LIDDELL, Sir Thomas Henry, 6th Bt. (1775-1855), of Ravensworth Castle, co. Dur. and Eslington Hall, Northumb.
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Family and Education
b. 8 Feb. 1775, 1st s. of Sir Henry George Liddell, 5th Bt., of Ravensworth by Elizabeth, da. of Thomas Steele of Westhampnett, Suss. educ. Eton 1783-90; Trinity Coll. Camb. 1792. m. 27 Apr. 1796, Maria Susannah, da. and coh. of John Simpson of Bradley Hall, co. Dur., 8s. 8da. suc. fa. as 6th Bt. 26 Nov. 1791; cr. Baron Ravensworth 17 July 1821.
Sheriff, Northumb. 1804-5.
Lt.-col. Derwent vols. 1804-8.
Liddell, one of the leading north country coal owners, joined Brooks’s in 1795. At the general election of 1806 he stood for the county of Durham with the support of a distant cousin, the 2nd Earl of Darlington, and a powerful coalition of interests anxious to preserve the peace of the county on the retirement of Rowland Burdon. A rival for the seat, Sir Henry Vane Tempest*, accused him of breaking a promise not to oppose his own pretensions, but he was forced to withdraw and Liddell was returned unopposed.
He supported the ‘Talents’, who listed him among the ‘staunch friends’ of slave trade aboliton, but is not known to have spoken in the House. On 20 Mar. 1807, after serving on the Weymouth election committee, he was given a fortnight’s leave of absence to attend to ‘urgent private business’, but he promised Lord Howick, 3 Apr., that he would attend to vote for Brand’s motion condemning the Portland ministry’s pledge on Catholic relief on the 9th, and kept his word. On 23 Apr. he wrote to Howick pleading for opposition to be lenient with his ministerialist uncle Thomas Steele*, if parliamentary proceedings were taken over his appropriation of public money.1
Liddell offered himself again for Durham at the dissolution, but he and his Foxite colleague ran into a ‘No Popery’ agitation, which inspired a move to reinstate Burdon. On 13 May he issued a handbill declaring his attachment to the protestant establishment in church and state and denying that his vote for Brand’s motion implied ‘disaffection’ on his part.2 The same day he informed Howick, who faced a similar opposition in Northumberland, that his electoral obligations to the Duke of Northumberland and others made it impossible for him to support Howick there. He was ‘determined not to give way to Burdon’, but by the time of the county nomination meeting a week later, when he condemned the ‘weak and disjointed’ Portland ministry, he and Burdon had been persuaded to withdraw and transfer their support to Cuthbert Ellison* as a generally acceptable compromise candidate. Vane Tempest, who beat Ellison at the poll, charged Liddell and his associates with an attempt to fix the representation behind closed doors. At a county meeting to address the King, 1 June 1807, he spoke in defence of the ‘Talents’.3
Thereafter he devoted himself to the rebuilding of Ravensworth and the development of his coal mines. He attached himself to the Prince Regent and in 1820 supported the ministerial candidate for county Durham, having informed the reforming Whig John George Lambton* that he considered his conduct in response to the Peterloo incident to be ‘dangerous’. He received a coronation peerage in 1821. When Henry Edward Fox visited Ravensworth the following year he wrote:
All the family are fools, especially Lady R., who is mad into the bargain ... Lord R. has a great deal of glass. He ordered it from London and when it came found it was made at Newcastle, which is within two miles of him.4
He died 8 Mar. 1855.