Newport, John (DNB00)

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NEWPORT, Sir JOHN (1756–1843), politician, born on 24 Oct. 1756, was the son of Simon Newport, a banker at Waterford, by his wife, Elizabeth, daughter of William Riall of Clonmel. After receiving his education at Eton and Trinity College, Dublin, he became a partner in his father's bank. He took part in the convention of volunteer delegates which met in Dublin under the presidency of Lord Charlemont in November 1783, and was appointed a member of the committee of inquiry into the state of the borough representation in Ireland. He was created a baronet on 25 Aug. 1789, with remainder to his brother, William Newport. At the general election, in July 1802, he unsuccessfully contested the city of Waterford in the whig interest against William Congreve Alcock. Newport, however, obtained the seat upon petition in December 1803 (Commons' Journals, lix. 36), and continued to represent that city until his retirement from parliamentary life at the dissolution in December 1832. Upon the formation of the ministry of All the Talents Newport was appointed chancellor of the Irish exchequer (25 Feb. 1806), and was sworn a member of the English privy council on 12 March 1806 (London Gazettes, 1806, 325). He brought in his first Irish budget on 7 May 1806 (Parl. Debates, 1st ser. vii. 34–41, 49–50). In November of this year he was returned for St. Mawes, as well as for the city of Waterford, but elected to sit for Waterford. He brought in his second budget on 25 March 1807 (ib. 1st ser. ix. 189–91), and shortly afterwards resigned office with the rest of his colleagues.

Newport is said to have refused to join the Grenville party in accepting office in Lord Liverpool's administration, on the ground that the government was adverse to any measure of catholic relief. He spoke for the last time in the House of Commons on 25 June 1832, during the debate in committee on the Parliamentary Reform Bill for Ireland (ib. 3rd ser. xiii. 1013, 1015). On 11 Oct. 1834 he was appointed comptroller-general of the exchequer, a new office, created by 4 & 5 Will. IV, cap. 15, upon the abolition of the offices of auditor and teller of the exchequer and clerk of the pells. He retired from this post in 1839, with a pension of 1,000l. a year, and died at Newpark, near Waterford, on 9 Feb. 1843. He was buried in Waterford Cathedral on 15 Feb. following.

Newport was a staunch whig and a steady supporter of catholic emancipation. He was a man of considerable ability and of great industry, but lacking in judgment. He took a very active part in the debates of the House of Commons, especially in those relating to Irish affairs (cf. Hansard, Parliamentary Debates, 1804–30). Owing to the pertinacity with which he pushed his inquiries in the House of Commons he acquired the nickname of the ‘Political Ferret.’

Newport married Ellen, third daughter of Shapland Carew of Castle Boro, M.P. for Waterford city, by whom he had no issue. He was succeeded in the baronetcy by his nephew, the Rev. John Newport, upon whose death, on 15 Feb. 1859, the baronetcy became extinct.

Newport was created a D.C.L. of the university of Oxford on 3 July 1810. There are engravings of him by Lupton after Ramsay, and by R. Cooper after S. C. Smith. He was the author of ‘The State of the Borough Representation of Ireland in 1783 and 1800,’ London, 1832, 8vo.

[Diary and Correspondence of Charles Abbot, lord Colchester, 1861, vols. ii. iii.; Memoirs of Henry Grattan, 1846, v. 311–15, 320, 437–8; Webb's Compendium of Irish Biography, 1878, pp. 359–60; Wilson's Biog. Index to the House of Commons, 1808, pp. 624–5; Public Characters, 1823, iii. 14; Gent. Mag. 1843 pt. i. pp. 652–3, 1859 pt. i. p. 327; Waterford Mirror, 10 and 15 Feb. 1843; Burke's Peerage, &c., 1857, pp. 166, 736; Official Return of Members of Parliament, pt. ii. passim; Haydn's Book of Dignities, 1890; Notes and Queries, 8th ser. ii. 387, 454; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

G. F. R. B.