ESTCOURT, (afterwards BUCKNALL and BUCKNALL ESTCOURT),Thomas Grimston (1775-1853), of New Park, nr. Devizes, Wilts. and Estcourt House, nr. Tetbury, Glos.

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



23 Jan. 1805 - 18 Feb. 1826
22 Feb. 1826 - 1847

Family and Education

b. 3 Aug. 1775, 1st. s. of Thomas Estcourt† of Estcourt House and Hon. Jane Grimston, da. of James Grimston†, 2nd Visct. Grimston. educ. Harrow 1788-92; Corpus, Oxf. 1793; L. Inn 1795, called 1820. m. 12 May 1800, Eleanor, da. and coh. of James Sutton† of New Park, 6s. (1 d.v.p.) 3da. (1 d.v.p.). suc. fa. 1818; took name of Bucknall by royal lic. 1 May and additional name of Estcourt by royal lic. 3 July 1823. d. 26 July 1853.

Offices Held

Cornet Wilts. yeomanry 1794, lt. 1799; capt. Herts. militia 1798; maj. Wilts. yeomanry 1802-3; maj. Devizes vols. 1803, lt.-col. commdt. 1803-36, (militia) 1808; capt. Tetbury troop of Glos. yeoman cav. 1831.

Chairman, q. sess. Wilts. (Devizes) 1802-36; high steward, Malmesbury 1808-12; recorder, Devizes 1828-33.


A leading gentry family, the Estcourts had been established at Tetbury, on the Gloucestershire and Wiltshire border, since the fourteenth century. Thomas Grimston Estcourt, whose father was Member for Cricklade, 1790-1806, inherited New Park from his father-in-law in 1801, and began to cultivate an interest in Devizes. He became a capital burgess councillor and justice of the borough in 1802, and three years later he was elected there, in succession to his wife’s uncle, Henry Addington†, on his creation as Viscount Sidmouth. He was generally a supporter of the administration of Lord Liverpool, following the lead of Sidmouth, the home secretary. A man of obvious integrity and assiduity, though no great distinction, many Members apparently wished him to be proposed for the Speakership on Charles Abbot’s resignation in May 1817.1 Estcourt survived his first contest for Devizes at the general election of 1818, receiving votes from 25 of the 27 members of the corporation who polled, though he himself voted for his friend and colleague, John Pearse, and the leading corporator, William Salmon.2 Disappointed in his aspirations to a county seat, he observed a studied neutrality in the Wiltshire contest in 1818, but voted for John Dugdale Astley* against John Benett* in the by-election in 1819. Acknowledging to Charles Arbuthnot*, 7 Feb. 1820, that this had created in his constituents ‘an unfortunate sensation towards me’, he refused to exert the very little influence he claimed to have over Devizes freeholders on behalf of the ministerialist William Long Wellesley* at the subsequent general election.3 Although at that time he wished to resign as the magistrate for Devizes, he continued to fulfil the duties, which were ‘not trifling’, and to attend the meetings of the corporation and Bear Club.4 Disregarding his mother’s advice to retire, 26 Feb., he stood another contest there with Pearse, against Wadham Locke, the popular candidate they had defeated in 1818. He offered on the basis of his known principles and diligence, and was again elected with a large proportion of the votes, 10 Mar. 1820.5 According to an entry in his pocket diary, he was present at the Gloucestershire election, 13 Mar.6 He attended the Wiltshire county meeting to congratulate George IV on his accession, 22 Mar., and, chairing the Wiltshire Society meeting, 12 May, he spoke in favour of charitable education as the ‘most effectual means of stemming the torrent of wretchedness and infatuation’.7 He was thanked by the corporation of Devizes, 7 Oct. 1820, for his assistance in quashing a legal claim against the validity of the recent election of a new mayor.8

