HC Deb 20 June 1843 vol 70 cc146-9
Mr. James Stuart Wortley,

in moving the second reading of this bill, said, he now proposed that, not on any narrow consideration, but from regard to the principle on which the measure was based. He would set out by admitting that there was no ground for a proceeding of this kind, unless it was shown that the case was an extreme one, and that the common forms of judicature afforded no adequate remedy. Now, he undertook to show that there did at this moment exist a great and pressing private grievance, and an imminent chance, if not a certain prospect, of great future loss and injury to the parties interested. He need not say one word, he was sure, to show the House that in this case there was a gross and scandalous exhibition of a fraudulent attempt. When he said a fraudulent, he meant an improper attempt to substitute in the place of the rightful heir to a seat in one of the branches of the Legislature, one who, by the evidence, appeared to have no title or claim whatever to that distinction. [The hon. and learned Member entered into a history of the case and of the bill, which will be found in our report of the proceedings in the Lords; see vol. lxix. pp. 412, 417, 494, 673]. The hon. and learned Member further said, he must, however, draw the attention of the House to an extraordinary part of this case, which showed that, down to a late period, there was a disposition on the part of the Marquess to come to such an agreement as would almost necessarily have the effect of precluding the proof of illegitimacy. It was a negotiation begun in 1824, and continued down to 1842, after Lord Charles Townshend had disputed the legitimacy, by which, in consideration of a pecuniary sum, Lord Townshend was willing, not only to sell his own right, but, in truth, the right of others. It was certainly clear, that some years ago the Marquess was prepared, in consideration of a pecuniary gain, publicly to acknowledge the very children which, in answer to proceedings under the Chancery suit he had denied to be his. There was, at the very close of the evidence this letter from Lord Townshend to Mr. Dunn Gardner, followed by a proposition made by his Lordship's agent:— Dear Sir;—It appears to me that, with a little mutual confidence, some arrangement might be made between us regarding the settlement and estates, advantageous to all parties, and injurious to none. I have explained my sentiments to Mr. Ridgway on this subject, who will communicate the details to your solicitor. When I come to town I shall be glad to have a personal interview with you; we can then talk over family affairs which nearly concern us, and which are better transacted thus without the agency of a third person, at least in the first instance. I am persuaded, Sir, that you now think with me, that in family disagreements mutual exposure is a sad remedy for mutual imprudence, and serving no purpose but to gratify the malevolence of the world.—I have, &c. June 10, 1824. TOWNSHEND. The proposition of the Marquess Towns-bend, by Mr. James Ridgway (his agent), to William Dunn Gardner, esq., is to pay 40,000l. to the said William Dunn Gardner for the benefit of the Marchioness Townshend for life, and the remainder to her eldest son in tail male, and to acknowledge the legitimacy of the children; and, in pursuance thereof the said William Dunn Gardner, together with his co-trustees, to release all claim on the Walton estate. "June 14, 1824." "JAMES RIDGWAY. He found, also, a letter renewing the proposition after Lord Charles Townshend had raised the question of legitimacy. This evidence was given by the counsel against the bill, and he (Mr. Stuart Wortley) was surprised at it, for it was immediately observed it afforded the greatest proof that Lord Townshend was convinced these were not his children. When he was asked for precedents, he defied any one to produce any case like this. If ever there was proved to have been a case in which the wife's misconduct had been such, in which the children had thus assumed their titles, and in which the father had played such a part, then, but not till then, the argument that there were no precedents for a bill like this might be used. Here there was not only a private injury, but a great public wrong. The integrity of the succession to the House of Lords was endeavoured to be impeached. Some might set more or less value on hereditary rights; but whilst the House of Lords constituted one branch of the Legislature, it was of great importance to see that the seats were properly filled. This was all that was attempted by the hill now before the House. Under these circumstances, he called upon the House to apply a remedy, to redress a wrong, and to pass this bill.

Mr. C. Buller

moved, in conformity with his notice, that this bill be read a second time on this day six months. The facts of the case did not enter into his consideration; they might be thrown over as far as regarded the ground on which he meant to rest his proposition, although he entirely agreed in the remarks which his lion. and learned Friend had made upon them. He did not think that the slightest doubt could be entertained on the evidence adduced; but his objection to the bill was founded solely upon general principles. He felt deep sympathy for the Townshend family; they were suffering under severe hardships; but he also sympathised with other parties, and there never was a case more strongly proving the evils of the present system. Every body entertained the same opinion respecting the scandalous injustice of the law which would not give Lady Townshend a divorce. She was bound for life to a man whom she could not but loathe, and she had made every effort to escape from the marriage, but without success, for the courts would afford her no remedy. It was natural, then, that she should unite herself to a man towards whom she had discharged all the duties of an affectionate wife; but the question was to be discussed on different grounds to those of sympathy. He resisted the further progress of the bill, because it remedied, in an individual case, what was, in fact, a common wrong. The defect of the law which prevented the heirs of the Townshend family from having proper redress, applied to every man who had property in jeopardy from such an imposture as the present. It was a monstrous principle, and one which he apprehended the House would not sanction, that a remedy was to be granted to a Peer, and to a noble family, which would not be conceded to any other of the subjects of the State. The measure under consideration was perfectly unprecedented —for that was claimed which had hitherto been granted to no human being. A Peer in this respect was no better than he was, and ought not to be placed in a better situation. Neither did it appear to him that this bill was necessary even for the purpose in view, because a general measure had been introduced into the House of Lords, founded upon the practice in Scotland, which would afford a remedy in cases of the kind to all the inhabitants of the three kingdoms. He moved that it be read a second time on this day six months.

