KEMEYS TYNTE, Charles Kemeys (1778-1860), of Halswell House, Goathurst, Som.; Cefn Mably, Glam.; Burhill, nr. Cobham, Surr. and 16 Hill Street, Hanover Square, Mdx.

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



1820 - 1837

Family and Education

b. 29 May 1778, o.s. of John Johnson (afterwards Kemeys Tynte) of Burhill and Jane, da. of Ruisshe Hassell, maj. R. Horse Gds., niece and h. of Sir Charles Kemeys Tynte, 5th bt.†, of Halswell and Cefn Mably. educ. Eton 1791; St. John’s, Camb. 1795. m. 25 Apr. 1798, Anne, da. of Rev. Thomas Leyson of Bassaleg, Mon., wid. of Thomas Lewis of St. Pierre, Mon., 1s. 4da. (1 d.v.p.). suc. fa. 1806. d. 23 Nov. 1860.

Offices Held

Sheriff, Som. 1808-9.

Lt.-col. W. Som. yeomanry cav. 1803, col. 1835.

Provincial grand master of freemasons 1820.1


Kemeys Tynte’s father, a colonel in the Grenadier Guards who was appointed comptroller of the household of the prince of Wales in 1791, had changed his name by royal licence in 1785 on inheriting the estates of his wife’s uncle, which comprised the extensive properties of two very old parliamentary families, the Kemeys of Glamorganshire and the Tyntes of Somerset. Charles was the residuary legatee of his father’s estate, which was sworn under £10,000 in June 1806.2 At the general election of 1820 he was invited to contest Bridgwater ‘free of all expense’ by the Foxite ‘independent’ party, after a deal had been struck with one of the sitting Members, William Astell, and the corporation interest. He was duly returned unopposed, pledged to support ‘the cause of political integrity and independence’, disclaiming ‘a bigotted adherence to any party or any set of men’ and declaring his warm attachment to ‘the glorious constitution under which we live’.3

He was not the most assiduous of attenders, but he acted consistently with the Whig opposition to Lord Liverpool’s ministry on all major issues, including parliamentary reform, 31 May 1821, 24 Apr. 1823. He was granted a month’s leave for urgent private business, 15 Feb., and therefore missed the division on Catholic relief, 28 Feb. 1821, but he voted for it, 21 Apr., 10 May 1825. In presenting a Bridgwater petition in support of Queen Caroline, 24 Jan. 1821, he declared that the proceedings against her were ‘in opposition to the established laws of the country’ and represented ‘a violent attack upon the constitution’. He supported inquiry into the Peterloo massacre, 16 May 1821, but was anxious to ‘eulogise the yeomanry as a most valuable and peculiarly constitutional force’ and said that they were ‘the only party that could be entirely exculpated’ from blame for the events at Manchester. In January 1822 he attended a public meeting at Taunton where he expressed support for a petition for relief from agricultural distress.4 He argued that ‘retrenchment ought to begin by the abolition of sinecures and the reduction of pensions’, 15 Feb.5 He defended the conduct of the Somerset magistrates in relation to the scandal at Ilchester gaol, 10 May 1822, contending that ‘so general a charge ought not to be made’ as ‘many were not implicated in the transactions complained of’. He was granted a month’s leave for urgent private business, 14 Feb. 1825. In February 1826 he was requisitioned to stand again for Bridgwater at the next general election and responded with a lengthy address announcing that despite his personal wish to retire from parliamentary life, with its attendant ‘interruption to all domestic and social habits ... fatigue and injury to health’ and other ‘vexatious circumstances’ which made it ‘extremely irksome to me’, he felt it his ‘principal duty to submit to your wishes’.6 At the dissolution in June handbills were circulated in the borough condemning his support for Catholic relief, and a ‘Protestant’ candidate was eventually found to stand against him, but his alliance with Astell remained firm and he was comfortably returned in second place.7

He voted to disfranchise Penryn, 28 May 1827. He divided for repeal of the Test Acts, 26 Feb., and Catholic relief, 12 May 1828. In February 1829 Planta, the Wellington ministry’s patronage secretary, listed him as likely to be ‘with government’ for Catholic emancipation, and he duly voted for it, 6 Mar. He presented a Bridgwater petition for repeal of the house and window taxes, 12 Mar. 1829. He divided for Knatchbull’s amendment to the address on distress, 4 Feb., and was granted a month’s leave for urgent private business, 2 Mar. 1830. In presenting a Bridgwater licensed victuallers’ petition against the sale of beer bill, 27 Apr., he stated that the petitioners also wished to have cider sellers put on the same footing as beer sellers, and observed that since the reduction in the cider tax there had been ‘about a hundred little cider shops established in the town and immediate neighbourhood by the lowest description of persons, tending to demoralize the lower orders and increase pauperism’. He divided against the bill, 4 May, and paired for the amendment to prohibit on-consumption, 21 June. He voted to abolish the Irish lord lieutenancy, 11 May, for information on privy councillors’ emoluments, 14 May, and reduction of the grant for South American missions, 7 June 1830, when he divided to abolish the death penalty for forgery. At the general election that summer he was again invited to stand for Bridgwater at no expense and was returned unopposed with Astell, boasting afterwards that it was ‘without precedent in the annals of parliamentary history’ for a Member to be elected ‘for the same seat, a third time successively, at the call and by the unsolicited and free voice of the people’.8

