Walsh, John Benn (DNB00)

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WALSH, Sir JOHN BENN, first Lord Ormathwaite (1798–1881), born at Warfield Park, Berkshire, on 9 Dec. 1798, was the only son of Sir John Benn Walsh, bart., of Warfield Park, Berkshire, and Ormathwaite, Cumberland. His father was the son of William Benn of Moor Row, Cumberland, a member of an old north-country family; he married in 1778 Margaret, daughter of Joseph Fowke of Bexley, Kent, by his wife Elizabeth, daughter of Joseph Walsh, governor of Fort St. George. On 4 April 1795 he assumed the surname and arms of Walsh by royal license, in compliance with the will of his wife's uncle, John Walsh (1725?–1795) [q. v.], son of Joseph Walsh. He was created a baronet on 14 June 1804, sat for Bletchingly 1802–6, and died on 7 June 1825. His son was educated at Eton, and matriculated from Christ Church, Oxford, on 3 Dec. 1816 (Foster, Alumni Oxon.) Entering parliament for the borough of Sudbury in 1830, he represented that constituency in the tory interest in three parliaments until December 1834. An ardent politician and an able writer, he published several pamphlets on parliamentary reform. In January 1835 Sir John contested the county of Radnor, but was defeated by a small majority. At the next general election, following the accession of the queen in 1837, he was an unsuccessful candidate for Poole, but the following March was again returned at a by-election for Sudbury. In two years' time, however, he accepted the Chiltern Hundreds, and was returned (on 10 June 1840) without opposition for Radnorshire, which he afterwards represented for nearly twenty-eight years, the only occasion on which his re-election was challenged being in 1841, when he defeated Lord Harley. He was J.P. and D.L. for Berkshire, and served as high sheriff of that county in 1823. Being lord of the manor of Trewerne in Radnorshire and the owner of considerable property there, he was also J.P. for that county and high sheriff in 1825, and on 11 Aug. 1842 was sworn in lord-lieutenant and custos rotulorum of Radnorshire. On 16 April 1868 he was raised to the peerage as Baron Ormathwaite. Owing to advancing years he resigned the lieutenancy of Radnorshire in favour of his son, the present lord, who received the appointment on 19 April 1875. Ormathwaite died at his seat, Warfield Park, Bracknell, Berkshire, on 3 Feb. 1881. He married, on 8 Nov. 1825, Jane, youngest daughter of George Harry Grey, sixth earl of Stamford and Warrington. By her he had two sons and two daughters, and was succeeded by his eldest son, Arthur.

Ormathwaite was author of some able pamphlets, of which the principal were: 1. ‘The Poor Laws in Ireland,’ 1830. 2. ‘Observations on the Ministerial Plan of Reform,’ 1831. 3. ‘On the Present Balance of Parties in the State,’ 1832. 4. ‘Chapters of Contemporary History,’ 1836. 5. ‘Political Back-Games,’ 1871. 6. ‘Astronomy and Geology Compared,’ 1872. 7. ‘Lessons of the French Revolution, 1789–1872,’ 1873.

[Foster's Peerage; Haydn's Book of Dignities, ed. Ockerby; Official Returns of Members of Parliament; H. S. Smith's Parliaments; Williams's Parliamentary History of Wales; obituary notices in Times and Guardian.]

W. R. W.