatsoever but is resorted to’, complained O’Connell. On the fourth day, 27 June, Beresford, speaking ‘in such a foaming rage’ that he ‘was almost unintelligible’, accused the Catholic priesthood of getting up ‘a most infamous, scandalous and shameful confederacy against him’ and promised to ‘poll to the last man’, prompting ‘loud cries of "That won’t be many"’. His agents then submitted formal protests at Villiers Stuart’s use of ‘banners and cockades’ and ‘intimidation’ by the priests, including the ‘actual excommunication’ of ‘several’ of their Catholic supporters.30 (One broadsheet entitled ‘Warning to Beresford Electors’ had noted

the sudden, awful and horrible death of Darby Geary ... an unfortunate Catholic [who], after voting for Lord George and immediately after swallowing the oath, dropped dead on the floor, was taken out through the Orange door, and carried off a lifeless corpse to his wife and eight children. Lord George promises to provide for them, but the Devil provides for their unfortunate father. Here is the dreadful effect of wicked people not being advised by their priests.31

In another tirade against Beresford’s supporters, O’Connell had declared that ‘the mothers who bore them ought to mourn for the hour that gave them birth’ and ‘the wives from their sides should leave them’.)32 ‘All we have to take care of is some paltry trick on the part of these vile Beresfords’, O’Connell notified his wife, 28 June, adding, ‘We had a duel this morning between two of our attorneys; they fired two shots each without any mischief. Our attorney was a Mr. O’Brien Dillon, theirs a Mr. Charles Maunsell’. Rumours that the Beresfords were about to start another candidate, in order to create more delays and expense, came to nothing and on 29 June Lord George resigned in third place, vowing to petition. Power and Villiers Stuart were duly returned two days later, when the absence of serious affrays and fatalities was widely applauded. ‘We have not [had] the slightest species of disturbance’ and ‘have kept the people perfectly tranquil’, O’Connell boasted to his wife. ‘The staff of Orange despotism has been hurled down and never again shall its blood-stained flag unroll its folds in the fields of Waterford’, enthused Barron’s Waterford Chronicle. ‘In one short week’, observed a correspondent of The Times (rumoured to be Sheil), the Waterford freeholders have ‘crumbled the powerful House of Beresford, ... avenged the injuries of the past, and given a noble example to every Irishman throughout the land’.33 ‘The priests in that part of Ireland are omnipotent’, remarked Lord Liverpool, the premier, 4 July, after seeing a report of their activities compiled by William Carr Beresford.34 ‘The Waterford contest had been long decided upon’, commented Abercromby, 12 July, but ‘their success has been complete beyond I believe the expectation of the most sanguine’.35 Writing to Lord Holland, Lord Duncannon* observed:

The Waterford election ... is indeed a very great triumph for the Catholics, and has been conducted much to their credit with the most perfect order and regularity. You may hear a different opinion, but I have been on the spot from the beginning, and you may be assured such has been the fact. I think, however, that it has opened a new view of the state of Ireland as connected with the Catholic question, and not a very pleasing one to those who have property here, if that question is not speedily set to rest. The priests have tried their strength and succeeded against the landlords ... Beresford has put out a foolish address in which he talks of petitioning ... in consequence of the interference of the Catholic clergy, but he should recollect that the Protestant clergy have been setting them the example for years.36

Following the death of Waterford later that month, Beresford succeeded as governor of the county and colonel of the militia with the support of Goulburn, who considered ‘it would be inhuman to add to ... the mortification of their defeat in the county by depriving them of any part of the dignity which heretofore attached to them’.37

Over the ensuing months it became clear that Villiers Stuart’s committee had overreached themselves financially.38 Unable to meet the flood of demands for ‘large sums’, many of which were considered to be ‘very unacceptable’, on 11 Aug. 1826 Homan urged Wyse to ‘restrain’ them ‘as much as can in justice be done’:

A book should be opened in which a clerk will write down the amount of each demand, leaving a column for the reductions (if any) and one for the final payment. Till such a statement is made and all the accounts called in, it will not be possible to ascertain how much ... to provide ... I think it advisable to put a short advertisement into the paper ... to require all demands against Messrs Power and Stuart which are still unsatisfied to be forthwith sent in.39

Bills were still being settled in 1829, when Wyse was advised that the outstanding debt was £8,200 and that ‘some’ creditors were ‘on the point of recovering their claims, by resorting to law proceedings against the election agents’.40 (On his way through Waterford the previous year, Villiers Stuart was ‘besieged’ in the ‘most violent manner’ by a mob of furious creditors, from whom he had to be ‘rescued’ by a special constable.)41 In addition to the £2,000 deposited ‘on account’ by Villiers Stuart and the ‘several thousands’ spent on bringing up voters ‘at his own expense’, Lord Colchester was later told:

Previous to the election, the Catholic bishop informed Stuart that if he would lodge in his hands the sum of £10,000, he would secure his election. The money was paid accordingly and we know the result. I am not certain whether Stuart conceived that the expenses of the election were to be defrayed out of this sum, but if he did he has been disappointed, as the bills have since been brought in to him to a great amount.42

It was later reported that the contest had cost him £30,000.43

In addition to bills, Villiers Stuart’s committee began to receive numerous applications for charitable assistance, such as that from an ‘inhabitant of Lismore’ detailing the ‘barbarous’ way in which he had been refused employment on Waterford’s estates since the election.44 On 7 Sept. 1826 Galwey notified Wyse that ‘O’Brien the priest is constantly coming to me on the subject ... of his parishioners who are persecuted by their landlords’ and recommended providing him with ‘something to give these men by way of charity’. Citing the problem of Devonshire’s recalcitrant tenants, of whom Currey had apparently been preparing ‘lists’,45 he added:

I am decidedly of opinion that it would be most injurious to offend the duke ... Now that we look for his support in this county, for contests we will have, the Curraghmore [Beresford] people won’t give up the county quietly and I fear we never will again get the priests and 40s. freeholders to come in in the same way as the time past.46

That month a Protecting Association of Waterford, based on a system of ‘parochial committees’ for which Wyse later claimed the credit, was established ‘for the purpose of maintaining a liberal, independent and useful representation for county and city, and of protecting tenants against the persecution of their landlords in consequence of a conscientious discharge of their public duty at the late election’.47 By November 1826 it was reported that the county had become the ‘theatre of a most unholy and unjust persecution against the 40s. freeholders’, and that in order ‘to meet the urgent demands now pressing on the Protecting Association’, they had been forced to apply to the Catholic Association for £300.48 In July 1827 the Association supplied another £200, making Waterford ‘one of the chief recipients of relief’. Financial matters were put on a firmer footing with the formation of a New Catholic Rent Committee under the chairmanship of one Roger Hayes that September.49 On 7 Oct. 1827 the Beresford agent George Meara, concerned at hostile press coverage of their landlord evictions, informed Primate Beresford of an opportunity for a libel case against the Waterford Chronicle:

The fact relating to Tynan’s dismissal from Curraghmore is correctly stated, but it is not correct that he rejected a bribe. None was offered to him. Tynan was dismissed the day after the election, having voted for Stuart ... The case of Nugent upon which the Chronicle dwells is this: he is one of near 80 persons against whom ejectments were brought last July. The Catholic Association paid the rents and costs of all except Nugent, from what cause I do not know, Nugent having voted for Stuart the first day.

