CLIVE, Edward Bolton (1765-1845), of Whitfield, Herefs.

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



1826 - 22 July 1845

Family and Education

b. 1765, 1st s. of George Clive†, banker, of Wormbridge, Herefs. and Arlington Street, Piccadilly, Mdx. and Sydney, da. of Thomas Bolton of Knock, co. Louth and coh. of her bro. Theophilus Bolton; bro. of Henry Clive*. m. 5 Dec. 1790, Hon. Harriet Archer, da. and coh. of Andrew, 2nd Bar. Archer, 3s. 1da. suc. fa. 1779. d. 22 July 1845.

Offices Held

Cornet 6 Drag. Gds. 1785; sub-lt. 1 Ft. Gds. 1787, lt. and capt. 1788, ret. 1791.

Sheriff, Herefs. 1802-3; chief steward, Hereford 1838-d.


Clive’s father, the head of the Wormbridge branch of the family and a partner in Goslings’ bank, was a first cousin of the 1st Lord Clive (Clive of India), on whose interest he sat for Bishop’s Castle, 1763-79. He died when Clive was barely 14, leaving estates in Herefordshire, Louth and Tipperary under strict entail; and having vested the guardianship of his four children solely in their mother, he guaranteed to her and her mother, Alice Bolton, independent incomes from the Louth estates. The remainder were placed in a trust administered by George Clive’s banking partners and executors, Robert and Francis Gosling.[footnote] Little is known of Clive’s life before he entered the army, where he attained the rank of captain, selling out shortly after he married Harriet Archer, who inherited land and property in and around Birmingham, the advowson of Solihull, Warwickshire, and estates in Mayo. He used his own inheritance to extend his holdings and influence in Herefordshire, where he purchased the Whitfield estate near Allensmore and rebuilt its mansion.[footnote] Unlike his younger brother Henry, under-secretary at the home office under Lord Sidmouth, 1818-22, Clive espoused the Whiggism and pro-Catholic sympathies of his wife’s family rather than the Tory ministerialism and hostility to relief of the Walford and Powis Castle Clives, and in 1793 he joined the Society of the Friends of the People. He took his family to Paris soon after the Peace of Amiens in 1802 and when hostilities recommenced they were interned at Strasbourg and Verdun, where his third son George (1806-80), the future assistant poor law commissioner and home office under-secretary, was born. His eldest son Edward had been allowed back to attend school in England in 1805, and in 1806 Clive was granted parole ‘on urgent family business’. He failed to return because of the 1808 coastal blockade.[footnote]

His experiences in France confirmed him as ‘a friend of reform’, and he became a leading spokesman and man of business for the Whigs at elections and meetings in Hereford and the county following the death of the 11th duke of Norfolk in 1815, and was looked to as a contributor to the national cause.[footnote] He presided at the Hereford dinner and presentation to Joseph Hume*, 5 Dec. 1821, when he proposed a toast to the political economist David Ricardo* and pressed for reform, including ending electoral corruption in Leominster and the disfranchisement of the marquess of Bath’s pocket borough of Weobley.[footnote] He oversaw legislation for the Haw Bridge and Abergavenny road and railway schemes, and played a crucial role at the 17 Jan. 1823 county meeting which petitioned for government action to combat distress and rejected William Cobbett’s† radical ‘Norfolk’ petition.[footnote] Endorsed by the sitting Whig Member Richard Scudamore, later that year he announced his candidature for Hereford at the next general election.[footnote] He kept a high profile in county and borough affairs throughout the protracted canvass, and was admitted to Brooks’s, 18 May 1825.[footnote] On the hustings, 11 June 1826, he maintained that the hostility to ministers he had felt during the French wars and Lord Castlereagh’s tenure of the foreign office had waned, and he praised the liberal Tory ministers Canning and Huskisson’s policies, but regretted the encouragement they had given to foreign shipping. On reform, he insisted that his opposition to the purchase of seats did not mean that he advocated annual parliaments, and despite the anti-Catholicism of Hereford’s influential chapter and clergy, he bravely declared for Catholic relief. He endorsed the recent relaxation of the corn laws, but called for duties to be retained to protect both the agriculturist and the labourer. He narrowly outpolled the anti-Catholic Tory industrialist Richard Blakemore in a bitter contest to come in with the pro-emancipation ministerialist Lord Eastnor.[footnote]