The House divided on the question that the word "now" stand part of the question:—Ayes 153; Noes 49: Majority 104.

List of the AYES.
Ackers, J. Douglas, Sir H.
A'Court, Capt. Drummond, H. H.
Adare, Visct. Duncombe, T.
Aldam, W. Dundas, Adm.
Antrobus, E. Dungannon, Visct.
Arundel and Surrey, Earl of Egerton, W. T.
Egerton, Sir P.
Bailey, J. Emlyn, Visct.
Baillie, Col. Estcourt, T. G. B.
Baillie, H. J. Ferguson, Col.
Baring, rt. hon. F. T. Fitzroy, Lord C.
Barrington, Visct. Flower, Sir J.
Barron, Sir H. W. Follett, Sir W. W.
Baskerville, T. B. M. Forman, T. S.
Beckett, W. Fox, S. L.
Beresford, Major Fuller, A. E.
Berkeley, hon. Capt. Gill, T.
Bernard, Visct. Gladstone, Capt.
Blackburne, J. I. Gore, W. O.
Borthwick, P. Gore, hon. R.
Botfield, B. Grosvenor, Lord R.
Broadley, H. Hallyburton, Ld. J. F.
Broadwood, H. Hamilton, J. H.
Brotherton, J. Hamilton, W. J.
Bulkeley, Sir R. B. W. Hampden, R.
Burrell, Sir C. M. Hanmer, Sir J.
Busfield, W. Hatton, Capt. V.
Byng, G. Heathcote, G. J.
Byng, rt. hon. G. S. Hepburn, Sir T. B.
Carew, hon. R. S. Herbert, hon. S.
Cavendish, hon. C. C. Hill, Lord M.
Chapman, A. Hinde, J. H.
Chelsea, Visct. Hindley, C.
Chetwode, Sir J. Hodgson, R.
Childers, J. W. Hogg, J. W.
Christopher, R. A. Hope, hon. C.
Chute, W. L. W. Howard, hon. C. W. G.
Clive, E. B. Howard, hon. J. K.
Compton, H. C. Howard, Lord
Corbally, M. E. Howard, hon. H.
Cowper, hon. W. F. Hussey, A.
Craig, W. G. Ingestrie, Visct.
Dalmeny, Lord Irton, S.
Damer, hon. Col. Jermyn, Earl
Denison, E. B. Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H.
Dickinson, F. H. Jones, Capt.
Disraeli, B. Knight, H. G.
Lascelles, hon. W. S. Rolleston, Col.
Liddell, hon. H. T. Round, C. G.
Lincoln, Earl of Rushbrooke, Col.
Lockhart. W. Russell, Lord J.
Lowther, J. H. Sandon, Visct.
Mackenzie, T. Sheppard, T.
Mackinnon, W. A. Shirley, E. J.
Mahon, Visct. Smith, A.
Mainwaring, T. Smollett, A.
Mangles, R. D. Stanley, E.
Manners, Lord C. S. Stanley, hon. W. O.
Majoribanks, S. Stanton, W. H.
Masterman, J. Stewart, P. M.
Meynell, Capt. Stuart, W. V.
Miles, P. W. S. Sturt, H. C.
Mordaunt, Sir J. Tennent, J. E.
Morris, D. Thornhill, G.
Mundy, E. M. Tollemache, J.
Neville, R. Tufnell, H.
Paget, Col. Vernon, G. H.
Pakington, J. S. Vesey, hon. T.
Palmer, lt. Vivian, J. E.
Pechell, Capt. Waddington, H. S.
Peel, J. Walsh, Sir J. B.
Pendarves, E. W. W. Wemyss, Capt.
Pennant, hon. Col. Whitmore, T. C.
Plumridge, Capt. Winnington, Sir T. E.
Ponsonby, C. F. A. Wortley, hon. J. S.
Price, R.
Pringle, A. TELLERS.
Pusey, P. Wortley, J. S.
Roebuck, J. A. Mackenzie, W. F.
List of the NOES.
Aglionby, H. A. Lemon, Sir C.
Arkwright, G. Mc Taggart Sir J.
Baldwin, B. Mitchell, T. A.
Barnard, E. G. Muntz, G. F.
Barneby, J. Neeld, J.
Bowes, J. O'Brien, W. S.
Bruce, Ld. E. O'Connell, M. J.
Christie, W. D. Ogle, S. C. H.
Clayton, R. R. Parker, J.
Collett, J. Pulsford, R.
Divett, E. Redington, T. N.
Duncan, G. Smith, B.
Ebrington, Visct. Smith, rt. hn. R. V.
Escott, B. Somerset, Lord G.
Fielden, J. Stansfield, W. R. C.
Ferrand, W. B. Strickland, Sir G.
Forster, M. Strutt, E.
Greene, T. Tancred, H. W.
Hastie, A. Thornley, T.
Hawes, B. Trelawney, J. S.
Henley, J. W. Vivian, hon. Capt.
Hodgson, F. Wawn, J, T.
Hutt, W. Wood, C.
James, W. TELLERS.
Labouchere, rt. hn. H Buller, C.
Langston, J. H. Elphinstone, H.

Bill read a second time, and referred to a select committee.

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