Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Heron, Robert (1765-1854)

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HERON, Sir ROBERT (1765–1854), politician, born at Newark on 27 Nov. 1765, was only son of Thomas Heron of Chilham Castle, Kent, recorder of Newark (who died 28 April 1794), by his first wife, Anne, elder daughter of Sir Edward Wilmot, bart., M.D. He succeeded to the baronetcy on the death of his uncle, Sir Richard Heron [q. v.], in 1805. In childhood he was very feeble, his mother died on 30 April 1767, and he was brought up by strangers. He was educated from the age of eight by the Rev. John Skynner, who lived near Stamford, and proceeded afterwards to St. John's College, Cambridge, but did not stay long enough to take a degree. For two summers he travelled on the continent with an eccentric tutor, Robert Pedley, who was afterwards known as Robert Deverell [q. v.] On the death of another uncle, the Rev. Robert Heron of Grantham, on 19 Jan. 1813, he succeeded to considerable property, which was augmented by the widow's death shortly afterwards. In politics he was a whig. He abandoned an intention to contest the county of Lincoln in 1812 in order to canvass the borough of Grimsby, and was duly returned for that constituency. At the next general election in 1818 he stood for Lincolnshire, but being in a hopeless minority, withdrew on the third day of the poll. Through Lord Fitzwilliam's interest he was returned in December 1819 for Peterborough, and was re-elected until 1832 without opposition. After that date he was frequently opposed, but continued to sit for Peterborough until his retirement in 1847. Heron was a constant speaker in the House of Commons, and among his proposals was a motion ‘respecting the vacating of seats in parliament on the acceptance of office,’ on which the Marquis of Northampton published a pamphlet of ‘Observations’ in 1835. He died suddenly at Stubton Hall in Lincolnshire on 29 May 1854. He married, at Cottesmore, Rutlandshire, on 9 Jan. 1792, Amelia, second daughter of Sir Horatio Mann of Boughton Malherbe, Kent. She predeceased him on 12 Dec. 1847. A monument to their memory was erected in Stubton churchyard by Mr. George Neville, the successor to the property. Heron built about 1800 the nave and tower of Stubton Church. He had no children, and at his death the baronetcy became extinct.

A volume of his ‘notes’ was printed anonymously for private circulation at Grantham in 1850, and reprinted for sale in 1851. They dealt mainly with politics and social economy, but included observations on natural history, drawn from the curious animals collected together in what was locally known as his ‘menagerie.’ In one passage he spoke of Croker as ‘one of the most determined jobbers,’ and in another referred to a ‘most malicious article’ of that critic in the ‘Quarterly Review.’ Croker revenged himself by a savage onslaught on the volume in the ‘Quarterly’ (1852, xc. 206–25).

[Gent. Mag. January 1792 p. 88, July 1854 pp. 74–5; Hasted's Kent, ii. 432, iii. 134; Geneal. Table of Heron Family, pt. ii.; Sir R. Heron's notes.]

W. P. C.