Shaw-Lefevre, Charles (DNB00)

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SHAW-LEFEVRE, CHARLES, Viscount Eversley (1794–1888), born on 22 Feb. 1794, was the eldest son of Charles Shaw, a barrister, of a Yorkshire family, and M.P. for Reading from 1802 to 1820. His father on his marriage with Helena, only daughter of John Lefevre, a member of a Normandy family long settled at Heckfield Place, Hartfordbridge, Hampshire, assumed the additional name of Lefevre. Sir John Shaw-Lefevre [q. v.] was his younger brother. Charles was at school at Winchester College, then went to Trinity College, Cambridge, where he graduated B.A. in 1815 and M.A. in 1819, and was called to the bar at Lincoln's Inn in 1819, but practised very little. He at once took to politics and was active in his brother-in-law Samuel Whitbread's contest for Middlesex in 1820, but from his father's death in 1823 resided principally in Hampshire, interesting himself in county business and in the yeomanry drill. In 1830 he entered parliament for Lord Radnor's pocket borough of Downton in Wiltshire, and in 1831, after a severe contest, was returned for the county of Hampshire. The county was divided into two portions by the act of 1832, and thenceforward, till his elevation to the peerage, he sat for the northern division. He was a steady supporter of the whig government, but, though he moved the address in 1834, he spoke rarely. For some years he was chairman of a committee on petitions for private bills, and in 1835 was chairman of a committee on agricultural distress. He was chairman of the select committee on procedure in 1838, and carried his report almost unanimously. By attending closely to the work of these committees and to the forms of the house, and by his natural fair-mindedness and temper, he gained a reputation which led to his selection in 1839, in spite of Spring-Rice's claims as the government candidate, to succeed Abercromby in the chair. He was in fact rather the choice of the party than of its leaders. He was elected in a full house on 27 May by a majority of 317 to 299 votes for Goulburn. He was re-elected in 1841, in spite of Peel's possession of a majority, which could easily have ousted him, and again in 1847 and 1852, on each occasion unanimously. He proved himself a speaker of distinction. He set himself to reform procedure, and during the stormy debates on Irish questions in O'Connell's time, and afterwards on free trade, maintained order firmly and impartially. He was very dignified, strong, and tactful, and the business of the house benefited greatly by his election (Walpole, Life of Lord John Russell, i. 323). A volume of his decisions was published by the Hon. Robert Bourke in 1857, and to him is due the removal of many unsuitable forms now forgotten. In 1857, having served longer than any other speaker except Onslow, he decided to retire, and withdrew on 11 March. He was then raised to the peerage on 11 April as Viscount Eversley of Heckfield, and received a pension. He was nominated a church estates commissioner, which office he resigned in 1859 on becoming an ecclesiastical commissioner, and was a trustee of the British Museum. Though often present, he rarely spoke in the House of Lords, but he busied himself in the public affairs of his county, where he resided at Heckfield; he was high steward of Winchester, governor and lord-lieutenant of the Isle of Wight, colonel of the Hampshire yeomanry, and even down to July 1879 was chairman of quarter sessions. He was made a G.C.B. in 1885. He took a keen interest in sport and in agriculture, and was active almost till the day of his death, 28 Dec. 1888. He died at his house in Hampshire, but was buried beside his wife at Kensal Green cemetery, London, on 2 Jan. 1889. He married, 24 June 1817, Emma Laura, daughter of Samuel Whitbread, M.P. for Bedford (she died in 1857), and by her had three sons, who died young, and three daughters; the title became extinct on his death, but his nephew was created Baron Eversley in 1906.

[Manning's Lives of the Speakers; Walpole's Hist. of England, iii. 480; McCullagh Torrens's Life of Lord Melbourne, ii. 295; Annual Register, 1888; Times, 29 Dec. 1888.]

J. A. H.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.247
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

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450 ii 19-20 Shaw-Lefevre, Charles, Viscount Eversley: for St. Mary's, Winchester, read Winchester College