TYRELL, Charles (1776-1872), of Polstead, Plashwood and Gipping, Suff.

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



1830 - 1832
1832 - 1834

Family and Education

b. 1776, o.s. of Rev. Charles Tyrell, vic. of Thurston and rect. of Thornham Magna and Thornham Parva, and Elizabeth Baker of Stow Upland. educ. Emmanuel, Camb. 1793. m. (1) 8 June 1801, Elizabeth (d. 22 Aug. 1826), da. and h. of Richard Ray of Plashwood, 2s. 3da. (1 d.v.p.); (2) 9 Sept. 1828,1 Mary Anne, da. of John Matthews of Wargrave, Berks., wid. of Thomas William Cooke of Polstead. suc. fa. 1811. d. 2 Jan. 1872.

Offices Held

Sheriff, Suff. 1815-16.


The Tyrell family, major landowners in Essex and Suffolk since Domesday, had owned the Gipping estates, which were frequently bedevilled by mortgage problems, since the sixteenth century. Tyrell’s father, one of the Stowmarket branch of the family, benefited from Lord Henniker’s patronage and inherited Gipping from his cousin Edmund Tyrell in 1799.2 Two years later Charles, who had been ‘brought up to be a well educated country gentleman’, married Elizabeth Ray, which strengthened family ties with the Oakes family of Nowton Court, bankers at Bury St. Edmunds, and gave him control of the Plashwood estate near Haughley, where he settled.3 He took pride in family paintings by Sir Peter Lely and Vandyke and built up a collection of early books. In 1811 he inherited Gipping (which was then let to Sir John Shelley*) and the major part of his father’s personal estate, valued at under £10,000.4 After serving as sheriff, 1815-6, he remained active in county politics as a supporter with his friend the wealthy Felixstowe merchant Samuel Sacker Quilter, of the Member Thomas Gooch and the Tory interest.5 He attended the 1821 and 1822 county meetings which petitioned for relief from distress, and afterwards signed declarations dissenting from their adopted resolutions of no confidence in government and in favour of parliamentary reform.6 He was a founder member in 1821 of the Suffolk Pitt Club, and in 1825 organized a meeting of owners and occupiers of land in West Suffolk to petition Parliament in support of Gooch’s case against changing the corn laws.7 His wife died in 1826, and after he remarried in 1828 he moved to Polstead Hall near Hadleigh, which his bride had inherited, with personal estate worth almost £20,000, from her first husband in 1825. Tyrell’s marriage settlement, to which three Suffolk Whigs, Sir Robert Shafto Adair†, the Rev. John Staverton Matthews and Sir William Rowley*, were parties, gave him a life interest in the Cooke estates.8 He signed the requisition for and attended the county meeting that petitioned for relief from agricultural distress, 6 Feb. 1830, but although he spoke briefly he shied away from proposing explanations or remedies for current grievances.9

There is no indication that Tyrell sought to represent the county before July 1830. On the 11th he was approached by a group of Tories led by Quilter, who failed to persuade him to stand. Nevertheless, on the 19th he turned down a request to second Gooch’s nomination and, apparently still keeping Gooch abreast of developments, on the 24th, following discussions with the attorney Richard Dalton, he agreed to contest the seat as a liberal Tory.10 He canvassed as an advocate of religious freedom and the abolition of slavery, committed to agriculture and ‘practical constitutional reform’, but strongly opposed to annual parliaments and universal suffrage, and easily defeated Gooch.11 Allegations of collusion with the Whig Sir Henry Bunbury, with whom he shared 988 of the 1,725 votes polled, were rife; but the Wellington ministry’s patronage secretary Joseph Planta*, Lord Lowther* and the Whig Henry Brougham* were all convinced that Suffolk had replaced Gooch with another ‘government man’.12

