JOLLIFFE, Hylton (1773-1843), of Merstham, Surr.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832, ed. D.R. Fisher, 2009
Available from Cambridge University Press



1796 - 29 Dec. 1796
29 Mar. 1802 - 1830
1831 - 1832
5 Mar. 1833 - 1834

Family and Education

b. 28 Feb. 1773, 1st. s. of William Jolliffe† of Merstham and Eleanor, da. and h. of Sir Richard Hylton, 5th bt., of Hayton Castle, Cumb. educ. Westminster 1783; L. Inn 1787. m. 6 Sept. 1804, Elizabeth Rose, illegit. da. of Robert Shirley, 7th Earl Ferrars, s.p.; 2s. illegit. suc. fa. 1802. d. 13 Jan. 1843.

Offices Held

Ensign 2 Ft. Gds. 1790, lt. and capt. 1793, capt. and lt.-col. 1799, ret. 1804.


‘Hat Jolliffe’ was renowned for his enthusiasm for field sports and outsize headgear, which proved a gift to cartoonists, but he achieved little in politics.1 When the Merstham pack was disbanded in 1830, the Sporting Magazine paid tribute to the anachronistic figure that its master cut in town:

The Colonel is one of the old school, and a very fine sample of it. Who has not seen him walk up St. James’s Street with his venerable white head covered with a huge punt hat, a white neckcloth, neat blue coat with metal buttons, light vest and clean yellow leather shorts with long gaiters? He looks like what he is, a country gentleman and a fox-hunter ... When a younger man he must have been what we would call a ‘devilish good-looking fellow’, and though now rather corpulent, weighing above sixteen stone, he still retains most of his former good looks.2

A veteran of the campaigns in the Netherlands, Spain and Egypt, Jolliffe offered Lord Liverpool his services as a military commander in October 1819, but although he was aware of disaffection among the urban tradespeople of his Surrey neighbourhood, he was not an alarmist and had ‘sanguine hopes from the rapid increase of the savings banks in this hundred that many of them will find it in their interest to change their sentiments’.3

At the 1820 general election he faced a challenge at Petersfield, where he had returned himself and paying guests since succeeding as its patron in 1802. On the hustings he criticized the recent modification of the corn laws, observing that of course ‘no person will take me to be a radical’, and strenuously denied allegations of financial impropriety in the management of Churcher’s College, a local school of which he was the principal trustee. (He was exonerated by a chancery decree in February 1825.) He and his nominee were returned after a one-day poll and confirmed in their seats following a petition, 16 June 1820.4 A lax and mostly silent attender, when present he continued to give general support to the Liverpool ministry, among whom he claimed his erstwhile political leader Canning as a ‘very intimate friend’.5 He presented a constituency petition calling for measures to alleviate agricultural distress, 25 May. On 21 June 1820 a motion for him to be given ten days’ leave on urgent private business was negatived, after several Members had objected, causing general amusement.6 He voted against censure of ministers’ conduct towards Queen Caroline, 6 Feb. 1821. He divided for Catholic claims, 28 Feb. 1821, 10 May 1825. On 19 July 1821 he attended the coronation, telling his brother William Jolliffe that ‘nothing could exceed the beauty of the scene and the enthusiasm of all present’, and that as a result of the queen’s attempt to disrupt proceedings, ‘she has sunk as low as possible in the estimation of all, while the king has rose to the highest pinnacle’.7 His nephew William George Hylton Jolliffe was created a baronet in the coronation honours, an honour apparently refused three years earlier by Jolliffe, for whom nothing less would suffice than the revival of the Hylton barony, which he claimed through the maternal line.8 In 1824 he sought legal advice concerning his title to it and his elevation to the peerage was the subject of idle rumour in 1826.9 In 1821 he moved into Merstham Hall, which had been let since 1813, and resided there ‘a good deal’, but the estate’s extensive limeworks continued to be managed by his brother.10 He voted against more extensive tax reductions, 11 Feb., and abolition of one of the joint-postmasterships, 13 Mar. 1822. He divided against inquiry into the parliamentary franchise, 20 Feb., repeal of the Foreign Enlistment Act, 16 Apr., reform of the Scottish representative system, 2 June, and inquiries into chancery delays, 5 June 1823. No trace of activity has been found for 1824. He voted for the duke of Cumberland’s annuity bill, 6 June, and the spring guns bill, 21 June 1825.

At the 1826 general election Jolliffe was returned unopposed for Petersfield.11 He voted for Catholic relief, 6 Mar. 1827, 12 May 1828. He presented a constituency petition for repeal of the Test Acts, 21 Feb., and divided accordingly, 26 Feb. 1828. That June he was listed by Lord Colchester among ‘the Huskisson party, or rather the rump of the Canning party’.12 (He had not featured in other Canningite lists.) He was, of course, expected by Planta, the Wellington ministry’s patronage secretary, to vote ‘with government’ for the concession of Catholic emancipation, and he divided accordingly, 6, 30 Mar. 1829. That July either Jolliffe, who was a director of a steamboat company, or his brother William vainly pestered Lord Ellenborough, the president of the board of control, for government backing for a scheme of steam navigation to India via the Red Sea.13 No trace of activity has been found for 1830, although in support of his subsequent claims to be considered a free trader, Jolliffe cited his vote for the beer bill.14

