CHAPMAN, Montagu Lowther (1808-1852), of Killua Castle, co. Westmeath

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



1830 - 1841

Family and Education

b. 10 Dec. 1808, 1st s. of Sir Thomas Chapman, 2nd bt., of Killua and Margaret Anne, da. of James Fetherstonhaugh of Bracklin Castle. educ. Trinity, Dublin 1824. unm. suc. fa. as 3rd bt. 23 Dec. 1837. d. 17 May 1852.

Offices Held

Sheriff, co. Westmeath 1844-5.


Chapman’s father, who had been knighted in 1780, succeeded by special remainder in 1810 to the baronetcy and Westmeath estates of his brother Benjamin, Member of the Irish Parliament for Fore, 1772-6, and county Westmeath, 1776-83. A figure from whom challengers had solicited support against the dominant county interests, on the death of the sitting Member in 1824 he successfully put up Robert Smyth, son of a former Member, allegedly as ‘a sort of locum tenens for the county, until his son came of age’. He proposed his re-election in 1826, when Smyth was defeated by a candidate backed by the Catholic Association.1 At the 1830 general election Chapman, now of age, came forward on his father’s interest with the added support of Lord Longford, for the alleged purpose of ‘ousting’ the Member who had defeated Smyth in 1826. After a two-day contest he was returned in second place.2 He was unaccountably listed by the Wellington ministry as one of their ‘friends’, but he divided against them for a reduction of the wheat duty, 12 Nov., and on the civil list, 15 Nov. 1830. He voted for the second reading of the Grey ministry’s reform bill, 22 Mar. 1831. On 29 Mar. he denied that reform was ‘popular only with the Catholics of Ireland’ and pointed to its support in the North, ‘where the great majority of the inhabitants are Protestant’. He condemned the way in which the representation of Sligo ‘might be brought into the market and sold’, but denied making a ‘personal attack, direct or implied’ on its Member, 18 Apr. 1831. Next day he voted against Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment to the reform bill.

At the ensuing general election he stood as an ‘uncompromising advocate for reform’ and was returned unopposed.3 He presented a Mullingar petition for reform, 30 June, and complained that a hostile one presented by his colleague was ‘completely at variance with the opinions’ of his constituents, 4 July 1831. He voted for the second reading of the reintroduced reform bill, 6 July, at least twice against the adjournment, 12 July, and gave steady support to its detailed provisions. He divided for its third reading, 19 Sept., and passage, 21 Sept. He voted against disqualification of the Dublin election committee, 29 July, and the issue of a writ, 8 Aug., and with ministers on the controversy, 23 Aug. He divided to print the Waterford petition for disarming the Irish yeomanry, 11 Aug., and was in the minority of 24 against the truck bill, 12 Sept. On 14 Sept. he presented a petition from Moate for the introduction of an Irish poor law and said that he had opposed the recent ‘vague and general proposition’ but was ‘prepared to support any Member who will bring forward a specific plan’. He contended that government should have ‘long since dismissed’ the policemen who had fired fatally on a crowd at Castle Pollard, 28 Sept., adding that he would await the outcome of the Newtownbarry trial before taking further steps. Next day he commended ministers for withholding funds from the Royal Dublin Society, which had ‘not abandoned its absurd system of exclusion’ and increased ‘the number of its members’. He had been elected to Brooks’s, 4 Sept., and he divided for Lord Ebrington’s confidence motion, 10 Oct. 1831.

Chapman was absent from the division on the second reading of the revised reform bill, 17 Dec. 1831, but voted to go into committee on it, 20 Jan. 1832, and again supported its details. He attended a ‘respectable’ county meeting to draw up a favourable petition, which he presented, 9 Mar. He divided for the third reading, 22 Mar., but was absent from the division on the motion for an address calling on the king to appoint only ministers who would carry reform unimpaired, 10 May. He voted for the second reading of the Irish bill, 25 May, but was in the minority for Daniel O’Connell’s motion to extend the county franchise to £5 freeholders, 18 June. He divided against the liability of electors to pay municipal taxes before they could vote, 29 June, and argued for additional polling places to be provided at the ‘sessions-towns’ of large Irish counties, 6, 18 July. He voted with ministers on the Russian-Dutch loan, 26 Jan., 12, 16 and (as a pair) 20 July, and relations with Portugal, 9 Feb. He denied that a Westmeath petition against the new plan of Irish education expressed the sentiments of his constituents and hoped ministers would ‘carry the object they have in view’, 26 Jan., and asked why, if the Catholics did not object to it, it should ‘be opposed by the Protestants’, 13 Feb. He presented a hostile petition from the Presbyterians, 10 Apr. He argued against using force to ‘crush the combination against tithes’, 9 Feb., presented Westmeath petitions for their abolition that day, 9 Mar., 27 July, and voted to print the Woollen Grange abolition petition, 16 Feb. He divided against the tithes bill, 8, 27, 30 Mar., 6 Apr., 13, 24 July, but on 9 Apr. was one of the Members ‘usually opposing ministers’ on it who supported Crampton’s amendment concerning payment of arrears. He denied that Westmeath was in a state of ‘gross insubordination’, saying that there had only been ‘a few instances of outrage’, and took issue with the magistrates who had petitioned for an additional force, 15 Mar. He hoped that public opinion now had ‘sufficient control over this government’ to prevent them from pursuing a ‘wrong system’ on tithes, 28 Mar., and praised ministers for not deploying extra troops, 31 Mar. He divided for the navy civil departments bill, 6 Apr. He presented a petition for abolishing the death sentence for offences against property without personal violence, 25 May. He divided against Alexander Baring’s bill to exclude insolvent debtors from Parliament, 6 June. He was appointed to the select committee on Irish disturbances, 15 June. He condemned the ‘vague and indefinite’ Irish poor relief bill and was in the minority for permanent provision for the poor by a tax on absentee landlords, 19 June. He contended that the tithes bill had ‘failed already in those parishes where it has existed’, 13 July, and protested that ‘if government really wished to bring in a bill to set all Ireland in a flame, they could not have taken a more efficient course than they have done’, 27 July 1832.

At the 1832 general election Chapman successfully contested Westmeath as a Liberal. He was a founding member of the Reform Registry Association established in Dublin in 1836 and on its refoundation in 1839 became its chairman.4 In 1841 he retired from the representation in favour of his brother Benjamin James (1810-88), who sat as a Liberal until 1847. He later ‘purchased a very large estate in Australia’ for the ‘purpose of settling upon it such of his Irish tenantry as might be disposed to emigrate’. On a visit there in May 1852 he boarded a ship bound from Melbourne to Sydney which was never heard of again. (Another account stated that he ‘died at sea on a passage from Melbourne to Sydney in February 1853.) A year having elapsed and ‘all efforts to discover any traces of him having failed’, his death was announced as having occurred on 17 May 1852. The baronetcy and his ‘extensive estates’ in Australia and Ireland passed to Benjamin.5

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: Philip Salmon


  • 1. Westmeath Jnl. 11 Mar. 1824; Dublin Evening Post, 29 June, 1 July 1826.
  • 2. Dublin Evening Post, 29 July, 12, 14 Aug.; Roscommon and Leitrim Gazette, 14 Aug. 1830.
  • 3. Dublin Evening Post, 3, 12 May; Roscommon and Leitrim Gazette, 7, 14 May 1831.
  • 4. O’Connell Corresp. vi. 2665.
  • 5. Ann. Reg. (1853), Chron. p. 229; Gent. Mag. (1853), ii. 89-90.