‘It would be very prudent to have the opinion of the attorney-general, and some eminent lawyer’, he advised. No action appears to have been forthcoming.50

Expectation that Beresford, who in the months following his defeat was widely fêted as a Protestant martyr, would petition had prompted Villiers Stuart to retain lawyers under the supervision of Homan, to watch for ‘any irregularity on the part of the petitioners’ and ‘ascertain if any error may have occurred in their progress’.51 On 15 Nov. 1826 a petition from Beresford was duly lodged for presentation, complaining of the creation of ‘faggot’ voters, the use of ‘ribbons and cockades’ and ‘gifts and rewards’, and the ‘unconstitutional conduct of the priests’, who had used ‘ecclesiastical censures’ to exercise ‘absolute control and dominion’ over the ‘ignorant and superstitious’ peasantry.52 Three days later, however, Beresford publicly announced that he would not pursue it, citing the ‘cost’ and likelihood of the ‘same baneful effects’ in any by-election that was not ‘governed by different laws’.53 The petition was presented, 22 Nov., but discharged, 13 Dec. Meanwhile another petition in similar terms, but also protesting at the absence of qualification oaths and related certificates during the poll, was presented, 4 Dec. 1826.54 It ‘appears to be founded on ... 27 George III, ch. 47, sec. 19 ... "that no Roman Catholic freeholder shall be entitled to vote, unless he shall produce to the sheriff or other returning officer a certificate of having taken and subscribed said oaths and declaration"’, noted Homan:

But ... in no Act is it stated that, a vote having once been given, for the want of this certificate can be taken off the poll ... The legislature ... never intended to give a party the benefit of an objection not made or relied on at the time of polling. The present is a most unprincipled attempt of a few disappointed individuals ... and if ... gone into, will place the House of Commons in the predicament of investigating the legality of the votes by which Mr. Power takes his seat, by an attempt to oust Mr. Stuart, the injustice of which proceeding is manifest ... Mr. Greene ... has given the following statement [that] ... ‘At the late election ... an arrangement was entered into between the counsel, that the qualification oath should be dispensed with, but it was not reduced into writing. A memorandum of it, however, was entered on the sheriff’s books, but not signed by any party’.55

Warning that the petitioners ‘looked as if they really mean to go on’, 12 Dec. 1826, Messrs. Farrar and Co. of Dublin urged Homan to ‘raise every possible objection to Lord George’s votes’ and have cases prepared on ‘each separate individual’ with ‘great care and diligence ... during the Christmas vacation’.56 On 8 Feb. the petitioners requested more time to enter into recognizances, which was agreed to after a debate, 13 Feb. 1827, but in the event their petition lapsed.57 Disputes about the contest, however, continued. On 16 Mar. Villiers Stuart brought up a petition against the appointment of a stipendiary magistrate and ‘additional military’ during his campaign, in protest at which he, Barron, Galwey, Homan, Power and his brother Robert had signed a requisition for a county meeting the previous October. One in similar terms demanding an inquiry into the governance of the county reached the Lords, 20 Mar.58 A petition from Villiers Stuart’s supporters complaining of ‘misstatements’ about their votes in the earlier petitions was also presented to the Commons, 16 Mar. One protesting that they had been ‘libelled’ by remarks in The Times alleging that they been ‘induced’ and ‘bribed’ to support Villiers Stuart was presented by Henry Brougham, but deemed inadmissible, 11 June 1827.59

Petitions for Catholic claims, which both Members of course supported, reached the Commons, 12 Feb., 5 Mar. 1827, 4, 5 Feb., 1 May 1828, and the Lords, 6, 12 Mar. 1827. A hostile petition was presented to the Lords, 8 Mar. 1827.60 Next month, at an aggregate meeting of the Catholics chaired by Richard Power O’Shee, a committee was formed to draw up the rules for a county Liberal or Independent Club, which Wyse sought unsuccessfully to inaugurate throughout the rest of that year.61 Following an appeal by the Waterford Chronicle for an association to be ‘immediately’ formed lest the county ‘linger and lag behind’, an Independent Club was founded at meeting of the ‘friends of civil and religious liberty’, 7 July 1828.62 At its first meeting the following month, Musgrave was elected as president and Wyse, who became secretary, was empowered to begin ‘establishing parochial clubs’.63 His success was applauded at a Catholic dinner for Lord Nugent* chaired by Barron, 9 Oct.64 Later that month John Kiely of Stancally Castle launched a county Brunswick Club with Beresford as president, which Villiers Stuart denounced in a public letter to the bishop of Waterford renewing his subscription to the Catholic Association, 3 Nov. 1828.65 On 19 Jan. 1829 a county meeting was held at Dungarvan in support of Lord Anglesey, the recalled Irish viceroy, at which Power, Musgrave and Barron were the principal speakers.66 Three days later the Brunswickers met to oppose the Wellington ministry’s concession of emancipation, which both Members of course supported, and for which petitions reached the Lords, 13 Feb. (accompanied by one for repeal of the Irish Subletting Act), 17, 30 Mar., and the Commons, 20 Feb., 18 Mar.67 Hostile petitions were presented to the Commons, 5 Mar., and the Lords, 3 Apr.68 By the accompanying alteration of the franchise, the registered electorate of 1829 was reduced from 6,104 to 1,210, of whom 332 were registered at the new minimum freehold value of £10, 454 at £20 and 424 at £50. The returning officer, however, noted that ‘many’ voters had ‘died’ without his knowledge and it later emerged that there were only about 800 voters.69