Tyrell’s contributions to debate were few and brief, but he voted conscientiously and attended to constituency and committee business. He presented numerous Suffolk anti-slavery petitions, 11, 15, 18 Nov. 1830. Although listed among the Wellington ministry’s ‘friends’, he divided against them when they were brought down on the civil list, 15 Nov. 1830. He presented and endorsed petitions for repeal of the newspaper stamp duty, 8 Feb., and the malt duties, 11 Feb.;13 for reductions in taxes and tithes, 16 Mar., and for parliamentary reform, 16, 18 Mar. 1831. He declared his support for the Grey ministry’s reform bill that day and divided for its second reading, 22 Mar., and against Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr. He also endorsed Sudbury’s petition against the bill’s proposal to deprive it of its second seat, 15 Apr. He was returned unopposed at the general election in May 1831 amid accusations that he, like Bunbury, had sacrificed agricultural to commercial interests in the wake of the popularity of reform. On the hustings, he announced that he would not vote slavishly for the bill’s details, but would press Sudbury’s case to retain two Members and seek amendments to safeguard and extend the rural vote.14

He voted for the second reading of the reintroduced reform bill, 6 July, and against adjournment, 12 July, and using the 1831 census to determine borough disfranchisements, 19 July 1831. Taking each clause on its merits, and under close scrutiny from the local press, he voted against the disfranchisement of Downton, 21 July, but for that of St. Germans, 26 July; and to make Chippenham, 27 July, Dorchester, 28 July, and Guildford, 29 July, single Member constituencies, but not Sudbury, which he argued was ‘the only manufacturing town in Suffolk, contains a numerous population and is in a flourishing condition’, 2 Aug. He voted for the enfranchisement of Greenwich, 3 Aug., and Gateshead, 5 Aug., and to unite Rochester with Chatham and Strood, 9 Aug., but against the proposed division of counties, 11 Aug. He divided for Lord Chandos’s amendment to enfranchise £50 tenants-at-will, 18 Aug., and against granting county votes to freeholders in cities corporate, 17 Aug., or to borough copyholders and leaseholders, 20 Aug.15 He voted against preserving the voting rights of all freemen, 30 Aug., and an amendment calculated to deny the freeholders of Aylesbury, Cricklade, East Retford, and Shoreham special status, 2 Sept. He divided for the bill’s passage, 21 Sept., the second reading of the Scottish measure, 23 Sept., and Lord Ebrington’s confidence motion, 10 Oct. He signed the requisition for and attended the Suffolk reform meeting which requested the king to back the bill and his ministers, 11 Nov. 1831, but stipulated that despite his support for the ‘whole bill’, he reserved the right to oppose certain clauses.16

He voted for the revised bill, which spared Sudbury its second seat, at its second reading, 17 Dec. 1831, and to proceed with it in committee, 20 Jan. 1832, where apart from wayward votes to prevent borough freeholders voting at county elections, 1 Feb., and for the enfranchisement of £10 poor rate payers, 3 Feb., he gave it steady but silent support. He voted for its third reading, 22 Mar., and the address calling on the king to appoint only ministers who would carry it unimpaired, 10 May. He divided with government in both divisions on the Dublin election controversy, 23 Aug. 1831, the Russian-Dutch loan, 26 Jan., 12, 16, 20 July, and relations with Portugal, 9 Feb. 1832. He voted to tax absentee landowners to provide for the Irish poor, 19 June, and to make coroners’ inquests public, 20 June 1832. Tyrell was appointed to the select committee on the use of molasses in breweries and distilleries, 1 July, and presented a series of petitions, which he had encouraged Suffolk corn growers to adopt, complaining of the practice, 20, 21, 30 July, 2 Sept. 1831.17 He presented and endorsed others for amending the Sale of Beer Act, 6 Feb., against the friendly societies bill and the hemp duties, 13 Apr., and for the labourers’ employment bill, 5 July 1832. He wrote to lord chancellor Brougham, 15 Sept. 1831, 13 Mar. 1832, apparently without success, requesting that copies of the report of the 1800 committee on public records be sent to the corporations of Bury St. Edmunds and Ipswich for ‘research’ and ‘reference’.18

Tyrell was named as a candidate for Suffolk West in June 1832, announced it in October, when he was assured of Bunbury’s personal support, and topped the poll at the general election in December as a ‘reform’ and ‘anti-slavery’ candidate committed to agricultural causes.19 The hitherto supportive but Tory Bury and Suffolk Herald now criticized

his subservience to Sir H. Bunbury in St. Stephen’s and to ... [his] faction in Suffolk, notwithstanding that he had opposed the one and the other all his life before ... [which] betokened a mind ready to break faith with an old friend the moment it was found a more beneficial collusion could be made with an old enemy.20

