DICK, Quintin (1777-1858), of Curzon Street, Mayfair, Mdx. and Sackville Street, Dublin

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



21 Dec. 1803 - 1806
1807 - 31 Mar. 1809
26 Dec. 1826 - 1830
1830 - 1847
29 Mar. 1848 - 1852

Family and Education

b. 7 Feb. 1777, 1st s. of Samuel Dick, E.I. proprietor and merchant, of Dublin and Charlotte, da. of Nicholas Foster of Tullaghan, co. Monaghan; bro. of Hugh Dick*. educ. Trinity, Dublin 1793; King’s Inns 1799; L. Inn 1799, called [I] 1800. unm. suc. fa. 1802. d. 26 Mar. 1858.

Offices Held

MP [I] 1800.

Capt. W. Essex militia 1839, lt.-col. 1846-52.


Close kinship ties with the anti-Unionist John Foster*, his legal training and his father’s mercantile wealth and prominence in the management of the Bank of Ireland and in insurance had provided Dick with the means of entering politics as a Member of the Dublin and Westminster Parliaments at an early age. However, his controversial resignation as Member for Cashel in March 1809 on a point of honour had marginalized him, and his opulent political dinners, patronage of the Beafsteak Club, ‘carroty’ hair and dandified old fashioned dress left him prey to the jibes of the courtesan Harriette Wilson and others who thought him ‘vilely shabby’ and disliked him.1 His hopes of reviving his career in 1820 were thwarted when he was almost killed in a fall from his gig;2 but, supported by Horace Twiss*, he took steps in 1826 to apply his wealth and annual income of £15-20,000 to ‘liberating’ the freemen of Maldon, by whom he hoped to be returned on the corporation interest as a self-professed friend of Lord Liverpool’s ministry, opposed to Catholic relief. His defeat by Thomas Barrett Lennard and George Allanson Winn in a 15-day poll cost the three candidates an estimated £30-50,000.3 Failure did not much delay his return to Parliament, for in December 1826 the 3rd marquess of Hertford, with whom he had long been associated, made a seat at Orford available to him.4 No record of their arrangement survives, but it is clear from Hertford’s subsequent correspondence with John Croker* that Dick, who clung to his independence and rarely spoke in debate, was free to vote as he wished and had paid to sit accordingly, either at the outset or in November 1827, when, in consultation with Hertford, he ‘put in’ his younger brother Hugh (for whom he deputized during the by-election) for a vacancy at Maldon and retained his Orford seat for the remainder of that Parliament.5

He voted against Catholic relief, 6 Mar., and for the duke of Clarence’s annuity bill, 16 Mar., but in the minority for inquiry into chancery delays, 5 Apr. 1827. He was fortunate to survive a shooting incident at Hertford’s Sudbourne estate in January 1828, when his faulty gun discharged, wounding his Orford colleague Sir Henry Frederick Cooke and two boys.6 He presented a favourable petition, 21 Feb., but neither spoke nor voted on Test Act repeal, 26 Feb. 1828. He was by then increasingly preoccupied with the Maldon charter bill, which he introduced, 24 Apr., but had to withdraw in the face of strong petitioning and objections from local Members familiar with the borough and the bill’s ‘history’. He voted against Catholic claims, 12 May, and against the Wellington ministry for ordnance reductions, 4 July 1828. He demonstrated his independence by voting with Hugh against Catholic emancipation in 1829 (6, 18, 23, 27, 30 Mar.), when Hertford supported it on grounds of political expediency.7 Aligning with the Ultras (although he was not so listed by their Commons leader Sir Richard Vyvyan in October 1829), he voted for Knatchbull’s amendment criticizing the failure of the 1830 address to notice distress, 4 Feb., against enfranchising Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester, 23 Feb., and with the revived Whig opposition to abolish the Bathurst and Dundas pensions, 26 Mar., reduce ordnance salaries, 29 Mar., get rid of the Irish lord lieutenancy, 11 May, repeal the coal duties, 13 May, and for returns of privy councillors’ emoluments, 14 May. He voted against Jewish emancipation, 5 Apr. He voted to delay licensing for on-consumption under the sale of beer bill, 1 July, and against increasing the recognizances stipulated in the libel law amendment bill, 9 July 1830. He came in unopposed for Maldon at the general election that month, but his success was marred by news of Hugh’s sudden death.8