He presented a Devizes petition in favour of restoring Queen Caroline’s name to the liturgy, 24 Jan. 1821, when he said that he had been returned by 36 not 12 electors, but he voted with ministers against the censure motion on the affair, 6 Feb. He was appointed to select committees on agricultural distress, 7 Mar., and poor returns, 28 Mar. (as he was in every session until 1826). He paired against Catholic claims, 28 Feb. He voted against the additional malt duty repeal bill, 3 Apr., and Hume’s attempt to disqualify civil officers of the ordnance from voting in parliamentary elections, 12 Apr. In late April 1821 he accepted Sidmouth’s invitation to chair the commission of inquiry into Ilchester gaol, and his report was presented to the House, 8 Feb. 1822.9 He was again named to the select committee on agricultural distress, 18 Feb., and he voted against more extensive tax reductions for its relief, 21 Feb., and abolition of one of the joint-postmasterships, 13 Mar. He divided against the Catholic peers relief bill, 30 Apr. He testified that Henry Hunt’s* conduct had been ‘perfectly correct’, 24 Apr., but spoke against the production of the magistrates’ journal relating to Ilchester gaol, 13 May, 5 June.10 He voted against repeal of the Foreign Enlistment Act, 16 Apr. 1823. He spoke in favour of punishment by whipping, 30 Apr., when he was a teller for the majority against granting leave for a bill to abolish it. He divided against inquiry into chancery administration, 5 June, and the usury laws amendment bill, 17, 27 June 1823.

Following the death of his uncle, Harbottle Bucknall, rector of Pebmarsh, Essex, in early 1823, Estcourt inherited the estate of Oxhey, Hertfordshire, under the will of John Askell Bucknall, who had died in 1796. Obliged by its terms to take the name of Bucknall, he quickly obtained permission to add his former surname to it, and was thenceforth known as Bucknall Estcourt.11 He voted against reform of the representation of Edinburgh, 26 Feb. 1824. He presented Devizes petitions against the importation of manufactured silks and the tobacco duties, 8 Mar., and for the abolition of slavery, 11 Mar.12 He brought in his vagrants bill, 9 Apr., chaired a committee on the subject, whose report he presented to the House, 6 May, advocated some of its clauses, 3, 5 June, and led the managers in a conference with the Lords, 18 June, after which they dropped their amendments; it received royal assent, 21 June.13 He was appointed to committees on the county gaols bill, 12 Apr., and county rates, 19 May (to which he was again named in the following two sessions), subjects with which he was well acquainted since he was in the middle of chairing a two-year inquiry into the Wiltshire accounts.14 He presented a Devizes petition for inquiry into the trial of the Methodist missionary John Smith in Demerara, 1 June, but voted against condemning ministers over it, 11 June.15 He presided at the Bear Club dinner, 27 Aug. 1824.16 Bucknall Estcourt, who oversaw the passage of the Devizes improvement bill during the session, contributing £1,000 towards its expenses, moved the first and second readings of the county rates mortgage bill, 21 Mar., 29 Apr. 1825.17 Named as a defaulter, 28 Feb., he was present to be excused, 1 Mar., when he voted against Catholic claims. He asked Sir Francis Burdett, 22, 23 Mar., to delay the second reading of his relief bill, ‘to which he intended to give his strenuous opposition’, until after the quarter sessions week, so that it would receive proper attention from the House. He voted steadily against it, and presented anti-Catholic petitions from the inhabitants of Devizes, 19 Apr., and the clergy of Berkshire, 3 May.18 He voted for the duke of Cumberland’s annuity bill, 10 June 1825.

When a vacancy occurred at Oxford University in early 1826, Bucknall Estcourt, to the surprise of some, was promoted as an uncontroversial candidate. Peel, who sat for the other seat and had succeeded Sidmouth as home secretary, thought him ‘a most respectable man, and an excellent Member of Parliament’, and that he would be ‘at least a creditable Member’; and Edward Bouverie Pusey described him as a ‘thoroughly respectable country gentleman, of respectable talents also’.19 Much speculation centred on whether Canning, the foreign secretary, would stand, and it was understood that Bucknall Estcourt, despite differing with him on the Catholic question, would then withdraw. Nothing came of that, however, though he did have to see off a strong challenge from Sir Charles Wetherell, Member for Oxford and solicitor-general. In the end, having resigned from Devizes, he was elected unopposed.20 One newspaper correspondent, complaining that he had been referred to as ‘a Mr. Estcourt’, claimed that he had been ‘frequently looked to as the most proper person to be invited to start as the True Blue or Tory Member for one of the counties in which his property lies’. He attended the by-election in Devizes, 1 Mar. 1826, and it was clearly with his approval that George Watson Taylor was elected to replace him.21

