Thomas Spring Rice, 1st Baron Monteagle of Brandon

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The Lord Monteagle of Brandon

Chancellor of the Exchequer
In office
18 April 1835 26 August 1839
Monarch William IV
Prime Minister The Viscount Melbourne
Preceded by Sir Robert Peel, Bt
Succeeded by Francis Baring
Secretary of State for War and the Colonies
In office
5 June 1834 14 November 1834
Monarch William IV
Prime Minister The Viscount Melbourne
Preceded by Edward Smith-Stanley
Succeeded by The Duke of Wellington
Comptroller General of the Exchequer
In office
18 April 1835 7 February 1866
Monarch William IV
Preceded by Sir John Newport, Bt.
Succeeded byOffice abolished
Personal details
Born(1790-02-08)8 February 1790
Died17 February 1866(1866-02-17) (aged 76)
Political party Whigs
Spouse(s)(1) Lady Theodosia Pery
(d. 1839)
(2) Marianne Marshall
Alma mater Trinity College, Cambridge

Thomas Spring Rice, 1st Baron Monteagle of Brandon, PC , FRS , FGS (8 February 1790 – 7 February 1866) was a British Whig politician, who served as Chancellor of the Exchequer from 1835 to 1839.

Privy Council of the United Kingdom Formal body of advisers to the sovereign in the United Kingdom

Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council, usually known simply as the Privy Council of the United Kingdom or just the Privy Council, is a formal body of advisers to the Sovereign of the United Kingdom. Its membership mainly comprises senior politicians who are current or former members of either the House of Commons or the House of Lords.

Fellow of the Royal Society Elected Fellow of the Royal Society, including Honorary, Foreign and Royal Fellows

Fellowship of the UK Royal Society is an award granted to individuals that the Royal Society of London judges to have made a 'substantial contribution to the improvement of natural knowledge, including mathematics, engineering science, and medical science'.

The Whigs were a political faction and then a political party in the parliaments of England, Scotland, Great Britain, Ireland and the United Kingdom. Between the 1680s and 1850s, they contested power with their rivals, the Tories. The Whigs' origin lay in constitutional monarchism and opposition to absolute monarchy. The Whigs played a central role in the Glorious Revolution of 1688 and were the standing enemies of the Stuart kings and pretenders, who were Roman Catholic. The Whigs took full control of the government in 1715 and remained totally dominant until King George III, coming to the throne in 1760, allowed Tories back in. The Whig Supremacy (1715–1760) was enabled by the Hanoverian succession of George I in 1714 and the failed Jacobite rising of 1715 by Tory rebels. The Whigs thoroughly purged the Tories from all major positions in government, the army, the Church of England, the legal profession and local offices. The Party's hold on power was so strong and durable, historians call the period from roughly 1714 to 1783 the age of the Whig Oligarchy. The first great leader of the Whigs was Robert Walpole, who maintained control of the government through the period 1721–1742 and whose protégé Henry Pelham led from 1743 to 1754.



Spring Rice was born into a notable Anglo-Irish family, which owned large estates in Munster. [1] He was one of the three children of Stephen Edward Rice (d.1831), of Mount Trenchard House, and Catherine Spring, daughter and heiress of Thomas Spring of Ballycrispin and Castlemaine, County Kerry, a descendant of the Suffolk Spring family. [2] He was a great grandson of Sir Stephen Rice (1637–1715), Chief Baron of the Irish Exchequer and a leading Jacobite Sir Maurice FitzGerald, 14th Knight of Kerry. [3] His only married sister, Mary, was the mother of the Catholic converts Aubrey Thomas de Vere, poet, and the Liberal Member of Parliament, Sir Stephen de Vere, 4th Baronet. Spring Rice's grandfather, Edward, had converted the family from Roman Catholicism to the Anglican Church of Ireland, to save his estate from passing in gavelkind.

Munster province in Ireland

Munster is one of the provinces of Ireland, in the south west of Ireland. In early Ireland, the Kingdom of Munster was one of the kingdoms of Gaelic Ireland ruled by a "king of over-kings". Following the Norman invasion of Ireland, the ancient kingdoms were shired into counties for administrative and judicial purposes. In later centuries, local government legislation has seen further sub-division of the historic counties.