The ministry classified him as one of the ‘violent Ultras’ and he divided against them when they were brought down on the civil list, 15 Nov. 1830. He presented a Maldon anti-slavery petition, 20 Dec., and vainly tried to have one from Sir Harcourt Lees for repeal of the Act of Abjuration printed, 21, 23 Dec., but lost the division on the latter day, when he was a minority teller, by 45-4. He made minor interventions on the management of the vacancy occasioned by the appointment of a new clerk of the ordnance, 23 Dec., and on a master in chancery’s mode of contact with both Houses, 23 Dec., and criticized the O’Gorman Mahon for failing to attend when Hume ordered ‘returns relating to the office of the recorder of Dublin’, 23 Dec. 1830. He voted against the second reading of the Grey ministry’s reform bill, which proposed making Maldon a single Member constituency, 22 Mar., and for Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr. 1831. His return at the ensuing general election was unopposed.9 He paired against the reintroduced reform bill at its second reading, 6 July 1831, and voted against taking a Member from Chippenham, 27 July. Defending Maldon’s right to double representation (it retained two seats under the final bill) and his local role in electioneering, 29 July, he described himself as a ‘sincere well-wisher to my country’, expressed regret that ‘ministers have not proposed some temperate and reasonable system of parliamentary reform instead of the present sweeping and revolutionary plan’ and, omitting the ‘1,308 labourers and mechanics’ he had previously mentioned, rose to a challenge from Sir Francis Vincent and defined himself as the representative of ‘223 magistrates, clergy and gentry and 1,508 farmers and tradesmen’. He voted to perpetuate the franchise of current freemen for life, 30 Aug., against a government amendment granting that right to non-resident freeholders in the hundreds of Aylesbury, Cricklade, East Retford and New Shoreham, 2 Sept., and against the bill’s passage, 21 Sept. He voted against issuing the Liverpool writ, 5 Sept. 1831, and for the disfranchisement bill, 23 May 1832. In November 1831 Edward Littleton* described Dick as ‘a rich stingy alarmist’ with a current liking for inviting other anti-reformers to dine at his table:

A bachelor of 45, with £25,000 a year ... amorous of Miss Jervis, Lord St. Vincent’s daughter ... a pretty little girl, just 18, full of life and fun ... She opened all Dick’s drawers, read his letters, asked the servants what pictures there were in the frames behind the green curtains, and turned the room topsy turvey.10

He voted against the revised reform bill at its second reading, 17 Dec. 1831, and against restricting certain borough polls to a single day, 15 Feb., the enfranchisement of Tower Hamlets, 28 Feb., and the third reading, 22 Mar. 1832. His support on 7 Feb. for Barrett Lennard’s unsuccessful bid to add ‘freedom by marriage with the daughter of a freeman’ to the categories recognized under the bill caused The Times to repeat its claim that Dick, the ‘ladies’ favourite’, had boosted his 1826 vote by financing arranged marriages in Maldon. (The issue would again haunt his 1848 canvass at Aylesbury, where he was denounced as ‘a man whose grandest achievement during a long public life was the manufacture of a few starched husbands for a few despairing old maids’.)11 He divided against the second reading of the Irish reform bill, 25 May. He voted against government on the Russian-Dutch loan, 26 Jan., 12 July 1832.