Citing this drastic reduction of the constituency, on 6 May 1829 Villiers Stuart quite unexpectedly announced his intention to resign, saying he ‘could no longer’ regard himself as the representative of those by whom he had been ‘so proudly returned’. He declined to offer again as he would be unable able to ‘make an effectual registry’. It was expected that there would be no election until after the next meeting of Parliament, his ‘friends’ having ‘asked him not to vacate until then’. In what O’Connell publicly denounced as ‘a dereliction of duty’, however, on 25 June he took the Chiltern Hundreds, amidst speculation that he had been promised a borough or a peerage by Wellington, who was reputedly ‘anxious to have Beresford reinstated’, and had received ‘hard cash’ from the Beresfords, all of which he vigorously denied. His retirement has ‘occasioned some perplexity’ and ‘rewards his friends by leaving them in the lurch at the mercy of the common enemy’, observed The Times, adding that if he had ‘made a secret bargain ... it would indeed be a paltry job’.70 A number of candidates were spoken of as possible challengers to Beresford, whose running was deemed ‘certain’. Barron was repeatedly rumoured, although in a ‘communication’ sent by Meara, 11 May, he had privately offered to support the Beresfords if they would assist his return for an expected vacancy at Waterford city.71 Others ‘mentioned’ included Lord Ebrington*, Sir Richard Keane of Cappoquin House, Musgrave and young William Cavendish*, whom, George Lamb* told Devonshire, the ‘Popish priests’ of Dungarvan were ‘quite determined to have started’ if he had been defeated for Cambridge University, in what ‘would have been a mess, with Power already seated as your Member’, 25 June.72 That month, in a move designed to thwart any opposition which provoked ‘considerable controversy’, the Beresfords attempted to retain Sheil and O’Connell as their professional agents.73 Beresford ‘desires to bury in oblivion and forever the political differences which formerly existed between you’, David Mahony, brother of the Irish agent Pierce Mahony†, informed O’Connell in a letter urging him to accept, adding, ‘His object will be, during his canvass as well as during the election ... to assist in restoring friendly feeling among all parties ... Sheil has accepted’.74 O’Connell was initially amenable, as correspondence later published by the Mahoneys, in an attempt to discredit him, revealed, and for a while the Beresfords entertained hopes of an uncontested return.75 On 7 July, however, William Carr Beresford informed the primate:

I regret I have to tell you that our political horizon is a little overcast with slight clouds ... This is occasioned by that ... most mischievous person Galwey, who by his activity ... is capable of giving great trouble and again embroiling the county in strife, and in strife pretty similar to that of the last election ... He ... went to Dublin ... and obliged O’Connell to retract and to alter his former conduct to become probably more violent than ever. It is the bully bullied. They threatened him with an opposition in Clare. The same has been done to Sheil as to Louth, and the most violent invectives written to him by his friends and party for taking the fee of a Beresford. He, however, remains firm. The offer of the county has been made to Barron [who] I have ... desired Meara to see ... though I confess I do not like having anything to do with [him] ... Lord George has certainly been successful in receiving assurances, but if the priests interfere they may much lessen the effect of the Catholic gentlemen and nothing can be less active than our former friends ... Few have registered and really as far as I have seen they are more willing to find excuses for not acting than zeal in the cause ... Devonshire, we are informed ... has given the same orders of neutrality that he did at the last. Will they be ... obeyed? ... We must not conceal from ourselves that the struggle, as regards us, will be decisive of our pretensions for a very indefinite period ... The question is for you to decide to what length in expense you will go ... I fear there is no chance of conciliating that fellow Galwey.76

Negotiations evidently ensued, for on 21 July Beresford reported ‘a meeting with Mr. Galwey’ in which ‘all our differences are settled’, explaining:

The fact is they cannot get anyone to start and we have nothing to do but be quiet. H.W. Barron is trying to intimidate us into support for [him in] the city [of Waterford]. I would rather give up the whole thing altogether than accede to his demands. He is a shuffling, dirty blackguard who can do ... mischief and is well inclined to ... Meara rates him too high ... I would advise remaining as we are until after the July registry, we can then see how we stand.77

Next day Meara told William Carr Beresford that the registration had ‘been very hostile’, that Barron was ‘positively to be the candidate for the county’, and that if ‘your lordship’s mind is made up’ against entering into ‘any compact’ with him, ‘it might be prudent to have some conversation with Wyse’.78 At a meeting of the Liberal ‘electioneering club’ held in Dungarvan the following week, Barron duly announced his willingness to stand if no one else would.79 Convinced that Galwey remained ‘the person who can either create or stop any opposition’, Beresford went to see him again, correctly anticipating that he would now demand better terms, which he relayed to William Carr Beresford, 4 Aug.:

He has proposed to secure my election and most likely without trouble, his terms assistance in the borough of Dungarvan or ... a seat in Parliament and paying £500 a year in advance for it ... This is private and under a promise that you or I do not mention it to anyone.

Next day Beresford added, ‘He told me ... if returned this time, I might depend upon it I was seated for life, for if he made a division once among the party, they would never be able to rally again ... He is to attend the meeting [of independents] to be held on Monday next and if we arrange with him, he will throw cold water upon it’.80 Although the Beresfords declined his offer, citing ‘the total impossibility it would be to us to support him in Dungarvan’, as ‘we should bring down ... Devonshire in declared hostility against us, and thereby bring on what it was our object to avoid, contest and discord in the county’, some form of understanding was evidently reached. On 10 Aug. William Carr Beresford advised the primate:

There has been great commotion and divisions in the enemy’s camp, and we [have] gained something by it. The Barrons have offered to bring us in clear if we would support Winston Barron for the city, but we have declined as it would be something degrading to us, from the character of the man. Today there is to be the long-threatened meeting ... Galwey is pacified without any engagement to him on our part, except assuring him of our good will and desires to be in friendship with him. He must now attend this meeting, but he says he will do us no injury.

Writing again a few days later, he reported that ‘the person to stand has not been found’, since ‘they found that Barron would not do’.81 At a subsequent meeting of the independents Musgrave was solicited to stand, but declined, whereupon a requisition was sent to his brother John, the ambassador to Sweden. On 9 Sept. William Carr Beresford heard that he had also refused, despite rumours of support from Devonshire, so ‘that finally Barron will be the man’. After more protracted meetings, however, it was first decided to send a requisition to Villiers Stuart urging him to offer again, which William Carr Beresford believed he might consider, as he had returned to the county and given ‘notice for the registry of 60 freeholds, though it is uncertain what he is about’.82 At a ‘crowded’ meeting of the Independent Club at Dungarvan attended by Barron, O’Connell and Robert Otway Cave*, 7 Oct. 1829, a resolution was eventually agreed inviting Barron ‘to offer in the event of Villiers Stuart’s declining’, which he promptly did the next day, citing his inability to ‘discover any change of circumstances’. Shortly thereafter allegations began to appear in the press that Barron, who had denounced Beresford as ‘unfit to represent the county’, had recently offered the Beresfords his ‘whole support’ provided they ‘looked on while he endeavoured to job the city of Waterford’.83

