HC Deb 30 June 1815 vol 31 cc1065-71
The Chancellor of the Exchequer

presented a Bill "to enable his Majesty to make provision for the Establishment of their royal highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Cumberland; and also to settle an annuity on her Royal Highness during the time of her natural life, to commence from the decease of his said Royal Highness, in case her said Royal Highness shall survive him." On the motion, that the Bill be now read a first time,

Lord Archibald Hamilton

rose. In delivering his sentiments to the House on the very extraordinary grant which was now proposed to them, he desired first to repel the charge that had been made on the other side, that the opposition which hon. members on his side bad expressed to this measure was merely of a personal nature. That opposition, he was convinced, arose not only from the subject of the grant itself, but from the manner in which it had been brought before them; for what, he would ask, were the circumstances, under which the House were now called upon to vote an additional income to the duke of Cumberland? There had been no previous congratulation on his Royal Highnesses marriage; and he felt persuaded, that no part of the country regarded it as an auspicious or desirable occurrence—[Hear, hear!]. A question had been put last night to the noble lord opposite, whether the parties would be received at Court: but the noble lord had not only refused to answer that question, but had even reprobated the conduct of his right hon. friend, who had so properly put it. What opposition, therefore, could be of a more public nature, when it remained uncontradicted that Her Majesty had intimated a determination not to receive the wife of the duke of Cumberland at Court? If there existed any blame in the agitation of this question; if there was any appearance of slander on the royal persons who were interested in it, the whole of that blame and that slander came from the other side of the House—[Hear, hear!]. His Majesty's ministers seemed to conceive, that the House were bound immediately to increase the allowance of those persons, without any previous consideration of their conduct: but he trusted that honourable members would not forget the duty which they owed both to the country and to themselves. Some gentlemen had attempted to compare the marriage of the duke of Cumberland with that of his royal highness the duke of York; but it was a totally different case. On the latter event, both Houses of Parliament had offered their congratulations; but the public ministers would not venture to propose such a measure on the present occasion. They would not even say, that the noble duke was to be permitted to reside in this country. For his part, he did not think it likely that his Royal Highness would reside here; and, indeed, there had been a kind of official intimation, that he was expected to live abroad. If, therefore, he was to reside out of the country, his present income was quite sufficient, and under these circumstances he should certainly oppose the Bill in all its stages—[Hear, hear!].

Mr. Burrell

said, he had not heard a single argument in favour of the grant, but many good reasons against it. Most unfavourable rumours existed respecting the conduct of both parties, and no attempt had been made to remove them. For these reasons, therefore, he should move an amendment, "That the Bill be read a first time on that day three months."

Mr. Douglas

spoke in favour of the measure. The consent of the Crown had, it appeared, been regularly obtained for this marriage, and it would, he thought, be doing a great wrong to the duke of Cumberland to exclude his Royal Highness from that consideration which had been usually granted, which indeed could not' be consistently refused, to the other branches of the Royal family. As to the rumours which had gone abroad upon this subject, they were said to be uncontradicted, but that was perhaps because they were not thought worthy of contradiction; and if they were not encountered, it was-only because they did not appear in a tangible shape. Upon the whole he could not see why the duke of Cumberland should not, as well as the other branches of the Royal family, be enabled to maintain the splendour of his rank, or that any attention should be paid to rumours, upon the merits of which it was impossible for that House to form a judgment.

