MUSGRAVE, Sir Richard, 3rd bt. (1790-1859), of Tourin, nr. Cappoquin, co. Waterford

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



1831 - 1832
1835 - 1837

Family and Education

b. 6 Jan. 1790, 1st s. of Sir Christopher Frederick Musgrave, 2nd bt., of Tourin and Jane, da. of John Beere of Ballyboy, co. Tipperary. educ. Trinity, Dublin 1807. m. 29 July 1815, Frances, da. of William Newcome, abp. of Armagh, 5s. suc fa. as 3rd bt. Sept. 1826. d. 7 July 1859.

Offices Held


Musgrave’s uncle and namesake, a collector of excise for the port of Dublin and the author of an anti-Catholic History of the Irish Rebellion of 1798, had sat for Lismore in the Irish Parliament, 1778-1800. On his death in 1818 his Irish estates and baronetcy had passed to his younger brother, Musgrave’s father, whom Musgrave succeeded in 1826.1 Richard Sheil* observed that Musgrave, who had joined the Catholic Association in 1826, was ‘in every political respect’ the ‘exact opposite’ of his celebrated uncle:

He is a man of views as enlightened as his manners are bland ... who possesses an understanding as clear and vigorous as his purpose is pure and sound. He is beloved by the people, respected by the gentry, the model of a country gentleman, a kind neighbour ... and ... an ‘honest man!’2

At the 1826 general election Musgrave assisted Thomas Wyse* and other Association activists in their campaign to oust Lord George Thomas Beresford from county Waterford and on the hustings proposed his successful opponent, Henry Villiers Stuart.3 He became the first president of the County Waterford Liberal Club in August 1828, was unable to preside at a grand dinner for Wyse that November owing to the death of his infant daughter and at the end of the year signed the Protestant declaration in support of Catholic emancipation.4 On 24 Jan. 1829 he ‘spoke at considerable length of his conviction that ... emancipation must be speedily conceded’ and would bring ‘peace and independence’ at a county meeting in support of Lord Anglesey, the recalled Irish viceroy.5 Following Villiers Stuart’s vacation of his seat that June, he was solicited to stand against Beresford by the Liberals, or independents as they were now known, but declined.6 He assisted Daniel O’Connell’s* candidacy for the county in the 1830 general election and ‘promised to propose him’, although in the event he was not required to perform this role.7 On 6 Apr. 1831 he chaired a county meeting in support of O’Connell’s re-election and the Grey ministry’s reform bill, which he believed would ‘afford the country the best remedy against revolution’. ‘You have the Musgraves with you and no man dare oppose their wishes in this county’, an informant advised O’Connell that day.8 At the dissolution Musgrave tentatively stepped forward as O’Connell’s replacement following his decision to stand elsewhere, only to withdraw ‘in consequence of the disunion’ created by the appearance of a third reform candidate. A ‘fine hubbub among the reformers’ ensued, following which he was ‘selected’ at a meeting and persuaded to offer again in a cleared field. At the nomination he promised to ‘assist in defeating those who have always been hostile to the liberties of the people’ and announced that once reform had passed, ‘I shall consider myself at liberty to resign’. He was returned unopposed.9

Musgrave voted for the second reading of the reintroduced English reform bill, 6 July, at least twice against the adjournment, 12 July, and gave steady support to its details, though he was in the minorities for the disfranchisement of Saltash, 26 July, and against the division of English counties, 11 Aug. 1831. He divided for the bill’s third reading, 19 Sept., its passage, 21 Sept., for the second reading of the Scottish bill, 23 Sept., and Lord Ebrington’s confidence motion, 10 Oct. In his maiden speech he condemned the grant to the Kildare Place Society, alleging that their agents made ‘Catholic children read the Bible’, 15 July. He presented constituency petitions in similar terms, 20 July, 12, 15 Aug., and one for repeal of the Irish Vestry Acts, 22 July. He voted for a reduction of civil list pensions, 18 July, and against the grant for the Society for the Propagation of the Gospels in the colonies, 25 July. On 11 Aug. he moved and was a minority teller for printing the Waterford petition for disarming the Irish yeomanry, whose ‘inhumanity’ in the Newtownbarry massacre had made their abolition ‘necessary for the peace’. He divided with ministers on the Dublin election controversy, 23 Aug. He was in the minority of 24 against the truck bill, 12 Sept. He opposed delaying the Pembrokeshire writ, explaining that the election committee on which he had served had found no evidence of bribery, 26 Sept. He denied that the Catholic clergy were opposed to ‘religious education’ and defended the grant to Maynooth College that day. He divided for inquiry into the conduct of the Hampshire magistrates during the arrest of the Deacles, 27 Sept. That month he assisted James Grattan in preparing an abortive bill for Irish poor relief.10 He presented and endorsed a constituency petition urging the Irish ordnance survey to be ‘speedily’ extended to county Waterford, 14 Dec. 1831, and was appointed to the select committee on Irish tithes next day.

