The British and Irish election of 1841

This post is largely to put some context into a series of posts that will follow about the election in Ireland in 1841. The total Irish electorate of almost 50,000 [from a population of 6.5m] and 50% larger than the combined Scottish and Welsh electorate [26,500 and 7,700 respectively]. All were dwarfed by an English electorate of just over 500,000. All in all, the total electorate was 584,200 men.

Sir Robert Peel

The election of 1841 brought Sir Robert Peel to power for the second time, though his first term as Prime Minister had lasted only four months as the head of a minority government. It is regarded as having been one of the most corrupt elections in British parliamentary history, the Westminster Review stating that the “annals of parliamentary warfare contained no page more stained with the foulness of corruption and falsehood than that which relates the history of the general election in the year 1841”. 2016 -2018 are running it close.

Only 3.17% of the total population voted.

At the election, there was a swing of 2.6% to the Conservatives giving them a majority of 76 seats over the combined opposition [367 to 291 – Whig 271,  Irish Repeal Party 20]. The Tories campaigned mainly on the issue of Peel’s leadership, whilst the Whigs were largely tinkering with the Corn Laws, proposing replacing the existing sliding scale of import duties on corn with a uniform rate. The Corn Laws made it expensive to import grain from other countries, even when food supplies were short. The laws were supported mainly by landowners, both Tory and Whig, and opposed by urban industrialists and workers.

There was also the issue of electoral reform again, with a substantial view that the Reform Act of 1832 hadn’t gone far enough. The Whigs were largely a landowning aristocratic party, though in favour of reducing the power of the Crown and increasing the power of Parliament. [i.e. Their own power through the House of Lords] They were slowly evolving into the Liberal Party, which was essentially a coalition of Whigs, free trade Tory Peelites, and free trade Radicals. A move not fully complete until 1868.

1841 was curious in so far as even radical [English] support favoured the Tories,  it being felt that Peel would be more open to electoral reform. Radical opinion also appeared to favour the business background of Peel and his supporters to the aristocratic and landed background of the Whigs.

Daniel O’Connell

The Whigs also lost votes to the Irish Repeal group who they had an electoral pact with between 1835 and the 1841 election. The Repeal Association was an Irish mass membership political movement set up by Daniel O’Connell in 1830 to campaign for a repeal of the Acts of Union of 1800 between Great Britain and Ireland. The Association’s aim was to revert Ireland to the constitutional position briefly achieved  in the 1780s, legislative independence under the British Crown – but this time with full Catholic involvement, but there was still a substantial property qualification. The total Irish electorate was 50,000 men from a population of 6.5m.

The Irish election was partisan, sectarian, and violent. It also had a distinct geographical split with the Tories receiving most support in Ulster, and some eastern counties, as well as pushing through a fraudulent poll in Dublin. There was also substantial anti-Catholic opinion within the Tory party. It is all very multi-layered, and there are some subtle gradations to be navigated. In Ireland it is safe to say being on Daniel O’Connell’s side is probably walking with the [moderate middle class] angels.

 

The Working Man’s Monument to Sir Robert Peel – 1850

THE WORKING MAN’S MONUMENT TO SIR ROBERT PEEL.-

A public meeting was held yesterday evening, at 6 o’clock, in the grounds of the Belvedere Hotel, Pentonville, in aid of the national subscription fund for this purpose. It was announced that Mr. Hume would preside, and that Mr.Cobden would also be present. Both these gentlemen were detained by their public duties in the House of Commons, and the chair was taken by Sir Joshua Walmsley, who, at some length, explained the objects of the meeting, and paid his tribute of admiration to the memory of Sir Robert Peel. Sir Joshua alluded to the various great measures carried by the departed statesman, and dwelt with especial praise upon the sacrifices which he had made for the public good, and to secure untaxed food for the millions. The first resolution was moved by Mr. George Thompson, M.P., and seconded by Dr. Brownless, and was as follows:-

” That this meeting is of opinion] that the British nation has sustained a great loss in the premature death of the late Sir Robert Peel, and desires to offer to the afflicted family of the departed statesman an expression of their sympathy and condolence in the bereavement they have sustained.”

The motion was, of course, carried unanimously, the meeting testifying their approbation of it by uncovering while the show of hands was taken by the Chairman. The second resolution was moved by Mr. G. Harris, and seconded by Mr. P. P. James, and was

” That it is the opinion of this meeting that the nation at large in the lamented death of Sir Robert Peel has lost one of the first statesmen of the age, and the man above all others who, at the personal sacrifice of the support and esteem of many of his friends and associates, was nevertheless able and willing to carry out large measures for the practical good and relief of the masses in this country.”