Mr. Wilbraham Bootle

said, that he was anxious to explain the grounds upon which he had voted, and meant still to vote against the measure before the House, because he should be sorry if such votes could be supposed to proceed from any want of due respect or solicitude for the interest and dignity of the Royal family. He would not enter into the merits of the duke of Cumberland; but, considering this as the only opportunity the House would have of expressing its sentiments upon the subject of this marriage, he felt himself called upon, in this instance, to state his opinion upon it. Upon such an event it was usual to apply to the House for a vote of congratulation; but that custom was deviated from on this occasion, and that deviation betrayed something of which he could not approve. Such a deviation, indeed, warranted a suspicion that those even who supported this Bill did not think the marriage worthy of approbation—[Hear, hear!]. This marriage, in fact, took place in privacy. It was not mentioned in the Gazette—it had not even the ordinary publicity of a marriage between private individuals, for it was not staled in the newspapers. It was said to have taken place in May last; but that was not known until it was stated in that House upon bringing forward this measure. There could not, it appeared, be any doubt of the fact, that the female part of the Royal family disapproved of this marriage; and that disapprobation formed a strong argument against the present Bill. But if, under all the circumstances, such a Bill were adopted, and such a marriage sanctioned, where, he would ask, was the House to draw a line upon any marriage contracted by a member of the Royal family, however improper that marriage might be? He did not wish to draw any invidious comparisons, but he confessed that he heard with satisfaction the suggestion of the hon. member for Bristol, as to the propriety of granting some reward to the Commander-in-chief—[Hear, hear! on the Ministerial side]. As Parliament had acted so liberally and so justly towards the duke of Wellington for conducting our brave army to such glorious triumphs, surely some consideration was due to the merit of him under whose care that army was formed for great achievements—[Hear, hear!] The duke of York had, for a series of years, been training our army; and such was his skill and firmness, such his candour and good-nature, as to deserve general approbation. It was a fact, indeed, that this illustrious person had not, throughout his command, been engaged in any dispute with a single officer, one only excepted, who was lately a member of that House—[Hear, hear!], but who had lately found it convenient abruptly to quit the country (Mr. Cochrane Johnstone); yet the duke of York had for such eminent services received only 3000l. a year, which was not more than the salary of an Under Secretary of State. He trusted, therefore, that some additional provision would be made for his royal highness the Commander-in-chief.

Lord Castlereagh

could not help complaining of the conduct of his hon. friend, in stating to the House, that the marriage of the duke of Cumberland had been conducted with privacy. The fact was, and the Prince Regent had expressly declared in his Message to the House, that the marriage took place under the previous sanction of the Crown; it was a marriage solemnised at Berlin, in presence of several members of the family of the duke of Mecklenburgh Strelitz, and the representative of the British Court; and as to the non-appearance of the marriage in the Gazette, that was owing merely to a casual omission. In regard to what the hon. member had mentioned respecting the merits of his royal highness the duke of York, no man could be more deeply impressed than himself with a due sense of his Royal Highness's most important services; and he was sure that the country would acknowledge, that much of the glory we had lately attained, was to be ascribed to his Royal Highness; but he lamented exceedingly, when a question respecting one branch of the Royal family was before the House, that the hon. member should have digressed into a consideration of the merits of another branch. As to the marriage of the duke of Cumberland, he repeated, that it was not solemnised in privacy, and that the addition now proposed to be made to his income was necessary for the support of his rank and dignity. Thus much he thought it necessary to say, in reply to his hon. friend who spoke last, because he wished to satisfy his mind, being fully convinced of the purity of his motives.

Mr. Whitbread

began by observing, that the latter part of the speech of the hon. member on the other side of the House was totally irrelevant to the motion under consideration. No one, however, he admitted, could review the late events without giving due praise to the Commander-in-chief, who had placed the army in such a state of efficiency as to achieve the most brilliant exploits—[Hear, hear!]; and in adverting to those events, he could not avoid saying, that he was sorry to see lord Wellington, in his recent general order, applying such epithets to his opponent, who had, according to that gallant officer's own acknowledgment, so ably contended against him but a few days before, as to render the result of the contest doubtful. Would it not, then, have been more becoming in a great conqueror to have spared such language? But to revert to toe duke of York; whenever the distinct merits of that prince should be brought before the House, he should be ready to state his opinion upon the subject. With respect to the question before the House, he had already marked his sentiments by his vote, and he now felt it his duty to speak against it, for he could not think the case under discussion such as to deserve the liberality of Parliament. Some gentlemen seemed to think, that under the Marriage Act—which was most galling to the Royal family, and was not productive of arty good effect whatever—the House were bound, the Crown having sanctioned the marriage of one of the Royal family, to make provision for the parties. This, however, was a case in which the principle did not apply, since an illustrious personage bad declared her decided disapprobation of the marriage. The fact had been stated—and, as it was not contradicted, he must presume that it was true. In and out of that House there was but one opinion respecting the proposed grant. No sufficient grounds had been laid for voting it, while very sufficient grounds existed for rejecting it, and therefore he should conceive himself acting most unwarrantably, if he gave it his assent.

