William Duncombe, 2nd Baron Feversham

William Duncombe, 2nd Baron Feversham (14 January 1798 – 11 February 1867), was a British peer with a large estate in the North Riding of Yorkshire. He was prominent in the affairs of the Royal Agricultural Society and owner of a prize-winning herd of short-horn cattle. He served as a Tory Member of Parliament (MP) for the Riding from 1832 to 1841, after which he sat in the House of Lords, having succeeded to the title on the death of his father. From 1826 to 1831 he had sat as an Ultra-Tory MP. He was the first MP to support Richard Oastler's campaign for Factory Reform, and gave it unwavering support for the rest of his life; in 1847 he seconded the Second Reading in the Lords of the Factory Act of that year (the 'Ten-Hour Act').

The Lord Feversham
Monument in the Town Square, Helmsley - geograph.org.uk - 785275.jpg
Monument to Lord Feversham, Helmsley, North Yorkshire
Member of Parliament for North Riding of Yorkshire
In office
Member of Parliament for Yorkshire
In office
Member of Parliament for Great Grimsby
In office
Serving with Charles Tennyson
Personal details
William Duncombe

14 January 1798
Died11 February 1867 (aged 69)
Arms of Duncombe: Per chevron engrailed gules and argent, three talbot's heads erased counterchanged


Feversham was the eldest son of Charles Duncombe (subsequently (1826) created Baron Feversham),[a] and Lady Charlotte, daughter of William Legge, 2nd Earl of Dartmouth. He was born at the family's town house in London (their country seat was at Duncombe Park, just outside Helmsley in the North Riding).[b] He was educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford.[3] In 1820, he was commissioned as a cornet in the Helmsley Yeomanry Cavalry;[4] in 1821 he qualified as a Justice of the peace for the North Riding;[5] by 1826, however, he was living near Doncaster.[c] His younger brothers included the Hon. Arthur Duncombe and the Hon. Octavius Duncombe.[d]

Public lifeEdit

When the colourful Radical MP Thomas Slingsby Duncombe died in 1861, it was noted in a piece appearing in a number of newspapers that

The most comical contrast to Tom Duncombe was his cousin, the present Lord Feversham, a heavy, solid, goodnatured man, whose speeches are of the most ponderous and soporific character - "a man whose talk is of bullocks" and whose opinions were of the extreme Conservative and Protectionist colour.[13]


When Faversham talked of bullocks, he did so as one of the leading breeders and exhibitors of short-horn cattle; animals from the Duncombe Park herd won prizes at Smithfield,[14] at the Royal Agricultural Show, and at the Paris International Exposition of 1855,[15] although he came to deplore the prevalence of judging criteria which led to prizes going to animals which had been over-fattened, to the detriment of their health and that of the breed.[16] He was deeply involved with the Royal Agricultural Society, serving as its president in 1863–4,[17] and with the Smithfield Show Club (president in 1862)[18] as well as local and county agricultural shows.[e] His final parliamentary speech was (in 1866) an attack on the inadequacy of the government's response to the current cattle plague outbreak:[20]

Political viewsEdit

Duncombe was a Tory; seconding the Loyal Address in 1822, he said that "the constitution stood so firm on its basis, was so beautifully connected in all its parts, and was so admirably adapted to all classes of society, that it was impossible but that all who enjoyed the blessing of living under it should perceive its advantages over any other system of government."[21] Consequently, Duncombe was opposed to the great liberal causes of his time (Catholic emancipation, parliamentary reform, abolition of the corn laws) but he did not seek to reverse them. When the Duke of Wellington decided that Catholic emancipation had to be conceded, Duncombe remained opposed to any measure of Catholic emancipation; once the measure was passed he accepted it was irreversible, but remained unreconciled to those who had granted it (an 'ultra-Tory').