Mr. Alexander Macphail and Mr. John Layton proposed and seconded the next resolution, which expressed the opinion of the meeting,

“That Sir Robert Peel had left a name which would long be remembered in the hearts and the homes of the working-classes of this empire, and that his memory should be deservedly cherished by those who earn their bread by their daily labour, as well as by those who desire the welfare and comfort of their poorer fellow-men.”

Another resolution, proposed by Mr. Wakeling, and seconded by Mr. James Yates, was to the effect, that a lasting testimonial of the gratitude of the working men of this country should be erected to the memory of Sir Robert Peel; that the subscription list for this purpose be open till the 1st of January, 18al, and that all sums be received from 1d. upwards. An almost perfect unanimity prevailed with reference to these resolutions, for two persons who endevoured to express views more or less directly opposed to them were summarily put down by the meeting, which was numerously attended. The secretary in the course of the proceedings announced that he had received letters from Lord John Russell, Sir James Graham, Viscount Hardinge, the Earl of Aberdeen, Mr. Gladstone, and other distinguished persons, expressing their approbation of the working- mans’ monument to the memory of Sir Robert Peel, and offering their assistance and co-operation.

The Times, July 13, 1850

Thomas Stonor, 3rd Baron Camoys (1797–1881) and family

The Stonors are here largely on the basis that Edmund Stonor was a domestic chaplain to Leo XIII at the same time Mgr Henry O’Bryen was. The Stonors are an old recusant family. There are three obituaries, all published in the Tablet in the 1880’s. The first is Mgr Stonor’s elder brother Francis who died eight days before his father, followed by his father’s obituary, and then finally their mother’s

The Hon. Francis Stonor (1829-1881)

78 South Audley St

We also deeply regret to have to record the decease of the Hon. Francis Stonor, which took place suddenly, after a short illness of scarcely two days, on Monday afternoon, at his residence in South Audley-street [no. 78]. His death will create a painful void, not only in his own family, and not only among Catholics. In all matters affecting Catholic interests, Mr Stonor was always ready to show himself a loyal son of the Church, and in general society he was most deservedly popular. He was taken ill on Saturday night, and, though he was attended by several eminent physicians, the symptoms increased in gravity on Sunday, and after receiving all the last rites and consolations of religion from the hands of the Rev. F. Christie, S. J., he expired between 4 and 5 p.m. on Monday afternoon. The Hon Francis Stonor, Clerk in the House of Lords, was the second and eldest surviving son of Lord Camoys and his wife Frances, daughter of Mr. Peregrine Edward Towneley, of Towneley, Lancashire, and had only just entered upon his 52nd year, having been born on January 5, 1829. He married September 25, 1855, Eliza, second and youngest daughter of the late Sir Robert Peel, the great statesman. Their children are :—Francis Robert Stonor, born in December, 1856, two other sons, and an only daughter, Julia Caroline. Mrs. Stonor is Bedchamber Woman to the Princess of Wales. [ later Queen Alexandra] —R.I.P. [The above text was found on p.24, 15th January 1881 in “The Tablet: The International Catholic News Weekly.” Reproduced with kind permission of the Publisher. The Tablet can be found at http://www.thetablet.co.uk .]

Thomas Stonor, 3rd Baron Camoys (1797–1881)

Stonor Park, Oxfordshire

We regret to announce the death of Thomas Lord Camoys, in the peerage of England, which took place at Stonor, the family seat near Henley-on-Thames. For some time past his lordship had been in feeble health, arising from his advanced years, and was unable to attend his son’s funeral at Stonor on Saturday last. He expired at about ten o’clock on Tuesday morning, having previously received the Holy Sacraments and the final blessing of the Church. A correspondent informs us that when Lord Camoys was rising his attendant heard him fervently invoking our Blessed Lady. His lordship immediately grew very faint, and the Rev. W. Stone, the family chaplain, was summoned at once. Lord Camoys made a humble confession, and whilst Mass was being said was prepared for Holy Communion by his daughter, Lady Smythe. After Mass he received Holy Communion devoutly, and then seemed so much better that he dressed himself. The exertion was too much for his feeble strength, and there was but time to give the last blessing when he calmly expired without a struggle. His daughters the Hon. Catharine Stonor and Lady Smythe were the only ones of his family present. His son, Monsignor Stonor, and most of his family had left Stonor only the preceding evening, and were summoned at once, but were too late to be present when the melancholy event took place.

