EYRE, Anthony Hardolph (1757-1836), of Grove Park, Notts.
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Family and Education
b. 8 Mar. 1757, 1st s. of Anthony Eyre† of Rampton and Grove Park by Judith Laetitia, da. and h. of John Bury of Grange, nr. Grantham, Lincs., gt.-niece and h. of Sir Hardolf Wasteneys, 4th Bt., of Headen, Notts. educ. Harrow 1770. m. 20 Dec. 1783, Francisca Alicia, da. of Richard Wilbraham Bootle† of Lathom Hall, Lancs., 1s. d.v.p. 3da. suc. fa. 1788.
Ensign 1 Ft. Gds. 1776, lt. and capt. 1778, capt. and lt.-col. 1787, ret. 1790; lt.-col. commdt. Notts. yeomanry 1794; capt. commdt. Retford vols. 1803.
Eyre, ‘a plain country gentleman’, was a potential candidate for his county on the death of Evelyn Pierrepont in 1801, but Pierrepont’s brother than succeeded. On the next vacancy, made by Lord William Henry Cavendish Bentinck, he was returned unopposed.1 He was a former friend of the prime minister, to whom he had written on 22 Aug. 1801 to request the deanery of York for his brother John, whose lack of ‘enthusiasm’ in matters religious he vouched for.2 In the House he supported Addington, speaking on 3 June 1803 against Patten’s censure motion. On 8 and 29 Feb. 1804 he commended the volunteer consolidation bill, as a ‘warm friend to the volunteer system’; he lamented the opposition coalition against Addington and on 10 Mar. objected to additional clauses proposed by Pitt for the bill. Listed ‘Addington’ in March and May 1804, he opposed Pitt’s additional force bill, 8 June, and spoke up for the volunteers, 11 June; but on 19 June, with a compliment to Addington, announced that he would no longer oppose the bill, which had been improved during its passage. He indicated that he disliked factious opposition. In September, accordingly, he was listed first among ‘Addington’s friends on whom some impression might be made’ and finally ‘doubtful Addington’. He welcomed Addington’s reconciliation with Pitt, writing to him, 14 Jan. 1805:
Could you inspire your new colleagues with the same principles which actuated your late administration, and which prompted you not to lose sight of economy in the midst of the most vigorous exertions, and to reject some measures apparently more efficient rather than infringe the constitution, in the purity of which consists our greatest strength, the government will be zealously supported by the country at large and may defy any combination of parties which may be formed against [it].3
He voted for the criminal prosecution of Melville, 12 June, and in July 1805 was again classed as a doubtful follower of Sidmouth.
Eyre voted for the repeal of Pitt’s Additional Force Act, 30 Apr. 1806, announcing on 13 May that it had failed; but on 26 June and 3 July he criticized Windham’s training bill as too severe and likely to destroy the volunteer system. At that time the 4th Duke of Newcastle threatened to oppose Eyre’s re-election for the county (his colleague was by then his own son-in-law), but he refused to yield to threats, not being conscious of any dissatisfaction with his conduct, so he informed Newcastle, 18 July. He was not opposed.4 He was listed ‘adverse’ to the abolition of the slave trade. On 11 Mar. 1807 he was a leading critic of Romilly’s bill to make freeholds assets for the discharge of simple contract debts, which he claimed would ruin the landed interest. He took a month’s leave on 19 Mar.
Eyre supported the Portland ministry. He warned the landed interest against ‘false alarm’ about the prohibition of distillation from grain in a speech in favour of sugar distillation, 3 June 1808. He failed to secure election to the finance committee in 1809. He rallied to Perceval’s ministry on the address, 23 Jan. 1810, and even when he admitted that he could not vote with them on 26 Jan., said their ‘merit was not sufficiently understood by the country’. Laughed at for this, he rallied to them again on the further Scheldt questions of 23 Feb. and 30 Mar. He was listed ‘doubtful’ from the Whig standpoint. He went on to vote against the release of the radical detainee Gale Jones and against parliamentary reform, 16 Apr., 21 May. He was in the ministerial minority on the Regency question of 1 Jan. 1811. In March his only son was slain at Barossa. On 14 Feb. 1812 he seconded the introduction of anti-Luddite legislation and went on to defend it. Writing to Bryan Cooke* about the debate of 27 Feb. he was disillusioned about the Regency and critical of the airing of the issue of Catholic relief.5 His only further known vote was for his amendment in favour of the orders of the day against Stuart Wortley’s motion for a more efficient administration, 21 May 1812. Leading the opposition to it in debate he said it was ‘unconstitutional to interfere with the prerogative of the crown in the formation of an administration’. He was defeated by 174 votes to 170.
Eyre retired from Parliament in 1812, but remained active as a county magistrate. He died 13 Apr. 1836.6