Mount Trenchard House is an Irish stately home located near Foynes, County Limerick, overlooking the River Shannon. It was the ancestral seat of the Rice, and subsequently Spring Rice, family.

Castlemaine, County Kerry Town in Munster, Ireland

Castlemaine is a small town in County Kerry, southwest Ireland. It lies on the N70 national secondary road between Killorglin and Tralee.

Spring Rice was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, and later studied law at Lincoln's Inn, but was not called to the Bar. [4] His family was politically well-connected, both in Ireland and Great Britain, and he was encouraged to stand for Parliament by his father-in-law, Lord Limerick.

Trinity College, Cambridge constituent college of the University of Cambridge in England

Trinity College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge in England. With around 600 undergraduates, 300 graduates, and over 180 fellows, it is the largest college in either of the Oxbridge universities by number of undergraduates. In terms of total student numbers, it is second only to Homerton College, Cambridge.

Lincolns Inn one of the four Inns of Court in London, England

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The Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known internationally as the UK Parliament, British Parliament, or Westminster Parliament, and domestically simply as Parliament, is the supreme legislative body of the United Kingdom, the Crown dependencies and the British Overseas Territories. It alone possesses legislative supremacy and thereby ultimate power over all other political bodies in the UK and the overseas territories. Parliament is bicameral but has three parts, consisting of the Sovereign, the House of Lords, and the House of Commons. The two houses meet in the Palace of Westminster in the City of Westminster, one of the inner boroughs of the capital city, London.

Political career

Spring Rice first stood for election in Limerick City in 1818 but was defeated by the Tory incumbent, John Vereker, by 300 votes. He won the seat in 1820 and entered the House of Commons. He positioned himself as a moderate unionist reformer who opposed the radical nationalist politics of Daniel O'Connell, and became known for his expertise on Irish and economic affairs. In 1824 he led the committee which established the Ordnance Survey in Ireland. [5]

Limerick City was a United Kingdom Parliament constituency, in Ireland. It returned one MP 1801–1832, two MPs 1832–1885 and one thereafter. It was an original constituency represented in Parliament when the Union of Great Britain and Ireland took effect on 1 January 1801. It ceased to be represented in the United Kingdom Parliament in 1922.

John Prendergast Vereker, 3rd Viscount Gort, was an Irish peer and politician.

Daniel OConnell Irish political leader

Daniel O'Connell, often referred to as The Liberator or The Emancipator, was an Irish political leader in the first half of the 19th century. He campaigned for Catholic emancipation—including the right for Catholics to sit in the Westminster Parliament, denied for over 100 years—and repeal of the Acts of Union which combined Great Britain and Ireland.

Spring Rice's fluent debating style in the Commons brought him to the attention of leading Whigs and he came under the patronage of the Marquess of Lansdowne. As a result, Spring Rice was made Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department under George Canning and Lord Goderich in 1827, with responsibility for Irish affairs. This required Spring Rice to accept deferral of Catholic emancipation, a policy which he strongly supported. [6] Spring Rice then served as joint Secretary to the Treasury from 1830 to 1834 under Lord Grey. Following the Reform Act 1832, he was elected to represent Cambridge from 1832 to 1839. In June 1834, Grey appointed Spring Rice Secretary of State for War and the Colonies, with a seat in the cabinet, a post he retained when Lord Melbourne became Prime Minister in July. A strong and vocal unionist throughout his life, Spring Rice led the Parliamentary opposition to Daniel O'Connell's 1834 attempt to repeal the Acts of Union 1800. [7] In a six-hour speech in the House of Commons on 23 April 1834 he suggested that Ireland should be renamed 'West Britain'. [8] In the Commons, Spring Rice also championed causes such as the worldwide abolition of slavery and the introduction of state-supported education.

Henry Petty-Fitzmaurice, 3rd Marquess of Lansdowne British politician

Henry Petty-Fitzmaurice, 3rd Marquess of Lansdowne,, known as Lord Henry Petty from 1784 to 1809, was a British statesman. In a ministerial career spanning nearly half a century, he notably served as Home Secretary and Chancellor of the Exchequer and was three times Lord President of the Council.

