STAFFORD JERNINGHAM, Hon. Henry Valentine (1802-1884), of Costessey, Norf.; Stafford Castle, Staffs. and 16 George Street, Mdx.

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



1830 - 1834

Family and Education

b. 2 Jan. 1802, 1st s. of Sir George William Jerningham (afterwards Stafford Jerningham), 7th bt., 2nd Bar. Stafford, of Costessey and 1st w. Frances Henrietta, da. and coh. of Edward Sulyarde of Haughley Park, Suff. educ. Oscott Coll.; Magdalene, Camb. 1821. m. (1) 12 Feb. 1829, Julia Barbara (d. 19 Nov. 1856), da. of John Edward Charles Howard, s.p.; (2) 13 Sept. 1859, Emma Eliza, da. of Frederick Sewallis Gerard of Aspull House, nr. Wigan, Lancs., s.p. suc. fa. as 8th bt. and 3rd Bar. Stafford 4 Oct. 1851. d. 30 Nov. 1884.

Offices Held


Stafford Jerningham could trace his ancestry back to Hubert Gernegan, who held the knight’s fee of the Suffolk honour of Eye in 1183. The Costessey branch of the family was founded in the sixteenth century by Sir Henry Jerningham, captain of Queen Mary’s guard on the death of Edward VI, who received several grants of manors from her, including Costessey, which he made his principal residence. He and his descendants remained loyal to their Catholic faith. In June 1824 Stafford Jerningham’s father finally secured the reversal of the attainder on the barony of Stafford, which had been in place since 1680, and successfully claimed the title, 6 July 1825; he became the 2nd baron and assumed the name of Stafford before Jerningham, 5 Oct. 1826. Stafford Jerningham, who his mother remarked in 1821 ‘represents to the life the truth of Lord Normanby’s* speech for the Catholics’, and who seemed ‘desoeuvre and humble, though with talent and judgement’, undertook a tour in the summer of 1827 which included Belgrade, Budapest and Vienna.1 He married a niece of the country’s most eminent Catholic, the 12th duke of Norfolk, who sponsored his membership of Brooks’s Club, 16 May 1829. His wife’s cousin, Lord Surrey, became the first Catholic Member of the Commons after emancipation. At the general election of 1830 he offered for the open borough of Pontefract, with the encouragement of his brother-in-law Edward Petre*, and it was reported that his ‘unassuming but fascinating manners’ made him ‘an universal favourite’ there. He pledged support for ‘the total abolition of slavery, reserving to himself ... a discretion as to the right of property, but always impressing upon the legislature that measures of a too gentle kind will never entirely destroy that curse which has been all but destroyed’. He promised to be ‘a strict supporter of all means of retrenchment’, but said he would not indulge in ‘factious opposition to any government’. He was a friend of religious liberty, but ‘at the same time a decided supporter of the rights and privileges of the established church’. On being returned in second place behind a Tory, he assured his constituents that he ‘did not intend to make a coffee house of the House of Commons, but to devote much time to their interests in Parliament’. He left the next day for York, where his carriage adorned with blue ribbons (his colour at Pontefract, but that of the Tories in York) was attacked by a violent mob.2 A petition against his return from the defeated radical candidate, alleging bribery, was dismissed by the election committee, 16 Mar. 1831.

The duke of Wellington’s ministry listed him among the ‘doubtful doubtfuls’, and he voted against them in the crucial division on the civil list, 15 Nov. 1830. He presented anti-slavery petitions from Pontefract, 17 Nov., and Costessey, 16 Dec. 1830. He divided for the second reading of the Grey ministry’s reform bill, 22 Mar., and against Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr. 1831. He stood again for Pontefract at the ensuing general election, when he explained that while he felt ‘deeply indebted’ to Wellington for ‘that civil and religious liberty’ which had enabled him to enter Parliament, he had come in as ‘an independent man’ and had not hesitated to vote against the duke’s government on the civil list after the latter’s ‘famous declaration against all reform’. He was convinced that ‘the general cry for reform upon the recurrence of distress, and upon the occurrence of disturbances of a revolutionary character in other countries’, was ‘decided proof that the system here had something in it that ought to be cured’. He therefore welcomed the ‘wise, salutary and comprehensive’ reform bill, and stated that it would be his duty to ‘attend on every occasion on which that bill was brought forward, and to give it his most hearty and cordial support’. He reaffirmed his commitment to a general reduction of taxation, and praised ministers for showing that they ‘had the interests of the poor at heart’. He was returned unopposed with an anti-reformer.3 He divided for the second reading of the reintroduced reform bill, 6 July, steadily for its details, for its passage, 21 Sept., and for Lord Ebrington’s confidence motion, 10 Oct. 1831. He voted to prosecute only those guilty of bribery at the Dublin election and against the motion censuring the conduct of the Irish administration, 23 Aug. He divided for the second reading of the revised reform bill, 17 Dec. 1831, its details, the third reading, 22 Mar., and the motion for an address asking the king to appoint only ministers committed to carrying an undiluted measure, 10 May 1832. He voted for the second reading of the Irish bill, 25 May, and against the Conservative amendment for increased Scottish county representation, 1 June. In his maiden speech, 18 June, he replied to Daniel O’Connell’s attack on English Catholic Members who had voted against enfranchising Irish 40s. freeholders, denying that he was ‘indebted to those voters alone’ for securing his emancipation and declaring that ‘I cannot, even when a vote on their behalf is in question, surrender my right as a British representative of voting in that manner which, in my judgement, a comprehensive aspect of the interests of the whole empire demands’. He divided with ministers on relations with Portugal, 9 Feb., the navy civil departments bill, 6 Apr., and the Russian-Dutch loan, 12, 16, 20 July. However, he was in the minority against the government’s temporizing amendment to Fowell Buxton’s anti-slavery motion, 24 May. He voted in committee against the Sunderland Wet Docks bill, 2 Apr. 1832.

Stafford Jerningham was returned for Pontefract at the general election of 1832 and sat as a Liberal until his retirement in 1834. He was one of the prominent Catholics who took the pledge of temperance in September 1843 during the campaign of the Rev. Theobald Matthew, and he signed the address written by Dr. Wiseman in April 1848 calling for the restoration of diplomatic relations between Britain and the Vatican.4 He died childless in November 1884 and was succeeded by his nephew Augustus Frederick Fitzherbert Stafford (1830-92).

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: Martin Casey


  • 1. Jerningham Letters, ii. 210; Staffs. RO, Stafford Jerningham mss D641/3/P/13/50a.
  • 2. Leeds Intelligencer, 29 July, 5 Aug.; Leeds Mercury, 7 Aug. 1830.
  • 3. Leeds Intelligencer, 5 May; Leeds Mercury, 7 May 1831.
  • 4. B. Ward, Sequel to Emancipation, ii. 64, 201.