HALSE, James (1769-1838), of St. Ives, Cornw. and 25 Half Moon Street, Mdx.

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



1826 - 1830
1831 - 14 May 1838

Family and Education

bap. 28 Jan. 1769,1 s. of John Halse and w. Johanna. m. 14 Apr. 1800, Mary, da. of Thomas Hichens of St. Ives, s.p. d. 14 May 1838.

Offices Held

Lt.-col. commdt. St. Ives vols. 1803.


Halse, who was apparently descended from a ‘historian of Cornwall of the same name’, settled in St. Ives around 1790, established himself as an attorney and became town clerk and an alderman. He was also ‘one of the most enterprising and successful adventurers in mines’ of his day, and he ‘derived a large part of his substantial fortune’ from the Wheal Reeth tin mine, which he had reopened. His other main venture was the St. Ives Consols tin mine, which he opened in 1818 and used to build an electoral interest by creating the village of Halsetown, within the borough boundary, to accommodate his workers.2 He had for some years been the champion of the ‘independent’ interest and at the general election of 1820 he returned both Members, but his bitter rival, Sir Christopher Hawkins of Trewithen, retaliated by harassing him and his supporters with a ‘constant succession of prosecutions’; Halse was acquitted of bribery charges in 1821. At the general election of 1826 he was returned in second place behind Hawkins, after another bitter contest.3

He was a silent Member whose occasional votes exhibited independent Tory leanings. He divided against Catholic relief, 6 Mar., and for the spring guns bill, 23 Mar. 1827. He was granted six weeks’ leave for urgent business, ‘having served on an election committee’, 30 Mar. He voted against Canning’s ministry for the separation of bankruptcy jurisdiction from chancery, 22 May, but with them for the grant to improve water communications in Canada, 12 June 1827. He divided for repeal of the Test Acts, 26 Feb., but against Catholic relief, 12 May 1828. He voted with the duke of Wellington’s ministry against abolition of the office of lieutenant-general of the ordnance, 4 July, but divided for the corporate funds bill, 10 July 1828. In February 1829 Planta, the patronage secretary, correctly predicted that he would side ‘with government’ for Catholic emancipation. He voted accordingly, 6 Mar., but was in the largely Whig minority for allowing Daniel O’Connell to take his seat without swearing the oath of supremacy, 18 May 1829. He divided against Jewish emancipation, 17 May 1830. He was presumably the ‘James Hulse’ who voted for the grant for South American missions and against abolition of the death penalty for forgery, 7 June 1830. At the general election that summer he was defeated at St. Ives by the new interest established by Wellington’s nephew, William Pole Long Wellesley*.4

By the time of the 1831 general election Halse had reasserted his position and he was returned unopposed in conjunction with the reformer Edward Bulwer Lytton.5 He divided for the second reading of the Grey ministry’s reintroduced reform bill, 6 July, the inclusion of Gateshead in schedule D, 5 Aug., and the proposed division of counties, 11 Aug. 1831. However, he voted for counsel to be heard on Appleby’s case against disfranchisement, 12 July, and the disfranchisement of Saltash, 26 July. It is not certain whether he divided against the bill’s passage, 21 Sept., or was absent. He presented a St. Ives petition for repeal of the stamp duty on marine insurance policies, 11 Aug. He voted with ministers to punish only those guilty of bribery in the Dublin election, 23 Aug., but divided against the Maynooth grant, 26 Sept. He was allowed a month’s leave for urgent business, 5 Oct. He was absent from the division on the second reading of the revised reform bill, 17 Dec. 1831, but voted against the enfranchisement of Tower Hamlets, 28 Feb. 1832.6 He was absent from the divisions on the third reading of the bill, 22 Mar., and Lord Ebrington’s motion for an address asking the king to appoint only ministers committed to carrying an unimpaired measure, 10 May. He divided against the second reading of the Irish bill, 25 May. He voted against ministers for immediate consideration of the abolition of slavery, 24 May, permanent provision for the Irish poor by a tax on absentees, 19 June, and on the Russian-Dutch loan, 12 July 1832.

At the general election of 1832 Halse was returned for St. Ives, now a single Member borough, as a ‘reformer’. He sat until his death in May 1838, by which time he was a ‘Conservative’.7 He left the residue of his estate to his nephew, Edwin Ley, the recorder of St. Ives; his personalty was sworn under £70,000.8

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: Terry Jenkins


  • 1. IGI (Cornw.)
  • 2. 2 Dod’s Parl. Companion (1838), 118; Gent. Mag. (1838), ii. 214; Parochial Hist. Cornw. ii. 260, 271; D. Barton, Hist. Tin Mining in Cornw. 66; C. Noall, St. Ives Mining District, i. 64-66.
  • 3. West Briton, 17 Mar. 1820, 6 Apr. 1821; The Times, 15, 16 June 1826.
  • 4. West Briton, 13 Aug. 1830.
  • 5. R. Cornw. Gazette, 26 Mar., 7 May 1831.
  • 6. The Times, 29 Feb. 1832.
  • 7. Dod (1833), 120; (1838), 118.
  • 8. PROB 11/1900/594; IR26/1487/533.