Commenting on Beresford’s prospects that autumn, Lord Bessborough noted that ‘the Catholics in Carrick who were most opposed to him last time’ had ‘at once promised their support on the express ground of the cause of difference having disappeared’, and ‘his worst opposers now are his Orange friends who are furious at his having asked for Catholic support’.84 ‘There are some Protestant landlords who feel very indignant at O’Connell and Sheil having been applied to, and who are of opinion that Lord George has changed his principles’, Meara reported, 20 Oct., adding that ‘there appears to be a reasonable prospect of success with a little exertion and a decided manly address from Lord George’.85 Following public criticism of the retainers by the staunchly Protestant George Dawson, with whom the Beresfords had quarrelled, Pierce Mahony urged the Beresfords to abandon their opposition to his return for county Londonderry and effect a reconciliation, warning that if Beresford’s former supporters got ‘hold of the conduct of his family toward their favourite Mr. Dawson in Derry, I am convinced Lord George cannot approach the hustings, even against Barron who is deservedly unpopular’.86 The advice was evidently heeded (at least temporarily), for on 23 Oct. Mahoney informed Hill that ‘Lord Beresford’s letter removes all difficulty ... his party disavows any opposition to Dawson’.87 Prompted by rumours that Beresford intended to withdraw, and speeches by O’Connell and Barron accusing his family of attempting to ‘bribe’ the former leaders of the Association with retainers, on 3 Nov. Beresford formally declared, stating his ‘firm attachment’ to the British constitution and Protestant religion, his acceptance of emancipation as ‘final and irrevocable’, and his possession of letters revealing that Barron had ‘twice offered’ him the ‘keys to the county’ in return for assistance in Waterford city.88 ‘It is very personal and pointed to the individual Barron’, William Carr Beresford observed, but ‘the substance is fact and proper to be exposed, and ... I am glad that he has frankly stated ... his principles’.89 In a reply that Beresford took ‘immediate notice of’, Barron charged him with a ‘dishonourable violation of a private and confidential communication’ and a ‘base and profligate abandonment of every principle held sacred amongst gentlemen’, and dwelt at length on Beresford’s far ‘greater inconsistency’ in having first opposed emancipation and then retained one of its principal agitators. A ‘meeting’ was promptly arranged and on 7 Nov. ‘an exchange of shots took place without effect’ at Bishop’s Hall, county Kilkenny, following which Beresford’s second ‘removed him’ after making it ‘distinctly understood’ that they ‘had not received satisfaction’. ‘We are at a loss to see how this duel ... would have mended Mr. Barron’s case in the eyes of the people’, commented The Times.90 ‘Lord George stands upon the highest ground in the opinion of every person in this county’, Meara informed the primate, 15 Nov.:

Your Grace appears to think it necessary that some statement should be made by Lord George in answer to Barron’s address ... We think that it is uncalled for, in as much as there has not been the slightest imputation cast upon him by any person. The publication by him is looked upon by every person as most justifiable ... With respect to the publication of an explanation for the reasons for applying to O’Connell and Sheil ... it will not do any service. It would offend one party, and not satisfy the other.91

Reports that O’Connell intended to ‘put Barron again on his legs’ came to nothing, it being noted that he could hardly ‘do what Barron’s own relatives, as may be seen by their disclaimers ... have decided upon not doing’. ‘There is no forgiveness’, commented the Freeman’s Journal, likening Barron to a ‘woman that vends her honour’.92 The ‘circumstances attending Barron’s conduct preclude the possibility of his ever being returned’, Captain Roberts of Belmont advised Anglesey in a letter urging his son Lord William Paget* to offer ‘as there is no other person here who would have the smallest chance’, 9 Nov.93 (Nothing came of this.) Later that month Barron withdrew, citing the ‘war of words’ that had erupted against him.94 ‘I have succeeded beyond all expectation in the policy I suggested to the Beresfords’, Mahony boasted to Hill, 27 Nov. 1829: ‘The result is that Barron has retired and Beresford is to be returned without opposition and supported by the whole strength of the county. O’Connell is outraged and says he will start his son Maurice’.95 ‘I believe a Beresford is nearly as good as a Barron, at least he had shown more political honesty in refusing that base offer of electioneering barter’, remarked one of Wyse’s agents.96

During January 1830 arrangements were made for Barron’s younger brother John, a lieutenant in the 17th Lancers, to offer in his place. In a second address reaffirming his acceptance of emancipation and opposition to its repeal, Beresford appealed to him to decline and urged the electors to preserve the independence of the county against ‘O’Connell’s candidate’. Press speculation that Barron had ‘no intention of standing’, however, proved unfounded and on 15 Feb. he offered as a supporter of retrenchment and reduced taxation, upon which Beresford, ‘ever the pensioned supporter of government’, had remained ‘silent’. Speaking at a Dungarvan dinner two days later, Beresford accused O’Connell, who had ‘nothing to do with this county’, of pursuing a campaign of ‘coarse invectives and foul calumnies against his family and himself’ and attempting to rekindle the religious divides of 1826. At the nomination, 23 Feb., Beresford was proposed by Richard Smyth of Ballynahay, a ‘man of liberal principles’, and seconded by Thomas Fitzgerald of Ballinapark, ‘a Catholic of large fortune’, who warned that voting against Beresford on account of his former opposition to emancipation would only ‘encourage the remembrance of those animosities’ which it was the ‘duty of every good Irishman to banish’. Barron was proposed by Alexander Sherlock of Dungarvan and seconded by the barrister Dominick Ronayne†. One Thomas Steele was also proposed, but after defending the professional role of Sheil, who had already seen off a legal challenge to Beresford’s property qualification, he declined to stand a poll. (‘He made a frantic rambling oration’, noted the Waterford Mail, ‘and seemed to us as if he were a little touched in the head’.) In a ‘remarkable speech’ rejecting any similarity between this contest and that of 1826, Wyse declared that he would oppose Beresford on account of his failure ‘to support the measures necessary for the prosperity of Ireland’, but condemned the ‘interference’ of O’Connell and attempts by ‘certain members of the Catholic clergy’ to ‘revive theological animosities’, as he would be ‘sorry to see clerical power permanently established in the county’. A six-day poll ensued, in which a majority of the ‘respectable Catholic proprietary’ voted for Beresford, amidst scenes of uproar and violence that presented ‘a strong contrast to the order of 1826’. Denouncing the ‘unexpected desertion’ of the Catholics and the ‘treachery’ of Sheil, who was repeatedly ‘assailed’ throughout, the defeated Barron vowed to petition, citing the ‘lavish expenditure’ of his opponent on ‘bribery and corruption’. Thanking his ‘able counsel’ at the declaration, 2 Mar., Beresford proclaimed that ‘having witnessed the effects of emancipation’, he was ‘now as friendly to its principle’ as he was before ‘opposed to it’, and that ‘none but a blockhead could wish for its repeal’.97 ‘The government is indebted to Sheil’, he told Wellington later that day, observing that ‘although there was every exertion made to reduce the freeholders by priestly influence and intimidation, it had no effect against the gentlemen and landed interest’.98 Commenting on the ‘remarkable’ return of ‘a Tory’ by the Catholic gentry, a Times correspondent declared that ‘[Henry] Hunt* and [William] Cobbett† were right when they said that emancipation would prejudice the interests of the radical cause, by connecting an immense community with the existing institutions of the country’.99

