CHICHESTER, John Palmer Bruce (?1794-1851), of Arlington Court, nr. Barnstaple, Devon and 39 Bury Street, Mdx.

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



1831 - 1841

Family and Education

b. ?1794, 1st s. of Col. John Palmer Chichester of Arlington Court and 2nd w. Agnes, da. of James Hamilton of Bangour, Linlithgow. m. 9 Aug. 1838, Caroline, da. of Thomas Thistlethwayte of Southwick Park, Hants, 1s. 1da. suc. fa. 1823. cr. bt. 7 Sept. 1840. d. 20 Dec. 1851.

Offices Held

Entered RN 1810, lt. 1816, ret. 1820.

Sheriff, Card. 1831-2.


Chichester came from an old Catholic family, but his father had converted to Protestantism in 1793, when he married (3 July) as his second wife a niece of James Bruce of Kinnaird, the celebrated explorer.1 In his brief naval career Chichester saw action at the defence of Cadiz and was wounded during the blockade of the American ports.2 He was the residuary legatee of his father’s estate, which included land in Devon and at Llanbadan, Cardiganshire, and personalty sworn under £70,000, in 1824.3 It was reported in 1826 that he had agreed to stand for the venal borough of Barnstaple, but nothing came of this.4 He offered for the borough in 1831 as a ‘decided advocate’ of the Grey ministry’s reform bill and was returned in second place, after stating that while he favoured the disfranchisement of non-resident freemen he would support an amendment to preserve the voting rights of residents. He evaded the question of increased representation for Ireland.5 He joined Brooks’s Club, 20 July 1831.

He divided for the second reading of the reintroduced reform bill, 6 July, and generally voted for its details although, contrary to his election speech, he argued that removing the voting rights of non-resident freemen would be ‘productive of great injustice’, 30 Aug. 1831. He voted for the bill’s passage, 21 Sept., the second reading of the Scottish bill, 23 Sept., and Lord Ebrington’s confidence motion, 10 Oct. He voted to punish only those guilty of bribery at the Dublin election and against the censure motion on the Irish administration, 23 Aug. He defended Morgan Jones, the sheriff of Pembrokeshire, against a charge of partiality at the last election, 26 Sept. He divided for the second reading of the revised reform bill, 17 Dec. 1831, its details, the third reading, 22 Mar., and Ebrington’s motion for an address asking the king to appoint only ministers committed to carrying an unimpaired measure, 10 May 1832. He voted for the second reading of the Irish bill, 25 May, and presented a Barnstaple petition for an Irish measure similar to that for England and Wales, 20 June. He voted against an increase in Scotland’s representation, 1 June. He divided with ministers on the Russian-Dutch loan, 26 Jan., 12, 16, 20 July, and relations with Portugal, 9 Feb. He voted in the minorities against the anatomy bill, 27 Feb., to reduce the Irish registrar’s salary, 9 Apr., and against Baring’s bill to exclude insolvent debtors from Parliament, 6 June. He voted to make coroners’ inquests public, 20 June 1832.

Chichester was returned at the head of the poll for Barnstaple in 1832 and sat as an advocate of ‘Whig principles ... in favour of the ballot’ until his defeat in 1841.6 He was awarded a baronetcy by Lord Melbourne’s government in 1840. Known in North Devon as ‘Arlington Jack’, he died in December 1851 and was succeeded by his only son, Alexander Palmer Bruce Chichester (1842-81), on whose death the baronetcy became extinct.7

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: Terry Jenkins


  • 1. IGI (Som.).
  • 2. A. Chichester, Chichester Fam. 102-3, 109-10.
  • 3. PROB 11/1680/10; IR26/993/12.
  • 4. Alfred, 6 June 1826.
  • 5. N. Devon Jnl. 31 Mar., 28 Apr., 5 May 1831.
  • 6. Dod’s Parl. Companion (1833), 101.
  • 7. D. Drake, Barnstaple MPs, 190; PROB 11/2147/108; IR26/1925/86.