HARRISON BATLEY, Charles (?1787-1835), of Bramley Grange, nr. Leeds, Yorks. and 13 Chapel Stairs, L. Inn, Mdx.
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Family and Educationb. ?1787, 1st s. of Charles Harrison of Ripon, Yorks. and w. Isabella Charnock.1 educ. Trinity Coll. Camb. 1805; fellow, St. Catharine’s, Camb. 1810; L. Inn 30 Jan. 1810, ‘aged 22’, called 1813. m. 25 May 1822, Anna, da. of John Baines, surgeon, of Masham, nr. Ripon, wid. of John Lodge Batley of Masham, 2da. Took additional name of Batley by royal lic. 10 May 1822. d. 1 Aug. 1835.
Recorder, Ripon by 1819-d.
Harrison Batley belonged to a family of minor Yorkshire gentry. From 1813 until his death he was a practising equity draftsman on the northern circuit; and by 1819 he was recorder of Ripon, his native town. His marriage to the widow Anna Batley (whose father was a cousin of Edward Baines, proprietor of the Leeds Mercury) brought him wealth and an extra name.2 When he offered for the venal borough of Beverley at the general election of 1826, with the blessing of the retiring Member George Lane Fox, he was described as ‘a gentleman of independent fortune’. He professed qualified support for revision of the corn laws, provided there remained ‘a protecting duty, alike advantageous to the grower and consumer’. He promised to resist ‘further concessions to the Roman Catholics, owing as they do allegiance to a foreign power’. He was returned in second place after a contest which was reckoned to have cost him about £3,000.3
An active and conscientious Member, he opposed reception of the petition of Robert Taylor praying for Deists to be sworn in courts of justice ‘upon the works of nature’, 29 Nov. 1826, arguing that ‘a person who did not believe in our Saviour ought not to be tolerated in a British House of Commons’. On 6 Dec. 1826, seconding a motion by Spence, Member for Ripon, for information on the pending business of the equity courts, he ‘rejoiced at the prospect of seeing the equity side of the exchequer thrown open to the public’ and declared that under lord chancellor Eldon the administration of chancery was ‘perfect’.4 He was ‘quite satisfied’ that bankruptcy jurisdiction should remain in chancery, 13 Mar. 1827. He thought a proposal to establish a committee of appeal for private bills was ‘impolitic’, 15 Feb. 1827. He welcomed the home secretary Peel’s three bills designed to mitigate the severity of the criminal law, 23 Feb. He voted against Catholic relief, 6 Mar., and endorsed the hostile petition from Beverley corporation, 22 Mar.5 He was in the minorities for a reduced import price of 50s. for corn, 9 Mar., and against increased protection for barley, 12 Mar. From his place on ‘the hinder ministerial benches’ he supported Lord Althorp’s motion for inquiry into ways of reducing the cost of county elections, which he wanted to be extended to the boroughs, 15 Mar. He was in the Canning ministry’s minorities against the disfranchisement of Penryn, 28 May, 7 June, and the Coventry magistracy bill, 18 June 1827. On 31 Jan., 25 Feb., 3, 4, 7 Mar. 1828 he contended that the evidence of corruption at East Retford was not damning enough to justify its disfranchisement. Nor was he prepared to see Penryn disfranchised because of the delinquency of 150 electors, 24 Mar. He supported Davies’s bill to limit the duration of borough polls, 21 Feb., 23 May, when he said that ‘protracted elections are the source of every evil that can be imagined’; but he voted against Fyler’s bill to lift the restriction on the use of ribbons at elections and an attempt to introduce a measure to control the admission of borough freemen, 20 Mar. He voted against repeal of the Test Acts, 26 Feb., and Catholic relief, 12 May, having presented and endorsed a hostile petition from his constituency, 24 Apr. He brought up one from Beverley merchants and traders for repeal of the stamp duty on receipts, 4 Mar., and advocated this step, 11 Mar. He divided with the Wellington ministry against inquiry into chancery delays, 24 Apr., and reduction of the ordnance estimates, 4 July, and for the silk duties, 14 July. On 22 May he spoke warmly in support of the proposed provision for the family of Canning, whose ‘indisputably brilliant services’ had put the country in his debt. He presented a Beverley petition against restriction of the circulation of one pound bank notes, 6 June, and divided for revision of the usury laws, 19 June. He thought William Smith’s proposal to insert provision for punishment by hard labour would defeat the object of Peel’s offences against the person bill, 6 June. He spoke and voted for the third reading of the corporate funds bill, asserting that their application to ‘electioneering purposes’ was ‘wholly irreconcilable to the freedom of election’ 10 July. He suggested an amendment to the alehouses licensing bill, 19 June 1828.