Two petitions against Beresford’s return complaining of ‘extensive bribery’, the ‘kidnapping’ of voters, and impartial military assistance by the mayor of Waterford were presented but abandoned in early April 1830.100 Later that month Meara advised Beresford to assist ‘those individuals who are persecuted and suffering inconvenience from having supported you’:

Unless we make some demonstration of supporting them, I fear we shall be charged with neglect, and the consequences will be that the exertions of those persons may be neutralized hereafter ... Opposition is alive in the county, the radicals are determined to oppose, and although they may not be successful, still they will entail enormous expense. The next election cannot be very remote, we should begin to think about it. Some means to prevent the expense should be adopted ... Can anything be done about a coalition with the Devonshires? There is considerable excitement in the county respecting the new [Irish] taxes ... All parties are united against them ... If you oppose them your interest will be most essentially benefited.101

Writing in similar terms to the primate, 12 May, Meara added that the Catholic priests had been ‘refusing confession to Lord George’s supporters in several instances’ and had ‘introduced the new taxes into their sermons’, and if Beresford supported them, ‘nothing can return him for this county if a popular candidate starts’. ‘I have circulated the news that Lord George intends to oppose the new taxes’, he advised the primate, 23 May, but ‘I think you should consider what would be the best thing to do in case of another election’ as ‘the priests are working hard and from the present prospect the next election will be as violent as the last’.102 A petition against the proposed Irish tax increases reached the Lords, 25 May 1830.103 On 28 June, following the death of George IV, Meara advised the primate that in view of the ‘unprecedented expense’ of the late contest

Uniacke and I are both of opinion that this county is not worth keeping, if things go on as at present. Every persons who votes, or even speaks on the subject of the election, expects to be paid, most of them in money and places ... Any opposition to Lord George, however, despicable, will impose a very considerable expense. The opposite party does not hesitate to declare that they expect, by the repeated expense of contested elections, to worry the ... family into an abandonment of the representation. Assisted by priests and popular excitement the radicals can easily ferment an opposition ... at a moderate expense.

Five days later he added:

Everything here conspires to make us think that there will be a contest ... and it is very generally rumoured that O’Connell will be the candidate. Should this be the case ... Lord George should not stand. The radical feeling in the county is rife ... and I am afraid the issue would be doubtful. Should the duke [of Devonshire] stand neutral as to his second votes, the consequence would be that they would be polled against Lord George by the priests ... There are some surmises that Power will not stand. At all events ... it appears very advisable that Lord George should not commit himself too hastily to the county ... the [previous] election account is a formidable one, £15,000.

Confirming that a requisition to O’Connell had been got up, 10 July 1830, he reported, ‘our strength on the registry is better than it was at the last election, still any opposition must put us to great expense’ and ‘some decision must be come to before Lord George returns to Ireland’.104

At the 1830 general election the Independent Club duly invited O’Connell to ‘rescue’ the county from the ‘dictation of one or two peers’. After receiving private assurances from Ronayne that Power was ‘not prepared for a fight and will, I think, give in’, as well as offers of support from the Barrons and Musgraves, on 18 July O’Connell come forward as ‘a friend’ to ‘radical reform’, citing his ‘energetic exertions’ against the ‘oppression’ of Ireland. ‘The force of impudence can go no further’, protested the Tory Waterford Mail.105 On the 23rd Beresford announced that he would stand again, amidst speculation that he might ‘join with Devonshire to oppose O’Connell’ and having ascertained from Goulburn that Villiers Stuart intended to remain neutral. Power offered again the next day, but after a few days’ canvassing resigned, furious at being snubbed by promises of support that ‘were only contingent on the safety’ of O’Connell, whose claims, given his family’s long service as representatives, he could not consider superior to his own, 30 July.106 ‘You judge very rightly in not encumbering yourself with that fool the duke of Devonshire’, John Claudius Beresford congratulated the primate that day. ‘I begin to allow myself to think Lord George will carry Waterford, the more so as O’Connell does not attack him either in his address or speeches’, noted another well-wisher.107 Attempts to get Power’s younger brother Robert, to whom Lamb immediately agreed to ‘transfer’ the Devonshire interest, to offer in his place came to nothing, Lamb reporting to Devonshire, ‘The Barrons, the Catholics and Liberals presently feel what a poor figure they cut by having withheld their support from Power and caused his resignation. They have been preaching all over Ireland against neutralizing contests and have exactly done it in Waterford’, 8 Aug.108 Two days later, however, Wyse, who had been disappointed in his hope for an opening at Waterford city, unexpectedly came forward at the behest of some ‘influential individuals’ with the support of Devonshire, stressing the necessity of opposing the Beresfords on account of their landlord evictions and explaining that owing to ‘shortness of time’ he would be unable to canvass. Sending Wyse a £50 subscription next day, a kinsman observed:

I am very glad to find by your letter ... that you have so strong hopes of success. I did fear the call was too sudden and the time too limited to enable you to make effectual arrangements. However, popular feeling will do a vast deal when directed by skill and talent, as in [Villiers] Stuart’s election ... O’Connell ... I am told ... appeared highly displeased ... that you were to be up. He said you would do him much injury without succeeding yourself. However, we shall see. I fear the priests will take revenge on you, if they have the power.109

‘I was not a little astonished ... at your taking the field against the Beresfords with so little time for preparation’, noted Stephen Coppinger, a former secretary of the Association.110 It is a ‘desperate undertaking’, remarked the Waterford Mail.111