Differing from Henry Brougham and the Whig leaders, Clive voted in Hume’s minority on the address, 21 Nov. 1826; but he soon established himself as a conscientious opposition Member, and was appointed to many select committees. He voted against the duke of Clarence’s grant, 16 Feb., to investigate allegations of corporate corruption in Leicester, 15 Mar., and for the spring guns bill, 23 Mar. 1827. He voted with opposition to delay supplies pending resolution of the succession to Liverpool as premier, 30 Mar., and on the Irish estimates and chancery arrears, 5 Apr. 1827. When support for the new Canning ministry was tested, he voted against them to remove bankruptcy jurisdiction from chancery, 11 May, but otherwise kept a low profile. He voted to repeal the Test Acts, 26 Feb. 1828. Opposing the duke of Wellington’s ministry, he objected to sluicing the franchise at East Retford, 21 Mar., voted to amend the corn bill by lowering the pivot price from 64 to 60s., 22 Apr., and also, according to the Hereford press, for the gradual introduction of a 10s. fixed duty, 29 Apr.; but he is not mentioned in the usual lists.[footnote] He voted for inquiry into chancery delays, 24 Apr., and Catholic relief, 12 May. He voted against the government’s expenditure proposals, 20, 23 June, 4 July, for inquiry into the Irish church, 24 June, and against the additional churches bill, 30 June. The troubled anti-corporation broadsheet the Hereford Independent praised his vote for the corporate funds bill, 10 July.[footnote] He joined Eastnor in voicing opposition to the proposed duty on cider on their constituents’ behalf, 26 June, and presented their petitions against West Indian slavery, 20 May, and the importation of foreign gloves, 27 June 1828. In February 1829 the patronage secretary Planta listed Clive among the ‘opposition or doubtful men, who, we think, will vote with the government’ on Catholic emancipation. Presenting a favourable petition from Hereford, 3 Mar., he expressed regret that the city’s anti-emancipation petition, ‘the work of the Hereford Pitt Club’ presented that day, had not been entrusted to him or Eastnor.[footnote] He voted for the measure, which his brother now supported, 6, 30 Mar., and in favour of Daniel O’Connell taking his seat without swearing the oath of supremacy, 18 May, having brought up further pro-emancipation petitions, 9 Mar. He presented the Hereford cordwainers’ petition for restrictions on French shoe imports, 18 May. He voted for Lord Blandford’s reform resolutions, 2 June. He dined the corporation of Hereford and the county elite at Whitfield before the 1829 Michaelmas elections, and seconded the resolutions at the 22 Jan. 1830 county meeting which petitioned against the proposed withdrawal of the direct daily mail coach between London and Hereford.[footnote] When Parliament met, he was named to the select committee, on 16 Feb., and helped to secure the enactment of the Ross improvement bill, 29 May 1830.[footnote] He voted for Lord Blandford’s reform scheme, 18 Feb., to enfranchise Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester, 23 Feb., for inquiry into Newark’s petition of complaint against the duke of Newcastle’s electoral interference, 1 Mar., and Lord John Russell’s general reform proposals, 28 May. He divided against the East Retford disfranchisement bill at its third reading, 15 Mar., having voted for the abortive amendment to transfer its seats to Birmingham, 5 Mar. He voted for a revision of taxation, 25 Mar., and divided steadily with the revived Whig opposition until 14 June, including for Jewish emancipation, 17 May, and abolition of the death penalty for forgery, 7 June. He presented and endorsed Hereford’s petition for mitigation of the criminal code, 28 Apr. He voted to restrict on-consumption under the locally contentious sale of beer bill, 1 July 1830.

Blakemore, as sheriff, could do little to prevent Clive’s return for Hereford at the general election that month, and others were deterred from opposition by the strong show of early support for him mustered by the Whigs.[footnote] His addresses highlighted his votes for retrenchment and reform and attention to local issues, and on the hustings his proposer Sir George Cornewall praised his ‘discriminating good sense, upright independence, correct judgement and unflinching integrity’, and stressed his support for emancipation and the transfer of East Retford’s seats to Birmingham. Clive conceded that he had been ‘no orator’ and projected himself as a constitutional reformer who, ‘though occasionally opposed to ministers ... would on no account wish to rank as a systematic oppositionist’. He praised Wellington’s character and leadership and the home secretary Peel’s judicial reforms, but said ‘abler men’ were needed ‘in the other parts of the administration’.[footnote] Seconding Price’s nomination for the county, 7 Aug. 1830, he referred to the challenge of despotism and revolution in France, and reaffirmed his confidence in the constitution of 1688 and representation by Members known to their constituents.[footnote]