Factory ReformEdit

Duncombe rarely spoke in Parliament, other than to present petitions. However, he gave his moral support to (and exerted himself on behalf of) the Factory Reform movement; when Richard Oastler wrote to MPs in 1831 seeking their support, Duncombe was the only one to reply.[22] Duncombe spoke at the great York Factory Reform meeting of 1832, despite his concern that his past political activity would taint the cause: he stressed 'this is not the cause of party.. It is the cause of justice .. It is the cause of real humanity, of Christian benevolence ... it is the cause of the oppressed and the industrious poor'[22] One of his rare parliamentary speeches was to second the Second Reading of the 1847 Factory Act (the Ten-Hour Act).[23] He spoke in favour of a "bona fide ten-hours" amendment to the Factories Bill of 1850 (the Compromise Act),[24] and also voted to include "children" in the provisions of the bill.[25] in the week of his death, a letter from him offering his support for agitation for an eight-hour act was read out by the chairman of a meeting in Manchester.[26] On Feversham's death in 1867, the Yorkshire Post noted that Oastler had "constantly alluded to the unfailing support he received from Lord Feversham in battling with the opponents of the bill as his principal mainstay and encouragement in the work they had undertaken"[15]

Opposition to the Poor Law CommissionEdit

Like Oastler, he opposed the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834: he voted against its Third Reading [27] (but he had been absent from all of the committee stage proceedings). Debating the Whig Poor Law Amendment Bill of 1841 (intended to extend the life of the Poor Law Commission for five years) he denounced the 1834 Act: "It was a measure which made poverty a crime; which incarcerated men who were guilty of no other crime but misery and distress, in gaols and dungeons; which cut asunder the dearest ties of human nature, fathers from their children, husbands from their wives; and it was a measure in his belief calculated more than any other to alienate the feelings of the people from the laws and institutions of their country, and upon these grounds he was determined to give it his strenuous and uncompromising opposition."[28] In the subsequent committee stage of the bill he repeatedly voted for amendments returning powers from the Poor Law Commission to the local guardians- most notably he was teller for an amendment removing the supervisory powers of the commission:[29] his one recorded vote against an amendment to the bill was against one making borrowing by guardians dependent on prior approval by a vestry meeting.[30]

Support for Richard OastlerEdit

His support of Oastler was not only political but personal. In 1838, he presented a petition from Huddersfield supporting the refusal of its magistrates to call out the military to suppress anti-Poor Law disturbances[31] in which Oastler had been prominent. In 1840 he intervened in a Commons debate to obtain the retraction of a description of Oastler as an incendiary by a government minister.[32] He visited Oastler in debtors' prison, and was a trustee of the Oastler Testimonial Fund (later the Oastler Liberation Fund), and prominent in raising the money to secure the release of Oastler (being one of the guarantors who met the shortfall in the money raised to satisfy Oastler's creditor).[33]

Career as MPEdit

In 1820 he stood with and was elected with Charles Tennyson Member of Parliament for the two-member borough constituency of Great Grimsby. Tennyson asserted his constituents had represented to him the need for both members for the seat to hold similar views; acceding to their wishes he had selected Duncombe as his running mate.[34] Duncombe admitted to having no prior connection with the constituency but promised to assiduously promote its interests[35]

In 1825 Duncombe was called upon to stand for election as a 'firm upholder of the Protestant cause' (opponent of Catholic emancipation) in the prestigious four-member county constituency of Yorkshire.[36][37] Duncombe acceded to the requisition and stood for Yorkshire, rather than Grimsby.[38] On election day in June 1826 only four candidates (two Whig, two 'no Popery' Tories) were nominated, and therefore all (including Duncombe) were elected unopposed.[39] Catholic emancipation split the Tories, and the Ultras (including Duncombe) withdrew their support from the government. In 1830, when Duncombe stood again for Yorkshire, Henry Brougham, a Whig-Radical standing in the same constituency said of him

Mr Duncombe is a man from whom I differ. I differed from him in respect of the Test acts and on the Catholic Bill. But we have sat in Parliament two years on the same benches, and I declare to you I never saw a man whose conduct did him more honour, or who was more perfectly independent. He has despised place and power, and given an honest and consistent opposition to many of the measures of government, and I can scarcely call to mind one question upon which, during the two years I have mentioned, we have voted on opposite sides. I think it fair to say thus much, for many men might be offered to you who would be much less deserving of your support than is the Hon. William Duncombe[40]

