HORROCKS, Samuel (1766-1842), of Lark Hill, Preston, Lancs.

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



17 Mar. 1804 - 1826

Family and Education

b. 27 Nov. 1766, 1st s. of John Horrocks of Bradshaw, nr. Bolton, Lancs. and Jane, da. of John Booth of Edgworth, nr. Bolton; bro. of John Horrocks†. m. 23 Aug. 1786, Alice, da. of Christopher Duckworth of Edgworth, 1s. 7da. (1 d.v.p.) suc. fa. 1816. d. 24 Mar. 1842.

Offices Held

Mayor, Preston 1802-3.


On the death in 1804 of his younger brother John, co-founder in 1796 of the Whig-Tory, Derby-Horrocks electoral coalition, Horrocks, an anti-Catholic Tory, had become the senior partner in the family cotton firm and Member for Preston, where he was the largest employer and an influential member of the corporation. His ‘silence’ in the House was ridiculed by his local opponents, but he had successfully defended his seat at great expense at each subsequent election.1 He did so again in 1820, when, with the Whig 12th earl of Derby’s nominee Edmund Hornby as his colleague, he prevailed over the radical Henry Hunt* and the Whig barrister John Williams* in a riotous 13-day poll, which cost him £11,560.2

Horrocks, who was granted a fortnight’s leave on urgent private business, 4 July 1820, and a further six weeks, 9 Apr. 1821, when strikes and lay-offs closed his spinning factories, remained an important figure locally, but an insignificant one in Parliament, where his only reported speech was a brief defence of the Lancashire magistracy’s treatment of Hunt and conditions in Lancaster gaol, 25 Feb. 1822.3 He divided with the Liverpool government on the Queen Caroline case, 6 Feb., and against the additional malt duty repeal bill, 3 Apr. 1821, and Catholic relief, 30 Apr. 1822, 1 Mar., 21 Apr., having also brought up Preston’s hostile petition, 18 Apr. 1825.4 A radical publication of that session commented that he was a Member whose ‘opinions and attendance are ... totally unknown to us’.5 On 27 July 1823 Horrocks survived an attempt on his life by the disaffected cotton worker and trade unionist Andrew Ryding, who struck his head and arms with an iron cleaver. At Lancaster assizes, 18 Aug., he helped to secure a verdict of ‘not guilty on account of insanity’ against his assailant, who was detained for life.6 Horrocks’s retirement at the dissolution of 1826, when Hornby made way for Derby’s grandson Edward George Geoffrey Smith Stanley, was unexpected and wrecked the coalition.7 He supported Tory candidates and interests in Preston until his retirement from the corporation in 1833 and following his re-election to it in 1836, but he repeatedly declined to stand for Parliament or to sanction the candidature of his only son Samuel.8 He died ‘possessed of great wealth’, at Lark Hill in March 1842, recalled as an ‘unobtrusive and unostentatious character’ and ‘shrewd man of business’, and was buried in St. George’s churchyard, Preston. Samuel, who died without issue in 1846, succeeded him at Lark Hill and as head of Horrocks, Miller and Company.9 His will, dated 28 Mar. 1840, provided for his six surviving daughters, and was proved at Chester, 27 Sept. 1842, and in London, 5 July 1843.10

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: Margaret Escott


  • 1. Oxford DNB sub Horrocks, John; Fortunes Made in Business, iii. (1887), 20-28; C. Brown, Origins and Progress of Horrocks and Co. (1925); W. Dobson, Parl. Rep. Preston, 68-71; D. Hunt, Hist. Preston, 156-7; HP Commons, 1790-1820, ii. 237; iv. 248.
  • 2. Lancs. RO, Whittaker of Simonstone mss DDWh/4/99; The Times, 20 Mar. 1820; W. Bean, Parl. Rep. Six Northern Counties, 405; Dobson, 69.
  • 3. Preston Chron. 20 Jan.; The Times, 10, 27 Apr. 1821.
  • 4. Preston Pilot, 3 Feb., 9, 16, 23 Apr.; The Times, 19 Apr. 1825.
  • 5. Session of Parl. 1825, p. 469.
  • 6. The Times, 2, 4 Aug. 1823; Account of the Trial of Andrew Ryding ed. Wilkinson.
  • 7. Preston Pilot, 22, 29 Apr.; The Times, 13, 20 June 1826.
  • 8. Preston Pilot, 3 June, 5 Aug., 30 Sept. 1826; Lancs. RO, Preston corporation minutes, 1821-35 (unfol.) CNP3/1/5; Lancs. RO, Houghton mss DDH/76; Manchester Guardian, 13 Mar. 1830.
  • 9. Hunt, 150-1, 154; Preston Pilot. 26 Mar., 2 Apr.; Gent. Mag. (1842), ii. 430; M. Burscough, The Horrockses: cotton kings of Preston.
  • 10. PROB 8/236; 11/1982/483.