GIPPS, George (1783-1869), of Howletts, Ickham, Kent

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



1807 - 1826

Family and Education

b. 29 Dec. 1783,1 1st s. of George Gipps† of Harbledown, nr. Canterbury and 2nd w. Sarah, da. of William Stanton, Spanish merchant, of Harbledown. educ. Charterhouse 1793; St. John’s, Camb. 1801; L. Inn 1805. m. 3 May 1810, Jane, da. of John Bowdler of Hayes, 6s. (3 d.v.p.) 5da. (1 d.v.p.). suc. fa. 1800. d. 26 Apr. 1869.

Offices Held

Capt. Ashford regt. Kent militia 1809.


At the 1820 general election Gipps was again returned for Ripon by Miss Elizabeth Sophia Lawrence, his stepmother’s niece. A ‘frequent attender’, he continued his independent ways in the House.2 He soon made a mark in the new Parliament as the apparently unwitting abettor of a piece of ministerial chicanery. In the debate on Holme Sumner’s motion to refer petitions complaining of agricultural distress to a select committee, 30 May 1820, which government resisted, Gipps, encouraged by a suggestion from the Whig Henry Brougham, produced an amendment to restrict the inquiry to the task of establishing ‘the mode best fitted for ascertaining the average price of corn’. Because of a technicality, the House was unable to divide on this proposal and, to ministers’ dismay, the original motion was carried by 150-101. Next day Frederick Robinson, president of the board of trade (and Gipps’s colleague at Ripon) forced through, against the protests of Brougham and others, a modified version of Gipps’s amendment restricting the inquiry to investigation of the mode of calculating the averages in the 12 maritime districts.3 Gipps declined to support Hume’s motion accusing the authorities of connivance in the escape of a man arrested for issuing seditious placards, 17 Oct., but he deplored their failure to curb the recent ‘activity with which placards of the most inflammatory nature had been circulated to excite the people to discontent’. He criticized Queen Caroline and justified the omission of her name from the liturgy, 1 Feb., voted with ministers in defence of their conduct towards her, 6 Feb., and spoke against the Whig attack on the sheriff of Cheshire for suppressing an address in her support, 20 Feb. 1821. He was absent from the division on Catholic emancipation, 28 Feb., but on 29 Mar. he ‘professed himself ever to have been, and still to remain, a steady opposer’ of the measure.4 Although he voted with government against repeal of the additional malt duty, 3 Apr., he urged them to ‘put their shoulders to the wheel’ and find other means of raising £500,000 than by the tax on agricultural horses, 5 Apr., and the next day he voted to reduce the grant for the war office. He voted against the grant for the Royal Military College, 30 Apr., and the ordnance estimates, 14, 18 May, when his motion to reduce the grant for garrisons by £23,000 was defeated by 99-64. He quizzed ministers on the army extraordinaries and divided against them, 25 May, and on 31 May, after voting to reduce ordnance salaries, again moved for a substantial cut in the garrisons grant, which he lost by 94-68. He spoke and divided against the proposal to raise £200,000 by lottery, 1 June, and voted against the payment of arrears in the grant to the duke of Clarence, 8, 18 June 1821. Gipps thanked Hume for moving an amendment to the address demanding economies and tax reductions to relieve distress, 5 Feb., and duly voted for it, only to divide with ministers in defence of their relief programme, 21 Feb. 1822. He could not have been entirely satisfied with it, for he voted for repeal of the salt duty, 28 Feb., having denied that in doing so he was ‘actuated by any desire of popularity’, spoke and divided for admiralty reductions, 1 Mar.,5 and voted for abolition of one of the joint-postmaster-generalships, 13 Mar., 2 May, and against the public works grant, 29 Mar., and the naval and military pensions bill, 3 June. He was in the minority hostile to Canning’s bill to relieve Catholic peers of their disabilities, 30 Apr., but in August 1822 the ministerialist John Wilson Croker* listed him among ‘persons inclined’ to Canning who would follow him if he went into opposition.6

Canning’s adhesion to the ministry may have influenced Gipps, whose conduct was markedly less independent from this point. He spoke on the game laws, which he was disposed to defend, 13 Mar. 1823, and the same day voted with government on the national debt reduction bill, as he did against repeal of the foreign enlistment bill, 16 Apr. 1823. He cast wayward votes against the pensions bill, 14 Apr., and for inquiry into chancery delays, 5 June, and was one of the minority of 20 who ‘remained in the House’ in the division on Stuart Wortley’s amendment approving British neutrality towards the French invasion of Spain, 30 Apr. 1823. His name appears in none of the surviving division lists of 1824, but he had a few words to say in debate. A leading supporter, with his father-in-law, of the building of new churches, he claimed that £500,000 was required for that purpose, 2 Mar. He had been appointed to select committees on the vagrancy laws, 14 Mar. 1821, 29 Mar. 1822, and in March 1824 he introduced a bill to provide for the better employment of agricultural labourers in winter, but it did not progress to a second reading.7 He was added to the select committee on labourers’ wages, 6 Apr. 1825, and was a member of those on poor returns, 30 Mar. 1824, 30 Mar. 1825, 16 Mar. 1826. He voted against Catholic relief, 1 Mar., 21 Apr., 10 May, and against the Irish franchise bill, 26 Apr. 1825. He was credited with a speech deploring the reduction of the wool duty, 25 Mar. 1825, but it was almost certainly delivered by Joseph Cripps.8 It is not clear whether it was he or Cripps who proposed an amendment, defeated by 79-64, to the terms of the grant to the duke of Cumberland for the education of his son, 27 May, but Gipps was in the ministerial majority in favour of the award, 30 May 1825.9 This was his last known vote, and he retired at the dissolution of 1826. He remained active locally, however, and in 1828 moved the motion against Catholic claims at the county meeting on Penenden Heath.10 His nephew Henry Plumptre Gipps, who unsuccessfully contested Canterbury as a Conservative in 1837, sat briefly for Canterbury in 1852 before being unseated on petition the following year.

Gipps died in April 1869. By his will, dated 16 May 1857, he made provision for his wife and seven surviving children, before leaving the residue and family estates to his eldest son George (1812-80).

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: David R. Fisher


  • 1. Not 18 Dec. as stated in HP Commons, 1790-1820, iv. 25. This and other genealogical information was supplied by Bryan Gipps of Egerton House, Kent.
  • 2. Black Bk. (1823), 157; Session of Parl. 1825, p. 465.
  • 3. Cf. B. Hilton, Corn, Cash, Commerce, 102, where Gipps’s role is mistakenly allotted to Sir Robert Thomas Wilson.
  • 4. The Times, 30 Mar. 1821.
  • 5. Ibid. 2 Mar. 1822.
  • 6. Add. 40319, f. 66.
  • 7. The Times, 26, 31 Mar., 1, 7 Apr. 1824; CJ, lxxix. 325.
  • 8. The Times, 26 Mar. 1825.
  • 9. Ibid. 28 May 1825.
  • 10. Report of Speeches Delivered at the Kent County Meeting (1828), 2-4.