MARCH PHILLIPPS, Charles (1779-1862), of Garendon Park, nr. Loughborough, Leics.
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Family and Education
b. 28 May 1779, 1st. s. of Thomas March Phillipps (formerly March) of More Critchell, Dorset and his cos. Susan, da. of Charles Lisle of Moyles Court, Hants. educ. Dorchester; Sherborne until 1791; Eton 1793-6; Sidney Sussex, Camb. 1800. m. 14 Dec. 1807, Harriet, da. of John Gustavus Ducarel of Walford, Som., 2s. 1da. d.v.p. suc. fa. 1817. d. 24 Apr. 1862.
Capt. Leics. yeomanry 1803-7; sheriff, Leics. 1825-6.
March Phillipps, who had inherited a lucrative Leicestershire estate from his father, had secured the county seat in contentious circumstances in 1818 and, although he never joined Brooks’s Club, had acted with the Whig opposition to the Liverpool ministry in that Parliament.1 At the dissolution in 1820 he stood down in the face of a Tory backlash and restoration of the coalition which he had broken in 1818, and he declined an invitation to stand for Nottinghamshire.2 He spent some time in Paris and Rome and in the autumn of 1828 went back to Italy, where he stayed until the following year.3 At the 1830 general election he supported the unsuccessful attempt of the reformer Thomas Paget* to overturn the Rutland interest in Leicestershire, and he was toasted at a dinner of independent freeholders in November.4 At the county meeting called to express support for the Grey ministry’s reform scheme, 29 Mar. 1831, he said that
he felt confident that the ... measure ... would ... give great satisfaction, while its rejection would be received with disapprobation from one end of the kingdom to the other. A preceding speaker had an objection to the measure, and so had he; but on the whole he considered it ... well calculated to steer clear of the two extremes of high monarchical principles ... and of republican principles.5
At the general election precipitated by the bill’s defeat he stood for the county with Paget. After their unopposed return, he declared:
I shall not attempt to amuse and at the same time deceive you with a long tissue of sentimental declamation. I cannot promise that any effort of mine can feed the hungry, and also clothe the naked ... but I ... promise ... to assist in removing every burden of taxation that impedes the free action of the springs of national industry, that I will adopt all the means proposed for invigorating the productive energies of the nation, and for unfettering the commercial policy of the government.
He reiterated his support for the reform proposals, with some reservations as to details, but warned his audience not to expect instant ‘miracles’ from it. He declined a subsequent invitation to attend a celebratory dinner.6
March Phillipps, who is not known to have spoken in debate in this period, divided for the second reading of the reintroduced reform bill, 6 July 1831. He gave steady general support to its details, but cast wayward votes for the disfranchisement of Saltash, 26 July, to give Stoke-on-Trent two Members, 4 Aug., against the proposed division of English counties, 11 Aug., to preserve the voting rights of freemen, 30 Aug., and to disfranchise Aldborough, 14 Sept. He voted for the passage of the bill, 21 Sept., was granted three weeks’ leave on account of a family illness, 23 Sept., but was present to divide for Lord Ebrington’s motion of confidence in the government, 10 Oct. He was in the two ministerial majorities on the Dublin election controversy, 23 Aug. He incurred some criticism from the pro-reform press by attending Leicester corporation’s annual feast, 17 Nov. 1831, when he deplored a recent disturbance at Loughborough and expressed disapproval of the political unions:
He was satisfied that unanimity, both in religion and government, was unattainable; but he would assert that by concord the most important measures were always carried into effect, whilst by discord every blessing was inevitably lost ... Public opinion, and not popular clamour, must ever be considered as the rule and measure of government.7
He voted for the second reading of the revised reform bill, 17 Dec. 1831, consistently supported its detailed provisions and voted for the third reading, 22 Mar. 1832. He divided with government on the Russia-Dutch loan, 26 Jan., and relations with Portugal, 9 Feb., but was in Hunt’s minority of 31 for inquiry into the Peterloo massacre, 15 Mar. He presented petitions against the Leicester poor bill, 15 Feb. He voted for the address asking the king to appoint only ministers who would carry undiluted reform, 10 May, and on 17 May presented a Loughborough petition for supplies to be withheld until reform was secured. He was in the minority against the government’s temporizing amendment to Fowell Buxton’s motion for the immediate abolition of slavery, 24 May. He divided for the second reading of the Irish reform bill, 25 May, but voted for an amendment to enfranchise £5 freeholders, 18 June. He sided with government against Conservative amendments to the Scottish reform bill, 1, 15 June. He was in the minority of 29 against Baring’s bill to exclude insolvent debtors from Parliament, 6 June, and paired in defence of the Russian-Dutch loan arrangement, 12, 16 July 1832, having been given three weeks leave for urgent private business on the 6th.
March Phillipps sat for Leicestershire North as a Liberal in the 1832 and 1835 Parliaments. His elder son, Ambrose Lisle March Phillipps (1809-78), claimed that ‘few men possessed a larger measure of political sagacity’ or were capable of ‘a more accurate calculation of political probabilities’; but his parliamentary career was unremarkable. Steady accumulation of landed property made him one of the ‘wealthiest commoners’ in England. Ambrose’s conversion to Catholicism in 1825 was a ‘heavy aggravation’ to his ‘other sorrows’, but he devised his estates to him.8 He died at Great Malvern, Worcestershire in March 1862. Ambrose, who was characterized by Disraeli as Eustace Lyle in Coningsby, took the additional name of Lisle in 1863.
Ref Volumes: 1820-1832
Author: Simon Harratt
- 1. HP Commons, 1790-1820, ii. 241; iv. 545.
- 2. Althorp Letters, 101, 102; Leicester Chron. 12, 26 Feb.; Nottingham Rev. 3 Mar. 1820.
- 3. E.S. Purcell, Life and Letters of Ambrose Phillipps de Lisle, i. 5, 12, 36.
- 4. Leicester Jnl. 27 Aug.; Leicester Chron. 27 Nov. 1830.
- 5. Leicester Chron. 2 Apr. 1831.
- 6. Ibid. 7, 14, 21, 28 May 1831.
- 7. Leicester Jnl. 18 Nov.; Leicester Chron. 19 Nov. 1831.
- 8. Purcell, i. 13; ii. 295, 343; Gent. Mag. (1862), i. 788.