Ministers of course listed Clive among their ‘foes’, but he was absent from the division on the civil list which brought them down, 15 Nov. 1830. He had presented several anti-slavery petitions, 9, 12 Nov., and, embarrassed by the furore his failure to vote had caused, he authorized the Hereford Journal to explain that he had been

attending a sick relation at a distance of 50 miles from town. It was wholly unexpected that there would have been any division on this question, and ... [he] therefore did not return till Tuesday, when he went for the purpose of voting in favour of Mr. Brougham’s measure of parliamentary reform. [footnote]

As chairman of the committee appointed to consider the Evesham election petition, it fell to Clive to give the casting vote by which Sir Charles Cockerell and Lord Kennedy were found guilty of bribery and the election voided, and he reported the decision and moved a new writ accordingly, 13 Dec. 1830. His expressed opinion, that there was no need to print the committee’s evidence as the forthcoming reform bill rendered ‘ulterior proceedings’ unnecessary, did not prevail; and Arthur Duncombe, a committee member who rejected its findings, obtained an order to print the evidence, 14 Dec., and a supersedas to the writ, 16 Dec.[footnote] That day Clive spoke against disfranchising Evesham:

If the question were whether the franchise should be transferred from a small to a large town, I know how I should vote, but the case is different ... Only 22 [voters] were proved to have been bribed. In moving the writ, I did what I conceived was my duty, and I hope I did not act irregularly. It is not correct, I believe, to allude to the manner in which individuals voted in committee, and therefore I will not say on what occasion I gave the casting vote.

The matter was adjourned until 17 Feb. 1831, when Lord Chandos moved a resolution ‘that the corrupt state of Evesham demands the serious attention of the House’, and the borough petitioned for a wider franchise as a means of ending corruption. Responding, Clive welcomed Chandos’s advocacy of reform and expressed confidence that the ministerial bill would provide the remedy in this particular case. His remarks failed to satisfy Peel or his critics on the Evesham committee, and the disfranchisement bill brought in by Chandos, 18 Feb., caused him further embarrassment by providing for the transfer of Evesham’s seats to Birmingham. He declined to comment on it, and after several deferrals its second reading was postponed to 22 Apr. 1831 and timed out.[footnote]

Clive presented Hereford’s petition for reform, tithe reform and lower taxes, 11 Feb. 1831. He sent a letter of support apologizing for his absence ‘on parliamentary business’ from the Herefordshire reform meeting, 19 Mar., and voted for the second reading of the ministry’s bill, 22 Mar.[footnote] He was a requisitionist for a county meeting in its favour in Warwickshire, where in May his distant kinsman Edward Bolton King came in for Warwick as a reformer.[footnote] He presented further petitions against slavery, 28 Mar., moved the resolutions adopted at the Hereford anti-slavery meeting, 31 Mar., and stayed on for the ‘reform dinner’ in honour of Edmund Lechmere Charlton†, the cause’s self-proclaimed local champion, 2 Apr.[footnote] He presented the anti-slavery petition before voting against Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment by which the reform bill was lost, 19 Apr. Hereford ‘returned the old Members ... one on each side’ at the ensuing general election. On the hustings Clive expressed regret that Eastnor, who opposed the reform bill, was refused a hearing, and he criticized the Tories as self-styled ‘moderate reformers’ for failing to legislate for East Retford and Birmingham. He also denounced those responsible for a scurrilous handbill announcing that the reform bill would disfranchise most Hereford freemen. Seconding Price’s nomination for the county to great applause, 7 May 1831, he opined that had a more moderate reform been acceded to in time and the great towns enfranchised, the reform bill would not have been introduced.[footnote]

