William Beckett (British politician)

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William Beckett (1784 – 26 January 1863) was an English Conservative politician


William Beckett was born in 1784 at Gledhow Hall, Leeds, one of eight sons and three daughters of Sir John Beckett (1743–1846) a banker who later became Mayor of Leeds and a baronet and his wife Mary Wilson. In 1841 Beckett married Frances Ingram and they had no children.[1] He died 26 January 1863 at Brighton.[2]


Beckett was an active partner in his father's bank, Old Bank in Leeds from 1840, it was known as Beckett's Bank from 1805. On their father's death, William and his brother Christopher (who also served as Mayor of Leeds) took over the family business.[1] Their running of the bank was noted as boldly liberal and prudent, saving many customers from embarrassment during the banking crisis of 1825, and Beckett was said to be a model banker.[3] His banking reputation caused parliament to seek his comments on the renewal of the charter of the Bank of England in 1832.[1]

Beckett was a Conservative Member of Parliament (MP) for the Yorkshire constituencies of Leeds (1841–1852) and Ripon (1852–1857).[2][3] He changed seats because of a split in the party over Free Trade, causing him to withdraw as Leeds MP.[3]

Other ActivitiesEdit

Beckett's wealth and reputation gave him considerable status in Leeds, and in 1832 he bought an estate called New Grange in Headingley and renamed it Kirkstall Grange. The estate comprised large house on a hill and an extensive private park. He carried out extensive improvements and remodelling to the house and park, hoping at one point to have Queen Victoria as house guest when she visited Leeds in 1858. The park became Beckett Park, a public park, and the house a building within Leeds Beckett University.[1]

Beckett was an officer in the Yorkshire Hussars, a part-time Yeomanry Cavalry regiment, from September 1817 when he raised two Troops at Leeds and was commissioned as a Captain, until he retired in 1859. He was promoted to Major on 27 October 1837 and to Lieutenant-Colonel on 8 October 1839. He commanded the regiment 1841–43 while the Colonel, Thomas de Grey, 2nd Earl de Grey, was absent abroad.[4][5]


  1. ^ a b c d Lori Beckett (2007) City of Leeds Training College, Continuity and Change 1907–2007 Leeds Metropolitan University ISBN 978-0-9555017-4-6 Note: there are two books with this number and Amazon gives the other. Use ASIN B007SBV6FC
  2. ^ a b Daily News (London, England), Wednesday, January 28, 1863; Issue 5217 "Death of Mr. W. Beckett"
  3. ^ a b c Gentleman's Magazine 1863 p393 Obituary
  4. ^ Yorkshire Hussars' COs at British Empire.
  5. ^ Army List.

External linksEdit

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Sir William Molesworth
Edward Baines
Member of Parliament for Leeds
With: William Aldam to 1847
James Garth Marshall from 1847
Succeeded by
Matthew Talbot Baines
Sir George Goodman
Preceded by
Sir James Graham
Edwin Lascelles
Member of Parliament for Ripon
With: Edwin Lascelles
Succeeded by
John Ashley Warre
John Greenwood