CLEMENTS, John Marcus (1789-1834), of Glenboy, co. Leitrim and 13 Wilton Crescent, Mdx.

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



1820 - 1826
1830 - 1832

Family and Education

b. 4 May 1789, 2nd s. of Henry Theophilus Clements (d. 1795), MP [I], of Ashfield Lodge, co. Cavan and 2nd w. Catherine, da. of Hon. John Beresford† of Abbeville, co. Dublin and Walworth, co. Londonderry; bro. of Henry John Clements†. educ. Harrow 1799. m. 27 July 1822, Catherine Frances, da. of Godfrey Wentworth Wentworth† of Woolley Park, nr. Wakefield, Yorks., 3s. (1 d.v.p.). d. 17 Nov. 1834.1

Offices Held

Cornet 18 Drag. 1804, lt. 1805; capt. 5 W.I. Regt. 1806; capt. 45 Ft. 1807; capt. 18 Drag. 1807, brevet maj. 1814, brevet lt.-col. 1819; half-pay 1821; capt. 3 Drag. Gds. 1828, ret. 1830.


Originally Leicestershire yeomen, the Clementses had advanced themselves over several generations through the holding of lucrative revenue offices and parliamentary seats in Ireland. Clements was the grandson of the financial expert and political fixer Nathaniel Clements (1705-77), whose eldest son became the 1st earl of Leitrim in the Irish peerage, and whose youngest son, this Member’s father, succeeded him as Member for county Leitrim and deputy vice-treasurer of Ireland. Nathaniel’s divided inheritance, with the Leitrim electoral interest initially going to the Cavan branch of the family, produced a family conflict over the representation well into the early nineteenth century.2 In 1807 Clements obtained a captaincy in his original regiment, the 18th Hussars, through a series of exchanges, and he received brevet promotions during the following decade; this was perhaps partly through his influential Beresford connections and his brother Henry, former Member for Leitrim and a commissioner of the Irish treasury.3 Following the death of one of the Members, he offered for Leitrim at the general election of 1820, when he won back the seat his brother had lost two years earlier.4 He was granted a month’s leave on urgent private business, 30 June 1820, and that summer (as on five later occasions) was foreman of the grand jury in his county.5

Taking after Henry, Clements voted against Catholic relief, 28 Feb. 1821, and the Catholic peers bill, 30 Apr. 1822. A silent and largely inactive Tory, he divided with the Liverpool administration against tax reductions and lower expenditure, 3, 12 Apr., 18, 27 June 1821, 11 Feb. 1822.6 In July 1822 Goulburn, the Irish secretary, was inclined to favour one of his applications for patronage since ‘Clements is a very good friend and attends very regularly, having come up from Yorkshire by return of post to attend a division a short time since’. However, in March 1823 nothing came of his brother’s request for him to replace John Maxwell Barry* at the treasury board.7 He voted against parliamentary reform, 20 Feb., and inquiry into the legal proceedings against the Dublin Orange rioters, 22 Apr. 1823, but in the minority for an advance of capital to Ireland, 4 May 1824. He divided for the Irish unlawful societies bill, 15 Feb., and against Catholic relief, 1 Mar., 21 Apr., 10 May, and the related franchise measure, 26 Apr. 1825. He sided with government for the duke of Cumberland’s annuity bill, 6 June 1825, but made no mark the following session, some of which he missed through illness. Challenged by the pro-Catholic Lord Clements, the eldest son of his cousin the 2nd earl of Leitrim, at the general election of 1826, he belatedly withdrew on account of ill health, although fear of an expensive contest may have been his real motivation.8

Clements rejoined the army in November 1828, but resigned in June 1830 in order to contest Leitrim against his kinsman at the general election that summer. He was presumably accompanied by his mother’s relation Charles Cobb Beresford, who reported to Archbishop Beresford that ‘the fact is John Clements is quite helpless in matters of business and, if left to himself, I would be very apprehensive either of his committing himself or getting into some [scrape]’. He declined all pledges put to him on the hustings, but, once he had headed the poll, he claimed that he would have voted against the increased Irish stamp and spirit duties had he been in the House.9 Listed by the Wellington administration among their ‘friends’, he divided in their minority on the civil list, 15 Nov. 1830. He voted against the second reading of the Grey ministry’s reform bill, 22 Mar., and for Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr. 1831. As no challenge materialized, he was returned unopposed at the ensuing general election, when he claimed to have independent backing.10 He divided against the second reading, 6 July, and passage of the reintroduced reform bill, 21 Sept., as well as for postponing consideration of the partial disfranchisement of Chippenham, 27 July. He voted to censure the Irish government over the Dublin election, 23 Aug., but against Benett’s amendment alleging gross bribery during the Liverpool contest, 5 Sept. He presented a local petition for the grant to the Kildare Place Society, 5 Sept., and divided against the Maynooth grant, 26 Sept. He voted against the second reading of the revised reform bill, 17 Dec. 1831, its committal, 20 Jan., the enfranchisement of Tower Hamlets, 28 Feb., and the third reading, 22 Mar. 1832. He divided against the second reading of the Irish bill, 25 May, and for preserving the rights of Irish freemen, 2 July. As a prospective member of the Protestant Conservative Society of Ireland, he voted against the Irish party processions bill, 25 June.11 His only other known votes were against the Russian-Dutch loan, 26 Jan., 12 July 1832.

A radical source commented in 1831 that Clements ‘seldom votes and never speaks - a valuable Member!’12 He stood again at the general election of 1832, but was beaten into third place by his Liberal relative and the other sitting Member. A Conservative alarmist, in his parting address he blamed his defeat on the undermining of his territorial interest and the ‘torrent of revolution’ which threatened to overturn all established institutions.13 He died, shortly before the next dissolution, in November 1834, when he left his estate, which included personalty sworn under £4,000 in the province of Canterbury, to his wife for his elder son and namesake (1826-96), an officer in the 13th Hussars.14

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: Stephen Farrell


  • 1. IR26/1350/777.
  • 2. Hist. Irish Parl. iii. 423-35; A.P.W. Malcomson, Nathaniel Clements, 3, 329, 414-15, 421, 422-30.
  • 3. London Gazette, 30 Aug.-2 Sept. 1806, 14-18 July, 18-22 Aug. 1807.
  • 4. Dublin Evening Post, 15 Feb., 25 Mar. 1820.
  • 5. A. Harrison, Leitrim Sheriffs, 9-10.
  • 6. Black Bk. (1823), 146; Session of Parl. 1825, p. 456.
  • 7. Add. 37299, f. 275; 40296, f. 13; 40355, ff. 1-2.
  • 8. Roscommon and Leitrim Gazette, 14 Jan., 25 Mar., 10, 17, 24 June 1826; Add. 40334, f. 171; 40387, f. 212.
  • 9. Roscommon and Leitrim Gazette, 10 July, 14, 21 Aug. 1830; PRO NI, Pack-Beresford mss D664/A/176.
  • 10. Roscommon and Leitrim Gazette, 30 Apr., 21 May 1831.
  • 11. NLI, Farnham mss 18611 (3), Lefroy to Farnham, 4 June 1832.
  • 12. [W. Carpenter], People’s Bk. (1831), 214.
  • 13. Roscommon and Leitrim Gazette, 8, 22, 29 Dec. 1832.
  • 14. Ibid. 29 Nov. 1834; Gent. Mag. (1835), i. 105; PROB 11/1839/672; IR26/1350/777.