At the nomination, 12 Aug. 1830, Beresford, who was proposed by the Brunswicker Kiely, repudiated claims by his opponents that he supported the ‘intended taxes on Ireland’ and promised ‘to resign his place’ in the household ‘if those measures were attempted to be carried’. O’Connell was proposed by Henry Winston Barron and seconded by Galwey. Proposing Wyse as his successor, Power doubted that the Beresfords would support retrenchment and charged them and O’Connell with having come to ‘some sort of understanding’. In response, O’Connell explained that in order to avoid an ‘angry contest’, he had agreed to canvass only for the ‘second votes’ of Beresford’s party, from whom he ‘expected support’, but denied any attempt to demand plumpers from the other freeholders. Pressed further, however, he ‘declined’ to offer any advice as to which second candidate the Catholics should vote for, prompting ‘strong marks of disapprobation’. A ‘lengthy exchange’ ensued on the hustings, in which Barron was charged with ‘keeping back his freeholders’ as part of the pact, which he vigorously denied, though he believed the ‘feeling in the county’ was ‘ten to one against any contest’, as ‘it was impossible now, at this stage of the proceedings, to return a second independent candidate’ without endangering O’Connell. Wyse promptly offered to resign, but was persuaded to stand firm by Power and others. The arguments continued throughout next day, until O’Connell announced his determination to withdraw rather than expose the county to another contest. Acknowledging that ‘he could not think of taking his place’, Wyse then resigned, explaining that O’Connell had been invited to stand for the purpose of opposing Beresford ‘in conjunction’ with Power, and that on the latter’s withdrawal he had agreed to come forward ‘in order to vindicate the independent party from the imputation of a compact with the Beresfords’, against whom he remained convinced they could bring in ‘two popular candidates’. Beresford and O’Connell were duly returned ‘unopposed’, although a ‘few votes’ were evidently polled on the first day. In a 90-minute speech at the declaration, 13 Aug., O’Connell described his ‘noble colleague’ as ‘an excellent recruit to the cause of the people’ and ‘entreated the friends of independence to drop their bickerings’.112 ‘I knew you would be betrayed’, a supporter wrote to Wyse that day, adding, ‘I regret you did not push matters to an extremity, if only to unmask this perfidious business’. ‘O’Connell ‘tis true was worthy of any county in Ireland who could not boast of possessing an enlightened ... and worthy individual to represent it’, observed another well-wisher, ‘but ... it is a disgrace to Ireland when such characters are to be found at home, to pass them over ... Waterford was your native right and Waterford was only admitting her ignorance and her indolent apathy [by] not allowing the poll to have started’.113 On 19 Aug. John Musgrave explained to Maurice Fitzgerald*:

If we had [had] funds, and if any great object were to be gained, Lord George would have been sent to the rear in double quick time, more easily than in 1826. The party calling themselves independents in this county agree in scarcely any point, except hostility to the Beresford principles. Among themselves, they are divided into various parties. Although there was not any contest in reality, since there was not a single man polled, I understand the election has cost the Beresfords from £1,500 to £2,000.114

‘We have been fortunate ... with the exception of some money to be paid’, noted William Carr Beresford: ‘George ... is now I find the favourite in Waterford county, so much for popular favour or rather clamour’.115 ‘I congratulate you sincerely on Lord George’s trouble being at an end, for though O’Connell had got in, he has beat the duke not us’, John Claudius Beresford informed the primate.116

A petition reached the Commons for repeal of the Union, 9 Nov. 1830. Petitions against the grant to the Kildare Place Society and for the better regulation of Irish education grants were presented to the Commons, 7, 19 Feb., and the Lords, 8, 18 Feb. 1831. One for the abolition of Irish tithes reached the Lords, 3 Mar.117 Beresford opposed and O’Connell supported the Grey ministry’s reform bill, in support of which a county meeting was held, attended by Musgrave, Barron and the Powers, 6 Apr., when Beresford’s conduct was ‘strongly criticized’ and it was resolved to start a second reformer at the next election. ‘You have the Musgraves with you and no man dare oppose their wishes in this county’, a correspondent assured O’Connell that day.118 Reports that Richard Power was ‘still quite anxious to resume his seat’ and ‘likely’ to offer as O’Connell’s running mate, however, came to nothing, it being noted by Ronayne that he ‘fears a contest’. Attempts by Wyse to induce Villiers Stuart to come forward as a ‘champion of the popular cause’ also proved abortive.119 Later that month O’Connell assured the Whig manager Duncannon that Beresford had ‘but a poor prospect in Waterford’ and that he was ‘sacrificing everything to the extinction of that political enemy’. There will be no repetition of the ‘despicable understanding at the last election’, observed the Dublin Evening Post. Finding that Barron was ‘the only second candidate we can get’ but that he was ‘unpopular’, O’Connell proposed that Lamb should transfer from Dungarvan in favour of Barron, who would then vacate if either of them failed. The proposal was evidently passed on, for on 1 May 1831 it was reported to O’Connell that Lamb had declined, saying that ‘nothing could induce him to start for the county’. That day another meeting of the independents was held at Carrigbeg demanding the overthrow of Beresford.120

At the 1831 general election Beresford offered again as an opponent of the reform bill, which would ‘deprive property of its legitimate influence’. Faced with O’Connellite opposition in county Tipperary, Wyse was advised by his agent to consider standing, if only to ‘alarm O’Connell for his safety’ as ‘he is by no means sure of success in case of a contest’, and effect a truce. On 2 May, however, it emerged that O’Connell had declined. ‘O’Connell goes to Kerry. He abandons Waterford to Beresford, who, he says (as I am told) is a mere lag and nothing else’, Anglesey, again Irish viceroy, advised Grey.121 At a hastily convened county meeting of the independents, 3 May, Robert Power and Musgrave were persuaded to start as reformers and £750 was ‘immediately’ subscribed towards their return. Next day, however, ‘in consequence of the disunion made by [Henry Winston] Barron and his friends’ Musgrave withdrew, whereupon Barron came forward, affirming his support for ministers. A ‘fine hubbub among the reformers’ ensued, in which Power ‘refused to stand’ alongside anyone except Sir Richard or John Musgrave, in order to ensure Devonshire’s support, and Barron declined to retire in favour of John Musgrave, as he was ‘out of the country’. They are in a ‘dreadful dilemma’, observed the Waterford Mail.122 ‘Drogheda and Waterford are our dark points. Everything else looks well’, Anglesey notified Grey.123 On 5 May Barron, after receiving assurances of ‘support on a future occasion’, reluctantly agreed to make way for the ‘resident’ Sir Richard, to whom a deputation was immediately sent. Next day Musgrave and Power formally came forward in response to a ‘unanimous call of the independent electors’, the former indicating that once reform was carried he would ‘consider himself at liberty to resign’. ‘In order to unite all parties in the county in returning two reformers, I have sacrificed my personal feelings and interests to the public good’, Barron later explained, adding that he hoped ‘never again [to] witness those miserable divisions and jealousies amongst ourselves which have heretofore made us so easy a prey to our enemies’. Faced with a united opposition, which he had clearly not anticipated, on 8 May Beresford resigned, observing that a ‘large proportion of the electors’ and ‘several friends’ had differed with him on the issue of reform.124 ‘I hear today from Waterford, but I can hardly yet believe it, that Lord George has resigned’ and ‘two staunch reformers will be returned without trouble’, Smith Stanley, the Irish secretary, informed Grey next day.125 At their unopposed return, 11 May 1831, Musgrave and Power publicly acknowledged their debt to Barron, who declared, ‘If I had stood my ground, I would have been successful ... I hope my motives will be properly appreciated in making so great a sacrifice’. The ‘Beresford family ... which had been so long absolute in Ireland’ and ‘held a pre-eminence in its politics, did not dare to enter the field’, Sheil reported later that month.126