Harrison Batley made it clear that he supported the bill to suppress the Catholic Association not ‘because it is the precursor’ of emancipation, but because it was ‘necessary for the support of our government in Ireland’, as the association was ‘unconstitutional’ and ‘treasonable’, 12 Feb. 1829. He remained convinced that the ‘uppermost object of ambition in the Catholic mind is to make its own religion the dominant hierarchy’. Unaccountably, Planta, the patronage secretary, reckoned that Harrison Batley would side ‘with government’ for the concession of emancipation; but he was one of its diehard opponents in the lobbies. He presented and endorsed a constituency petition against it, 4 Mar., arguing that the question ‘affects the security and comfort of our homes and our altars’ and stressing that his sentiments were entirely in harmony with those of his constituents; he sent a written assurance of this to the mayor of Beverley.6 He spoke vigorously against emancipation, 6 Mar., accusing Peel of a betrayal and fearing that ‘we are pulling down the adamantine pillar in the temple of the constitution’. He brought up and endorsed an anti-Catholic petition from a large meeting of ‘the respectable inhabitants’ of Beverley, 16 Mar., and said he would have resigned his seat had he found himself at odds with the petitioners. On 23 Mar. he suggested but eventually withdrew an amendment to the relief bill designed to safeguard Church of England property. He spoke against allowing O’Connell to take his seat unhindered, 18 May. He opposed the transfer of East Retford’s seats to Birmingham, 5 May 1829, 11 Feb., when he professed willingness to give representation to great commercial and trading interests, but not by an act of injustice, 5, 15 Mar. 1830. He was in the minority for issuing a new writ for the borough, 2 June 1829. He voted against Lord Blandford’s reform scheme, 18 Feb., but for Lord John Russell’s proposal to enfranchise Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester, 23 Feb. 1830. He declared his ‘decided opposition’ to the secret ballot as ‘a most fatal blow to the independence’ of the Commons, 23 Mar. He presented Beverley petitions against renewal of the East India Company’s trade monopoly, 16 Mar., and for the Leeds and Selby railway bill, 17 Mar. He voted against government to get rid of the Bathurst and Dundas pensions, 26 Mar., but refused to support the opposition motion of ‘censure’ on the Terceira episode, 28 Apr. He spoke and voted against Jewish emancipation, 5 Apr., and was in the majority against it, 17 May. He was an opponent of Lord Ellenborough’s divorce bill, 1, 6 Apr. He presented constituency petitions against the bill to open the beer trade, 6 Apr., 6 May, and spoke and voted for amendments to it, 1 July. He divided to abolish capital punishment for most forgery offences, 24 May, 7 June, when he was in the ministerial majority for the grant for South American missions. He spoke for reform of the insolvent debtors courts, 14 May, but, as a chancery barrister, asserted that the proposal to appoint an additional judge there was ‘unnecessary’, 17 June. He voted against Hume’s attempt to reduce judicial salaries, 7 July, but spoke and voted against the ministerial amendment to increase libel recognizances, 9 July. He was in Brougham’s minority of 27 for the abolition of colonial slavery, 13 July 1830.
Harrison Batley retired from Parliament at the 1830 dissolution. He died, ‘aged 49’, at St. Omer in August 1835.7 No will or administration has been found.
Ref Volumes: 1820-1832
Authors: David R. Fisher / Martin Casey
- 1. According to IGI (ancestral file).
- 2. J. Fisher, Hist. Masham, 394.
- 3. Hull Rockingham, 2 June; Hull Advertiser, 16 June; Yorks. Gazette, 3 June; Hull Univ. Lib. Hotham mss DDHO/8/4, Hall to Hotham, 1, 10, 24 June 1826.
- 4. The Times, 7 Dec. 1826.
- 5. Ibid. 23 Mar. 1827.
- 6. Beverley Lib. DX 24/25 (4 Mar. 1829).
- 7. Gent. Mag. (1835), ii. 667.