NEEDHAM, Hon. Francis (1748-1832), of Mourne Park, nr. Newry, co. Down.
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Family and Education
b. 5 Apr. 1748, 3rd s. of John, 10th Visct. Kilmorey [I] by Anne, da. and coh. of John Hurleston of Newton, Cheshire, wid. of Geoffrey Shakerley of Somerford, Cheshire. m. 20 Feb. 1787, Anne, da. and coh. of Thomas Fisher of Acton, Mdx., 2s. 8da. suc. bro. as 12th Visct. Kilmorey [I] 30 Nov. 1818; cr. Earl of Kilmorey [I] 12 Jan. 1822.
Cornet, 18 Drag. 1762, 1 Drag. 1765, lt. 1771; capt. 17 Drag. 1774, half-pay 1783; maj. 76 Ft. 1780, 80 Ft. 1783; capt. and lt.-col. 104 Ft. 1783, 1 Ft. Gds. 1783; col. and a.d.c. to the King 1793; maj.-gen. 1795, lt.-gen. 1802; col. 5 veteran batt. 1804; col. 86 Ft. 1810; gen. 1812.
Trustee, linen board [I] 1808.
General Needham, the younger son of an immensely wealthy Anglo-Irish family, served in America and Flanders, but chiefly distinguished himself in command of the loyalist troops at the Battle of Arklow, at which his victory preserved Dublin from the rebels in 1798, and quashed the rebellion in the north. In 1806, reviving the abeyant family interest in the borough of Newry, he was returned after a contest against a pro-Catholic Whig. Though ‘inimical’ to Catholic relief, he wished to be regarded as a supporter of the Grenville ministry and to obtain the borough patronage from them. His requests were politely refused and the advent of the Portland ministry proved more congenial to Needham, who admitted he had ‘never voted with’ the Grenvilles on that account. Obtaining the patronage from the new viceroy, he supported successive administrations until he succeeded to his brother’s title in 1818.1
Needham was not an active Member. His only known speech, 13 June 1816, was in justification of the dismissal of a pro-Catholic Newry magistrate. Although he lived at Datchet, near Windsor, evidence of his attendance is thin. He threatened to withhold his support when his requests for patronage were not met. The official reaction was that he asked for county as well as Newry patronage and that ‘no government is benefited by concessions so urged’.2 He vacillated on the Catholic claims. Peel reported him as having been ‘for’ the committee, 2 Mar. 1813, though his name is not in the published division, while on 13 May he voted for, but on 24 May with the majority against the bill, according to both sources.3 Yet on 9 May 1817 he was in the minority supporting Catholic claims. He voted with the government on the Scheldt inquiry, 26 Jan., 23 Feb., 5 Mar., 30 Mar. 1810; against the regulation of sinecures, 17 May, and for the Regency bill, 1 Jan. 1811. The chief secretary wrote that month of his ‘steady support’.4 He voted with government on the civil list, 14 Apr., 8 and 31 May 1815, and for the army estimates, 6 and 8 Mar. 1816. On 25 Feb. 1817 he voted against Ridley’s motion, after replying to a circular from the chief secretary in January that the House was ‘the very first place I have gone to since the loss [of his wife] I have sustained’.5 After receiving a step up in the Irish peerage in 1822, he unsuccessfully requested to become representative peer, on the basis of his interest in Newry and his having taken up residence in Ireland. He died 21 Nov. 1832.
Ref Volumes: 1790-1820
Author: P. J. Jupp
- 1. Warrenne Blake, Irish Beauty, 324; Drennan Letters ed. Chart, 367; Fortescue mss, Needham to Carysfort, 16 Feb., to Grenville, 1, 12 Mar., replies 25 Feb., 14 Mar.; Hunts. RO, Sandwich mss Hinch 11H, Needham to Hinchingbrooke, 14, 30 Apr. 1807.
- 2. Wellington mss, Needham to Wellesley, 7 Feb. 1808; SRO GD51/1/349/11, 12.
- 3. NLI, Richmond mss 62/435; Add. 40283, f. 70.
- 4. Richmond mss 65/737.
- 5. Add. 40262, f. 321.