A petition against the grant to the Kildare Place Society reached the Commons, 12 Aug. 1831.127 Alarmed at reports that ‘a Beresford’ would become the county’s first lord lieutenant that autumn, Power warned Ellice, the treasury secretary, that ‘he would never act as a magistrate, and he knew many others who entertain the same feelings, if any of the ... family were appointed’.128 The office went to Villiers Stuart. A petition for the abolition of Irish tithes and church rates was presented to the Lords, 1 Aug. 1832.129 By the Irish Reform Act, which both Members supported, 142 leaseholders (132 registered at £10, nine at £20, and one at £50) and 48 rent-chargers (28 registered at £20, 19 at £50, and one at £100) were added to the freeholders, who had increased to 1,258 (867 registered at £10, 160 at £20, 228 at £50, and three at £100), giving a reformed constituency of 1,448.130 Ministers incorrectly anticipated that a Conservative was ‘likely to succeed’ at the 1832 general election, when Musgrave retired and Power stood unsuccessfully as a Liberal against the Repealers Galwey and Keene in a contest in which 673 polled.131 Musgrave came in unopposed in 1835 and at a by-election later that year was joined by Villiers Stuart’s younger brother William. The county remained a Liberal stronghold until 1865, when the Beresford heir to the marquessate recaptured one seat.

Author: Philip Salmon


See M. Kiely and W. Nolan, ‘Politics, land and rural conflict in county Waterford, c.1830-1845’, in Waterford Hist. and Society ed. W. Nolan and T. Power, 459-94.