This article lists past and present Under-Secretaries of State serving the Home Secretary of the United Kingdom.

George Canning British statesman and politician

George Canning was a British Tory statesman who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from April to August 1827. He occupied various senior cabinet positions under numerous prime ministers, before eventually serving himself as Prime Minister for the final four months of his life.

The Whig government fell in November 1834, after which Spring Rice attempted to be elected Speaker of the House of Commons in early 1835. When the Whigs returned to power under Melbourne in April 1835, Spring Rice was made Chancellor of the Exchequer. As Chancellor, Spring Rice had to deal with crop failures, a depression and rebellion in North America, all of which created large deficits and put considerable strain on the government. His Church Rate Bill of 1837 was quickly abandoned and his attempt to revise the charter of the Bank of Ireland ended in humiliation. Spring Rice, unhappy as Chancellor, again tried to be elected as Speaker, but failed. He was a dogmatic figure, described by Lord Melbourne as "too much given to details and possessed of no broad views". [9] Upon his departure from office in 1839, Spring Rice had become a scapegoat for the government's many problems. That same year he was raised to the peerage as Baron Monteagle of Brandon, in the County of Kerry, a title intended earlier for his ancestor Sir Stephen Rice. Lord Monteagle of Brandon was also Comptroller General of the Exchequer from 1835 to 1865, despite Lord Howick's initial opposition to the maintenance of the office. Monteagle differed from the government regarding the exchequer control over the treasury, and the abolition of the old exchequer was already determined upon when he died.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Senior official in the Cabinet of the United Kingdom responsible for economic and financial matters

The Chancellor and Under-Treasurer of Her Majesty's Exchequer, commonly known as the Chancellor of the Exchequer, or simply the Chancellor, is a senior official within the Government of the United Kingdom and head of Her Majesty's Treasury. The office is a British Cabinet-level position.

British North America Former British imperial territories

British North America refers to the former territories of the British Empire in North America, not including the Caribbean. The term was first used informally in 1783, but it was uncommon before the Report on the Affairs of British North America (1839), called the Durham Report. These territories today form modern-day Canada and the Pacific Northwest of the United States.

The Comptroller General of the Exchequer was a position in the Exchequer of HM Treasury between 1834 and 1866. The Comptroller General had responsibility for authorising the issue of public monies from the Treasury to government departments.

From 1839 he largely retired from public life, although he occasionally spoke in the House of Lords on matters generally relating to government finance and Ireland. [8] He vehemently opposed John Russell, 1st Earl Russell's policy regarding the Irish famine, giving a speech in the Lords in which he said the government had "degraded our people, and you, English, now shrink from your responsibilities." [6]

Outside Parliament

In addition to his political career, Spring Rice was a commissioner of the state paper office, a trustee of the National Gallery and a member of the senate of the University of London and of the Queen's University of Ireland. Between 1845 and 1847, he was President of the Royal Statistical Society. In addition, he was a Fellow of the Royal Society and a Fellow of the Geological Society. [8] In May 1832 he became a member of James Mill's Political Economy Club.

Spring Rice was well regarded in Limerick, where he was seen as a compassionate landlord and a good politician. An advocate of traditional Whiggism, he strongly believed in ensuring society was protected from conflict between the upper and lower classes. [10] Although a pious Anglican, his support for Catholic emancipation won him the favour of many Irishmen, most of whom were Roman Catholic. He led the campaign for better county government in Ireland at a time when many Irish nationalists were indifferent to the cause. [11] During the Great Famine of the 1840s, Spring Rice responded to the plight of his tenants with benevolence. The ameliorative measures he implemented on his estates almost bankrupted the family and only the dowry from his second marriage saved his financial situation. A monument in honour of him still stands in the People's Park in Limerick.

Even so, Spring Rice's reputation in Ireland is not entirely favourable. In a book regarding assisted emigration from Ireland (a process in which a landlord paid for their tenants' passage to the United States or Australia), Moran has suggested that Spring Rice was engaged in the practice. In 1838, he is recorded as having 'helped' a boat load of his tenants depart for North America, thereby allowing himself the use of their land. [12] However, Spring Rice is also recorded as having been in support of state-assisted emigration across the British Isles, suggesting that his motivation was not necessarily selfish. [13]

Mount Monteagle in Antarctica and Monteagle County in New South Wales were named in honour of Spring Rice. [14]


The Spring Rice monument in Limerick, Ireland. Limerick (Co. Limerick), Spring Rice Memorial (1).jpg
The Spring Rice monument in Limerick, Ireland.

