Biography

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Sir Denis le Marchant, (1795-1874)

This article was written by John Andrew Hamilton and was published in 1892.


Le Marchant

Sir Denis Le Marchant, politician, second and eldest surviving son of Major-general John Gaspard Le Marchant by his wife, Mary, eldest daughter of John Carey, was born at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 3 July 1795. By the death of his father at Salamanca his mother was left in straitened circumstances, and he was brought up by his maternal aunt and her husband, Peter Mourant of Candie, Guernsey.

He was educated at Eton, where his name occurs in the school lists for 1805 and 1808, and at Trinity College, Cambridge, but seems to have taken no degree, and was called to the bar at Lincoln's Inn in 1823. In 1828 he published the ‘Proceedings of the House of Lords in the Gardner Peerage Claim,’ in which case he had appeared for the petitioner. Upon the recommendation of his college friend, William Brougham, Lord Brougham, on becoming lord chancellor in 1830, appointed him his principal secretary. During the debates on the Reform Bill he attended nightly in the House of Commons, and greatly distinguished himself by the reports which he prepared for the use of ministers. He was appointed clerk of the crown in chancery in 1834, and in that year edited a highly successful pamphlet, ‘The Reform Ministry and the Reform Parliament,’ to which his intimate friend Lord Althorp, and also Lord Stanley, Lord Palmerston, and Graham were contributors. It ran through nine editions. From 1836 to 1841 he was secretary to the board of trade, and during the last few months was also joint secretary to the treasury. Lord Melbourne created him a baronet in August 1841, before leaving office.

He entered the House of Commons as M.P. for Worcester, 8 July 1846, but retired in the following year. In the Russell administration of 1847 he became under-secretary for the home department, and in 1848 returned to the secretaryship of the board of trade. In 1850 he was appointed chief clerk to the House of Commons, which office he held until he retired with the thanks of the House of Commons in 1871. He died 30 October. 1874 at Belgrave Road, London.

On 9 January 1835 he had married Sarah Eliza, fourth daughter of Charles Smith of Sutton, Essex, by whom he had two sons and two daughters. He published privately in 1841 a memoir of his father; edited in 1845 Walpole's ‘Memoirs of the Reign of George III,’ with notes; and, at the request of Frederick, earl Spencer, he wrote the ‘Memoirs of John, Viscount Althorp,’ which, being left incomplete at his death, was completed and published in 1876 by his son, Sir Henry Denis Le Marchant.


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