COLE, Hon. Arthur Henry (1780-1844), of 15 Jermyn Street, Mdx.

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



11 Feb. 1828 - 4 June 1844

Family and Education

b. 28 June 1780, 4th s. of William Willoughby Cole, 1st earl of Enniskillen [I] (d. 1803), and Anne, da. of Galbraith Lowry (later Lowry Corry), MP [I], of Ahenis, co. Tyrone; bro. of Sir Galbraith Lowry Cole* and John Willoughby Cole, Visct. Cole†. educ. Trinity, Dublin 1798. unm. d. 16 June 1844.

Offices Held

Writer, E. I. Co. (Madras) 1801; sec. to resident Mysore 1806, acting resident 1809, resident 1812; superintendent to Madras govt. lotteries 1818; at home 1827, ret. 1829.

Ensign Enniskillen yeoman cav. ?1796; capt. co. Fermanagh militia 1828.


A younger son of the 1st earl of Enniskillen of Florence Court, Fermanagh, Cole’s ambition was to enter the army like his elder brother (Galbraith) Lowry Cole, who sat on the family interest for the county at Westminster from 1803. However, his father had other ideas and applied to the lord lieutenant, Lord Cornwallis, the former governor-general of Bengal, for an Indian posting. At the request of Cornwallis, who described him as ‘a very fine lad, and modest, and well behaved’, Cole was given a Madras writership in July 1801 and he arrived in India later that year.1 Another of Cole’s brothers, William, dean of Waterford, sympathized with him on his separation from home and wrote on his departure that ‘you will find India very uncomfortable for a few years, but as you were sensible of your situation before you went out, and are not of a desponding disposition, I hope you will make the best of it’. This he evidently set himself to do, informing his father (on whose death in 1803 he came into a bequest of £4,000 and a charge of £2,000) that he would first follow the normal practice of learning oriental languages at Fort William College in Calcutta for three years.2 By 1805, when he accompanied John Malcolm*, the political resident at Mysore, on an embassy to the Marathas, he had begun to enjoy his career. This was greatly advanced in 1809, when, as senior assistant in charge at Mysore, he acted with considerable initiative and courage in suppressing a serious rebellion. Lord Minto, the governor-general of Bengal, reported to his superiors in London that ‘nothing it is possible to do for him can adequately reward either his merits or his services’.3 He was immediately appointed acting resident and secured full possession on Malcolm’s promotion in 1812, when he contemplated being able to retire in about six years, having put aside a fortune of £25,000 to £30,000. In fact, he remained in office for nearly 15 years, before returning home, in ill health, via Mauritius, where Sir Lowry Cole was governor. There his sister-in-law, who described him as having ‘a very handsome face and pleasing countenance’, agreed with her husband that ‘besides his intrinsic good qualities, he has a particularly pleasing and attractive manner’.4 On his arrival in Ireland in the autumn of 1827 he was greeted by an illumination and a celebration dinner in Enniskillen.5

An Orangeman and member of the corporation of Enniskillen, he was returned for that borough by his eldest brother, the strongly anti-Catholic 2nd earl of Enniskillen, in February 1828.6 Having taken his seat on 17 Apr., he voted with the Wellington ministry against the censure motion on chancery administration on the 24th. He divided against Catholic relief, 12 May, and was active in the local Brunswick movement that autumn. He told a county meeting that he hoped ‘as long as I live that my heart and soul will be with the loyal Protestants of Fermanagh’, 7 Oct., and was made a vice-president of the Enniskillen Club, 7 Nov. In December 1828 he signed a requisition for another anti-Catholic county meeting.7 Listed by Planta, the patronage secretary, as ‘opposed to the principle’ of emancipation, he voted steadily against it throughout March 1829 and, with his county colleagues, received the thanks of another Fermanagh meeting that month.8 He voted against allowing Daniel O’Connell to take his seat unimpeded, 18 May, and the Maynooth grant, 22 May 1829. He divided against Jewish emancipation, 5 Apr., 17 May, but sided with opposition for repealing the Irish coal duties, 13 May 1830.