He asked Peel, 27 Feb. 1826, to introduce him to the House on taking his seat that night.22 He commented that crime had increased because of the impoverishment of the lower classes, 9 Mar., and presented a petition for lights to be displayed on carriages at night in order to prevent accidents, 14 Mar. He explained the reasons behind moving for leave to bring in a bill to amend the Alehouses Licensing Act, 17 Mar., and argued that some measure of regulation was necessary to preserve the public peace, 21 Apr., when, however, he acknowledged that the changes could not be implemented that session and moved to postpone the second reading. He introduced a new measure designed to extend the Act for one year, 26 Apr., spoke in its favour, 27 Apr., 8 May, and was a teller for the majority against an amendment to allow magistrates to hold adjourned meetings for the purpose of granting licenses, 12 May.23 He voted against resolutions to curb electoral bribery, 26 May. He attended the Devizes election, 9 June 1826, when he nominated Watson Taylor.24 He was elected for Downton, one of Lord Radnor’s boroughs, 10 June, but chose to sit for Oxford University, where he was also returned unopposed four days later. He proposed his friend Lord Robert Edward Henry Somerset* at the Gloucestershire election, 16 June, and spoke at the Pitt Club dinner in Gloucester, 27 July 1826.25 In his ‘Account of measures adopted to better the condition of the poor at Long Newnton’, he described how arable land ought to be allotted to cottagers in order to remove them from the system of parochial relief.26 That autumn he and Peel arranged a post-election visit to Oxford, where he was made a doctor of civil law, 27 June 1827.27

Bucknall Estcourt voted against Catholic relief, 6 Mar., and presented a hostile petition, 7 Mar. 1827.28 On 13 Apr. he wrote to Sidmouth, from Boodle’s, that

the duke of Wellington is said to have declared at Lady Jersey’s last night that the resignations did not arise from the Catholic question, but on account of ‘the man’. Sir George Warrender* has been sitting by my side and loudly pressing upon those around that the resignation of the ministry was solely occasioned by the king having determined to exercise his prerogative in the appointment of Canning to be his minister, in opposition to the will of the seven ministers who insisted that the commander-in-chief should be premier. This is clearly erroneous.29

In the House, 21 Mar., he informed Sir James Graham that he would be proposing another alehouses’ licensing bill, which he duly introduced, 9 Apr. Thomas and Francis Phippen’s Letter to Estcourt, dated 27 Apr., argued against it. He said that he wanted the bill referred to a select committee and to Peel, 4 May, but again ran out of time, and, having introduced another bill to extend the Act for one year, 31 May, put off the substantive measure, 18 June.30 He advocated revision of the game laws, 28 Mar., and presented petitions from the magistrates of Wiltshire for this, 29 Mar., 4 May. He disagreed with Hume’s amendment to the writ of right bill, 9 Apr., expressed his intention of opposing the Dissenters’ marriages bill, 30 May, but approved the changes made to it, 19 June, and urged that no precipitate action be taken on the issue of the Canadian clergy reserves, 15 June.31 Surprisingly, he was listed as voting in the majority in favour of the third reading of Lord Althorp’s election expenses bill, 28 May. He voted for the grant to improve water communications in Canada, 12 June 1827.

At the Wiltshire Agricultural Society dinner, 18 July 1827, he argued that the fortunes of agriculture stood higher than in the previous year and that Parliament would not sanction measures hostile to its interests.32 In his published Substance of the Charge Delivered to the Grand Jury at the Quarter Sessions (1827) he blamed the increase in crime squarely on ‘a negligence of character in those occupying the lower walks of life’, and condemned the practice of paying wages out of the poor rates. His sentence of two years’ hard labour on Catherine Cook for stealing eight cups was criticized in an address from William Lisle Bowles, vicar of Bremhill, and during the subsequent furore he offered to resign.33 He commented on the political world in a letter to Sidmouth, 30 Nov. 1827:

Surely we are in a glorious state of confusion, and daily sinking deeper into the mire! If some improvement does not take place before the meeting of Parliament what will be the course for steady, orthodox, loyal and constitutional men to pursue? Can we support, or rather must we not oppose, a government constituted of such a variety of adverse principles, as to retain no semblance of a principle on which they move, and the consequence seems to be anything but a firm, uncompromising line of policy?34

In another letter, 4 Jan. 1828, he added that

I cannot help feeling strongly disposed against a government in which nought but the signs of weakness, discordance, innovation and hostility to church and king are found to console us in our embarrassments. I hate faction as much as I do Whiggery, and am therefore anxious to ascertain when and where I am to find the real friends of the sovereign and the supporters of the constitution.