He retired at the dissolution in 1834, but continued to support Liberals in West Suffolk.21 Following his wife’s death in 1849 he moved back to Plashwood, where he died in January 1872, ‘shortly before his 96th birthday’. He was buried with his first wife in the Ray family vault at Haughley. Obituaries highlighted his contribution towards passing the first reform bill and roles as a magistrate, deputy lieutenant and militia commander.22 He was succeeded in his estates and manors by his elder son Charles Tyrell (1805-87) to whom, by a deed of gift dated 8 May 1871, he had previously bequeathed his personal estate. His will provided for other family members, including his ‘poor daughter Eleanor’, then aged 68, whose care he entrusted to a servant, Mrs. Hannah Sawyer, in return for a cottage and a cow. A painting of Tyrell and his family in 1805 by Henry Walton was sold for £48,000 in 1981.23

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: Margaret Escott


  • 1. Gent. Mag. (1828), ii. 270.
  • 2. Tyrrell Fam. Hist. Soc. iv (2), 23; Suff. RO (Ipswich), Tyrell mss S1/5/1; W. Copinger, Suff. Manors, vi. 181, 191.
  • 3. G.M.G. Cullum, Ped. of Ray of Denston (1903), 20; White, Suff. Dir. (1844), 269, 564.
  • 4. PROB 8/205; 11/1530/99.
  • 5. Bury and Norwich Post, 9 Jan. 1872.
  • 6. Ipswich Jnl. 17, 31 Mar. 1821, 19 Jan., 2 Feb. 1822; The Times, 21 Mar. 1821, 31 Jan. 1822; Suff. RO (Bury St. Edmunds) HA/521/14, Oakes diaries, 29 Jan. 1822, 7 Apr. 1823; Ipswich Jnl. 9 Feb., Bury and Norwich Post, 24 Apr., 1 May 1822.
  • 7. Bury and Norwich Post, 25 Apr. 1821, 20 Apr. 1825.
  • 8. PROB 11/1704/516; 2110/243; IR26/1038/1059; 1881/153.
  • 9. Bury and Norwich Post, 27 Jan., 3, 10 Feb. 1830.
  • 10. Ibid. 16, 30 June, 14, 28 July; The Times, 17 June; Ipswich Jnl. 10 July; Lincs. AO, Ancaster mss, J. May and C.C. Western to G.J. Heathcote [July 1830].
  • 11. Bury and Norwich Post, 28 July, 11 Aug.; Ipswich Jnl. 7 Aug.; The Times, 12 Aug. 1830.
  • 12. Globe, 20 July, 12 Aug.; Bury and Norwich Post, 4, 18 Aug.; The Times, 12 Aug.; Lonsdale mss, Lowther to Lonsdale, 12 Aug. 1830; Add. 40401, f. 125; Wellington mss WP1/1134/6.
  • 13. The Times, 12 Feb. 1831.
  • 14. Bunbury Mem. 161; Bury and Norwich Post, 27 Apr., 4, 11 May 1831.
  • 15. Bury and Norwich Post, 27 July, 10, 24, 31 Aug. 1831.
  • 16. Ibid. 9, 16 Nov.; The Times, 12 Nov. 1831.
  • 17. Bury and Norwich Post, 27 July 1831.
  • 18. Brougham mss.
  • 19. Suff. Chron. 30 May, 6, 20 June, 17 Oct.; Bury and Suff. Press. 17 Oct.; Bury and Norwich Post, 14 Nov., 19, 26 Dec. 1832.
  • 20. Bury and Suff. Herald, 26 Dec. 1832.
  • 21. Suff. Chron. 27 Sept., 13 Dec. 1834; Suff. RO (Bury St. Edmunds) Acc. 296/54.
  • 22. PROB 11/2110/234; IR26/1881/153; Bury and Norwich Post, 9, 16 Jan.; Illustrated London News, ix (1872), 51.
  • 23. IR26/2757/647; Tyrell Fam. Hist. Soc. iv (2), 23.