None of Duncombe's previous colleagues offered themselves for re-election in 1830, but again there were three other candidates with significant backing (Brougham, another Whig, and a Wellingtonian Tory). Unlike the election of 1826 they were not immediately elected: this time a fifth candidate nominated himself and demanded a poll,[41] The fifth candidate having received a mere handful of votes by the end of the first day of polling, the poll was closed on the second day, at which point Duncombe was third (behind the two Whig candidates). The four remaining candidates were therefore declared elected. In the 1831 general election, Duncombe was again requisitioned to stand: he accepted the invitation, but withdrew before the actual poll, it being clear that Reform candidates would take all four seats.[42]

In the reformed parliament, there were separate two-member county constituencies for each of the three ridings of Yorkshire. Duncombe stood in the North Riding of Yorkshire as the sole Tory candidate. In December 1832 he headed the poll ahead of two competing Reformers;[43] John Charles Ramsden (supported by the Whig grandees) a West Riding industrialist and former Whig MP for Yorkshire, and Edward Stillingfleet Cayley, an independent of Liberal sympathies who farmed locally and put himself forward as a friend of the interests of small agriculturalists: Cayley took the second seat.[44] In the election of January 1835 the constituency was contested by the two sitting MPs and a second Tory: despite (it was alleged) the Tories freely opening their purses [45] the two MPs were reelected:[46] at a November 1835 meeting they agreed that their first concern was to protect agricultural interests, regardless of party labels.[47] They were returned unopposed in 1837, and again in 1841,[48] but ten days after Duncome's re-election in 1841 election his father died,[49] and Duncombe took his seat in the House of Lords: in the consequent by-election Duncombe's brother Octavius was elected unopposed.[50]

Parliamentary proprietorEdit

From 1832 to 1881, when Feversham's grandson Viscount Helmsley died, the North Riding always returned one Duncombe or another as one of its MPs. Usually, the other MP was a Liberal; an 1862 by-election which briefly gave the riding two Conservative MPs saw this analysis from a Liberal newspaper: "Lord Feversham is a great Parliamentary proprietor. He keeps several seats in the House of Commons, at great expense and with jealous care; and very naturally he does as he will with his own. When one of his Parliamentary saddles is vacant a relative usually has the preference. Three of the favoured family happen just now to be thus mounted. Nobody ever hears of them in the legislative field; but who has any right to ask a question? By the law of the land the head of the House of Duncombe has the might to be represented in the Lower House of Parliament by three of his immediate kinsmen, and in our electoral system might is right."[51]

Marriage and childrenEdit

Memorial to Albert (1826-1846) in the Church of All Saints, Helmsley

Lord Feversham married, in 1823, Lady Louisa Stewart, the youngest daughter of Admiral George Stewart, 8th Earl of Galloway.[52] They had six children. He died in February 1867, aged 69,[53] and was succeeded by his son, William Ernest, who was created Earl of Feversham the following year. Lady Feversham died in March 1889.


A Grade II* listed monument to Lord Feversham ' erected by his tenantry, friends and relations, who cherish his memory with affection and gratitude' stands in the middle of the market square of Helmsley, North Yorkshire.[56] The monument (by Sir George Gilbert Scott) reportedly cost £800 raised by public subscription; the statue it houses cost £600 and was paid for by the Duncombe family.[57]