He welcomed Peel’s reappointment to office under Wellington, and was glad to have attended the first day, because, as he reported to his mentor, 31 Jan., ‘I found a pretty full muster of those with whom I generally act’, and the ‘impression made on my mind on Tuesday [29 Jan.] was favourable to the existence of the government, notwithstanding the omission of some, and ... in particular ... of ... Lord Eldon’.35 He was listed among the ‘supporters’ of the Wellington ministry in John Herries’s* ‘scheme of a finance committee’, 10 Feb. 1828, but was not appointed to it.36 He objected to the Scottish parochial settlements bill, 19 Feb., 14 Mar., 6 May. He voted against repeal of the Test Acts, 26 Feb., and asked for a delay on this, 28 Feb., when he said he would vote for suspension rather than repeal. An active committeeman, he chaired one on the metropolitan police, which was appointed, 28 Feb., and reported its findings to the House, 11 July.37 He again promised to reintroduce his alehouses’ licenses bill, 29 Feb., and asked for leave to do so, 14 Mar., when he stated that its purpose was to do away with all unnecessary difficulties in the way of obtaining licenses. He moved its first reading, 21 Mar., commented on it, 24 Mar., 2 Apr., and, on moving the second reading, 21 May, agreed that criticisms of it could usefully be raised in committee. There he strongly defended the concurrent jurisdiction clause, 19 June, which allowed county justices to sit on committees for granting licenses in small jurisdictions so that decisions would not be left in the hands of a few, possibly interested, local magistrates, but it was defeated by 46-53. He agreed to further amendments, 25 June, and his bill received royal assent, 15 July.38 Although the bishop of Oxford opined that it was ‘a great pity that Mr. Estcourt has not head and tongue enough to be put forward’, he defended the opinion of Peel and their constituency that commutations of tithes should not be made permanent, 17 Mar., and acted as a teller for the majority in favour of instructing the select committee on the subject to consider limiting their duration.39 He supported the Oxford University petition against Catholic claims, 29 Apr., which he voted against, 12 May. He raised points about payment of the Canadian Protestant clergy, 12 June, cider excise licenses, 26 June, and the game bill, 4 July. He proposed, but withdrew, amendments to limit the hours during which breweries could open for the sale of beer, 8, 10 July. He resigned as justice of Devizes, 31 July, and was elected as its recorder, 11 Aug. 1828.40

Bucknall Estcourt was kept away from the early part of the following session by the death of his mother, 3 Feb. 1829, and the convocation of Oxford therefore forwarded its anti-Catholic petition to Peel.41 He, however, had decided to follow the cabinet’s new policy in favour of introducing a bill to emancipate the Catholics. Bucknall Estcourt regretted this, and wrote to him, 6 Feb., to ‘express my apprehension that I shall not be able to view the state of public affairs in relation to the Roman Catholic question in the light in which they seem to have been presented to you’.42 Listed by Planta, the patronage secretary, among those ‘opposed to the principle of the bill’, he supported the efforts of his son, Thomas Henry Sutton Bucknall Estcourt*, to organize Wiltshire opinion against it, but asked for his name to be removed from the putative anti-Catholic declaration in order to save his colleague further embarrassment.43 In the House, 23 Feb., he denied that it had often sanctioned Catholic relief, as ‘in private, this has been the dictum of many gentlemen: "we vote for the committee, but it by no means follows that, for that reason, we shall vote for acceding to the claims when we are on the committee".’ He presented anti-Catholic petitions, 26 Feb., when he reiterated his opposition, and later that day he reported to his son that he had had the ‘extreme satisfaction of being abused by Lord Milton for intolerance’.44 He moved the writ for Oxford University, 20 Feb., on Peel’s offering himself for re-election, but apparently played little or no part, and did not vote, in the by-election in which he was defeated.45 He denied that the majority of the junior members of the University were pro-Catholic, 2 Mar. On the 6th he explained that he had formerly stayed silent on the subject because he had trusted Peel to defend the established church, argued that the Parliament elected in the less divisive atmosphere of 1826 was not qualified to decide the question, pleaded for the integrity of the Revolution settlement as a defence against Popery and criticized the government’s failure to put down the agitation in Ireland. He duly voted against the claims, 6 Mar., and the second reading of the emancipation bill, 18 Mar., bringing up more hostile petitions, 9, 18, 30 Mar. He moved an amendment to alter the words of the oath, 23 Mar., but Peel opposed it and it was lost by 99-261; he divided against allowing Catholics to sit in Parliament that day. He voted against the second reading of the related Irish franchise bill, 19 Mar., and made his protest against it, 26 Mar. He called for greater securities, 27 Mar. 1829, when he voted against receiving the report, and he divided against the third reading three days later.

