Henley, Joseph Warner (DNB00)

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HENLEY, JOSEPH WARNER (1793–1884), president of the board of trade, born at Putney in 1793, was the only son of Joseph Henley, an eminent London merchant. His father having purchased the estate of Waterperry in Oxfordshire of Mr. Curzon in 1814 removed thither, and served the office of high sheriff in 1817. Joseph Warner Henley entered Magdalen College, Oxford, as a gentleman-commoner 27 April 1812, and graduated B.A. 1815 and M.A. 1834. He spent two years (1815–17) in his father's office in London, and in after life often referred to the advantage this training proved to him. He succeeded in due course to the position of a country gentleman at Waterperry, soon taking a leading part in county and magisterial business. In 1846 he became chairman of the quarter sessions. In 1841 he was elected M.P. for Oxfordshire in the conservative interest, and held the seat till his retirement from public life in 1878. Henley was nearly fifty years of age when he entered parliament, but his plain common sense and clear insight into business soon made him conspicuous. In 1852, when Lord Derby formed a government, Henley took office as president of the board of trade, and became a privy councillor. His tenure of office was brief, for the government lasted only nine months. In 1854 the university of Oxford conferred on him the honorary degree of D.C.L. When Lord Derby and Mr. Disraeli in March 1858 formed a second conservative ministry, Henley once more joined the cabinet as president of the board of trade; but in the following February, differing from his colleagues on their policy of parliamentary reform, especially as regarded the county franchise, he, together with Mr. Spencer Walpole, resigned his office and his seat in the cabinet. He never held office again, though in July 1866 he was offered by Lord Derby the seals of the home office, which he declined on account of partial deafness. Henley frequently sat on royal commissions. As a member of that for the reform of the court of chancery he displayed much knowledge and sagacity. In January 1878, owing to increasing infirmity, he retired from parliament at the age of eighty-five. His uprightness, consistency, and prudence, as well as the shrewdness of his homely sayings, gained him the esteem of all parties. Henley died 9 Dec. 1884, when nearly ninety-two years old. He married, on 9 Dec. 1817, Georgiana, fourth daughter of John Fane, esq., M.P., of Wormsley. She died 15 June 1864. Henley left a large family. His eldest son, Joseph John Henley, C.B., of Waterperry House, J.P. and D.L. for Oxfordshire, was general inspector of the local government board from 1867 to 1892.

[Times, 10 Dec. 1884; information from family.]

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