WORSLEY HOLMES, Sir Leonard Thomas, 9th bt. (1787-1825), of Westover, Calbourne, I.o.W.
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Family and Educationb. 16 July 1787, 1st s. of Rev. Sir Henry Worsley, 8th bt., of Pidford (who took the additional name of Holmes, 1804) and Elizabeth, da. and coh. of Rev. Leonard Troughear Holmes (formerly Troughear), 1st Bar. Holmes [I], wid. of Edward Meux Worsley† of Gatcombe, Hants. educ. Eton 1802-5; Christ Church, Oxf. 1805. m. 5 June 1813, Anne Redstone, da. and h. of John Delgarno† of Newport, I.o.W., 3 da. (1 d.v.p.) suc. fa. as 9th bt. 7 Apr. 1811. d. 10 Jan. 1825.
Recorder, Newport 1816-d.1
Maj. Newport loyal vol. inf. 1805; lt.-col. N. Hants militia 1811-12; capt. commdt. I.o.W. (or Vectis) yeoman cav. 1817.
Worsley Holmes’s family had been connected with the Isle of Wight since the sixteenth century and included several governors of the island and Members of Parliament for its boroughs.2 On his father’s death in 1811 he had inherited about £15,000, property at Westover (built by his maternal grandfather as a hunting lodge), and effective powers of nomination over the Members for Newport and Yarmouth.3 A post-1814 memorandum indicates that he also coveted the island’s other borough of Newtown, though he never secured a controlling stake.4 His marriage to his second cousin brought him additional land in Ireland, chiefly around Ardagh, in county Limerick.5 For a time Worsley Holmes had placed his considerable influence at the disposal of the 1st Marquess Wellesley, an unsuccessful contender for the premiership in 1812, allegedly in the hope of reviving his grandfather’s peerage. He was retrospectively listed by Greville as part of the Wellesley-Canning connection, 22 Mar. 1820.6
At the 1820 general election he was again returned unopposed for Newport, where he thanked the compliant corporators for their ‘unbounded confidence, in once more entrusting to him the selection of a colleague’. He had earlier canvassed the inhabitants on behalf of his friend John Fleming II*, an aspirant to the county representation, and pronounced himself flattered by the response.7 A very lax attender, who is not known to have spoken in debate, he was inaccurately assumed to have voted ‘for ministers always’ by a radical commentary of 1823, this being the line he had pursued, 1815-20.8 He was granted a week’s leave on urgent private business, 3 July 1820. That September he supervised the annual training of his yeomanry troop.9 On 26 Jan. 1821 he divided with opposition against the omission of Queen Caroline’s name from the liturgy. He arrived on the Isle of Wight, 5 Feb. 1821, and paired against the forgery punishment mitigation bill, 23 May.10 On 28 July 1821 he provided the inhabitants of Newport with the means to celebrate the king’s coronation.11 According to a correction in The Times, he voted in the minority for a gradual reduction of the salt duties, 28 Feb. 1822.12 He was in Newport on 9 July 1822 for the visit of the bishop of Winchester, and his gifts to the poor of meat and blankets in the winter of 1822-3 were the subject of laudatory press notices.13 Next spring he was again preoccupied with a mustering of the yeomanry, whose exemplary discipline was said to reflect ‘the highest possible credit on their worthy commander’.14 No trace of parliamentary activity has been found for 1823 or 1824. In February 1824 he chaired a meeting of a savings bank in Newport, but that September it was noted by his auditor that his ‘continued indisposition’ prevented his attendance even to local affairs.15
Worsley Holmes died at his mother’s house in January 1825. Posthumous confirmation of his continued attachment to ministers came from his friend and executor William Mount*, who informed Liverpool, 20 Jan.:
The health of Sir Leonard had been declining for some months, and it was his intention ... to have made your lordship acquainted with his inability to attend Parliament and have offered his seat to your lordship for any friend you might wish to succeed him for the remainder of the present session.16
Obituaries paid tribute to his ‘benevolence’ and at his funeral a cortège nearly a mile in length followed his coffin to its interment in the family vault at Arreton.17 His surviving accounts reveal benefactions to schools, hospitals, evening lectures in Newport church, the Isle of Wight Institution, and the Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge. He also subscribed to the Vectis lodge of freemasons and the Hampshire hunt. In the financial year 1820-1, when his Isle of Wight property gave him a rental income of £8,110 and his lands in Limerick, Wicklow and Waterford produced £2,608, his charitable donations totalled £170, but in 1823-4, when his income fell to £4,481 and £2,000 respectively, his subscriptions were reduced to £94.18 By the terms of his will, dated 27 Nov. 1824, his landed property passed to his eldest daughter Elizabeth, then a minor. (The trustees were Mount, his distant cousins the 2nd Baron Yarborough and the Rev. Henry Worsley of Godshill, the Newport solicitors Thomas Sewell and William Hearn, and Robert Clark of Carisbrooke.) His younger daughter Anne Emily received legacies worth £30,000, charged on his real and personal estate, while his widow, who had been provided with a marriage settlement, was named as residuary legatee. In 1833 Elizabeth Holmes married Sir William Henry Ashe A’Court (1809-91), who, in accordance with his father-in-law’s will, took the name of Holmes after his own.19 He sat as a Conservative for the Isle of Wight, 1837-47, and succeeded as 2nd Baron Heytesbury in 1860. A bas-relief marble monument to Worsley Holmes was completed in 1829 and placed over his tomb the following year.20
Ref Volumes: 1820-1832
Authors: Howard Spencer / Philip Salmon
Pidford House, the address given in HP Commons, 1790-1820, v. 651, was the residence of his mother.
- 1. D. Herapath, ‘Holmes and Leigh Fams. of I.o.W.’, Blackmansbury, v (1968), pt. iii, p. 83.
- 2. W. Berry, Hants Genealogies, 134, 136-9, 350-3.
- 3. VCH Hants, v. 218; PROB 11/1522/231; IR26/171/120.
- 4. I.o.W. RO, Heytesbury mss JER/HBY/232/15.
- 5. Ibid. 112/1; 121/2.
- 6. Grey mss, Goodwin to Grey, 24 Dec. 1812; Greville Mems. i. 92.
- 7. Hants Telegraph, 20, 27 Mar.; Hants Chron. 27 Mar. 1820.
- 8. Black Bk. (1823), 164.
- 9. Hants Telegraph, 18 Sept. 1820.
- 10. Ibid. 5 Feb. 1821.
- 11. Ibid. 30 July 1821.
- 12. The Times, 4 Mar. 1822.
- 13. Southampton Co. Chron. 11 July 1822, 9, 30 Jan. 1823.
- 14. Ibid. 20 Mar., 10 Apr. 1823.
- 15. Hants Chron. 9 Feb. 1824; Heytesbury mss 232/18.
- 16. Berks. RO, Mount mss D/EMt F14.
- 17. The Times, 14 Jan.; Hants Chron. 17 Jan. 1825; Gent Mag. (1825), i. 182-3.
- 18. Heytesbury mss 139/1-9.
- 19. PROB 11/1702/430; IR26/1046/781; Heytesbury mss 121/2.
- 20. Hants Chron. 11 May 1829, 11 Oct. 1830.