He presented the controversial Hereford petition against amendment of the Beer Retail Act, 29 June, and was probably the ‘Mr. Clive’ who brought up a pro-reform petition from Denny, 4 July 1831. He voted for the reintroduced bill at its second reading, 6 July, against adjournment, 12 July, and generally supported its details in committee, but he voted for the total disfranchisement of Saltash, which ministers had ceased to press, 26 July, and for Chandos’s amendment enfranchising £50 tenants-at-will, 18 Aug. He endorsed the provisions for freemen’s voting rights, pointing out that the freemen of Hereford had returned him ‘well knowing what would be the consequence of this bill - namely that all the outlying freemen would be entirely disfranchised’, 27 Aug. He added that despite his support for the measure and the £10 householder franchise he was not ‘pledged to the support of any particular ministry’, and when the chancellor Lord Althorp explained how the seven-mile rule would be applied, he suggested extending it to ten so that the balance between town and country in cities like Hereford would not be disturbed, but he did not divide the House on the matter. He voted against an amendment preserving all freemen’s voting rights, 30 Aug. On the Dublin election controversy, he cast a wayward vote for adjournment, 8 Aug., voted with administration to limit prosecutions to those found guilty of bribery, 23 Aug., but did not divide on a censure motion later that day alleging Irish government interference. Discussing the vacant lord lieutenancy of Louth in a letter to the Irish viceroy Lord Anglesey, 18 Sept., the Irish secretary Smith Stanley noted the interest there of ‘Edward Clive, who is a constant supporter of ours’.[footnote] He divided for the reform bill’s passage, 21 Sept., and the second reading of the Scottish bill, 23 Sept. Addressing the 30 Sept. Hereford meeting which petitioned the Lords to carry the English measure, he criticized the conduct of the 2nd marquess of Bath’s sons as Members for Weobley, praised the Herefordshire Members and, mentioning his attempt to extend the seven-mile limit, expressed regret that Cornewall and other pro-reform gentry closely associated with Hereford would lose their borough votes. He was loudly cheered when he left by the London mail to vote for Lord Ebrington’s confidence motion, 10 Oct.[footnote] His conduct was commended at the county reform meeting, 5 Nov. 1831, when he expressed confidence that the bill would eventually pass, claimed to be ‘at a loss to understand the bishops’ conduct in opposing it’, and urged vigilance lest the Tories’ ‘false claims’ of ‘reaction’ should gain ground.[footnote]

He voted for the second reading of the revised reform bill, 17 Dec. 1831, consistently for its details, and withdrew his proposal for incorporating the words ‘parochial or any other form of relief’ into the voter qualification clause, lest he should compromise the measure, 8 Feb. 1832. He was a member of the new secretary at war John Cam Hobhouse’s committee at the Westminster by-election that month.[footnote] He paired for the enfranchisement of Tower Hamlets, 28 Feb., and the bill’s third reading, 22 Mar., when his pair was his brother Henry, whom he accompanied that day to their sister Louisa Keppel’s funeral.[footnote] He voted for the address requesting the king to appoint only ministers who would carry the bill unimpaired, 10 May. He divided for the second reading of the Irish measure, 25 May, and against a Conservative amendment to the Scottish bill, 15 June. He divided with government on the Russian-Dutch loan, 26 Jan., 12, 16, 20 July, and relations with Portugal, 9 Feb. Like other reformers with constituencies affected by the depression in the glove trade, he cast a wayward vote for inquiry, 31 Jan. Herefordshire reformers celebrating the reform bill’s enactment in June also approved Clive’s support for the campaign against colonial slavery and his minority vote for the immediate appointment of a select committee to consider it, 24 May 1832.[footnote] He was instrumental that month in securing the appointment of his son-in-law Henry Wetherell as dean of Hereford.[footnote]

Though taken to a poll in a tripartite contest, Clive’s return for Hereford at the December 1832 election, when his fellow Liberal Robert Biddulph defeated Blakemore, was never seriously threatened.[footnote] He had agreed to support Charles Williams Wynn, a near relation by marriage of the Powis Castle Clives, in preference to the Whig Littleton for the expected vacancy in the Speakership, reserving himself ‘if others should start’, but his allegiance was never tested.[footnote] He retained a high profile in county politics, succeeded the horticulturist and radical Thomas Andrew Knight as steward of Hereford in 1838 and retained his seat for life. He died after being taken ill during a visit to his son George at Saunderson Court near Croydon in July 1845, and was buried in the family vault at Wormbridge. Clive had not recovered from the death on 14 Apr. of his heir apparent Edward, a colonel in the Grenadier Guards, who, despite several highly publicised liaisons, had never married.[footnote] Whitfield and most of his Warwickshire and Irish estates passed to his son the Rev. Archer Clive, rector of Solihull, whose wife Caroline (1801-73) was a well known writer. George, Liberal Member for Hereford (1857-9), inherited Perrystone, near Ross, and a share in the Irish estates. Among other bequests, Clive left his daughter Harriet Maria Wetherell a £600 life annuity. [footnote]

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: Margaret Escott