KING, Edward Bolton (1801-1878), of Umberslade Hall, Tanworth-in-Arden, Warws.
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Family and Education
b. 15 July 1801, 1st s. of Edward King of Croston, Lancs. and 2nd w. Dorothea, da. of John Myers of Preston, Lancs. educ. Eton;1 Corpus, Oxf. 1819; L. Inn 1821; continental tour 1823-4. m. (1) 7 Feb. 1828, Georgiana (d. 6 May 1858), da. of Robert Knight*, 1s. 6da.; (2) 19 July 1859, Louisa, da. of Rev. Charles Palmer of Lighthorne, Warws., 1s. 2da. suc. gt.-uncle Edward Bolton of Askham, Westmld. 1803; fa. 1824. d. 26 Mar. 1878.
Sheriff, Warws. 1830-1.
Capt. Warws. yeoman cav. 1827, 2nd troop 1831, maj. 1845, lt.-col. 1848, ret. 1876.
Bolton King (as he was known) was the scion of a northern family of distinguished Whig churchmen and lawyers. He was a paternal nephew of James King (1750-84), the circumnavigator, Walker King (1755-1827), private secretary to Lord Rockingham as prime minister and the bishop of Rochester, and John King (1759-1830) who, as the Grenville ministry’s patronage secretary in 1806, sat briefly for Enniskillen; but it was to his maternal great-uncle, the lawyer Edward Bolton of Askham (1734-1803), that he owed his name and the bulk of his fortune. His trustees, whom John King prosecuted in chancery on his behalf in 1818 for alleged mismanagement, had liquidated the Bolton estates for £125,699, which he invested in consols.2 Raised in Lancashire, where his father, a bencher of Gray’s Inn, was vice-chancellor of the duchy and the family lived successively at Croston, Askham Hall and Carr Hill House, Kirkham, Bolton King inherited the latter by his father’s death in December 1824.3 He did not, as intended, practice law but pursued the life of a country gentleman, initially at Kirkham, where he kept ‘a fine pack [of harrier hounds] showing great breed and power’, and subsequently at the former Archer estate of Umberslade Hall, ten miles north of Warwick, which, having disposed of his Kirkham property, he purchased for £76,000 in 1826.4 His marriage in February 1828 to Georgiana Knight, daughter of the Member for Wallingford, term as sheriff, and captaincy in the county Member Francis Lawley’s cavalry troop enhanced his standing in Warwickshire, where, at the county meeting of 4 Apr. 1831 he seconded the resolution thanking the Grey ministry for redeeming their promise to legislate for reform.5 Two days later he publicized his candidature for Warwick, which his father-in-law had contested in 1792, and where a campaign to oust the anti-reformer and ‘Warwick Castle Member’ Sir Charles Greville was under way. After a fierce contest, he was returned at the general election in May with the sitting independent John Tomes, as a reformer and committed advocate of retrenchment.6
In his maiden speech, 1 July 1831, Bolton King, whose readiness to air his views earned him the nick-name ‘Bellows’,7 vainly opposed the chancellor Lord Althorp’s decision to introduce a tariff on certain cottons, which he claimed (from Lancashire evidence) would assist foreign competitors already boosted by the export of British machinery. He also made a point of praising ‘the repeal of the duty on printed cottons’ in the previous Parliament. Possibly aligning with Knight and Lawley, he divided for the reintroduced reform bill at its second reading, 6 July, and generally for its details, but against the Saltash disfranchisement that ministers no longer pressed, 26 July. Reflecting local opinion, he voted against the proposed division of counties, 11 Aug., and for the enfranchisement of £50 tenants-at-will, 18 Aug. On 30 Aug., having first raised the matter with ministers, who conceded that the ‘defect’ was genuine, he explained that constraints in the bill’s registration clause left no time for current errors to be rectified prior to registration and that, unless amended, the bill would leave many Warwick voters unfranchised. He now refused to delay or jeopardize the bill by moving an amendment and defended the ‘scot and lot’ franchise:
The rated inhabitants in the country towns, who are eventually to lose their franchise as such, are the very same class of persons who are so properly to be enfranchised in the large towns; and though many will continue to vote as £10 householders, yet as rents are in general much lower in these old boroughs than in the new ones the number of electors will be greatly diminished, and by that means you will tend to restore that nomination system we have been labouring so hard to destroy.
