The House of Lords in the Age of Reform, 1784-1837: With an Epilogue on Aristocracy and the Advent of Democracy, 1837-1867

By A. S. Turberville | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VI
The Irish Union of 1800, and the
Representative Peers

The legislative Union with Ireland of 1800 brought thirtytwo additional members into the House of Lords, a phalanx which could generally be relied upon to support the Tory cause at Westminster. There had been sixteen Scottish representative Peers in the House since the Act of Union with Scotland of 1707, and their loyalty to the 'Government interest' was notorious. Together with the twenty-six English Bishops, these non-hereditary and representative elements composed no insignificant proportion of the total membership. Between them, 'interest' and 'management' ensured that they would more or less solidly cast their votes for the maintenance of the status quo. There were exceptions, but from the time of the younger Pitt down to the Reform Bill crisis, Toryism could depend on the representative Peers for something like half a hundred votes in the Upper House. Indeed, it was the votes of the non-hereditary members of the House of Lords against parliamentary reform that produced the crisis of 1831-2.

The Scottish representative Peers had not been without their grievances since the Act of Union. The main one arose out of a decision of the House of Lords in December, 1711. In that year James Douglas, fourth Duke of Hamilton in the peerage of Scotland, was granted a patent by Queen Anne in the peerage of Great Britain as Duke of Brandon, and the House resolved-- 'That no patent of honour granted to any Peer of Great Britain, who was a Peer of Scotland at the time of the Union, can entitle such Peer to sit and vote in Parliament or vote upon the Trial of Peers.'1 Despite the angry protests of the Scottish Peers at that

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1
See A. S. Turberville, The House of Lords in the XV111th Century, pp. 150-5.

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