Musgrave divided for the second reading of the revised English reform bill, 17 Dec. 1831, and again gave general support to its details. He voted for printing the Woollen Grange petition for the abolition of Irish tithes, 16 Feb., and brought up constituency petitions in similar terms, 1 Mar., when he warned that enforced collection would ‘lead to the most calamitous consequences’, and 13, 20 June 1832. He denounced the government’s tithes resolutions as ‘premature’, 13 Mar., and voted accordingly, 30 Mar. He defended the conduct of anti-tithes campaigners and refuted claims that their grievances were ‘generally exaggerated’, 10 Aug. He called for the Irish Subletting Act to be ‘totally repealed’ rather than modified, adding that such ‘legislative experiments’ demonstrated ‘a great ignorance of the local circumstances of Ireland’, 20 Feb. He voted for inquiry into the Peterloo massacre, 15 Mar. He divided for the third reading of the reform bill, 22 Mar., but was absent from the division on Ebrington’s motion for an address calling on the king to appoint only ministers who would carry the measure unimpaired, 10 May. He voted for the second reading of the Irish bill, 25 May, but was in the minorities for O’Connell’s motion to extend the Irish county franchise to £5 freeholders and the enfranchisement of £30 tenants on leases of 19 years, 18 June. On 13 June he protested that the Dungarvan boundary commissioners had ‘exceeded their instructions’ and restricted the boundaries ‘so as to form a nomination borough’. (Their recommendations were overturned by a select committee.) He voted against the government’s temporizing amendment on the abolition of slavery, 24 May. He divided for a tax on absentee landlords to provide permanent provision for the poor, 19 June, and for coroners’ inquests to be made public, 20 June. He was granted a month’s leave on account of family illness, 9 July 1832.

At the 1832 dissolution he retired from county Waterford. He was elected unopposed as a Liberal in 1835 and stood down in 1837. Thereafter he was active in the local repeal campaign and in 1843 publicly resigned his commission of the peace in protest at the Peel administration’s dismissal of magistrates who had attended repeal meetings. He died at Whiting Bay, county Waterford, in July 1859, and was succeeded in the baronetcy by his eldest son Richard (1820-74).11

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: Philip Salmon


  • 1. Oxford DNB; Hist. Irish Parl. v. 333-4.
  • 2. R. Sheil, Sketches, Legal and Political ed. M.W. Savage, ii. 338.
  • 3. Dublin Evening Post, 22, 27 June 1826.
  • 4. F. O’Ferrall, Catholic Emancipation, 222; Dublin Evening Post, 15 Nov. 1828.
  • 5. T. Wyse, Hist. Catholic Association, ii. p. ccxxvi; Dublin Evening Post, 31 Jan. 1829.
  • 6. PRO NI, Primate Beresford mss D3279/A/4/33, 35; Waterford Mail, 23 Sept. 1829, 24 Feb. 1830.
  • 7. O’Connell Corresp. iv. 1693; PRO NI, Pack-Beresford mss D664/A/155.
  • 8. Waterford Mail, 9 Apr. 1831; O’Connell Corresp. iv. 1796-7.
  • 9. O’Connell Corresp. iv. 1804; Waterford Mail, 7, 11, 14 May 1831.
  • 10. O’Connell Corresp. iv. 1838.
  • 11. The Times, 5 July 1843; Gent. Mag. (1859), ii. 200.