EGERTON (afterwards GREY EGERTON), John (1766-1825), of Oulton Park, Cheshire.
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Family and Education
b. 11 July 1766, 1st s. of Philip Egerton of Oulton by his cos. Mary, da. and event. h. of Sir Francis Haskin Eyles Styles, 3rd Bt., of Moor Park, Herts. educ. privately; Grand Tour 1787-8. m. 9 Apr. 1795, Maria, da. and h. of Thomas Scott Jackson of Bedford Square, Mdx., s.p. suc. fa. 1786; 4th cos. Sir Thomas Egerton†, 7th Bt. and 1st Earl of Wilton, as 8th Bt. 23 Sept. 1814; took name of Grey before Egerton by royal lic. 17 Oct. 1814.
Sheriff, Cheshire 1793-4.
Capt. Delamere Foresters 1803; maj. R. Chester vols. 1807.
Egerton came forward for Chester in 1807 in response to an invitation from a group of electors determined to resist an attempt by the Whig 2nd Earl Grosvenor (whose wife was Egerton’s distant cousin) to bring in a stranger for the second seat. The corporation, Grosvenor’s allies, bowed to popular feeling and endorsed his candidature. The interloper withdrew and Egerton, a known ‘supporter of the Protestant Establishment’, who promised the electors ‘the best exertions of an honest and independent mind’, came in unopposed with Grosvenor’s cousin.1
His only recorded vote against the Portland ministry was on the convention of Cintra, 21 Feb. 1809, though it was later stated at Chester on his behalf that he had supported Curwen’s parliamentary reform bill in May 1809, but had opposed it when it was emasculated by ministers.2 He voted with the Perceval ministry on the address, 23 Jan., but against them on the Scheldt inquiry, 26 Jan. and 23 Feb. 1810. The Whigs were ‘hopeful’ of receiving his support in the crucial clash on the Scheldt, 30 Mar., but he was listed among ministerial absentees. He voted for sinecure reductions, 17 May, but against parliamentary reform, 21 May. He divided with government on the Regency, 1 Jan. 1811, the sinecure paymastership, 24 Feb. 1812, and against the call for a stronger administration, 21 May, but voted against the leather tax, 1 July. He was one of the die-hards who voted against Catholic relief, 22 June 1812, as he did again 2 Mar., 11 and 24 May 1813, 21 May 1816 and (as a pair) 9 May 1817. It was alleged at the 1812 general election, when the Grosvenors, who tried to portray him as a slavish ministerialist, fought hard to turn him out, that he had voted for the royal household bill in January 1812. Egerton, who insisted that he had exercised independent judgment on every major issue, was returned in second place after a fierce and expensive contest.3
The Liverpool ministry listed Egerton as a supporter, but his name does not appear on their side in the divisions for which full lists have been found until 1817. On the other hand, his only recorded wayward votes were on the sinecure bill, 29 Mar. 1813, the East Indian ships registry bill, 6 June 1815, the property tax, 18 Mar., and a clause of the public revenues bill, 17 June 1816. He paired against another of its provisions, 20 June. He voted with government on the composition of the finance committee, 7 Feb., against Admiralty reductions, 17 and 25 Feb., for the continued suspension of habeas corpus, 23 June 1817, and in defence of the use of domestic spies, 5 Mar. 1818. He had admitted in 1807 that he was ‘not much in the habit of public speaking’4 and he is not known to have spoken in the House.
Egerton’s vote for the suspension of habeas corpus provoked the leading Whigs among his supporters to disown him. After taking soundings he announced, 5 Dec. 1817, that he would not seek reelection at Chester, but the failure of his disaffected supporters to find a suitable Whig candidate, and the prospect of an attempt by Lord Grosvenor to return two members of his family, prompted his committee to canvass on his behalf and press him to change his mind, which he did in January 1818. At the general election in June he stood with a Whig against two Grosvenors who, to substantiate their exaggerated claim that he had been a ‘uniform supporter’ of government, attributed to him votes for the 1815 corn bill, Lord Sidmouth’s circular letter to magistrates, 25 June 1817, and the indemnity bill in March 1818. His own propaganda boasted that he had ‘twice supported parliamentary reform in the teeth of ministers’ and carried out ‘fervent and effectual opposition’ to the salt tax; but no record of these votes has been found. He finished a distant third, fought a duel with one of his conquerors in October 1818, petitioned unsuccessfully and tried again at Chester in 1820, when he was beaten by only 18 votes. Egerton’s electioneering took a heavy toll of his financial resources and forced him to sell land and timber.5 He died 24 May 1825.
Ref Volumes: 1790-1820
Authors: M. H. Port / David R. Fisher
- 1. Electioneering Interests in Chester (1807), 11-14, 16-18.
- 2. Pprs. relating to Parl. Rep. Chester (1810), 104.
- 3. Hist. Chester Election, 1812, pp. xii, 37.
- 4. Electioneering Interests in Chester, 17.
- 5. Hist. Chester Election, 1818, pp. 1-3, 10-11, 15, 52-53, 70-72; Edinburgh Advertiser, 3 Nov. 1818; P. Grey Egerton, Possessors of Oulton, 35.