  1. ^ an earlier Duncombe had also been created Baron Feversham but his line - and therefore that title - had become extinct: Charles was therefore the first baron of the second creation, but was occasionally erroneously (and potentially confusingly) described as the second baron. There was no connection with the Lord Feversham who had served James II
  2. ^ The associated estate (of some 40,000 acres, including (as well as the ruins of Rievaulx Abbey) almost the entire parish of Kirkbymoorside, whose freeholders were noted in 1834 to have voted overwhelmingly for Duncombe[1]) had been purchased for £90,000 in 1690 by Charles Duncombe a City of London financier who, although eventually knighted and a Lord Mayor of London, had narrowly escaped confiscation of most of his £400,000 fortune after he confessed to his involvement in a fraud on the Exchequer.[2] Prior to this, the Duncombes had had no connection with Yorkshire
  3. ^ and probably as early as his marriage in 1823, shortly before which he was appointed major in a West Riding volunteer regiment:[6] in 1826 his residence was given as Burghwallis when his eldest son Albert was christened there (by his uncle Henry) [7]
  4. ^ Others were the Hon. and Rev. Henry Duncombe (1800-32) at his death (at Tunbridge Wells, having previously travelled to Madeira for his health, which might suggest consumption) Rector of Kirby Misperton (a living worth £1000 a year to which the Duncombes had the presentation),[8] the Hon. George Duncombe (1804-1826) an ensign and lieutenant in the Grenadier Guards, the Hon. Adolphus Duncombe (1809-1830) Commoner of Christ Church, Oxford, and the Hon. and Very Rev. Augustus Duncombe (1814-1880) Dean of York. (When Augustus was appointed in 1858, it was noted than the deanery (worth £1000 a year) was the first ecclesiastical 'plum' to fall vacant during the premiership of Lord Derby, that Augustus already held church offices bringing in £12000 a year, had a private fortune, rode to hounds and was the brother of two Conservative MPs and a Conservative peer.[9] The appointment was challenged in Parliament, Disraeli responding that the office was no plum; it had formerly brought in £3000 - £4000 a year, but church reform had reduced the income with any corresponding reduction in obligations; to appoint anyone without private means would be to put them in an invidious position. Furthermore, Disraeli was able to produce an unsolicited recommendation of Augustus by the current Archbishop of York,[10] a Whig appointee. At Augustus's death, his estate was valued at half a million pounds[11] despite his having been 'a munificent benefactor to the fabric of the cathedral').[12]
  5. ^ When in 1858 his bull '5th Duke of Oxford' gored and trampled to death a Helmsley innkeeper who got into his stall to inspect him at close quarters, it was at the Yorkshire Show, where the bull had just won first prize.[19]


