HORT, Sir Josiah William, 2nd bt. (1791-1876), of Hortland, co. Kildare

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



1831 - 1832

Family and Education

b. 6 July 1791, 1st. s. of Sir John Hort, 1st bt., of Hortland and Margaret, da. of Sir Fitzgerald Aylmer, 6th bt., of Donadea Castle. educ. Westminster; Trinity Coll. Camb. 1809. m. 31 Mar. 1823, Louisa Georgiana, da. and coh. of Sir John Caldwell, 5th bt., of Castle Caldwell, co. Fermanagh, 3s. 2da. suc. fa. as 2nd bt. 23 Oct. 1807. d. 24 Aug. 1876.

Offices Held

Sheriff, co. Kildare 1818-19.


Hort’s father, second son of the archbishop of Tuam, 1741-51, had been appointed consul-general at Lisbon in 1767 and created a baronet the same year. On the death in 1786 of his elder brother Josiah George, Kildare’s sheriff in 1758, he had acquired the ‘fine estate’ of Hortland, which Hort inherited on succeeding to the baronetcy in 1807, when he became the ward of Lord Henry Petty† (later 3rd marquess of Lansdowne). On meeting Hort and his brother for the first time in Paris in September 1818, Maria Edgeworth described him as

a very pleasing young man ... [with] dark eyes, round good natured face, gentlemanlike figure, middle sized, good manners, no conceit, or ennui ... far above most of the young men of the present day. Literature enough for conversation, no pretension, a very good mechanic. At dinner one day Lord Grenville and all the gentlemen except himself were talking nonsense about the new magnetic perpetual motion. He modestly asked a question or two which showed he understood it was all nonsense and even the authority of Lord Grenville’s eye and contradictory belief could not frighten him ... We became acquainted and to a certain degree intimate from that time forward. He always sits where he ought to do at dinner.

Later that month, however, she noted that he ‘did not appear so agreeable when I saw more of him’, adding that he ‘was a good humoured young man and that was all. Nothing came out on further acquaintance’.1 In December 1822 he sued Lord Newry for the price of a horse sold as ‘quite in harness’, which ‘kicked’ and threw a shoe during its trial in Oxford Street: he won the case and subsequent appeal.2 At the 1830 general election he considered standing for an unexpected opening for county Kildare, but declined on finding that a ‘friend’ had already entered the field, promising to offer on the ‘first suitable vacancy that may occur’.3 At the 1831 general election he duly came forward as a ‘reformer’ opposed to ‘monopoly and abuse in every shape’, having secured the dominant interest of the 3rd duke of Leinster, whose 250 freeholders, together with his own, ensured him support from 350 of the 500 registered electors. A third candidate withdrew and he was returned unopposed.4 Frederick Ponsonby† of Bishop’s Court, brother of the 2nd Baron Ponsonby, told Lord Howick*, colonial under-secretary in the Grey ministry, that he had considered standing himself but had let Hort, who had ‘pledged himself voluntarily to your bill, walk over’.5 In the contest for Queen’s County he controversially assisted the return of the former Tory Sir Charles Coote, who, as Leinster informed Lord Cloncurry, was an ‘intimate friend and old acquaintance, and although they differ in politics, I should be sorry to see that carried too far’.6

Hort voted for the second reading of the reintroduced English reform bill, 6 July, at least twice against adjournment, 12 July, and gave generally steady support to its details, although he divided for the enfranchisement of £50 tenants-at-will, 18 Aug. 1831. He voted for the third reading, 19 Sept., and passage of the bill, 21 Sept., and Lord Ebrington’s confidence motion, 10 Oct. On 30 July he joined Brooks’s, sponsored by Lords Duncannon* and Killeen*, an earlier membership of 21 May 1817, when the sponsors were Sir Henry Parnell* and Lord Essex, apparently having lapsed. In his maiden speech, 5 Aug., he defended the practices of Maynooth College and called for a liberal system of Irish education with grants distributed so that all religions ‘might derive an equal benefit’. On 11 Aug. he spoke and voted for printing the Waterford petition for disarming the Irish yeomanry, the ‘last persons who ought to be employed on anything approaching military service in time of peace’. He divided with ministers on the Dublin election controversy, 23 Aug., and voted for legal provision for the Irish poor, 29 Aug. He divided for the second reading of the revised reform bill, 17 Dec. 1831, again supported its details, and voted for the third reading, 22 Mar., but was absent from the division on the motion for an address calling on the king to appoint only ministers who would carry it unimpaired, 10 May 1832. He voted to print the Woollen Grange petition for the abolition of Irish tithes, 16 Feb., and against the Irish tithes bill, 8 Mar. On the 23rd he presented and endorsed petitions for their total abolition, saying that the time had ‘now come when the public must face the question’ of the Irish church and that as ‘a sincere Protestant’ he was ‘prepared to place all religious creeds on the same footing’. He divided for the second reading of the Irish reform bill, 25 May, but against the liability of Irish electors to pay municipal taxes before they could vote, 29 June. He was granted ten days’ leave on account of family illness, 19 June, but was credited with a vote for Baring’s bill to exclude insolvent debtors from Parliament, 27 June.7 In his last known speech, 5 July, he explained that ‘if on a former occasion’ he had opposed the tithes bill because the Irish secretary Smith Stanley would not ‘accompany’ it with a measure of church appropriation, ‘still more’ did he now, after the ‘emphatic manner’ in which Smith Stanley had ‘stated his intention to support the establishment in its present form’. He divided accordingly, 13 July. He voted with ministers on the Russian-Dutch loan, 12, 16, 20 July 1832.

At the 1832 general election Hort came third in a contest against two other Liberals. He died in Eaton Square, London, in August 1876 and was succeeded by his eldest son John Josiah (1824-82), an army officer.

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: Philip Salmon


  • 1. Edgeworth Letters, 95, 100-101.
  • 2. The Times, 10 Dec. 1822, 24 Jan., 13 June 1823.
  • 3. Dublin Evening Post, 20 July 1830.
  • 4. Ibid. 26, 28 Apr., 3, 10 May 1831.
  • 5. Grey mss, Ponsonby to Howick, 30 May 1831.
  • 6. Add. 51568, Leinster to Cloncurry, 11 May 1831.
  • 7. The Times, 28 June 1832.