The deceased peer was the eldest of the two sons of Mr. Thomas Stonor, of Stonor, Oxon, by his wife Catharine, daughter of Mr. Henry Blundell, of Ince Blundell, Lancashire, and was born 22nd October, 1797, therefore he had recently entered on his 84th year. He married 25th July, 1821, Frances, daughter of the late Mr. Peregrine Edward Towneley, of Towneley Hall, Lancashire, by Charlotte Drummond, a member of the noble House of Strathallan, by whom he leaves surviving issue an only son, the Hon. and Right Rev. Monsignor Edmund Stonor, Domestic Prelate to his Holiness, and Canon of St. John Lateran, 

St John Lateran

and seven daughters (three of whom are nuns), including the Hon. Catharine Stonor, the Hon. Lady Smythe, the Hon. Mrs. Leopold Agar Ellis and the Hon. Mrs. Pereira. The deceased nobleman became Lord Camoys in September, 1839, her Majesty having been pleased to call out of abeyance the ancient barony, created by writ in 1383. The peerage had been in abeyance from the reign of Henry VI. His lordship had been for a long series of years one of her Majesty’s Lords in Waiting, having been attached to the Court in that capacity from 1846 to February, 1852; from January, 1853, to February, 1858; again from June, 1859, to July, 1866; and from December, 1868, to February, 1874. He was returned M.P. for Oxford in 1832, but was unseated on petition, and unsuccessfully contested the city in 1835 and the county in 1837. R.I.P.

Sir John Stonor in Dorchester Abbey, Oxfordshire.

By his lordship’s death his grandson, Mr. Francis Robert Stonor, eldest son of the late lamented Hon. Francis Stonor, who died somewhat suddenly on the 10th instant ( eight days before his father), born December 9, 1856, succeeds to the barony. The family has the reputation of being very ancient, and according to Shirley, an excellent authority, may certainly be traced to the 12th century as resident at Stonor. In the reign of Edward II. and Edward III. Sir John Stonor, Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, whose tomb is preserved in the chancel of Dorchester church in Oxfordshire, was the representative and great advancer of the family. One of its members, the Right Rev. John Talbot Stonor, Bishop of Thespiae, i.p.i.,  [in partibus infidelium,  meaning “in the lands of the unbelievers”; i.e a titular bishop] was appointed Vicar Apostolic of the Midland district in 1716, and died in 1756, at the age of 79. [The above text was found on p.23, 22nd January 1881 in “The Tablet: The International Catholic News Weekly.” Reproduced with kind permission of the Publisher. The Tablet can be found at http://www.thetablet.co.uk .]

The Hon. Mrs Eliza Stonor  (1832-1883)

Sir Robert Peel 1788-1850

It is with regret that we record the death of the Hon. Mrs Stonor which took place at her residence, 78 South Audley-street, on the evening of Saturday the 14th inst. Her death was the result of injuries sustained in a carriage accident more than five years ago. The deceased lady was the youngest daughter of the late Right Honourable Sir Robert Peel, and on the 25th September 1855, married the late Hon. Francis Stonor, by whom she had issue the present Lord Camoys, the Hon.Henry Julian, [Sir Harry Stonor had the rather impressive distinction of managing to be a courtier to five successive monarchs. He was a Gentleman Usher to Queen Victoria, Edward VII, and George V and then an Extra Groom-in-Waiting to  Edward VIII and George VI.] , the Hon. Henry Alexander and the Hon. Julia Caroline Stonor. The deceased lady was appointed a lady in waiting to the Princess of Wales upon the formation of Her Royal Highness’s Household in 1863. The funeral took place on Wednesday at Pishill, Oxfordshire, a short distance from Stonor. Her Majesty the Queen and others of the Royal Family sent wreaths of flowers.

Pishill parish church

Attached to the wreath sent by the Prince and Princess of Wales were the words, “In token of affectionate and grateful remembrance, from Albert Edward and Alexandra ; April 18, 1883.“ [The above text was found on p.25, 21st April 1883 in “The Tablet: The International Catholic News Weekly.” Reproduced with kind permission of the Publisher. The Tablet can be found at http://www.thetablet.co.uk .]