The Wellington ministry listed Kemeys Tynte among the ‘doubtful doubtfuls’, with the optimistic parenthetical remark that he was ‘a friend’. He was absent from the crucial civil list division, 15 Nov. 1830. He presented a Bridgwater anti-slavery petition, 18 Nov., and was granted a fortnight’s leave on account of ‘the disturbed state of his neighbourhood’, 6 Dec. 1830. He presented a Bridgwater petition in favour of parliamentary reform, 1 Mar., and divided for the second reading of the Grey ministry’s bill, 22 Mar., and against Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr. 1831. At the ensuing dissolution he received a requisition from Bridgwater signed by some 200 electors, which praised the ‘steady, consistent and manly course you have pursued during this eventful period’. He campaigned independently of Astell, who was being challenged by another reformer, and said he looked forward to the bill’s passage inaugurating an era of ‘purity of election, confidence between representatives and electors, honest votes in Parliament, abolition of sinecure places and unmerited pensions, abolition of slavery and reduction of taxes’. He was returned at the head of the poll and promised to ‘discharge my future duties in such a manner as may ... tend to the honour and dignity of the crown’ and ‘the support of the constitution’.9 He divided for the second reading of the reintroduced reform bill, 6 July, supported its details in committee and voted for its passage, 21 Sept., and Lord Ebrington’s confidence motion, 10 Oct. 1831. He voted to punish only those guilty of bribery at the Dublin election, 23 Aug. It was reported that his name was on the list for a coronation peerage, recommended by the duke of Sussex, but in the hasty arrangements that followed this was apparently ‘refused’. His name continued to be mentioned in connection with the possible mass creation of peers by the government, and it was observed that ‘his income amounts to more than twice the sum adequate to the support of the dignity of the peerage’.10 He divided for the second reading of the revised reform bill, 17 Dec. 1831, supported it in committee and voted for the third reading, 22 Mar. 1832. He voted for Ebrington’s motion for an address asking the king to appoint only ministers committed to carrying an unimpaired reform measure, 10 May. He paired against increasing Scotland’s representation, 1 June. He divided with ministers on the Russian-Dutch loan, 26 Jan., and relations with Portugal, 9 Feb. 1832.

Kemeys Tynte was returned unopposed for Bridgwater at the general election of 1832 and sat, entertaining ‘Whig opinions’,11 until his retirement in 1837. He belatedly joined Brooks’s Club, 22 Feb. 1834. In 1845 the House of Lords committee of privileges declared him to be senior co-heir to the barony of Wharton, but no further proceedings were taken to revive this title in his lifetime and it was not until 1916 that his great-grandson was summoned to the Lords as the 8th baron. He died in November 1860 and was succeeded by his son, Charles Kemeys Tynte (1800-82), Liberal Member for West Somerset, 1832-37, and Bridgwater, 1847-65. It appears that he had several illegitimate children with Elizabeth Drewe, who went under the name ‘Dowdney’.12

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: Terry Jenkins


  • 1. Bristol Mirror, 30 Sept. 1820; Gent. Mag. (1861), i. 112.
  • 2. PROB 11/1445/517; IR26/112/327.
  • 3. Add. 51830, Symes to Holland, 26 Feb.; Taunton Courier, 23 Feb., 8 Mar. 1820.
  • 4. Taunton Courier, 16 Jan. 1822.
  • 5. The Times, 16 Feb. 1822.
  • 6. Som. RO, Kemeys Tynte mss DD/S/WH 351; Taunton Courier, 15 Feb. 1826.
  • 7. Taunton Courier, 14, 21 June 1826.
  • 8. Ibid. 30 June, 7, 28 July, 4 Aug. 1830.
  • 9. Kemeys Tynte mss DD/S/WH 352; Bridgwater Herald, 4 May; Taunton Courier, 18 May 1831.
  • 10. Bristol Mirror, 13 Aug.; Heron, Notes, 199; Arundel Castle mss MD 2613, anon. to Burdett, 31 Oct. 1831.
  • 11. Dod’s Parl. Companion (1833), 169.
  • 12. Kemeys Tynte mss, introduction to catalogue.