It may have been through his influence that Lord Ailesbury, who was looking to fill vacancies at Marlborough with anti-Catholics and whom he met on 20 Feb. 1829, brought in his son there.46 He took his seat, 17 Mar., but was overshadowed by the activities of his father, who no doubt should most often be identified as the ‘Mr. Estcourt’ named in the reports of debates. He was reappointed to the select committee on the metropolitan police, 15 Apr. 1829, and probably chaired it again, but it never reported.47 He defended the findings of the previous year’s committee, 19, 25 May, when supporting Peel’s successful bill. He voted in the minority against the committal of the silk trade bill, 1 May. He said that there was insufficient time left in the session for the House to consider the disfranchisement of East Retford, 5 May. He spoke and acted as a teller for the majority against the third reading of the St. James’s, Westminster, vestry bill, 21 May. He rejected the argument of a petition against his Alehouses Licensing Act, 22 May. The same day, ministers having failed to indicate that the Maynooth grant would be discontinued after the current year, he carried out his threat to force a division against it, on which he was in the minority of 14. Either he or his son voted for a reduction in the grant for a sculpture of the marble arch, 25 May. The death of his wife, 23 June 1829, caused him to miss the Devizes Bear Club annual dinner for the first time in 25 years.48

Bucknall Estcourt voted against parliamentary reform, 18 Feb., and the enfranchisement of Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester, 23 Feb. 1830. He spoke in favour of committing the Avon and Gloucestershire Railway bill and declared that he would vote for this, 12 Mar. He supported one Dursley petition against distress and presented another, 16 Mar. He asked for a postponement of the debate on Jewish emancipation, 23 Mar., and voted against the proposal, 5 Apr., 17 May. He opposed the poor law amendment bill, 26 Apr., when he suggested possible improvements. He was a teller for the majority against postponing the third reading of the watching of parishes bill, 17 May, and spoke in its favour, 15 June. Although hostile to the principle of the sale of beer bill, he offered it his support, as a friend to free trade, 21 May, 3 June. However, he moved an amendment, 1 July, to limit its provisions to parishes of more than 300 houses, which he was persuaded to withdraw. Since he referred to having voted for previous amendments, it may have been he, not his son, who did so, 21 June, 1 July. He made comments on the Scottish and Irish paupers bill, 26 May, 4 June, the metropolitan police, 15 June, and the church commissioners, 17 June. His only other known vote that session was against abolition of the death penalty for forgery, 7 June 1830.

Having again been returned for Oxford University at the general election of 1830, he attended the proceedings at Devizes, 2 Aug., and the county meeting to congratulate William IV on his accession, 17 Aug., and he received praise for his work as recorder at the dinner for the new mayor, 29 Sept.49 As a landlord, magistrate and militia officer, he was very active in the forcible suppression of the agricultural riots in both Wiltshire and Gloucestershire in the autumn, taking leave from the House for this reason, 30 Nov., and he served on the special commission set up to try offenders in Wiltshire.50 Though listed by ministers among their ‘friends’, he voted against them in the division on the civil list, 15 Nov., which precipitated their downfall. In a letter to Sidmouth, 12 Dec. 1830, in which he condemned the weak response of central government during the agrarian crisis, he wrote about the new Grey administration that

of them, I suppose it is too early to offer any opinion, and the calamitous state to which we were reduced under their predecessors’ reign too grievous not to inspire an earnest hope that whether Whig, Tory or Radical, an amelioration of our condition may be their work; all that Lord Grey is reported to have said seems very sensible, and in reference to Scotch banking full of hope.51

