JERVIS, Thomas (1770-1838), of 7 Figtree Court, Temple, London.
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Family and Education
b. 10 May 1770, 2nd surv. s. of Benjamin Jervis, gov. Surat, of Woodwall Green, Staffs. by Rebecca, da. of John Robinson of Calcutta, chairman E.I. Co. educ. M. Temple 1789, called 1795. m. 1791, Mary Anne, da. of Oliver Dixon of Red Hill, Old Swinford, Staffs., 3s. 1da.
Commr. of bankrupts 1800-6; counsel to Admiralty 1801-24; KC 3 Feb. 1806; bencher, M. Temple 1806, reader 1809, treasurer 1816; second justice of Chester circuit Feb. 1824-29, sole justice Aug. 1829-30; recorder, Lichfield 1830-d.
Jervis, ‘a leading counsel on the Oxford circuit’ stood proxy for his second cousin Sir John Jervis* at the Yarmouth election of 1796, in which he was unsuccessful. Sir John became Earl of St. Vincent a year later and encouraged Jervis to look to a seat for Yarmouth next time. On 11 Feb. 1800 St. Vincent applied for Jervis to succeed Spencer Perceval as counsel to the Admiralty when Perceval became solicitor-general; but did not expect Lord Spencer to comply. Later that year he obtained government support for Jervis’s pretensions at Yarmouth. In 1801 he took over the Admiralty under Addington and Jervis was appointed counsel and, after some manoeuvring, was returned unopposed to Parliament at the next general election. St. Vincent had spent £3,000 on his behalf at Yarmouth, but obtained the other return as well.1
Jervis gave government his assistance on Admiralty business.2 He pointed out, 14 Dec. 1802, that the Admiralty could not appoint the commissioners to investigate abuses in the naval service: they could not be judges in their own cause. On 17 Dec. he defended the clause enabling the commissioners to examine parties upon oath as to abuses they themselves were implicated in, denying that it was unconstitutional. On 10 Mar. 1803 he obtained leave to go the Oxford circuit. He brought in a bill to prevent naval desertion, 25 Nov. On 2 Feb. 1804 he opposed the reception of the Middlesex election petition. During the last debate of Addington’s ministry he defended their defence plans, 25 Apr. On Pitt’s return to power he was listed Addingtonian. On 9 May 1804 he got leave for a bill to regulate prize agency, in accordance with the fourth report of the naval commissioners. The second reading was postponed, 18 May, and on 7 June Pitt objected to the bill. On 11 June Jervis joined opposition to Pitt’s additional force bill. Ministers would not come to terms with his prize agency bill; after a further postponement, 19 June, he gave it up, 27 June, on the understanding that government would sponsor one another session. Although Jervis was listed a supporter of Pitt in September 1804 and July 1805, he was in the minorities in favour of continuing the naval commission of inquiry, 1 Mar. 1805, and in favour of repealing Pitt’s Additional Force Act, 6 Mar.; and on 12 June he voted for the criminal prosecution of Melville.
Jervis obtained a patent of precedence in February 1806 and supported the Grenville ministry’s repeal of the Additional Force Act, 30 Apr. On 14 Apr. he had brought in a bill to enable offenders on the high seas to be tried on the spot rather than in England; on 17 Apr. he concurred with Fox’s objection to the witnesses’ declaratory bill. He objected to Lord Archibald Hamilton’s motion on Indian affairs, 21 Apr., lest it prejudice the case against Lord Wellesley. Although he had ministerial support at Yarmouth at the ensuing election and spent over £1,000, he withdrew rather than squander about £8,000 on a contest. He complained to Lord Grenville of the unreliability of government dependants there and added that he was ‘not in a condition to incur any further loss of his fortune’. He returned to his profession.3 When the justiceship of Chester was abolished in 1830 he received a pension of £1,100 p.a. He died 6 Aug. 1838.4
Ref Volumes: 1790-1820
Author: R. G. Thorne
- 1. HMC Kenyon, 555; NMM, JER/24, St. Vincent to Nepean, 11 Feb., 29 Sept.; 37, same to same, 27 Nov., 1, 6 Dec. 1800. St. Vincent Letters (Navy Recs. Soc. lxi), ii. 109.
- 2. C. J. Palmer, Perlustration of Gt. Yarmouth, i. 321; J. Wilson, Biog. Index (1806), 307; St. Vincent Letters, ii. 67.
- 3. Fortescue mss, Jervis to Grenville, 5 Nov. 1806.
- 4. Gent. Mag. (1838), ii. 445.