QUIN (afterwards WYNDHAM QUIN), Windham Henry (1782-1850), of Adare, co. Limerick.
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Family and Education
b. 24 Sept. 1782, 1st s. of [Valentine] Richard, 1st Earl of Dunraven and Mountearl [I], by 1st w. Lady Frances Muriel Fox Strangways, da. of Stephen Fox†, 1st Earl of Ilchester. educ. Eton c.1796-9; Magdalen, Oxf. 1799. m. 27 Dec. 1810, Caroline, da. and h. of Thomas Wyndham*, 2s. 1da.; took name of Wyndham before Quin 7 Apr. 1815. suc. fa. as 2nd Earl of Dunraven and Mountearl [I] 24 Aug. 1824.
Rep. peer [I] 1839-d.
Custos rot. co. Limerick 1818-d.
Capt. commdt. Adare vol. inf. 1808.
Quin’s father and grandfather sat for Kilmallock in the Irish parliament and the former was rewarded with a peerage for support of the Union. On the strength of his proprietary interest, Quin successfully contested county Limerick in 1806 and was considered a supporter of the Grenville ministry. George Ponsonby recommended him to Howick, 23 Dec. 1806:
He is so good as to consult me in his political measures and goes to England to support you. He will not be found a troublesome or interested supporter, for he will neither solicit or accept of office; and as he is a young man of excellent character and heir to a very considerable estate he deserves attention. It will not be a matter of indifference to you to learn that he is a near relation to poor Mr Fox.1
Quin voted with outgoing ministers on Brand’s motion after their dismissal, 9 Apr. 1807, and his unsuccessful opponents at the ensuing election described him as ‘an avowed partisan of the late ministers, and ... under positive engagements to the Roman Catholics’.2 Although his colleague Odell found it convenient to assure the Portland government that Quin ‘if kindly treated ... would probably be a friend to the present government’, he remained in opposition, voting steadily with them 1807-March 1809 (when he paired off), and in doing so supporting Catholic claims, 29 Apr., 5, 25 May 1808.3 He voted throughout against government on the Scheldt question January-March 1810, seconding Porchester’s motion of inquiry on 26 Jan. He voted in sympathy with Burdett and John Gale Jones, 5, 16 Apr. He seems to have avoided voting on parliamentary reform or sinecures, though he again voted for Catholic claims, 1 June. George Ponsonby described him to Lord Grenville, 19 Aug. 1810, as ‘a most sincere and attached friend and a man of the most estimable qualities’. He voted with opposition on the Regency question and for Catholic relief, 31 May 1811, 24 Apr. 1812, as well as for Morpeth’s critical motion on Ireland, 4 Feb., and Stuart Wortley’s motion, 21 May 1812. On the eve of the election of 1812, when he was unopposed, Ponsonby counted him as one of the steadiest in opposition.4
Although Quin voted for Catholic relief on 13 and 24 May 1813 (and did so again 30 May 1815, 21 May 1817 and 3 May 1819), he ceased to act with opposition in that Parliament. He had married a Welsh heiress and in 1814 was reported to have aspired to the county seat for Glamorgan, vacated by the death of his father-in-law, whose name he now assumed. But his father’s wish for promotion in the peerage and, above all, his own wish to secure himself in county Limerick, induced him to make his peace with government. On 28 Feb. 1815 he spoke in favour of the revised Corn Laws but, more significantly, on 28 Apr. he justified renewed war against Buonaparte. By 29 Apr. the chief secretary could describe him as having ‘sent in his adhesion’ and a week later as their ‘new ally’. He had ‘local objects’ which the premier asked the chief secretary to satisfy if possible, and apart from the nomination of the next sheriff he was given a sort of promise of the office of custos on Lord Muskerry’s death, but nothing else in that line, though his father was promoted viscount in February 1816.5 He duly voted with government, being named to the Irish finance committee on 4 Apr. 1816 and occasionally intervening in debate on Irish distillation. On 28 Feb. 1817 he cautioned ministers against going too far in the suspension of habeas corpus. On 23 May he defended the Irish insurrection bill as an ‘absolute necessity’. On 5 Dec. Peel assured Castlereagh that Wyndham Quin would second the address ‘better than any of the others’ proposed by the latter ‘and, unless he is afraid of being attacked by the opposition whose ranks he abandoned not very long since—will probably accede to your wishes’. He duly seconded it, 27 Jan. 1818, and was regarded as a firm friend of government in the ensuing session.6
Wyndham Quin was much embarrassed by government reluctance to take sides in the county election of 1818, complaining ‘I owe the contest to supporting government’.7 He was returned in second place. The contest was bitter and in the sequel an attempt was made by his local enemies to bring public disgrace on him. When he had succeeded Muskerry as custos rot. in July 1818 he had superseded the clerk of the peace, Thomas William Grady, with a nominee of his own, in exchange for a guarantee of £200 p.a., granted on compassionate grounds, but also, so Grady and his father maintained, on condition of their promising to support Wyndham Quin electorally. This was alleged in Grady’s petition to the House, which Sir Robert Wilson introduced on 4 Feb. 1819 as a prelude to charging Wyndham Quin with corruption: he attended on 24 Feb. to hear the charge. The House decided to hear evidence at the bar and Grady senior was temporarily committed to Newgate for breach of privilege in sending a threatening letter to Wyndham Quin. On 29 Mar. Wyndham Quin delivered his own defence and submitted his case, which had meanwhile been prejudiced by a misrepresentation by Quin’s counsel in his evidence to the House. Government were prepared to treat it as a party question and Wyndham Quin was accordingly exonerated, but there was a bid to remove him from his custos-ship and it was a blow to his reputation to be at the same time accused of being ‘in violation of the freedom of election and in breach of the privileges of the House’.8 He did not seek re-election in 1820, and when Lord Liverpool solicited an Irish earldom for his father in 1822 the King gave in reluctantly in view of Wyndham Quin’s ‘disgrace’.9 He died 6 Aug. 1850.
Ref Volumes: 1790-1820
Author: P. J. Jupp
- 1. Grey mss.
- 2. Wellington mss, Monsell to Foster, 23 May 1807.
- 3. Ibid. Odell to Wellesley, 16 May 1807; Wellington Supp. Despatches, v. 599.
- 4. Fortescue mss; Chatsworth mss, Ponsonby to Devonshire, 4 Oct. 1812.
- 5. Add. 40189, f. 192; 40288, ff. 208, 224; 40290, f. 36; 40292, f. 192.
- 6. Add. 38366, f. 133; 40294, f. 92; Parl. Deb. xxxvii. 23.
- 7. Add. 40270, ff. 39, 128, 361; 40273, f. 97.
- 8. Parl. Deb. xxxix. 290, 613, 621, 661, 1176, 1274, 1398; Arbuthnot Corresp. (Cam. Soc. ser. 3, lxv), 13-15.
- 9. Hobhouse Diary, 84.