  1. ^ "North Riding Election". Leeds Mercury. 24 January 1835. p. 8. : the Mercury described Kirbymoorside as Duncombe's Blue Slave Preserve
  2. ^ Hayton, D; Cruickshanks, E; Handley, S, eds. (2002). "DUNCOMBE, Charles (1648-1711), of Teddington, Mdx. Barford, Wilts.". The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715. London: Boydell & Brewer.
  3. ^ Fisher, D. R., ed. (2009). "DUNCOMBE, William (1798-1867), of Duncombe Park and Hooton Pagnell, nr. Doncaster, Yorks.". The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Retrieved 17 May 2017.
  4. ^ "Commissions signed by the Vice-Lieutenant of the North-Riding of the County of York". Yorkshire Gazette. 29 January 1820. p. 3.
  5. ^ "Yorkshire: Michaelmas General Quarter Sessions : North-Riding". Yorkshire Gazette. 27 October 1821. p. 4.
  6. ^ "From the London Gazette". Morning Post. 27 March 1823. p. 4.
  7. ^ (Doncaster Archives: Archive reference P54/1/A4, page 11)
  8. ^ "Preferments and Appointments". Salisbury and Winchester Journal. 12 April 1845. p. 2.
  9. ^ Item in the Spectator reproduced as "The Dean of York". North and South Shields Daily Gazette. 10 June 1858. p. 2.
  10. ^ "Deanery of York: Question". Hansard House of Commons Debates. 150: cc1522-6. 4 June 1858. Retrieved 27 May 2017.
  11. ^ "North of England Millionaires". Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer. 28 May 1883. p. 6.
  12. ^ "Yorkshire Philosophical Society". Yorkshire Gazette. 5 February 1881. p. 9.
  13. ^ "Town Talk". Kentish Chronicle. 23 November 1861. p. 5.
  14. ^ "Smithfield Club Prize Cattle Show". Evening Standard. London. 10 December 1850. p. 1.
  15. ^ a b "Death of Lord Feversham". Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer. 16 February 1867. p. 11.
  16. ^ "Shorthorn Intelligence". Bell's Weekly Messenger. 1 August 1864. p. 7.
  17. ^ "at once a sound practical agriculturist and a pleasant and agreeable chairman""London Correspondence". Bury and Norwich Post. 26 May 1863. p. 5.
  18. ^ "Lord Feversham, though he has, and makes no pretensions to oratory, is an excellent president; while his merits as an owner of stock qualify him to pronounce opinions suitable to such an occasion" "Metropolitan Gossip". Cambridge Independent Press. 13 December 1862. p. 5.
  19. ^ "The Yorkshire Agricultural Society". Bell's Weekly Messenger. 9 August 1858. p. 5.
  20. ^ "ADDRESS TO HER MAJESTY ON HER MOST GRACIOUS SPEECH". Hansard House of Lords Debates. 181: cc27-105. 6 February 1866. Retrieved 3 June 2017.: he had previously been part of a deputation from the council of the Royal Agricultural Society which had pressed the government to suspend cattle markets except where stock were immediately slaughtered "The Cattle Plague: Important Deputation to the Privy Council". York Herald. 9 December 1865. p. 7.
  21. ^ "ADDRESS ON THE KING'S SPEECH AT THE OPENING OF THE SESSION". Hansard House of Commons Debates. 6: cc19-93. 5 February 1822.
  22. ^ a b "Great Meeting of the County of York in Support of the Factory Bill". Leeds Intelligencer. 26 April 1832. p. 3.
  23. ^ "Factory Bill". Hansard House of Lords Debates. 92 (cc891-946). 17 May 1847. Retrieved 17 July 2014.
  24. ^ "Imperial Parliament". Morning Post. 16 July 1850. p. 2.
  25. ^ "House of Lords: Factories Bill in Committee". Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser. 20 July 1850. p. 4.
  26. ^ "The Eight Hours Movement and Boards of Arbitration". Burnley Gazette. 16 February 1867. p. 4.
  27. ^ "Grand Conservative Dinner at York". Evening Standard. London. 26 December 1834. p. 4.
  28. ^ speech (attributed to 'Mr W. Buncombe') at cc 645-6 in "POOR-LAW COMMISSION". Hansard House of Commons Debates. 57: cc612-51. 26 March 1841. Retrieved 6 June 2017.
  29. ^ "POOR-LAW COMMISSION". Hansard House of Commons Debates. 57: cc649-51. 26 March 1841. Retrieved 6 June 2017.
  30. ^ "POOR LAW COMMISSION". Hansard House of Commons Debates. 57: c798. 1 April 1841. Retrieved 6 June 2017.
  31. ^ "Parliament". Leeds Mercury. 3 March 1838. p. 8.
  32. ^ "CONFIDENCE IN THE MINISTRY". Hansard House of Commons Debates. 51: cc650-736. 28 January 1840.
  33. ^ "Liberation of Mr Oastler". Morning Post. 14 February 1844. p. 7.
  34. ^ letter signed "Charles Tennyson, Park-street, Westminster 26th February 1820" printed as advertisement "To the Independent Electors of the Borough of Great Grimsby". Stamford Mercury. 3 March 1820. p. 2.
  35. ^ letter signed "William Duncombe, Duncombe Park 24th February 1820" printed as advertisement "To the Independent Electors of the Borough of Great Grimsby". Stamford Mercury. 3 March 1820. p. 2.
  36. ^ letter signed 'Amicus', printed as "Members for Yorkshire". Leeds Intelligencer. 10 November 1825. p. 3.
  37. ^ "Representation of the County of York". Courier and Evening Gazette. London. 5 December 1825. p. 3.
  38. ^ untitled paragraph under general heading "Local Intelligence". Leeds Intelligencer. 5 January 1826. p. 2.
  39. ^ "Yorkshire Election: Wednesday, June 21". Yorkshire Gazette. 24 June 1826. p. 2.
  40. ^ speaking at Huddersfield (date not given) according to untitled editorial matter under general heading "The Leeds Intelligencer". 12 August 1830. pp. 2–3.: Brougham was quoted by the Intelligencer in order to counter disobliging remarks about Duncombe in the Leeds Mercury
  41. ^ "General Election: Yorkshire Election". Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser. 7 August 1830. p. 3.
  42. ^ advertisements: "Yorkshire Election" & "To the Gentry, Clergy and Freeholders of the County of York". Leeds Intelligencer. 12 May 1831. p. 1.
  43. ^ "North Riding of Yorkshire: Final Close of the Poll". Courier and Evening Gazette. London. 26 December 1832. p. 3.
  44. ^ see report of Cayley's victory speech in "Election for the North Riding". Morning Post. London. 29 December 1832. p. 2.
  45. ^ "North Riding Election". Bury and Norwich Post. 28 January 1835. p. 1.
  46. ^ "North Riding Election". Yorkshire Gazette. 24 January 1835. p. 3.
  47. ^ "York Agricultural Association". Morning Post. 18 November 1835. p. 1.
  48. ^ "North Riding Election". Leeds Intelligencer. 10 July 1841. p. 6.
  49. ^ "Death of Lord Feversham". Staffordshire Gazette and County Standard. 22 July 1841. p. 3.
  50. ^ "North Yorkshire Election". Morning Post. London. 22 September 1841. p. 5.
  51. ^ untitled paragraph beginning "The houses of DUNDAS and DUNCOMBE...". London Daily News. 25 March 1862. p. 4.
  52. ^ "Marriage in High Life". Morning Post. 19 December 1823. p. 3.
  53. ^ "Death of Lord Feversham". Yorkshire Gazette. 16 February 1867. p. 7.
  54. ^ "Death of the Hon. Albert Duncombe". Morning Advertiser. 17 September 1846. p. 3.
  55. ^ "Obituary - Hon. Cecil Duncombe". The Times (36774). London. 22 May 1902. p. 4.
  56. ^ Historic England. "MEMORIAL TO SECOND BARON FEVERSHAM (1315924)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 18 January 2016.
  57. ^ "Laying the Foundation Stone of the Feversham Memorial". York Herald. 22 May 1869. p. 10.

