LAMBERT, James Staunton (1789-1867), of Creg Clare, co. Galway
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Family and Educationb. 5 Mar. 1789, 1st s. of Walter Lambert of Creg Clare and 2nd w. Catherine, da. and coh. of James Staunton of Waterdale, Herts. educ. Dr. Thomas Jones’s sch. Redland, Bristol, Glos.; Trinity, Dublin 1806; King’s Inns 1809. m. 25 Sept. 1832, Hon. Camden Elizabeth Maclellan Gray, da. and h. of Camden, 10th Lord Kirkcudbright [S], 5s. (1 d.v.p.) 2da. (1 d.v.p.). suc. fa. 1822. d. 1 July 1867.
Sheriff, co. Galway 1814-15.
Lambert, whose family originated in Yorkshire, was the great-grandson of Walter Lambert, who in 1726 acquired the lease of Creg Clare, which passed to his eldest son Charles, and in 1729 purchased Aggard, the residence of his second son John and his descendants; his third (Peter) and fourth (Thomas) sons founded the Castle Ellen and Castle Lambert branches of this county Galway gentry family.1 James Lambert, whose father may have been the ‘Mr. Lambert’ admitted to Brooks’s in 1801, came briefly to prominence in Galway in 1812, when he was the only Protestant gentleman who refused to sign the county Member Richard Martin’s pro-Catholic petition.2 This seems to have been an aberration, for thereafter he was a minor figure among the liberal freeholders: for example, he was a member of the Whig Denis Bowes Daly’s† committee at the 1818 county election, chaired the meeting of independents in the borough in March 1820 and signed requisitions for county meetings to address the new lord lieutenant Lord Wellesley in February and to complain about agricultural distress in November 1822.3 He succeeded to Creg Clare on the death of his father, 21 Sept. 1822.
In the summer of 1824 Lambert was considered a potential candidate for county Galway or the town, particularly as the nominee of Lord Clanricarde, with whose family he was connected through his father’s first wife. Doubts arose about his attitude to Catholic relief, but in early October he wrote to a local newspaper to insist that he supported it and had signed many favourable petitions.4 He assisted in the promotion of the county’s pro-Catholic petition in February and attended separate meetings of its Catholics and Protestants for the same purpose in August 1825.5 He declined to attend the Catholic Association dinner on 2 Feb. 1826, but that month he again signed another favourable petition from county Galway.6 His conversion to the Catholic cause was supposed by some to be of recent date and he was attacked over this by Martin, who was reckoned to be vulnerable to him, especially as James Daly, the other sitting Tory Member, was thought to be in league with Clanricarde. Yet he promised the independents in the borough to continue to work for their interests against Daly, the patron of the corporation, and seconded the resolution to this effect at their meeting, 24 May.7 He duly offered at the general election that summer, when he defended himself from Martin’s aspersions on the hustings but was eventually pushed narrowly into third place by him after a desperate contest, during which his brother Thomas accidentally shot dead a rioter. He blamed his defeat on the intimidation used against his voters and the desertion of the key interest belonging to Arthur St. George, with whom he quarrelled, and he missed the Protestants’ pro-Catholic county meeting, 4 Sept.8 His petition was lodged in December 1826, and, despite last ditch opposition, he was seated in place of Martin the following April.
Lambert, who hardly spoke in the House except to bring up petitions, sided with the Canning ministry against the disfranchisement of Penryn, 28 May, and for the grant for water communications in Canada, 12 June 1827. He attended the meeting of the Catholics of county Galway, 19 Aug. 1827, and voted for repeal of the Test Acts, 26 Feb., and Catholic relief, 12 May 1828. He paired for Fyler’s motion to repeal the Act prohibiting the use of ribbons at elections, 20 Mar. He voted against the Wellington administration for various economies, 20 June, 4, 7 July, and inquiry into the Irish church, 24 June, and against the additional churches bill, 30 June, and the corporate funds bill, 10 July. He approved the formation of a liberal club in Galway town that autumn, when he signed the Irish Protestants’ declaration in favour of Catholic claims.9 As chairman of the Connaught provincial meeting of the friends of civil and religious liberty, he stated that he had supported Canning but opposed the Wellington administration because of its hostility to the Catholics, 8 Oct. 1828, and he was active in promoting the county’s address to the recalled lord lieutenant, Lord Anglesey, in January 1829.10 He voted for emancipation, 6, 30 Mar., and presented and endorsed the favourable petition from Tuam on the grounds that it would secure ‘the peace and prosperity of Ireland’, 18 Mar., but he divided against the second reading of the related franchise measure, 19 Mar. He was in minorities for allowing Daniel O’Connell to take his seat unimpeded, 18 May, and against the grant for the marble arch, 25 May 1829.
