BASTARD, John (?1787-1835), of Sharpham, nr. Totnes, Devon

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832, ed. D.R. Fisher, 2009
Available from Cambridge University Press



9 May 1816 - 1832

Family and Education

b. ?1787, 2nd s. of Edmund Bastard† (d. 1816) of Sharpham and Jane, da. of Capt. Philemon Pownall, RN, of Sharpham; bro. of Edmund Pollexfen Bastard*. educ. Eton c. 1800. m. 7 Oct. 1817, Frances, da. and coh. of Benjamin Wade of New Grange, Yorks., 3s. (1 d.v.p.) 1da. suc. mo. to Sharpham 1822. d. 11 Jan. 1835.

Offices Held

Lt. RN 1804, cdr. 1806, capt. 1807.

Capt. S. Hams yeomanry 1820.


In 1816 Bastard inherited a half-share, with his younger brother Pownall, in a trust fund of £24,000 left by their father.1 On his marriage the following year the substantial Sharpham estate between Totnes and Dartmouth, which had been brought into the family by his mother, was settled on him for life.2 At the general election of 1820 he was again returned unopposed for Dartmouth on the interest of Arthur Howe Holdsworth*, who assured a Tory newspaper proprietor that ‘Bastard was made Member for the good cause, by the good cause, and will defend the good cause’.3

He continued to give general support to Lord Liverpool’s ministry, but he was by no means a zealous attender. In October 1820 he reported from London that ‘though the lower class ... are all for the Queen [Caroline], they seem to care less about her at present, and have used their noise and clamour in the streets, before the House of Lords, as they did at the commencement of the business’.4 He voted in defence of ministers’ conduct towards the queen, 6 Feb. 1821. Given six weeks’ leave to deal with urgent private business, 9 Feb., he was absent from the division on Catholic relief, 28 Feb. He was granted a further month’s leave, 7 May, but attended to vote with government on the barracks grant, 28 May 1821. He divided against more extensive tax reductions, 21 Feb., and admiralty economies, 1 Mar. 1822. He voted for reduction of the salt duties, 28 Feb., and he or his brother Edmund, Member for Devon, presented a Plymouth petition for their total repeal, 19 June,5 although he certainly voted against this, 28 June. He was in the protectionist minority of 24 on the corn duties, 8 May. He divided against Canning’s bill to relieve Catholic peers of their disabilities, 30 Apr. He presented Kingsbridge and Dodbrook petitions against the poor removal bill, 13 May.6 Either he or his brother called for silk manufacturers to be heard by counsel against the navigation bill, 20 May. He voted with ministers against inquiry into the lord advocate’s dealings with the Scottish press, 25 June, and for the aliens bill, 19 July 1822. His only known votes in the 1823 session were against Scottish parliamentary reform, 2 June, and inquiry into chancery delays, 5 June. He presented Devon petitions for repeal of the coastwise coal duties, 16, 24 Feb., one from Dartmouth publicans against the Excise Licences Act, 15 Mar., and another from the inhabitants for the abolition of slavery, 31 Mar. 1824.7 That session he introduced and steered through Plymouth embankment and town improvement bills, which received royal assent, 12 Apr. 1824. He was named as a defaulter, 28 Feb., but attended next day when he divided against Catholic relief, as he did again, 21 Apr., 10 May 1825. He voted against the Irish franchise bill, 26 Apr. He divided with ministers for the duke of Cumberland’s annuity, 30 May 1825. In a radical review of the session, it was noted that he ‘did not attend very frequently’.8 No trace of parliamentary activity has been found for 1826. At the general election that summer he was again returned unopposed for Dartmouth.9