He was granted three weeks’ leave to carry out his legal duties, 8 Feb. 1831. On 2 Mar. the House allowed him to give evidence to the Lords committee on the poor laws, where he blamed the rural atrocities on the low level of wages and advocated the distribution of land to cottagers and the abandonment of the Speenhamland system, 18 Mar. He was appointed to the select committee on secondary punishments, 17 Mar., and in his evidence to it, 20 Apr., he spoke of the efficacy of imprisonment, hard labour and transportation.52 Lord Ellenborough recorded, 18 Mar. 1831, that ‘Estcourt told me the speeches of Peel and others against the [reform] bill had produced a great effect and the opponents were honoured, but the ministers supported, and the tide ran strongly in favour of reform’.53 He divided against the second reading of the bill, 22 Mar., justified the petition of the corporation of Devizes against it and denied allegations about Sidmouth’s influence there, 18 Apr., and voted for Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr. At the subsequent general election he was again returned unopposed for Oxford University. He attended the elections at Devizes, 4 May, Cricklade, 6 May, when he voted for the successful candidates Robert Gordon and Thomas Calley, and Gloucestershire, 10 May, having previously signed a declaration in favour of Somerset’s return and been a member of the committee which had persuaded him to withdraw the day before.54 He supported the complaint of his colleague, Sir Robert Inglis, that the usual references to the providence of God’s blessings had been omitted from the address, 22 June, and brought up the University’s anti-reform petition, 24 June. He pressed ministers, 4 July, over whether they or a draftsman were responsible for the clause in the reintroduced reform bill which would apparently disfranchise many by allowing the payment of rent at shorter than quarterly intervals. He voted against the second reading, 6 July, for using the census of 1831 to determine the disfranchisement schedules, 19 July, and to postpone consideration of the partial disfranchisement of Chippenham, 27 July. That month he privately threatened to ‘ask questions across the House soon’ if ministers did nothing to provide relief for the poor before the onset of winter.55 He signed the Wiltshire declaration against reform.56 He objected to the enfranchising clauses, 6 Aug., on the grounds that the manufacturing interests of the west country would be left underrepresented, and he suggested that one seat be given to both Trowbridge and Bradford in Wiltshire. Urging continued progress on the settlement by hiring bill, 12 Aug. 1831, he classed it as ‘of greater importance to the peasantry of this country, than the measure which at present occupies so much of the time of this House’.

He asked Lord Althorp, the leader of the House, to adjourn the reform bill over the planned Saturday sitting, 12 Aug., as he thought that the ‘disorderly state of the House’ was due ‘mainly to the uneasiness arising from constant attendance on the subject’, and he raised minor queries about it, 19, 20 Aug. 1831. He spoke against the Deacles, 22 Aug., 27 Sept., asked when the Irish education supply would be taken, 22 Aug., and (unless it was his son) voted for the censure motion against the Irish government over the Dublin election, 23 Aug. He defended the powers of magistrates under the Sale of Beer Act, 24 Aug., 5 Sept., but stated his disapproval of the measure. He presented and endorsed a petition from the non-resident freemen of Worcester against their disfranchisement, 27 Aug., when he moved an amendment to preserve the existing rights of voting. He argued that this would not conflict with ministers’ intentions to reduce nomination influence and electoral expenses, but would preserve ancient privileges and chartered rights, and he acted as a teller in the division, which was lost by 89-17. Three days later it was probably he, not his son, who voted to preserve the right of voting to non-resident freemen for their lives. He commented on the definition of the distance from a town within which £10 householders would be eligible to vote, 30 Aug., 13 Sept. He raised fears that the costs of registration would fall upon county rates, 3, 5 Sept., and his amendment that commissioners not magistrates should decide the location of polling places in counties was negatived, 13 Sept. He voted in favour of issuing the Liverpool writ, 5 Sept., and against the third reading of the reform bill, 19 Sept., and its passage, 21 Sept. He defended the Church of Ireland, 12, 14 Sept., and voted to end the Maynooth grant after the current year, 26 Sept. He was a teller for the majority in favour of amending the vestries bill, 29 Sept., and regretted that changes to it were not pressed, 30 Sept. He justified the conduct of magistrates in Ireland, 5 Oct., and repeated his ideas on how to better the condition of the labouring poor, 11 Oct. 1831.