Lambert chaired the Galway independents’ meeting for extending the franchise of the town to Catholics, 30 Aug. 1829, and spoke for this in the House, 4 Mar. 1830.11 He voted for parliamentary reform, 18 Feb., 28 May, the enfranchisement of Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester, 23 Feb., and (as in the previous two sessions) to transfer East Retford’s seats to Birmingham, 5, 15 Mar. He divided for information on Portugal, 10 Mar., and Labouchere’s motion on Canada, 25 May. He paired for inquiry into distress, 23 Mar., and voted steadily in the opposition’s revived campaign for economies and tax reductions that year. He divided for Jewish emancipation, 5 Apr., 17 May. He voted for alteration of the Irish vestry laws, 27 Apr., and abolition of the Irish lord lieutenancy, 11 May, and joined in the Irish Members’ agitation against the increased stamp and spirit duties towards the end of the session. He signed the requisition for a county Galway meeting on this in June 1830, when his parliamentary duties, including those relating to the Galway franchise bill, kept him in London.12 He offered on the basis of his past conduct at the general election that year, when he received O’Connell’s endorsement and may have been the ‘James Lambert’ who voted for the defeated independent Valentine Blake† in the Galway borough contest. On the hustings, where he accepted all the pledges put to the candidates, he stressed his opposition to ministers’ inadequate reductions and advocated parliamentary reform, but insisted that he was of no party. He led throughout the ensuing contest and was returned ahead of Clanricarde’s uncle Sir John Burke, with whom he was thought to be in collusion; he survived a petition.13 He signed the resolutions establishing the county’s Election Club that autumn.14
Lambert voted for O’Connell’s motion to repeal the Irish Subletting Act, 11 Nov., and Parnell’s for reducing the duty on wheat imported to the West Indies, 12 Nov., and he commented on the Galway town election petition, 6 Dec. 1830. Having been listed by ministers among their ‘foes’, he divided in the majority against them on the civil list, 15 Nov. 1830. He signed requisitions for (but did not attend) county Galway reform meetings in January and April 1831.15 He voted for the second reading of the Grey ministry’s reform bill, 22 Mar., and against Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr. Blaming the need for the ensuing dissolution on the ‘machinations of a factious oligarchy’, he stood again and was returned unopposed with Burke as a reformer at the general election that spring, when he seconded the successful liberal candidate John James Bodkin in Galway borough.16 He voted for the second reading of the reintroduced reform bill, 6 July, at least twice against adjourning proceedings on it, 12 July, and steadily for its details, though he voted against the division of counties, 11 Aug. He was in minorities against two grants, 18, 25 July, and for printing the Waterford petition for disarming the Irish yeomanry, 11 Aug. He sided with ministers for prosecuting those guilty of bribery at the Dublin election, 23 Aug., but apparently did not vote in the division on censuring the Irish government over this that day. He divided for the passage of the reform bill, 21 Sept., and Lord Ebrington’s confidence motion, 10 Oct. 1831.
Lambert, of whom one radical publication noted that he ‘votes well’, left the House before the division on the second reading of the revised bill, 17 Dec. 1831.17 He explained to his constituents that month that he had done so because of the predominance of manufacturing over agricultural seats and the granting to town freeholders (of counties of towns) the right to vote in the surrounding county, as well as the inadequate number of additional Irish seats; it was also thought to mark his disapproval of the Irish government.18 However, he voted to go into committee on the bill, 20 Jan., again usually for its details and for the third reading, 22 Mar. 1832. He divided against government on the Russian-Dutch loan, 26 Jan., for inquiry into Peterloo, 15 Mar., to recommit the Irish registrar of deeds bill, 9 Apr., to abolish colonial slavery, 24 May, and reduce the barracks grant, 2 July. He voted for printing the Woollen Grange petition for the abolition of Irish tithes, 16 Feb., Brownlow’s motion to adjourn the debate on this until the completion of the select committee’s deliberations, 8 Mar., amendments to the ministerial resolutions, 27, 30 Mar., and to postpone the subject to the next session, 13 July. He divided for Ebrington’s motion for an address calling on the king to appoint only ministers who would carry reform unimpaired, 10 May, and the second reading of the Irish bill, 25 May, but for O’Connell’s amendment to enfranchise £5 freeholders, 18 June. He was overshadowed by his much more active and advanced Whig namesake Henry Lambert, Member for Wexford, with whom he may sometimes have been confused in the parliamentary reports, but he was appointed to the select committee on the recent Irish outrages, 31 May, and it was probably he who vindicated the 40s. freeholders of Galway borough as ‘a most industrious, respectable and hard working class of persons’, 29 June 1832.
