MEADE, Hon. John (?1775-1849), of Gill Hall, co. Down.
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Family and Education
b. ?1775, 3rd s. of John, 1st Earl of Clanwilliam [I], by Theodosia, da. and coh. of Robert Hawkins Magill, MP [I], of Gill Hall. m. 2 Oct. 1816, Urania Caroline, da. of Hon. Edward Ward, MP [I], 2nd s. of Bernard, 1st Visct. Bangor [I], 4s.
Lt. army 1794, 12 Ft. 1795; capt. 9 Ft. 1799; maj. 30 Ft. 1801; lt.-col. 18 Drag. 1804, 45 Ft. 1805, col. 1813, maj.-gen. 1819, lt.-gen. 1837.
Consul-gen., Spain Aug. 1816-d.
Meade served in the East Indies, Holland and Portugal before returning to Ireland after the Union as a lieutenant-colonel of militia. His family had some property influence in county Down, but it was as the instrument of Lady Downshire’s revenge and anti-Union feeling that Meade was returned in the by-election of 1805 in which he defeated Castlereagh, one of Pitt’s ministers. Castlereagh had failed to induce Meade’s mother ‘to throw cold water on her son’s project’. Lady Downshire assured the King that her nominee would support government.1
Like Lady Downshire, he was counted a supporter of the Grenville ministry in 1806 and considered loyal to them after their dismissal.2 Although he ‘always professed himself to be independent of either party’ and at the election of 1807 assured his constituents that he considered himself ‘free to take his own line’,3 Meade’s voting record (for it seems that he never spoke) was very similar to that of his colleague Savage, who was dependent on the Downshire interest. Like him he voted against the address, 26 June, for Whitbread’s critical motion, 6 July 1807, and for the Catholic petition, 25 May 1808. After voting against ministers on the Scheldt question, 30 Mar. 1810, he was absent on active service in the Peninsula, receiving a medal for his service at Busaco (27 Sept. 1810). He next voted with opposition on the Regency, 21 Jan. 1811, then on Morpeth’s motion on Ireland, 4 Feb. 1812. It seems that he did not serve with his regiment at Badajoz or Salamanca, as on 24 Apr. 1812 he again voted for the Catholic claims and on 21 May for Stuart Wortley’s motion for a stronger administration.
From 1812 the Downshire vendetta with Castlereagh, who was returned with him for the county, having ended, Meade, who retired from active service in June 1813, ceased to vote with opposition; though, in company with Castlereagh, he continued to vote for the Catholic claims, 2 Mar. 1813, 30 May 1815, 21 May 1816. On 31 May 1815 he voted with government on the civil list and on 6 and 8 Mar. 1816 on the army estimates. On 7 Mar. 1816 the Irish secretary reported: ‘to my infinite surprise the other day Col. Meade, whom I do not know and have always considered an oppositionist, proposed himself very abruptly for the collectorship of Belfast’.4
This change of heart was underlined by his appearance in the government minority for the property tax, 18 Mar., and on 6 and 24 May and 17 June 1816 he again voted with them. This was doubtless dictated by necessity, for soon afterwards he was offered, through Castlereagh, the consul-generalship in Spain.5 He vacated his seat at the opening of the session of 1817. Meade died in Madrid, 6 Aug. 1849, aged 74.
Ref Volumes: 1790-1820
Author: P. J. Jupp
- 1. PRO 30/8/175, f. 157; Add. 35761, f. 9; Geo. III Corresp. iv. 3129.
- 2. Fortescue mss, Lady Downshire to Grenville, 8 Apr.; Dublin Evening Post, 23 Apr.; Morning Chron. 22, 26 June 1807.
- 3. Belfast News Letter, 19 May; Wellington mss, Castlereagh to Wellesley, 26 May 1807; Add. 51826, Stair to Holland, 17 Nov. .
- 4. Add. 40290, f. 126.
- 5. PRO 30/9/16, Castlereagh to Abbot, 26 Aug. .