Mr. Hammersley

said, he should support the vote, because he thought it rested on the strictest parliamentary grounds, and that no parliamentary ground had been alleged against it. He apprehended the Crown had made a bargain with that House to have its own dignity and splendour properly supported; and the question was, whether they ought not to grant some provision upon the marriage of one of the branches of the Royal family? if so, it could not be denied that the present was a moderate demand. With respect to the personal allusions which had been made, he should be ashamed to repeat such scandalous and calumnious accusations, upon such slight grounds as those on which they rested. He had taken the pains to inquire into those reports, and he had never heard any satisfactory reason for the aspersions that had been cast upon the duke of Cumberland. He would even ask the hon. gentlemen who had indulged in them, whether the nature of the information which they received was sufficient to justify the attempt to degrade that illustrious individual in the estimation of the country?—[Hear, hear!] Aright hon. gentleman, of whom he wished to speak with every possible respect, had asked a question of the noble lord, which he knew could not be answered, and then grounded an argument upon that denial. In his opinion, if the noble lord had given, an answer to it, he would have deserved to be banished from his Majesty's councils for ever.

Mr. Tierney

wished to say one word in consequence of what had fallen from the hon. member. The question which he had taken the liberty of asking, he then thought, and still considered, a proper one. The House of Commons was called upon to grant a certain sum of money to support the dignity and character of a branch of the Royal family, and the only object of such a grant must have had a reference to this country; but he happened to hear, that a certain illustrious personage had declared she never would suffer the lady to appear at Court, and he questioned the noble lord as to the accuracy of that fact. It was a question which, under all the circumstances of the case, he was justified in asking; and as the noble lord thought proper to refuse any answer, he was warranted in drawing the conclusion, that, for some reasons which he should not presume to guess at, the duke of Cumberland had married a lady whom the Queen would, not receive. The more he thought of this matter, the more he was convinced that the House ought not to agree to this grant, and therefore he was the more determined to oppose it in every stage.

Mr. Methuen

contended, that the House ought to show, by its vote that night, that it was not inattentive to the morals of the country, and therefore he should oppose the grant; not from the slightest personal motives, but merely in the conscientious discharge of what he conceived to be his duty.

The House then divided, when the numbers were,

For the first reading of the Bill 100
Against it 92
Majority 8
List of the Minority.
Abercrombie, hon. J. Lyttleton, hon. W.
Aubrey, sir J. Lloyd, sir Edw.
Acland, sir T. Maitland, E. F.
Atkins, John Macdonald, J.
Baring, A. Mackintosh, sir J.
Bankes, H. Martin, J.
Brand, hon. T. Mills, Charles
Barham, J. F. Moore, P.
Barnard, viscount. Mostyn, sir Thomas
Bennet, hon. H. G. Methuen, P. C.
Burrell, sir C. Munday, E. M.
Burrell, hon. P. Neville, hon. R.
Butterworth, Jos. North, D.
Baillie,— Nugent, lord
Calvert, C. Ossulston, lord
Calvert, N. Onslow, Arthur
Cavendish, lord G. Parnell, sir H.
Cavendish, hon. H. Peirse, Henry
Campbell, D. Piggott, sir A.
Campbell, hon. J. Poulett, hon. W. V.
Calcraft, J. Protheroe, E.
Courtenay, W. Preston, Richard
Duncannon, viscount Pelham, hon. C.
Dundas, hon. L. Russell, R. G.
Davenport, D. Russell, lord J.
Dowdswell, J. Rowley, sir Wm.
Fawcett, H. Robinson, G. A.
Finlay, K. Ramsden, J. C.
Fazakerley, J. N. Smith, Wm.
Fergusson, sir R. Smith, R.
Fitzroy, lord J. Shakespear, A.
Frankland, W. Sebright, sir John
Fitzgerald, rt. hon. M. Swann, H.
Farquhar, J. Shaw, B.
Gordon, R. Tremayne, J. H.
Grenfell, P. Tierney, rt. hon. G.
Gooch, T. S. Tavistock, marquis
Hughes, W. L. Warre, J. A.
Horner, F. Whitbread, Samuel
Howorth, H. Western, C. C.
Jolliffe, H. Wilbraham, E. B.
Kemp, Thomas Wynn, sir W.
Keene, W. Wynn, C.
Knatchbull, sir E. Williams, sir R.
Latouche, Robt. TELLERS.
Lemon, sir W. Lord A. Hamilton
Lewis, F. Walter Burrell.