LANGMEAD, Philip (?1739-1816), of Hoe House, Plymouth, Devon.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1802 - Feb. 1806

Family and Education

b. ?1739. m. c.1763, Elizabeth, da. of William Clark of Plymouth, 2s. 2da.

Offices Held

Mayor, Plymouth 1800-1.

Capt. commdt. Plymouth vols. 1798, lt.-col. 1803.


Langmead was a Plymouth brewer and probably a self-made man. He married the sister of his business associate William Clark, who had brewing and malting premises in Southside Street and Hoe Lane and by the time of his death in 1786 had contracts to supply the navy.1 Langmead’s elder daughter married her first cousin William Clark of Buckland Tout Saints, who died young in 1795 shortly after his appointment as sheriff of Devon. His younger daughter married George Byng in 1793 and died in 1810; her widower succeeded as 6th Viscount Torrington in 1813. His son William married a daughter of George Winne, a prominent Plymouth merchant; her sister Sally was one of the many young women courted by Prince William, the future William IV, in his early naval days. The other son, John Clark Langmead, who predeceased his father in 1815, was also married and left issue.2

In 1795 Langmead bought land at Derriford, three miles from Plymouth. He acquired other property in the parishes of Bigbury, Tamerton Ffolliott and Egg Buckland, a house at East Teignmouth and Hoe House, his principal residence, which was bought from the Rogers family. He seems to have expanded the brewery after Clark’s death and was head of the South Devon Bank, established at Teignmouth in 1808, enjoying a one-third share in the profits.3 He and his sons became members of Plymouth corporation and each was elected mayor: Philip in 1800, John Clark in 1802 and William in 1808. John Clark Langmead was chosen by the freemen at large in opposition to the corporation nominee, and the outcome of litigation on this test case was recognition of the right of the commonalty to elect the mayor. This dispute and a related faction fight within the corporation almost certainly had a bearing on the curious circumstances of Philip Langmead’s elevation to the status of Member for Plymouth at the general election of 1802.

At the dissolution one of the sitting Members, Sir William Elford, recorder of Plymouth, came forward again, while his colleague Francis Glanville, son-in-law of Elford’s enemy Robert Fanshawe, chief commissioner of the dockyard, retired. The Addington ministry strongly recommended as Glanville’s successor General John Graves Simcoe*, but Fanshawe made difficulties and only reluctantly and tardily summoned Simcoe to Plymouth. On his arrival Simcoe found Langmead already in the field and, as he had to admit, certain of success. The available evidence strongly suggests that Langmead was put up to standing by Fanshawe in an attempt to get rid of Elford. Such was the latter’s view and, according to Simcoe, Fanshawe encouraged him to persevere, assuring him that Elford would go to the wall. Simcoe declined to do so, feeling that he had no brief from Addington to oppose Elford, and tried to persuade Langmead, whom he thought a ‘very weak’ but ‘vain’ man, to stand down. He perceived signs of wavering in Langmead ‘who professed the strongest attachment to government and said that the Admiralty had long known of his intentions’—a claim denied by St. Vincent, the first lord, and by Addington—but Fanshawe and his son persuaded him to stand his ground. Simcoe gave up and Langmead was returned unopposed with Elford, to whose disgust St. Vincent, professedly in the interests of future electoral tranquillity, subsequently let it be known in Plymouth that the brewer ‘would have every attention paid to his recommendations’. Addington admitted early in September 1802 that he had ‘had no communication’ with Langmead, but in reply to Elford’s protests that Langmead’s election in fact represented a blow to the government interest at Plymouth and that St. Vincent had recently ignored his own patronage requests, he insisted that Langmead would be entitled to his share of patronage if ‘his principles should lead him to support the government’.4

He did so on the question of the Prince of Wales’s debts, 4 Mar. 1803,5 and he is not known to have voted against them. According to one commentator, he spoke on the opium tax in 1803, denying the charge that country brewers were in the habit of adulterating their beer,6 but no record of the speech has been found in the reports of debates. In the ministerial list of May 1804 he was marked ‘doubtful’ and he apparently did not vote against Pitt’s additional force bill until the division of 18 June. In September he was listed under ‘Addington’ and ‘Addington’s friends on whom some impression might be made’. It evidently was, for in the government list of July 1805 he was named under ‘Pitt’. His parliamentary career ended as oddly as it had begun. Shortly after the ‘Talents’ came to power he vacated to let in Thomas Tyrwhitt, a friend of the Prince of Wales, who already had a seat for Portarlington. One observer saw the manoeuvre as part of a plot to oust Elford at the next general election and Elford himself later alleged that Langmead was financially rewarded.7

John Clark Langmead canvassed Plymouth in 1809 and was still in the field in 1811 when Thomas Byam Martin, a future Member, reported that

Our brewers in this town, all wealthy purse proud fellows, and big pretenders to honour, but in fact rogues in grain, have been famously hauled over the coals, being detected in defrauding their customers, as well as the revenue, and they are defaulters to government to the amount of £6,400 between three of them, the mere duties only. The penalties if sued for will be three times that sum, and it will be a sin to spare them.8

Langmead was succeeded as head of the Teignmouth bank, which failed in 1840, by his surviving son, but the brewery had evidently been disposed of to Messrs Scott by 1830. He died 8 Aug. 1816 ‘in his 78th year’.9

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: David R. Fisher


  • 1. Clark’s will (PCC 12 Major).
  • 2. Gent. Mag. (1786), ii. 109; (1795), i. 259; (1812), i. 598; (1815), i. 375; PCC 489 Wynne.
  • 3. Langmead’s will (PCC 84 Effingham); Lysons, Magna Britannia, vi. 81; Trans. Devon Assoc. lxxx (1948), 229.
  • 4. St. Vincent Letters (Navy Recs. Soc. lxi), 89-93; Sidmouth mss, Simcoe to Addington, 24 June, Addington to Simcoe, 26 June, Elford to Addington, 2 Sept., Addington to Elford, 5 Sept. 1802.
  • 5. The Times, 8 Mar. 1803.
  • 6. J. Wilson, Biog. Index (1806), 328.
  • 7. Add. 41371, f. 192; L’Estrange, Friendships of Mary Russell Mitford, i. 85.
  • 8. Add. 41372, ff. 104-5.
  • 9. Gent. Mag. (1816), ii. 283.