Pleading ill health brought on by his laborious parliamentary duties, Lambert, who married the heiress of a recently deceased Scottish peer that autumn, retired at the dissolution in 1832.19 He proposed the Liberal Martin Joseph Blake† for Galway borough at the general election of 1835, but at that of 1841, when he produced a written protest against the return of Valentine Blake, his family affairs were bandied about in a disgraceful fashion and he was forced to flee the hooting mob by escaping through a back door of the court house.20 He proposed the Conservative Christopher St. George† for the county at the general election of 1847, and another, Robert Daly, in 1852, when he was shouted down.21 He sold Creg Clare to Lord Clanmorris for £19,000 in about 1855 and presumably thereafter settled at Waterdale, the Hertfordshire estate which he had inherited from his mother’s family, the Stauntons, three of whom had represented Galway borough in the Irish Parliament.22 He died at his then residence in Budleigh Salterton, Devon in July 1867, leaving six surviving children, of whom the eldest, Captain Walter Maclellan (b. 1833), had retired from the 41st Foot in 1860.23
Ref Volumes: 1820-1832
Author: Stephen Farrell
- 1. J. Fahey, Hist. and Antiquities of Diocese of Kilmacduagh, 317-19; Lamberts of Athenry ed. F. O’Regan, 41.
- 2. S. Lynam, Humanity Dick, 160, 243.
- 3. J. Kelly, ‘Politics of "Protestant Ascendancy": Co. Galway’, Galway Hist. and Soc. ed. G. Moran and R. Gillespie, 261; Dublin Evening Post, 28 Mar. 1820, 16 Feb.; Dublin Weekly Reg. 16 Nov. 1822.
- 4. Connaught Jnl. 20 May, 17, 24 June, 9 Aug., 7 Oct.; Dublin Evening Post, 9, 25 Sept. 1824.
- 5. Connaught Jnl. 10 Feb., 28 Mar., 8, 11, 18 Aug. 1825.
- 6. Ibid. 20 Feb. 1826; O’Connell Corresp. iii. 1278.
- 7. Connaught Jnl. 15, 20 Apr., 1, 25 May 1826.
- 8. Ibid. 12, 22 June, 3, 6, 10, 13, 17 July, 17 Aug., 4 Sept. 1826.
- 9. Ibid. 29 Sept.; Dublin Evening Mail, 8 Oct. 1828.
- 10. Dublin Evening Post, 14 Oct. 1828; Connaught Jnl. 26 Jan. 1829.
- 11. Connaught Jnl. 31 Aug. 1829.
- 12. Ibid. 10 May, 14, 17, 21 June 1830.
- 13. Ibid. 12, 19 July, 12, 16, 19, 23 Aug. 1830.
- 14. Ibid. 30 Sept., 4 Oct. 1830.
- 15. Ibid. 20, 24, 27 Jan., 31 Mar., 4, 7 Apr. 1831.
- 16. Ibid. 2, 9, 12 May 1831.
- 17. [W. Carpenter], People’s Bk. (1831), 311.
- 18. Connaught Jnl. 22, 29 Dec. 1831.
- 19. Ibid. 6 Aug. 1832.
- 20. Ibid. 22 Jan. 1835, 10 July 1841.
- 21. Galway Vindicator, 11 Aug. 1847, 24 July 1852.
- 22. Fahey, 319; P.G. Lane, ‘Encumbered Estates Court and Galway Land Ownership’, Galway Hist. and Soc. 409; Hist. Irish Parl. vi. 325-8.
- 23. Galway Vindicator, 3 July 1867; Gent. Mag. (1867), ii. 259.