DU CANE, Peter (1778-1841), of Braxted Lodge, Essex and Horsham, Suss.

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



1826 - 1830

Family and Education

b. 19 Aug. 1778, o. surv. s. of Peter Du Cane of Braxted and Phoebe Philips, da. of Edward Tredcroft of the Manor House, Horsham. educ. St. John’s, Camb. 1797. unm.; 1s. illegit. suc. fa. 1823. d. 23 May 1841.

Offices Held

Sheriff, Essex 1825-6.


Du Cane’s family were London merchants of Flemish Huguenot descent, who had settled at Braxted early in the eighteenth century. His grandfather and great-grandfather served as directors of the Bank of England, and the former was also a director of the East India Company. On his father’s death in 1823 he inherited Braxted, an unspecified amount of Bank stock and the residue of personalty sworn under £6,000.1 Two years later Sydney Smith described him as ‘a very amiable pleasing person’.2 He had joined Brooks’s Club in 1817, and at the general election of 1826 he was returned for the pocket borough of Steyning by the 12th duke of Norfolk, with whose family the Du Canes had connections through their property at Horsham.3

He was a silent Member who apparently made no mark in the House. He voted with the Whig opposition to Lord Liverpool’s ministry against the duke of Clarence’s grant, 16 Feb., and for information regarding the conduct of the Lisburn magistrates towards an Orange procession, 29 Mar., Tierney’s call for a strong administration, 30 Mar., and inquiry into delays in chancery, 5 Apr. 1827. He divided for Catholic relief, 6 Mar., and the spring guns bill, 23 Mar. He voted against Canning’s ministry for the disfranchisement of Penryn and for Lord Althorp’s election expenses bill, 28 May 1827. He divided for repeal of the Test Acts, 26 Feb., and Catholic relief, 12 May 1828. He voted against the duke of Wellington’s ministry for inquiry into delays in chancery, 24 Apr., to deduct the salary of the governor of Dartmouth from the barracks grant, 20 June, and to condemn the misapplication of public money for building work at Buckingham House, 23 June 1828. He divided for the government’s Catholic emancipation bill, 6, 30 Mar., but was against them for reduction of the hemp duty, 1 June 1829. He acted with the revived Whig opposition on most major issues during the 1830 session, particularly for retrenchment. He voted to transfer East Retford’s seats to Birmingham, 5 Mar., but was absent from the other divisions on motions for reform. While he voted for the introduction of the Jewish emancipation bill, 5 Apr., he was against the second reading, 17 May. He divided against abolition of the death penalty for forgery, 7 June 1830. He retired at the dissolution that summer.

Du Cane died in May 1841 and left the Braxted estate to his cousin Sir Charles Du Cane (1825-89), Conservative Member for Maldon, 1852-3, and North Essex, 1857-68. The Horsham property was left to his sister Charlotte with an entail on his illegitimate son John Smith, aged about 16, the child of his mistress Elizabeth Young of Pimlico.4

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: Howard Spencer


  • 1. VCH Essex ii. 248-9; PROB 11/1674/469; IR26/949/925.
  • 2. Smith Letters, i. 451.
  • 3. W. Albery, Parl. Hist. Horsham, 151.
  • 4. PROB 11/1950/551; ex. inf. Mr. R.W. Smith.