Writing in despondent mood to Sidmouth, 14 Nov. 1831, Bucknall Estcourt foresaw

much of misery in store for us before this notable ministry will bring us back even to the point from which they started, not that there is much of which to boast in the state to which R. C. emancipation, want of credit and confidence and inattention to agricultural distress had reduced us under the administration of our friends.

He reported that there had been little local reaction against reform, and that he had done militia duty in Bristol in the aftermath of the riots there.57 He was appointed to the select committee on Irish tithes, 15 Dec., and on 27 Dec. Lord Brougham asked for his suggestions on amending the poor laws.58 He voted against the second reading of the revised reform bill, 17 Dec. 1831. He divided against the vestries bill, 23 Jan. 1832, and (unless it was his son) against the production of information on military punishments, 16 Feb. On the reform bill, he asked whether joint-tenants in a single house valued at more than £10 a year would be entitled to vote, 7 Feb., and moved an amendment to relieve magistrates of the additional duties and costs under it, which Lord John Russell promised to consider, 11 Feb. He voted against the enfranchisement of Tower Hamlets, 28 Feb., and the third reading of the bill, 22 Mar. He presented an Oxford petition against the Purton Pill Railway bill, 17 Feb., and was instrumental in having it thrown out, 22 Mar.59 He spoke in favour of allowing vestries to employ labourers in order to relieve agricultural distress, 17 Feb., 9 July. It may have been his son, rather than he, who voted in the minority against the malt drawback bill, 2 Apr., and for making permanent provision for the Irish poor by a tax on absentees, 19 June, and the bill to exclude insolvent debtors from Parliament, 27 June. He defended the vote of supply for the professors of Oxford and Cambridge, 13 Apr., and moved the committal of the beer bill, 18 July. His only other recorded votes were with opposition against the Russian-Dutch loan, 26 Jan., 12 July. At the Devizes Bear Club dinner, 24 Aug., he declared that ‘at his time of life, and under existing circumstances, it must be manifest, that his humble services to his country, were drawing near to a close’.60 However, at the general election in December 1832 he was again returned for Oxford University, where he sat until his retirement in 1847. Having moved his principal residence to Estcourt House in 1831, he resigned as a capital burgess councillor and recorder of Devizes in 1833 and as chairman of the Wiltshire quarter sessions in 1836.61 He died in July 1853, being succeeded by his eldest son, then Member for Wiltshire North, who afterwards resumed the name of Estcourt (in addition to that of Sotheron).

