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John Douglas, MP



John Douglas (abt1774-1838) was a Tory politician. He was the son of Thomas Douglas of Grantham, a wealthy landowner, and Harriot Lucke.

He was the Member of Parliament for Orford 1818 - April 1821 and for Minehead 12 April 1822 - 1826.

In 1826, when Douglas’s ‘anxious desire to be restored to Parliament’ was ‘all at an end’, the earl of Westmorland sympathized and paid him the compliment ‘that ministers had not a steadier attendant to their interests than myself proved to be the eight or nine years I had served’.

The son and heir of a wealthy Lincolnshire landowner with estates in Cambridgeshire, Cheshire, Flint, Lanarkshire and Middlesex and investments in the Lancashire cotton industry, Douglas established himself as a courtier and connoisseur of the horse racing at Newmarket. He was brought in for Orford by the 2nd marquess of Hertford in 1818 (and again in 1820) as a personal favour to George IV as regent, to whom his brother-in-law Benjamin Bloomfield† was private secretary from 1817 to 1822.

An anti-Catholic Tory, who is not known to have spoken in debate, Douglas divided with Lord Liverpool’s government on revenue collection, 4 July 1820, their handling of the Queen Caroline affair, 6 Feb., and the additional malt duty, 3 Apr. 1821. He voted against Catholic relief, 28 Feb. 1821. He resigned in April to make way for the foreign secretary Lord Castlereagh and was rewarded a year later, possibly as a parting concession to Bloomfield, by being returned on the Fownes Luttrell interest for Minehead, where Hertford’s retirees were welcome paying guests.  He again divided against Catholic relief, 30 Apr. 1822, 1 Mar., 21 Apr., 10 May 1825, and voted against the Irish franchise bill, 26 Apr. 1825. He voted against Scottish parliamentary reform, 2 June 1823, 26 Feb. 1824. (On 23 Apr. 1831, writing to the 5th duke of Rutland, he expressed his disapproval of the ‘accursed reform bill, not but I am of opinion that a something was necessary, but not of so sweeping a tendency’.)  He voted against inquiring into Irish tithes, 19 June 1822, and divided with ministers on the revenue and retrenchment, 28 June 1822, 13, 18 Mar. 1823, the Foreign Enlistment Act, 25 Feb. 1823, and the prosecution of the Dublin Orange rioters, 24 Mar., 22 Apr. 1823. His votes for the duke of Cumberland’s annuity bill, 10 June, and against the spring guns bill, 17 June 1825 were the last recorded for him.

He was disappointed to be left without a seat at the dissolution in 1826 and, although ‘not altogether bereft of distant hope that he [Hertford] yet will seat me in some one of his double returns when Parliament meets’, he went to Sweden, where Bloomfield and his son had accepted diplomatic postings.

Gambling losses, largely accruing from his turf accounting activities at Newmarket - Douglas laid the blame on ‘Peel and Huskisson ... tampering with the currency’, problems raising capital from his property and ‘keeping too large establishment of servants’ - had reduced his fortune and conspired to keep him in Sweden until 1835, outstaying Hertford’s mission (1827) and Bloomfield, who departed in 1828, leaving his son in charge.  Douglas was refused a pension or diplomatic salary.  The commissioners of woods and forests had terminated his tenancy at Newmarket Palace(4) in 1831, and on his return he made his home with his cousin, John Hargreave Douglas(3) of Gyrn Castle, Llanasa, Flintshire, where he died in August 1838.  By his holograph will, dated 6 Feb. 1836 and sworn under £6,000, 6 Mar. 1839, he bequeathed his property to his nephew and residuary legatee John Arthur Douglas Bloomfield (1802-79), then chargé d’affaires at Stockholm, and provided annuities for the widow and children of his late servant John May(2), ‘believed to be in Sweden’. A case of non-execution brought against Bloomfield’s co-executor ‘Douglas of Gyrn’ and others in 1844 was abandoned as ‘bad’, after financial ruin forced the Douglas family to sell the Gyrn estate in April 1853.

1.  In 'The House of Commons 1790-1820' By Roland G. Thorne, History of Parliament Trust (Great Britain) an assumption is made that he subsequently became Provost Marshall of Grenada in 1836, and died there in 1838. There is evidence that this is not the case. See John Douglas, Provost Marshall.

2.  Contributed: It has been told ... that [our ancestor] John May was the illegitimate son of Count John Douglas who was born in 1774, died in 1838. John May came along with Count John Douglas, John Douglas Bloomfield and Count Axel von Fersen to Sweden in 1826 to introduce gallop sport in Sweden on behalf of the Swedish Royal court.
John May was born October 3, 1807 in Uxbridge, in the county of Middlesex. He died in Sweden 7 February 1835.
Count John Douglas returned to England and settled on Gyrn Castle in Wales with his cousin in 1835 where he died in 1838. Count John Douglas had written a will in which his wealth went to John Douglas Bloomfield and the widow of John May, Sophia Johanna May, born Schmidt and their four children.

3.  James Hargreave (s) bap St Ann Manchester 24th Aug 1808 died Cheltenham 1841 the question arises as to do the later legal proceedings hasten his end? He died a young man. In proceedings he is named as John Henry Douglas.  He was the son of John Douglas and Anne Tipping.
The Chester Chronicle July 1829 carried an announcement to the effect that he was to celebrate his coming of age on 3rd Aug 1829 with a dinner at 4oclock at the White Horse Inn Holly well .His passing is noted in the Cheltenham Looker of 27th March 1841 having died at 2 Royal Oak Terrace aged 32 He was appointed JP in 1836 for the County of Flintshire and was also a land Tax Commissioner he and his father held these offices at the same time as each other therefore John Hargreaves Douglas may still may have been in Flintshire in 1836 and moved Cheltenham after this date ?

4.  John Douglas Esq. had been living in the building that had been the Greyhound Inn in 1826.




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Last modified: Friday, 17 May 2024