At the 1830 general election Jolliffe came forward for Surrey, where he was so confident of success that he returned both his nephews for Petersfield. Sir William Jolliffe was informed of the arrangements by his aunt, Lady Eleanor East, who explained that it was ‘understood that Hylton should vacate the county for you at the next election’.15 Their plans were upset by the late appearance of a reform candidate. Pressed on the hustings, Jolliffe denied that he had ever sought or obtained ministerial favour, made a cautious promise to support ‘step-by-step’ retrenchment, but declined to say anything about parliamentary reform beyond an expression of opposition to the secret ballot. After admitting his discomfiture with public speaking he provoked ‘hisses and laughter’ by describing the French war as ‘a war for our liberties (cries of "No, No!’"). Well then, it was a war into which we had got, out of which we had got, and which must be paid for’. Opponents drew attention to his long silence in Parliament and proprietorship of a close borough, and he was catcalled with a play on his name, ‘No jollop, no physic’.16 His withdrawal from the contest after four days was seen as a blow to the Wellington ministry but did not surprise Lord Lowther*, who considered him to have been ‘the most unpopular man who could be selected’.17 His petition against the return, 12 Nov. 1830, was not pursued.18 Through his nephews, Jolliffe opposed the Grey ministry’s reform bill and at the 1831 dissolution offered again for Petersfield as an opponent of that measure, which he predicted would be diluted on its reintroduction. On the hustings he expressed a willingness to support the enfranchisement of populous places and an enlargement of the electorate, but was hostile to any reduction in the number of English Members. He and his nominee were returned after a three-day contest.19

Jolliffe voted against the second reading of the reintroduced reform bill, 6 July, at least twice against its adjournment, 12 July, and for use of the 1831 census to determine the disfranchisement schedules, 19 July 1831. On the 22 July he broke nearly 30 years of silence to contend that Petersfield’s parish population entitled it to return one Member and to assure the House that an enlargement of the borough along such lines would entirely deprive ‘the present patron’ of his influence. He divided against the bill’s passage, 21 Sept., and despite reports of failing health, was present to vote against the second reading of the revised bill, by which Petersfield retained one Member, 17 Dec. 1831. A report in the local press claimed that he had promised to support the bill if this condition was met, an assertion swiftly denied by his agent, but he was in the ministerial majorities against an amendment to restrict polling to one day in smaller boroughs, 15 Feb., and against the transfer of Appleby to schedule B, which would have raised the possibility of complete disfranchisement for Petersfield, 21 Feb. 1832.20 He was back in minorities against the enfranchisement of Tower Hamlets, 28 Feb., the third reading of the bill, 22 Mar., and the second reading of the Irish measure, 25 May. He voted against government on the Russian-Dutch loan, 26 Jan., 12 July 1832.

At the 1832 general election Jolliffe offered again for Petersfield, where he had established a bank, known by 1838 as Jolliffe, Butterfield and Company, to buttress his interest. Despite his earlier pessimism, he was only narrowly defeated by a reform candidate, following which Denis Le Marchant† reported that the ‘rejoicing at Brooks’s was almost as great as on the passing of schedule A, of which poor Jolliffe passed almost as the representative’.21 He was seated on petition a few months later, but beaten by his former agent in 1835 and did not attempt a further return to the Commons, where he was one of the last Members to wear breeches and top boots.22 He died in January 1843 at the house in Pall Mall where he had spent his declining years. By the terms of his will, dated 26 Sept. 1842, this residence and the residue of his estate passed to Sir William Jolliffe, who had also been given the Merstham property on his marriage in 1825 and the Petersfield property in 1837. Jolliffe bequeathed stocks and shares to his two natural sons, Charles, aged 32, who inherited his Hylton estates in Cumberland and Durham, and George, aged 30, who received an annuity of £600.23

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Authors: Howard Spencer / Philip Salmon


  • 1. Earl of Onslow, ‘Hunting in Surr.’, Surr. Arch. Colls. (1935), xliii. 7-8; M.D. George, Cat. of Pol. and Personal Satires, x. 14817, 14949; xi. 16211.
  • 2. H.G.F. Jolliffe, Jolliffes of Staffs. 205-6; Sporting Mag. (ser. 2), i. 413.
  • 3. Jolliffe, 111-17; Add. 38280, f. 222.
  • 4. Som. RO, Hylton mss DD/HY, box 17, Procs. at Petersfield Election (1820); E.A. Minty, Hist. Petersfield, 39-40.
  • 5. Black Bk. (1823), 169; Session of Parl. 1825, p. 470; Hylton mss box 17, Procs. at Petersfield Election (1820).
  • 6. The Times, 26 May, 22 June 1820.
  • 7. Jolliffe, 176.
  • 8. Gent. Mag. (1843), i. 317-18.
  • 9. Hylton mss box 22, J. Haworth to Jolliffe, 13 Dec. 1824; Jolliffe, 198.
  • 10. Jolliffe, 176; A.B. de M. Hunter, Gentlemen of Merstham and Gatton, 108, 114.
  • 11. Hants Telegraph, 12 June 1826.
  • 12. Colchester Diary, iii. 567-8.
  • 13. Jolliffe, 199; Ellenborough Diary, ii. 69, 139.
  • 14. The Times, 7 Aug. 1830.
  • 15. Jolliffe, 215.
  • 16. County Chron., 3, 20 Aug.; Baldwin’s Weekly Jnl. 7 Aug.; The Times, 9, 10 Aug. 1830.
  • 17. Ellenborough Diary, ii. 338; Lonsdale mss, Lowther to Lonsdale, 20 Aug. 1830.
  • 18. CJ, lxxxvi. 60, 136.
  • 19. Hants Telegraph, 2, 16 May 1831.
  • 20. Hylton mss box 22, W. Mitchell to J. Currie, 18 Nov., 27 Dec.; Hants Telegraph, 26 Dec. 1831.
  • 21. Jolliffe, 222-3; Three Diaries, 287.
  • 22. Jolliffe, 209, 225-6.
  • 23. Gent. Mag. (1843), i. 317-8; Jolliffe, 193, 226-7; PROB 11/1973/37; IR26/1644/28.