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: Stephen Farrell


  • 1. HP Commons, 1790-1820, iii. 715; Glos. RO, Sotheron Estcourt mss D1571 F438.
  • 2. Devizes Gazette, 14 June 1900.
  • 3. HP Commons, 1790-1820, ii. 411; Wilts. Pollbook (1819), 86; Sotheron Estcourt mss F209.
  • 4. Sotheron Estcourt mss F209, Estcourt to Pembroke, 7 Feb. 1820; Devizes Gazette, 30 Sept. 1824; Wilts. RO, Devizes borough recs. G20/1/21, 22.
  • 5. Sotheron Estcourt mss F220; Devizes Gazette, 16 Mar. 1820.
  • 6. Sotheron Estcourt mss F279.
  • 7. Devizes Gazette, 23 Mar., 18 May 1820.
  • 8. Devizes borough recs. G20/1/21.
  • 9. Devon RO, Sidmouth mss 152M/OA, Ilchester gaol commission; Sotheron Estcourt mss X25; PP (1822), xi. 277.
  • 10. The Times, 6 June 1822.
  • 11. PROB 11/1279/440; 1668/186; London Gazette, 6 May, 19 July 1823.
  • 12. The Times, 9, 12 Mar. 1824.
  • 13. Ibid. 4, 7 June 1824; Sotheron Estcourt mss X26.
  • 14. Sotheron Estcourt mss X42-49.
  • 15. The Times, 2 June 1824.
  • 16. Devizes Gazette, 2 Sept. 1824.
  • 17. Ibid. 24 Mar., 6 Oct.; The Times, 19 Feb., 30 Apr. 1825.
  • 18. Devizes Gazette, 21 Apr.; The Times, 4 May 1825.
  • 19. Add. 40342, f. 307; 40385, f. 153; 43231, f. 171; Hatherton mss, Littleton to ?Leigh, Feb. 1826; H.P. Liddon, Life of Pusey, i. 90-91.
  • 20. Add. 40342, ff. 309-18; 40385, ff. 151, 162, 168, 170, 173; Jackson’s Oxford Jnl. 4, 18, 25 Feb.; Devizes Gazette, 9 Feb. 1826; Sotheron Estcourt mss F285; X27.
  • 21. Devizes Gazette, 16 Feb., 2 Mar. 1826.
  • 22. Add. 40385, f. 288.
  • 23. The Times, 15, 18 Mar., 22, 27, 28 Apr., 9, 13 May 1826.
  • 24. Devizes Gazette, 15 June 1826.
  • 25. Gloucester Jnl. 19 June, 29 July 1826.
  • 26. Devizes Gazette, 21 Dec. 1826.
  • 27. Add. 40387, f. 209; 40389, ff. 207, 210.
  • 28. The Times, 8 Mar. 1827.
  • 29. Canning’s Ministry, 108.
  • 30. The Times, 22 Mar., 10 Apr., 5 May, 1, 19 June 1827.
  • 31. Ibid. 30 Mar., 10 Apr., 5, 31 May, 16 June 1827; NLS mss 3436, f. 159.
  • 32. Devizes Gazette, 19 July 1827.
  • 33. Sotheron Estcourt mss X51-59.
  • 34. Ibid. F665.
  • 35. Sidmouth mss.
  • 36. Add. 40395, f. 221.
  • 37. Sotheron Estcourt mss X30.
  • 38. Ibid. X29.
  • 39. Add. 40343, f. 193.
  • 40. Devizes borough recs. G20/1/22.
  • 41. N. Gash, Pillars of Government, 70.
  • 42. Add. 40398, f. 114.
  • 43. Sotheron Estcourt mss X114, T.G. to T.H.S. Bucknall Estcourt, 1, 6, 8, Mon. [?9] Feb. 1829.
  • 44. Ibid.
  • 45. Oxf. Univ. Pollbook (1829), 22-23.
  • 46. Sotheron Estcourt mss F288; X114, T.G. to T.H.S. Bucknall Estcourt, 2-4 Mar. 1829.
  • 47. Ibid. X30.
  • 48. Devizes Gazette, 3 Sept. 1829.
  • 49. Ibid. 5 Aug., 30 Sept; Salisbury Jnl. 23 Aug. 1830.
  • 50. H. Bull and J. Waylen, Hist. Devizes, 557; Devizes Gazette, 25 Nov., 2, 9 Dec.; Sotheron Estcourt mss X60-63; Lansdowne mss, Bucknall Estcourt to Lansdowne, 21, 26-28, 30 Nov., 1, 2 Dec. 1830.
  • 51. Sotheron Estcourt mss F665.
  • 52. PP (1831), vii. 558; viii. 609.
  • 53. Three Diaries, 69.
  • 54. Sotheron Estcourt mss F290; Cricklade Pollbook (1831), 24; Gloucester Jnl. 23 Apr., 14 May 1831.
  • 55. W. Suss. RO, Goodwood mss 635, ff. 19, 37.
  • 56. Devizes Gazette, 11 Aug. 1831.
  • 57. Sotheron Estcourt mss F665.
  • 58. Ibid. F209.
  • 59. Ibid. F244, Bragge Bathurst to Bucknall Estcourt, 25 Mar. 1832.
  • 60. Devizes Gazette, 30 Aug. 1832.
  • 61. Sotheron Estcourt mss F438; Add. 34571, f. 126; Devizes borough recs. G20/1/22.