KEKEWICH, Samuel Trehawke (1796-1873), of Peamore House, nr. Exeter, Devon

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



9 Feb. 1826 - 1830
6 Aug. 1858 - 1 June 1873

Family and Education

b. 31 Oct. 1796, o.s. of Samuel Kekewich of Bowden House, Totnes and Salome, da. of George Sweet of Tiverton. educ. Eton 1811-14; Christ Church, Oxf. 1814. m. (1) 3 Apr. 1820, Agatha Maria Sophia (d. 24 Sept. 1836), da. of John Langston of Sarsden, Oxon., 3s. (1 d.v.p.) 4da. (1 d.v.p.); (2) 9 June 1840, Louisa, da. of Lewis William Buck*, 1s. 3da. suc. fa. 1822. d. 1 June 1873.

Offices Held

Sheriff, Devon 1834-5.


Kekewich’s family, originally from Lancashire, had settled in Cornwall in the early sixteenth century, but by the eighteenth they resided in London, where his grandfather, William Kekewich, was a member of the Royal Exchange Assurance. His father, a barrister, acquired the Peamore estate, served as sheriff of Devon in 1805 and was remembered at Exeter for his charitable munificence.1 Kekewich inherited Peamore in 1822 but had otherwise been ‘sufficiently provided for by the settlements made on his marriage’, according to his father’s will.2 In August 1825 he announced his candidature for Exeter at the next general election on the principle of ‘strict independence ... unshackled by any party consideration whatever’. He was returned unopposed at a by-election in February 1826, caused by the sudden resignation of one of the Members, after admitting that he needed to master the currency question, hinting that he favoured a reduction in the corn duties and declaring his opposition to Catholic relief, while giving no pledges.3 His conduct in the House was markedly independent. He divided with Lord Liverpool’s ministry against inquiry into the Jamaican slave trials, 2 Mar., and reform of Edinburgh’s representation, 13 Apr., but was in the minorities for abolishing flogging in the army, 10 Mar., inquiring into the treasurership of the navy, 7 Apr., revising the corn laws, 18 Apr., and allowing defence by counsel in felony trials, 25 Apr. 1826. He was returned unopposed for Exeter at the general election that summer, when he confirmed his opposition to Catholic relief and support for relaxation of the corn laws, maintained that he was ‘not opposed in principle to the extinction of slavery’, although the issue ‘should not be precipitated’, and admitted that he did not find the question of parliamentary reform ‘a matter of great facility’.4

He divided against Catholic relief, 6 Mar. 1827, 12 May 1828. He presented petitions for repeal of the Test Acts, 31 May, 12 June 1827,5 and voted in this sense, 26 Feb., but presented a hostile petition from the Exeter chamber, 18 Mar. 1828. He voted against Canning’s ministry for the disfranchisement of Penryn, 28 May, but with them for the grant to improve water communications in Canada, 12 June 1827. He opposed the duke of Wellington’s ministry by voting against extending the East Retford franchise to Bassetlaw freeholders, 21 Mar., 27 June, and for a lower pivot price for the corn laws, 22 Apr. 1828. He attended the Exeter meeting to uphold the Protestant constitution, 15 Nov. 1828, when he announced that ‘I fully concur in the petition you have adopted’.6 However, Planta, the patronage secretary, mentioned him as a possible mover or seconder of the address in January 1829, and the following month predicted that he would side ‘with government’ for Catholic emancipation. In presenting anti-Catholic petitions from the Exeter meeting and from the chamber, 2 Mar., Kekewich explained that ‘my own opinions ... are not decidedly made up’ and that he would judge the issue ‘upon the grounds of the preservation and protection of ... [the] Protestant religion’. In the event, he divided for emancipation, 6, 30 Mar., and his effigy was burned at Exeter.7 He voted to reduce the grant for the sculpture of the marble arch, 25 May, and presented an Exeter petition for repeal of the coastwise coal duty, 28 May 1829. He divided against Lord Blandford’s reform motion, 18 Feb., but for the enfranchisement of Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester, 23 Feb., and the transfer of East Retford’s seats to Birmingham, 5, 15 Mar. 1830. He voted against Jewish emancipation, 17 May. He replied to an Exeter requisition in March by stating that he favoured repeal of the ‘most partial and oppressive’ coal duty and desired to lessen the burden of other taxes, but that he entertained ‘great doubts whether (after the reduction which has already taken place) it would be ... conducive to the public interest to support any immediate remission of such taxes, unless ... by substituting a ... tax upon property ... to which I should most unwillingly consent’.8 Nevertheless, he voted with the Whig opposition to abolish the Bathurst and Dundas pensions, 26 Mar., reduce the grant for public buildings, 3 May, repeal the Irish coal duties, 13 May, inquire into privy councillors’ emoluments, 14 May, and reduce the grant for consular services, 11 June. He presented an Exeter petition for abolition of the death penalty for forgery, 29 Mar., and voted in this sense, 24 May, 7 June 1830.

In late June 1830 Kekewich announced that he would not stand at the impending general election, having reluctantly decided that it was his ‘duty to make a sacrifice of public ambition to considerations of a private character’. He trusted that ‘those from whom I may have had the misfortune to differ will ... give me credit for the integrity of my motives’.9 He stood unsuccessfully for Liskeard as a Conservative in 1835 and 1837, but was returned for South Devon in 1858. He died in June 1873 and the Peamore estate passed to his eldest son Trehawke Kekewich (1823-1909). His son from his second marriage was Sir George Kekewich (1841-1921), secretary to the education department and Conservative Member for Exeter, 1906-10.


Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: Terry Jenkins


  • 1. Trewman’s Exeter Flying Post, 18 Aug. 1825.
  • 2. The personalty was sworn under £16,000 (PROB 11/1663/596; IR26/918/987).
  • 3. Alfred, 16, 30 Aug. 1825, 7, 14 Feb. 1826.
  • 4. Ibid. 6, 13 June 1826.
  • 5. The Times, 1, 13 June 1827.
  • 6. Woolmer’s Exeter and Plymouth Gazette, 22 Nov. 1828.
  • 7. Bucks. RO, Fremantle mss D/FR/139/10/29.
  • 8. Western Times, 27 Mar., 10 Apr. 1830.
  • 9. Woolmer’s Exeter and Plymouth Gazette, 3 July 1830.