He divided against Catholic relief, 6 Mar. 1827. In January 1828 he informed Peel, the leader of the Commons in the duke of Wellington’s new ministry, that he was unable to attend the opening of Parliament, but he gave assurances of support.10 He voted against repeal of the Test Acts, 26 Feb., and paired against Catholic relief, 12 May. It was presumably he, not his brother, who denied that the Dartmouth harbour bill was a corporation job, 24 Mar., and he almost certainly presented a Dartmouth petition against the alehouses licensing bill, 6 June. He defended the Holdsworth family’s monopoly of the governorship of Dartmouth Castle, 20 June. He voted with government on the ordnance estimates, 4 July 1828. He attended the Devon anti-Catholic meeting, 16 Jan. 1829, but apparently held his tongue.11 The following month Planta, the patronage secretary, listed him as being ‘opposed to the principle’ of emancipation. It is not clear whether it was he or his brother who maintained that hostile petitions from Pehembury, Clyst and Dartmouth expressed ‘the real sentiments of the people’, 2 Mar. He voted against emancipation, 6, 18, 23 Mar., paired against it, 27 Mar., and was absent from the division on the 30th. Nevertheless, when he applied to government for church preferment for his brother Pownall that summer, Peel recommended him to Wellington as ‘a good friend and supporter’.12 In October 1829 Sir Richard Vyvyan*, the Ultra leader, listed him among the ‘Tories strongly opposed to the present government’. However, his only recorded wayward vote in the 1830 session was for repeal of the Irish coal duties, 13 May. He divided against the enfranchisement of Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester, 23 Feb., Jewish emancipation, 17 May, and abolition of the death penalty for forgery, 7 June, when he voted for the grant for South American missions. He or his brother presented a Plymouth publicans’ petition against the sale of beer bill, 3 May 1830. At the general election that summer he was returned for Dartmouth after a contest, and he survived the subsequent petition.13

Ministers reckoned Bastard as one of their ‘friends’, and he voted with them in the crucial civil list division, 15 Nov. 1830. Four days later he was granted a month’s leave on account of the death, aged ten, of his second son. He divided against the second reading of the Grey ministry’s reform bill, 22 Mar., and for Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr. 1831. The ‘disapprobation’ provoked among the unenfranchised inhabitants of Dartmouth by his declaration of hostility to the measure did not prevent his unopposed return at the ensuing general election.14 He voted against the second reading of the reintroduced reform bill, 6 July, and, probably, against its passage, 21 Sept. 1831. He was given three weeks’ leave to attend to urgent private business, 29 Sept. He was absent from the division of 17 Dec. 1831 on the second reading of the revised reform bill, by which Dartmouth was deprived of a seat, but he joined in futile attempts to avert this, 23 Feb., 2 Mar. 1832. His last known votes were against the enfranchisement of Tower Hamlets, 28 Feb., and the bill’s third reading, 22 Mar. 1832.

Bastard retired from Parliament at the dissolution later that year. He died in January 1835, ‘in his 48th year’.15 His will confirmed the provisions of his marriage settlement, by which his Devon property passed, subject to his wife’s life interest, to his elder surviving son, John Pownall Pollexfen Wade Bastard (1818-86), who entered the army; his personalty was sworn under £20,000.16

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Authors: Terry Jenkins / David R. Fisher


  • 1. PROB 11/1588/2; IR26/696/17.
  • 2. PROB 11/1845/218.
  • 3. Wilts. RO, Simpson mss 130/75, Holdsworth to Flindell, 31 Mar. 1820.
  • 4. Ibid. Bastard to Flindell, 5 Oct. 1820.
  • 5. The Times, 20 June 1822.
  • 6. Ibid. 14 May 1822.
  • 7. Ibid. 17, 25 Feb., 16 Mar., 1 Apr. 1824.
  • 8. Session of Parl. 1825, p. 450.
  • 9. Alfred, 6, 20 June 1826.
  • 10. Add. 40395, f. 139.
  • 11. Woolmer’s Exeter and Plymouth Gazette, 17 Jan. 1829.
  • 12. Wellington mss WP1/1032/1.
  • 13. Woolmer’s Exeter and Plymouth Gazette, 31 July, 7 Aug. 1830.
  • 14. R. Devonport Telegraph, 30 Apr., 7 May 1831.
  • 15. Gent. Mag. (1835), i. 661.
  • 16. PROB 11/1845/218; IR26/1376/325.