External linksEdit

an incomplete record; for example, a speech on 23 April 1844 is known from contemporary newspapers,[1] but volume 74 of Hansard, covering that period, has not been digitised. Similarly, volume 112, covering the Lords' consideration of the 1850 Factory Act (in which Feversham took part) is missing. Two speeches against the Poor Law Amendment Bill of 1841 are misattributed to 'Mr W Buncombe' (An 1845 intervention by Lord Feversham to defend George Hudson from Lord Brougham's allegation of filibustering of the committee on the London and York Railway bill is recorded by contemporary newspapers,[2] but not by Hansard, which does cover the debate.This may be because Feversham had committed a procedural faux pas by saying Hudson was present and listening to the debate, and did not want this recorded by Hansard)
Speeches by Mr William Duncombe (ie before 1826 when he became Hon.) are listed separately under
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
John Nicholas Fazakerley
Charles Tennyson
Member of Parliament for Great Grimsby
With: Charles Tennyson
Succeeded by
Charles Wood
George Fieschi Heneage
Preceded by
Viscount Milton
James Stuart-Wortley
(representation increased to four members 1826)
Member of Parliament for Yorkshire
With: Viscount Milton 1826–1830
Richard Fountayne-Wilson 1826–1830
John Marshall 1826–1830
Viscount Morpeth 1830–1831
Henry Brougham 1830
Richard Bethell 1830–1831
Sir John Vanden-Bempde-Johnstone, Bt 1830–1831
Succeeded by
Viscount Morpeth
Sir John Vanden-Bempde-Johnstone, Bt
George Strickland
John Charles Ramsden
New constituency Member of Parliament for the North Riding of Yorkshire
With: Edward Stillingfleet Cayley
Succeeded by
Edward Stillingfleet Cayley
Hon. Octavius Duncombe
Peerage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Charles Duncombe
Baron Feversham
Succeeded by
William Ernest Duncombe
  1. ^ "Imperial Parliament". Wolverhampton Chronicle and Staffordshire Advertiser. 1 May 1844. p. 4.
  2. ^ "Imperial Parliament". Morning Post. 12 July 1845. p. 3. -