HL Deb 06 March 1868 vol 190 cc1147-9

presented a petition from Henry Needham Scrope Shrapnel, late 3rd Dragoon Guards, praying that some National Reward may be conferred on the Family of the late Lieu- tenant General Henry Shrapnel, in consideration of the services rendered by his shells during the late Campaign under the Duke of Wellington, There was not the slightest doubt that this shell had been found most useful in war, and the late Duke of Wellington and other general officers, commanding troops in Europe and elsewhere, had testified to its merits. The question of this remuneration was mooted in 1837, and received a very satisfactory answer at that time from His Majesty William IV., to the effect that some Court rank should be conferred upon the inventor. Nothing, however, was done in the matter during the inventor's lifetime, and by his will he expressed a wish that some tangible reward should be conferred upon his son in consideration of the services rendered to the country by the use of the shell during the late war. He (the Earl of Cardigan) now begged to propose that those services should be recompensed, or to refer the matter to a Committee to ascertain whether some honour, reward, or advantage should not be conferred upon the petitioner. He was not in a position to state the number of Shrapnel shells which had been used; but he might say with truth that they amounted to millions.


said, that the noble Earl had gone rather beyond the terms of his Notice in suggesting the appointment of a Committee. Of course, there could be no objection to the reception of the petition, and to its consideration by the House; but, on the part of the War Office, he feared he could hold out no encouragement whatever to the petitioner that its prayer would be granted. It was true that the Shrapnel shell was a most valuable military invention, and that it had been constant use in the service for many years; but in consideration of it the late General Shrapnel had received a special pension of £1,200 a year, which he had enjoyed for twenty-eight years, and had received £10,000 more from the East India Company. His claims to increased remuneration had been considered in 1829 and 1837, and had been rejected by successive Governments; and in 1863 Sir George Lewis decided that no further claim on the subject could be admitted. Sir John Pakington was now of the same opinion. Without referring to this special case—as he was not acquainted with the circumstances of Mr. Shrapnel—he might say that inventors were not always successful in matters of finance affecting themselves. The representatives of the late Mr. Snider had received from the Government the large sum of £15,000 for the invention of a breach-loading rifle; but notwithstanding this, his family were now before the Government suing in formâ pauperis for a further gratuity, for which, unfortunately, the Secretary of State had no available funds.

Petition ordered to lie on the table.

House adjourned at half past Five o'clock, to Monday next, Eleven o'clock.