Aligning with the West Indian spokesman William Burge and the opposition radicals, Dick voted in small minorities to reduce public salaries to 1797 levels, 30 June, to halve the grant to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospels in the colonies, 25 July, and against compensating Lecesne and Escoffery for their removal from Jamaica, 21 Aug. 1831. He voted for inquiry into the feasibility of renewing the Sugar Refining Act without damaging West Indian interests, 12 Sept., but it is unclear whether he was acting in defence of the planters, to oppose ministers or as the ‘enemy to slavery’ which he purported to be during his canvass at the 1832 general election. (He subsequently complained that the abolition bills were ‘not gradual enough’ to warrant his support.)12 He voted against the Maynooth grant, 26 Sept., and expenditure on Windsor Castle and Buckingham House, 28 Sept. 1831. In June 1832 he was listed among the Irish Members prepared to join the ‘Conservative Society in a body’.13

Dick’s investment in Maldon, which he contested on ten occasions between 1826 and 1854, reputedly cost him nearly £30,000 and exposed him in 1853 to the scrutiny of an election inquiry. Defeated there in 1847, 1852 and 1854, he sat for Aylesbury as a Protectionist, 1848-52.14 He died at his Curzon Street home in March 1858, recalled as an ardent Protestant and Young Englander, the inspiration for the millionaire Ormsby in Benjamin Disraeli’s† Coningsby.15 He left an estimated £2-3,000,000 in land, stocks and cash, and at probate his personal estate was valued at under £600,000 in Ireland, 12 June, and £200,000 in England, 21 July 1858. His will, dated 30 Aug. 1844, settled estates, which included a life tenancy of £100,000 a year, on his sister Charlotte Anne and her male issue, who were required to take the name Dick. They passed in 1864 to Charlotte Anne’s son William Wentworth Fitzwilliam Hume, afterwards Dick (1805-92), Member for County Wicklow, 1852-80.16

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: Margaret Escott


  • 1. HP Commons, 1790-1820, iii. 593-4; M.W. Malcolmson, John Foster: Politics of Anglo-Irish Ascendancy, 198; Colchester Diary, ii. 182; Harriette Wilson Mems. ed. J. Laver, 238-9, 254-5, 257.
  • 2. Countess Granville Letters, i. 167.
  • 3. G. Caunt, Essex in Parl. 66; Baring Jnls. i. 48; The Times, 17, 27 May, 27, 30 June; Ipswich Jnl. 20 May, 17 June; Suff. Chron. 17 June 1826.
  • 4. Add. 60287, ff. 248, 250, 337; Derbys. RO, Gresley of Drakelow mss 22, Benbow to Sir R. Gresley [Nov.]; Colchester Gazette, 24 Nov., 8 Dec. 1827.
  • 5. Add. 60287, f. 337; 60288, f. 116.
  • 6. Add. 60288, f. 10.
  • 7. Ibid. f. 116
  • 8. Add. 40401, f. 193; Colchester Gazette, 7, 25 Aug. 1830.
  • 9. Suff. Chron. 30 Apr. 1831.
  • 10. Hatherton diary, 20, 24 Nov. 1831.
  • 11. Caunt, 66; The Times, 26 June 1826, 8 Feb. 1832; Bucks. Advertiser, 25 Mar., 1 Apr. 1848.
  • 12. Essex Gazette, 17 Nov., 15 Dec.; The Times, 11 Dec. 1832; Colchester and Chelmsford Gazette, 29 July 1837.
  • 13. NLI, Farnham mss 118611 (3), Lefroy to Farnham, 4 June 1832.
  • 14. E. Dilliway, ‘Maldon Elections a Hundred Years Ago’, Essex Rev. li. (1942), 189-93; Caunt, 66-67; The Times, 11 Dec. 1832, 7, 8, 10 Jan. 1835, 17 July 1837, 3 July 1841, 12, 28, 31 July, 2 Aug. 1847, 29 Mar. 1848, 10 July 1852, 17 Aug. 1854; Essex, Herts. and Kent Mercury, 29 June, 6 July 1841; Essex Herald, 3 Aug.; Essex Standard, 30 July, 6 Aug. 1847, 9 July 1852, 2, 11, 18 Aug. 1854.
  • 15. Dublin Evening Mail, 29 Mar.; Gent. Mag. (1858), i. 559.
  • 16. IR26/2125/481.