  • 1. S. Lewis, Top. Dict. of Ireland (1837), ii. 675-7.
  • 2. HP Commons, 1790-1820, ii. 691-3; T. Wyse, Hist. Catholic Association, i. 262.
  • 3. The Times, 17 Feb.; Dublin Evening Post, 29 Feb.; Ramsey’s Waterford Chron. 7, 9, 21 Mar. 1820.
  • 4. LJ, liv. 62; lvi. 436; lvii. 833; CJ, lxxix. 537; lxxx. 140; F. O’Ferrall, Catholic Emancipation, 122.
  • 5. LJ, liv. 189.
  • 6. NLI, Villiers Stuart mss 24682, 24685, 24686, 24691; O’Ferrall, 121; CJ, lxxxii. 21-22; The Times, 31 July 1824.
  • 7. Dublin Evening Post, 21 June, 2 Aug. 1825; Wyse, i. 263.
  • 8. O’Ferrall, 126-7; J. J. Auchmuty, Sir Thomas Wyse, 83, 90; NLI, Wyse mss 15023 (3), Galwey to Wyse, 4 June 1826.
  • 9. PRO NI, Downshire mss D671/C/12/305.
  • 10. Castle Howard mss, Abercromby to Morpeth, 20 Aug. 1825.
  • 11. Villiers Stuart mss 24682.
  • 12. Add. 40381, f. 208.
  • 13. Add. 40331, f. 147.
  • 14. Wyse mss 15023 (1), Devonshire to committee.
  • 15. Ibid. 15023 (1), Barron to Wyse, 5 Oct. 1825; Chatsworth mss 1204.
  • 16. PRO NI, Hill mss D642/A/18/9.
  • 17. The Times, 4 Oct. 1825.
  • 18. O’Ferrall, 124-5.
  • 19. Wyse mss 15023 (2), Green to Wyse, 3 June 1826.
  • 20. Ibid. 15028 (6); 15023 (4).
  • 21. Ibid. 15023 (2).
  • 22. Southern Reporter, 3 June 1826.
  • 23. Add. 40322, f. 158; 40387, f. 212; Wyse, i. 274; Dublin Evening Post, 10, 15, 22 June; Southern Reporter, 20, 22 June; Waterford Chron. 29 June 1826.
  • 24. Auchmuty, 84.
  • 25. O’Connell Corresp. iii. 1308, 1312, 1314.
  • 26. Southern Reporter, 24 June; Dublin Evening Post, 27 June 1826.
  • 27. Dublin Evening Post, 10 June 1826; O’Ferrall, 133.
  • 28. Southern Reporter, 24 June; Dublin Evening Post, 27 June 1826; O’Connell Corresp. iii. 1317.
  • 29. Wellington mss WP1/857/13.
  • 30. Southern Reporter, 29 June; Waterford Chron. 29 June; Dublin Evening Post, 29 June, 1 July 1826; O’Connell Corresp. iii. 1318, 1319.
  • 31. Cited in Auchmuty, 93.
  • 32. Waterford Chron. 8 July 1826.
  • 33. O’Connell Corresp. iii. 1321; Dublin Evening Post, 29 June, 1 July; Waterford Chron. 1, 8 July; Southern Reporter, 4 July; The Times, 5 July 1826.
  • 34. Add. 40305, f. 188; Wellington mss WP1/857/18.
  • 35. Brougham mss.
  • 36. Add. 51724, Duncannon to Holland [July 1826].
  • 37. Add. 40332, f. 55.
  • 38. Auchmuty, 89-91.
  • 39. Wyse mss 15023 (2), Homan to Wyse, 11 Aug. 1826.
  • 40. Ibid. 15028 (4), Carroll to Wyse, 10 Jan., creditors to same, 15 Sept. 1829.
  • 41. The Times, 12 Apr. 1828.
  • 42. Colchester Diary, iii. 461.
  • 43. The Times, 20 July 1829.
  • 44. Wyse mss 15023 (1), 21 Aug. 1826; O’Ferrall, 170, 174.
  • 45. Villiers Stuart mss 24683, Tobin to Greene [n.d.].
  • 46. Wyse mss 15023 (2), Galwey to Wyse, 7 Sept. 1826
  • 47. Wyse, i. 342-5; Auchmuty, 85.
  • 48. Waterford Chron. 2 Nov. 1826.
  • 49. Ibid. 21 July, 22 Sept. 1827.
  • 50. PRO NI, Primate Beresford mss D3279/A/4/2.
  • 51. Villiers Stuart mss T. 3131/I/1, 2.
  • 52. CJ, lxxxii. 14, 21-6.
  • 53. Waterford Chron. 28 Nov. 1826.
  • 54. CJ, lxxxii. 55-56, 111, 118.
  • 55. Villiers Stuart mss T. 3131/I/2.
  • 56. Ibid. 24683.
  • 57. CJ, lxxxii. 123, 160.
  • 58. Ibid. 329; Villiers Stuart mss 24690; LJ, lix. 179.
  • 59. CJ, lxxxii. 327, 542; The Times, 14 Nov. 1826, 12 June 1827.
  • 60. CJ, lxxxii. 151, 152, 277; lxxxiii. 14, 17, 294; LJ, lix. 135, 143, 152.
  • 61. Dublin Evening Post, 19 Apr. 1827; O’Ferrall, 170, 173.
  • 62. O’Ferrall, 174; Dublin Evening Post, 10 July 1828.
  • 63. O’Ferrall, 222.
  • 64. Dublin Evening Post, 16 Oct. 1828.
  • 65. Ibid. 8, 11 Nov. 1828.
  • 66. Tipperary Free Press, 24 Jan. 1829.
  • 67. Waterford Mail, 24 Jan. 1829; LJ, lxi. 33, 36, 213, 309; CJ, lxxxiv. 72, 148.
  • 68. CJ, lxxxiv. 105; LJ, lxi. 341.
  • 69. PP (1830), xxix. 473; Waterford Mail, 27 Feb. 1830.
  • 70. Waterford Mail, 13, 24, 27 June, 1 Aug. 1829; PRO NI, Pack-Beresford mss D664/A/73; The Times, 16 June 1829.
  • 71. Pack-Beresford mss A/56.
  • 72. Waterford Mail, 24 June; Pack-Beresford mss A/71; Chatsworth mss, G. Lamb to Devonshire, 25 June 1829.
  • 73. The Times, 20 July 1829.
  • 74. O’Connell Corresp. iv. 1583.
  • 75. Hill mss 240; Pack-Beresford mss A/80; The Times, 17 Oct., 23 Nov. 1829.
  • 76. Primate Beresford mss A/4/15.
  • 77. Ibid. 4/17, 19, 25.
  • 78. Ibid. 4/27.
  • 79. Waterford Mail, 1, 8 Aug.; The Times, 8 Aug. 1829.
  • 80. PRO NI, Carr Beresford mss T3396, Beresford to Lord Beresford, 4, 5 Aug. 1829.
  • 81. Primate Beresford mss A/4/33-35.
  • 82. Waterford Mail, 23 Sept. 1829; Pack-Beresford mss A/90, 100.
  • 83. Waterford Mail, 9, 16 Oct.; The Times, 14, 17 Oct., 9 Nov. 1829.
  • 84. Lansdowne mss, Bessborough to Lansdowne, 19 Sept. 1829.
  • 85. Pack-Beresford mss A/117.
  • 86. Hill mss 229.
  • 87. Ibid. 232.
  • 88. Pack-Beresford mss A/117; Dublin Evening Post, 7 Nov.; The Times, 9 Nov. 1829.
  • 89. Pack-Beresford mss A/120.
  • 90. Dublin Evening Post, 10, 12 Nov.; The Times, 11, 17 Nov. 1829.
  • 91. Pack-Beresford mss A/121.
  • 92. Cited in The Times, 17 Nov. 1829.
  • 93. PRO NI, Anglesey mss D619/32A/3/1/228.
  • 94. Dublin Evening Post, 28 Nov. 1829.
  • 95. Hill mss 243.
  • 96. Wyse mss 15024 (2), J. Scully to Wyse, 25 Jan. 1830.
  • 97. Waterford Mail, 2 Jan., 3, 6, 13, 17, 20, 24, 27 Feb.; 3 Mar.; Dublin Evening Post, 25 Feb., 2, 6 Mar.; The Times, 27 Feb., 1, 3, 4, 6 Mar. 1830.
  • 98. Wellington mss WP1/1099/7.
  • 99. The Times, 4 Mar. 1830.
  • 100. CJ, lxxxv. 201, 202, 205, 206, 250, 257.
  • 101. Pack-Beresford mss A/133.
  • 102. Ibid. A/136, 139.
  • 103. LJ, lxii. 527.
  • 104. Pack-Beresford mss A/149, 151, 153.
  • 105. Waterford Mail, 14, 17, 21 July 1830; O’Connell Corresp. iv. 1693; Pack-Beresford mss A/155, 156.
  • 106. Waterford Mail, 24, 31 July 1830; Pack-Beresford mss A/154, 155, 158.
  • 107. Pack-Beresford mss A/178, 180.
  • 108. Chatsworth mss, Lamb to Devonshire, 8 Aug. 1830.
  • 109. Wyse mss 15024 (9), J. Scully to Wyse, 11 Aug. 1830.
  • 110. Ibid. 15024 (6), Coppinger to Wyse, 28 Aug. 1830.
  • 111. Waterford Mail, 11 Aug.; Dublin Evening Post, 12 Aug. 1830.
  • 112. Dublin Evening Post, 14 Aug.; Waterford Mail, 14, 15 Aug. 1830.
  • 113. Wyse mss 15024 (9), F. Fitzpatrick to Wyse, 13 Aug.; (6), Osborne to same, 26 Aug. 1830.
  • 114. PRO NI, Fitzgerald mss MIC639/13/7/77/116.
  • 115. PRO NI, Beresford mss T3285/1/1, Lord Beresford to Lady Pack, 1 Sept. 1830.
  • 116. Pack-Beresford mss A/162.
  • 117. CJ, lxxxvi. 49, 219, 272; LJ, lxiii. 213, 241, 283.
  • 118. Waterford Mail, 9 Apr. 1831; O’Connell Corresp. iv. 1796-7.
  • 119. O’Connell Corresp. iv. 1796; Wyse mss 15024 (13), Villiers Stuart to Wyse, 3 Apr. 1831.
  • 120. O’Connell Corresp. iv. 1799, 1802, 1804; Derby mss 920 Der (14) 121/2; Waterford Mail, 4 May; Dublin Evening Post, 7 May 1831.
  • 121. Waterford Mail, 4 May; Wyse mss 15024 (6), J. Scully to Wyse, 2 May [1831]; Anglesey mss 28C/109-11.
  • 122. Dublin Evening Post, 5 May; Waterford Mail, 7 May 1831; O’Connell Corresp. iv. 1804.
  • 123. Anglesey mss 28C/111, 112.
  • 124. Dublin Evening Post, 7, 11 May; Waterford Mail, 7, 11 May 1831.
  • 125. Grey mss, Smith Stanley to Grey, 9 May 1831.
  • 126. Waterford Mail, 14 May 1831; Sheil, Sketches, Legal and Political ed. M.W. Savage, ii. 338.
  • 127. CJ, lxxxvi. 748.
  • 128. Derby mss 117/4.
  • 129. LJ, lxiv. 416.
  • 130. Derby mss 116/7.
  • 131. PP (1833), xxvii. 308; Derby mss 125/4.