Ruthven, Edward Southwell (DNB00)

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RUTHVEN, EDWARD SOUTHWELL (1772–1836), Irish politician, born in 1772, was the eldest of the three sons of Edward Trotter, a clergyman of the established church in co. Down. John Bernard Trotter [q. v.] was a younger brother, and the third, Ruthven Trotter, became a major in the army and was killed at Buenos Ayres in 1807. The family claimed descent from the earls of Gowrie, and in 1800 Edward Southwell assumed the name Ruthven instead of Trotter. On 9 Oct. 1790 he entered Wadham College, Oxford, as a fellow commoner, matriculating two days later, but he left the university without a degree. Having succeeded to his father's estates at Oakley, co. Down, he successfully contested the parliamentary representation of Downpatrick as a whig, against John Wilson Croker [q. v.], in November 1806. He made his maiden speech on 17 Jan. 1807, but parliament was dissolved in the following April, and in the general election of May Croker succeeded in ousting Ruthven from Downpatrick. Ruthven did not enter parliament again till 7 Aug. 1830, when he was re-elected member for Downpatrick as a supporter of O'Connell. He was re-elected for the same constituency on 9 May 1831, but on 17 Dec. 1832 was returned with O'Connell as member for Dublin. From this time he took an active part in parliamentary debates. He is said to have spoken well; but, according to the author of ‘Random Recollections of the House of Commons,’ his voice was harsh, his articulation bad, and he was given to the perpetration of ‘bulls.’ He acted with O'Connell and generally supported Hume and the radicals, frequently moving for reductions in the estimates. He made many speeches in favour of the Reform Bill of 1831, but demanded a large increase in the number of Irish members. He also supported Earl Grey's Irish church legislation as a protestant, though he did not consider it went far enough. On 12 Feb. 1833 he proposed that the number of Irish bishops should be reduced to four; he approved of the abolition of church rates, and maintained that church lands were public property, and ought to be appropriated to the education of the people and maintenance of the clergy of all sects. During the session of 1834 he acquired notoriety by moving the adjournment of the house night after night, and members made an organised attempt to prevent his being heard by coughing and yawning, till Ruthven threatened to find a cure for their coughs outside the house; he exchanged three shots with Louis Perrin [q. v.] In January 1835 he was again returned with O'Connell for Dublin, but a petition was at once presented; the inquiry was prolonged until May 1836, when O'Connell and Ruthven were unseated. Meanwhile Ruthven had died on 31 March 1836 at his lodging in North Street, Westminster. He was buried in Glasnevin cemetery, Dublin, his funeral being the occasion of a popular demonstration; a handsome monument, of which the foundation-stone was laid by O'Connell, was erected to his memory.

Ruthven married Harriet Jane, daughter of Francis Price of Saintfield, co. Down. According to Fitzpatrick, he was son-in-law of Sir Philip Crampton [q. v.], but this is a confusion with Ruthven's son Edward, of Ballyfan House, Kildare, who represented co. Kildare in the parliaments of 1833 and 1835, and married Cecilia, only daughter of John Crampton (1769–1840), surgeon-general of Ireland.

[Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1715–1886; Gardiner's Reg. Wadham College, 1719–1871, p. 192; Foster's Peerage and Baronetage; Gent. Mag. 1836, i. 664–5; Annual Reg. 1833 pp. 89–90, 1834 pp. 287–8, 1836 pp. 196, 204; Hansard's Parliamentary Debates, passim; Official Return of Members of Parliament; J. B. Trotter's Walks in Ireland, p. vi; Croker Papers, i. 11; Fitzpatrick's Correspondence of O'Connell, passim; O'Brien's Fifty Years of Concession to Ireland, i. 419.]

A. F. P.