Returned unopposed for Enniskillen at the general election that summer, he was listed by ministers among their ‘friends’ and duly divided in their minority on the civil list, 15 Nov. 1830. Granted a fortnight’s leave on account of the illness of his niece Lady Jane Cole, 7 Mar., he was presumably still in Dublin on 23 Mar. 1831, when she died, so missing the division on the second reading of the Grey ministry’s reform bill on the 22nd.9 However, he was present to divide for Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, which precipitated a dissolution, 19 Apr. Again returned unopposed for the borough, at the county election he moved a vote of thanks to Lord Lowry Corry, who retired to make way for his nephew, Lord Cole; it was reported that he would vote for the anti-reform sitting Members Moore and Shaw in the Dublin contest.10 He divided against the second reading of the reintroduced reform bill, 6 July, at least five times for adjourning the proceedings on it, 12 July, and to postpone consideration of the partial disfranchisement of Chippenham, 27 July. In his only recorded utterances in this period, he commented on Irish tithes, 12 July, presented the Killesher petition against the grant to the Kildare Place Society, 5 Aug., and defended the conduct of the Fermanagh militia, 11 Aug. He divided against the passage of the reform bill, 21 Sept., and the second reading of the Scottish bill, 23 Sept., and again voted against the Maynooth grant, 26 Sept. 1831. Cole paired against the second reading of the revised reform bill, 17 Dec. 1831, and voted against the enfranchisement of Tower Hamlets, 28 Feb., and the third reading, 22 Mar. 1832. On 15 Mar. he had to apologize to the House for accidentally absenting himself from a sitting of the Dorset election committee earlier that day. He voted against the second reading of the Irish reform bill, 25 May, and the disfranchisement of Irish freemen, 2 July. He was in the majority for Alexander Baring’s bill to exclude insolvent debtors from Parliament, 27 June. He divided against the Irish party processions bill, 25 June, but for the Irish tithes bill, 13 July. His only other known votes were against the Russian-Dutch loan, 26 Jan., 12 July.

A founder member of the Carlton Club in London earlier that year, as well as an adherent of the proposed Protestant Conservative Society of Ireland, Cole was returned for Enniskillen as a Conservative at the general election of 1832, when he was praised for his reluctance to extract exorbitant profits from his Indian office and his attention to local business.11 He continued to sit until June 1844, when ill health forced him to relinquish his seat to his nephew, Henry Arthur Cole (1809-90), who held it until 1851 and was Conservative Member for county Fermanagh, 1854-80. He died 12 days later in Jermyn Street, 16 June 1844, leaving most of his estate to his sister Florence (d. 1862), wife of Blayney Townley Balfour of Townley Hall, Louth, former Member for Belturbet.12

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: Stephen Farrell


  • 1. BL OIOC J/1/18, f. 214; Cornwallis Corresp. iii. 333; Mems. of Sir Lowry Cole ed. M.L. Cole and S. Gwynn, 11-12, 20.
  • 2. Cole Mems. 20-25, 29. His Indian and family corresp. is at TCD mss 3767-70.
  • 3. Cole Mems. 52-53, 210-11; Madras Civil Servants ed. E. Dodwell and J.S. Miles, 62-63.
  • 4. Cole Mems. 31-32, 210-12.
  • 5. Enniskillen Chron. 9 Aug., 27 Sept., 18 Oct. 1827.
  • 6. Ibid. 7, 14 Feb. 1828.
  • 7. Ibid. 2 Oct., 13 Nov., 11 Dec. 1828.
  • 8. Ibid. 2 Apr. 1829.
  • 9. Ibid. 31 Mar. 1831.
  • 10. Ibid. 12, 19 May 1831.
  • 11. Ibid. 20 Dec.; NLI, Farnham mss 18611 (3), Lefroy to Farnham, 4 June 1832.
  • 12. Impartial Reporter, 20, 27 June 1844; Gent. Mag. (1844), ii. 204; PROB 11/2001/529; IR26/1670/746.