WRIGHTSON, William Battie (1789-1879), of Cusworth Hall, Doncaster, Yorks. and 22 Upper Brook Street, Mdx.
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Family and Educationb. 6 Oct. 1789, 1st s. of William Wrightson† of Cusworth Hall and 2nd w. Henrietta, da. and coh. of Richard Heber of Marton Hall, Yorks. educ. Trinity Coll. Camb. 1812; L. Inn 1811, called 1815. m. 24 Mar. 1821, Georgiana, da. of Inigo Freeman Thomas† of Ratton Park, Suss., s.p. suc. fa. 1827. d. 10 Feb. 1879.
When Joshua Walker* withdrew as a candidate for the venal borough of East Retford in 1825, Henry Savile Foljambe, the banker, took advantage of the vacuum and Lord Fitzwilliam’s disillusionment with opponents among the aldermen to introduce Wrightson, who had ‘long desired a seat in Parliament’. Wrightson’s father, Member for Aylesbury, 1784-90, held an account with Foljambe’s Doncaster bank and was resident nearby. Backed by Fitzwilliam, who sought to establish an interest there, he offered the freemen security against his son’s not paying. Wrightson was well received during his canvass that September, but his pro-Catholic views were not popular.1 He played them down at the 1826 general election, when he was returned second on the poll after a violent contest. The defeated candidate lodged a petition against the result.2
He joined Brooks’s, sponsored by Fitzwilliam and Lord Milton*, 3 Mar., and voted for Catholic relief, 6 Mar. 1827. He was in the minorities against increased protection for barley, 12 Mar., and for inquiry into Leicester corporation, 15 Mar. He divided for the duke of Clarence’s annuity bill, 16 Mar., and the spring guns bill, 23 Mar. On 1 May 1827 he was unseated by an election committee, though personally exonerated from any wrong doing. He apparently intended to offer again, but no writ for a new election was issued that Parliament. Shortly before the 1830 general election he was invited to come forward on Fitzwilliam’s interest for Kingston-upon-Hull, where his father had stood briefly in 1802. A requisition was started to invite him formally, which, after some hesitation, he accepted. In his address he cited his support for retrenchment, repeal of the corn laws, the abolition of slavery, removal of all monopolies and measures that would ‘extend [Hull’s] trade and benefit its shipping’. After an acrimonious contest, in which he criticized navy impressment and the merchant seamen’s contributions to Greenwich Hospital, he was returned in second place. His chairing was marred by violence, including a blow to his head from a stone, which the local press blamed on his refusal ‘to offer himself on the accustomed terms of expense’.3
Wrightson presented and endorsed a petition for revision of the corn laws, 3 Nov., and was in the minority of 39 to reduce West Indian wheat import duties, 12 Nov. 1830. He presented and supported petitions from Hull’s ship owners for repeal of the coal duties, 11, 19 Nov. He was listed by the Wellington ministry as one of their ‘foes’ and he voted against them in the crucial division on the civil list, 15 Nov. 1830. He presented Hull petitions for the abolition of slavery that day, and for repeal of the window tax, with which he did not fully concur, 2 Dec. 1830. He was appointed to the select committee on the East India Company’s monopoly, 4 Feb. 1831. He brought up and supported constituency petitions for parliamentary reform, 9 Feb., 19 Mar. On 16 Mar. he seconded Sykes’s motion for leave to introduce a sea apprentices’ settlements bill, which he was ordered to help prepare. He divided for the second reading of the Grey ministry’s reform bill, 22 Mar., and against Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr. 1831. At the ensuing general election he offered again as a supporter of reform and government, which he believed would improve the conditions for trade in the empire. He was returned unopposed.4 He was reappointed to the East India select committee, 28 June 1831, 1 Feb. 1832. He voted for the second reading of the reintroduced reform bill, 6 July, at least twice against adjournment, 12 July, and gave steady support to its details, although he was in the minority for an amendment to withhold the vote from tenants and lodgers who paid weekly, 25 Aug. 1831. He brought up but dissented from a Sculcoates petition for its own representation, 9 Aug., when he indicated that he would welcome an increase of Hull’s Members to three. On 11 July he introduced a bill to prevent the practice of paying the house rents of able-bodied labourers out of the poor rates, but withdrew it from lack of support. He called for an overhaul of the game laws, 8 Aug. That month he received letters from Hull’s guardians of the poor thanking him for forwarding to them a draft of the proposed poor law settlement bill, and requests that he would support Slaney’s poor relief bill, which he apparently ignored, and oppose the tax on steam packets and the length of quarantine imposed on ships in the Humber, on which he presented a petition, 28 Sept.5 He voted for the reform bill’s passage, 21 Sept. On the 26th he contended that the introduction of poor laws to Ireland would cause ‘as much distress in one quarter as they remove in another’. He was appointed to the select committee on the subject that day. He divided for Lord Ebrington’s confidence motion, 10 Oct. 1831.
Wrightson voted for the second reading of the revised reform bill, 17 Dec. 1831, again supported its details, and divided for the third reading, 22 Mar. 1832. He voted with ministers on the Russian-Dutch loan, 26 Jan., 20 July, relations with Portugal, 9 Feb., and the navy civil departments bill, 6 Apr. He divided for the motion for an address calling on the king to appoint only ministers who would carry the reform bill unimpaired, 10 May, and presented a constituency petition for supplies to be withheld until it passed, 24 May. He was in the minority of ten against the Liverpool disfranchisement bill, 23 May. He voted for the second reading of the Irish reform bill, 25 May, and against a Conservative amendment to increase Scottish county representation, 1 June. He brought up a Hull petition supporting the new plan of Irish education, 27 July 1832.
At the 1832 general election Wrightson retired from Hull and contested Northallerton, where his wife had inherited an interest, as a Liberal.6 He failed, but came in at the election of 1835 and remained Member until 1865. He was the author of a short work on the corn laws, based on a speech he gave in the House, 11 May 1845. Wrightson, ‘a Whig of old principles’, died at his London home in February 1879.7 Cusworth Hall passed to his brother Richard.
Ref Volumes: 1820-1832
Author: Martin Casey
- 1. Nottingham Jnl. 26 Sept., 10 Dec. 1825.
- 2. Nottingham Rev. 23 June 1826.
- 3. Lincs. AO, Ancaster mss, D. Sykes to G. Heathcote, 26 July; X111/B/5h, same to same, 27 July; Hull Advertiser, 30 July, 6 Aug. 1830; W.A. Gunnell, Hull Celebrities, 437.
- 4. Hull Rockingham, 16, 30 Apr. 1831.
- 5. Hull RO, Battie Wrightson mss DMX8/11.
- 6. Hull Advertiser, 6 July, 3 Aug. 1832.
- 7. Dod’s Parl. Companion (1847), 256.