Lord Monteagle of Brandon was married twice. He married firstly Lady Theodosia Pery, daughter of Edmund Pery, 1st Earl of Limerick, in 1811. He was just 21 at the time, and this marriage prematurely ended his university career. It produced five sons and three daughters:

After his first wife's death in 1839, Monteagle married secondly Marianne, daughter of the Leeds industrialist John Marshall, in 1841. This union brought much needed money into the family, allowing Spring Rice to maintain his Mount Trenchard estate in Ireland and a London house. Upon Lord Monteagle of Brandon's death in February 1866, aged 75, he was succeeded in the barony by his grandson Thomas Spring Rice, the son of his eldest son Hon. Stephen Edmund Spring Rice. Lord Monteagle of Brandon's great-granddaughter was the Irish nationalist, Mary Spring Rice. His second son, Hon. Charles William Thomas Rice, was the father of the diplomat Sir Cecil Spring Rice, British Ambassador to the United States from 1912 to 1918.

Ancestry [16] [17] [18] [19]

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  1. Joseph Jackson Howard, 'Spring', '’The Visitation of Suffolk'’ (Whittaker and Co, 1866), 165–206.
  2. Read this book A genealogical and heraldic history of the extinct and dormant baronetcies by John Burke
  3. David Henry Burton, Cecil Spring Rice: A Diplomat's Life (Fairleigh Dickinson Univ Press, 1990), 21.
  4. "Spring Rice, Thomas (SPRN809T)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  5. Rachel Hewitt, 'Ensign of Empire', Map of a Nation: A Biography Of The Ordnance Survey (Granta Books, 7 July 2011)
  6. 1 2
  7. 'Rice, Thomas Spring, Lord Monteagle', in A Compendium of Irish Biography (1878)
  8. 1 2 3
  9. Dictionary of National Biography – Spring Rice
  10. R. Brent, 'Liberal Anglican politics: whiggery, religion, and reform, 1830–1841' (1987)
  11. Mark Callanan, Justin F. Keogan, Local Government in Ireland: Inside Out (Institute of Public Administration, 1 January 2003), 16.
  12. Moran, Gerard (2004). Sending out Ireland's Poor, assisted emigration to North America in the nineteenth century. Dublin. p. 30.
  13. Spring Rice, Thomas (1790–1866), of Mount Trenchard, nr. Foynes, co. Limerick, from History of Parliament online
  14. "Monteagle County". Geographical Names Register (GNR) of NSW. Geographical Names Board of New South Wales. OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg
  15. Queen Victoria's Ladies-in-Waiting,
  16. Mount Trenchard by Mary Duane, from North Munster Studies, ed. by Etienne Rynne,
  17. Selections from Old Kerry records : historical and genealogical : with introductory memoir, notes and appendix, p. 48
  18. The Spring family of Suffolk and County Kerry, and branches in Australia, New Zealand and the USA, William Anthony Spring and Jane Vivien Spring, 2nd edn
  19. Cracroft's Peerage The Complete Guide to the British Peerage & Baronetage, Patrick Cracroft-Brennan,
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Hon. John Vereker
Member of Parliament for Limerick
Succeeded by
William Roche
David Roche
(representation increased to two members 1832)
Preceded by
Frederick William Trench
The Marquess of Graham
Member of Parliament for Cambridge
With: George Pryme
Succeeded by
George Pryme
John Manners-Sutton
Political offices
Preceded by
Spencer Perceval
Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department
Succeeded by
William Yates Peel
Preceded by
Joseph Planta
Joint Secretary to the Treasury
Succeeded by
Francis Baring
Preceded by
Lord Stanley
Secretary of State for War and the Colonies
Succeeded by
The Earl of Aberdeen
Preceded by
Sir Robert Peel, Bt.
Chancellor of the Exchequer
Succeeded by
Francis Baring
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Baron Monteagle of Brandon
Succeeded by
Thomas Spring Rice