Travelling regularly between Warwick and London during the annual yeomanry training, he voted for the reform bill at its third reading, 19 Sept., and passage, 21 Sept., the second reading of the Scottish bill, 23 Sept., and Lord Ebrington’s confidence motion, 10 Oct.8 He was fêted at the Warwick mayor’s feast, 1 Nov., and the county meeting which protested at the reform bill’s Lords’ defeat, 8 Nov., when he was one of the main speakers.9 He divided for the revised reform bill at its second reading, 17 Dec. 1831, steadily for its details, and for the third reading, 22 Mar. 1832. He brought up the Leamington Political Union’s petition for inclusion of their town in the Warwick constituency, 28 Feb., and several calling for the withdrawal of supplies pending its enactment, 21 May. He voted for Irish reform bill at its second reading, 25 May, and against amending the Scottish bill, 1 June, but to restore the 40s. Irish freeholder franchise, 18 June 1832. He divided with government in both divisions on the Dublin election controversy, 23 Aug. 1831, the Russian-Dutch loan, 26 Jan., 12 July, Portugal, 9 Feb., and the navy civil departments bill 6 Apr. 1832; but against them on civil service expenditure, 18 July 1831, the Irish registrar’s salary, 9 Apr., and provision for the Irish poor, 19 June 1832. He also voted to make coroners’ inquests public, 20 June 1832. He presented and endorsed a numerously signed petition from Warwick Political Society for the immediate abolition of colonial slavery, 11 Oct. 1831, and voted in Fowell Buxton’s minority for a select committee to consider this, 24 May 1832.
Standing as a Liberal and staunch churchman, inclined to support the ballot, Bolton King contested Warwick successfully at the general election of 1832, when a petition against his return failed, and again in 1835.10 Following his defeat in 1837, he joined Brooks’s, 13 Mar. 1839, and tested the ground regularly in Warwick and the county before coming in for South Warwickshire for a single Parliament in 1857.11 Preferring Chadshunt, the Knight estate he had consolidated and improved, he sold Umberslade that year to the Birmingham metal manufacturer George Frederick Muntz, whose father (of that name), the Liberal Member for Birmingham, 1840-57, had been his tenant there since 1850.12 He died at Chadshunt in March 1878 and was succeeded in the entailed Knight estates by the son of his first marriage, Edward Raleigh King (1833-1900), and in his purchased estates by the son of his second marriage Bolton King (1860-1937). A specialist in Italian history, he was the defeated Liberal in Warwickshire South-West at the ‘Khaki’ by-election of 1901.13
Ref Volumes: 1820-1832
Author: Margaret Escott
King’s papers remain in private hands. The first paragraph of this biography draws on selected transcripts and a draft family history by Oliver Bolton King of High Wycombe (1953), made available to Warws. RO for filming [Bolton King mss TD 66/56], cited henceforth as King.
- 1. Not in school lists, but see The Times, 27 Mar. 1878.
- 2. IR26/425/72; King, 66-74.
- 3. PROB 8/218; 11/1694/27; Gent. Mag. (1824), ii. 645.
- 4. VCH Lancs. ii. 471; VCH Warws. v. 168; King, 79.
- 5. Gent. Mag. (1828), i. 175; H.A. Adderley, Hist. Warws. Yeomanry Cav. vii; Warwick Advertiser, 9 Apr. 1831.
- 6. Warws. RO, Moore and Tibbit mss CR 1097/330/60, 63, 98; Warwick Advertiser, 9, 30 Apr., 7 May; The Times, 12 Apr. 1831; Warws. RO, Greville of Warwick Castle mss CR 1886, box 613/11.
- 7. Dyott’s Diary, ii. 303.
- 8. Warwick Advertiser, 17, 24 Sept., 1, 15 Oct. 1831.
- 9. Ibid. 29 Oct., 5, 12 Nov.; The Times, 10 Nov. 1831.
- 10. Abstract of Commons Evidence respecting the Borough of Warwick and the Earl of Warwick (1834), 6-7; CJ, lxxxviii. 97, 385; VCH Warws. viii. 503.
- 11. Warwick Advertiser, 29 July, 5, 12, 19 Aug. 1837; D. Paterson, ‘Tory Political Influence in mid-19th Cent. Warwick’, Warws. Hist. v (1975-8), 197-207.
- 12. Shakespeare Birthplace Trust RO, Verney (Lords Willoughby de Broke) mss DR 622/43, 45-47, 61-66, 88-99, 153, 163-4, 186; VCH Warws. v. 168; G. Tyack, Country Houses of Warws. 6.
- 13. The Times, 27 Mar., 17 May 1878; VCH Warws. iii. 180, 214; v. 32, 89; J.D. Browne, ‘Stratford By-election of 1901’, Warws. Hist. v (1981-4), 15-29, 157-63.