Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Sibthorp, Charles De Laet Waldo

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SIBTHORP, CHARLES DE LAET WALDO (1783–1855), colonel of militia and politician, second son of Colonel Humphry Waldo Sibthorp (1744–1815), of an old family long connected with Lincoln, by Susannah, daughter of Richard Ellison of Thorne in Yorkshire, and Sudbrooke Holme in Lincolnshire, was born on 14 Feb. 1783. Dr. Humphry Sibthorp (1718-1797) was his grandfather [see under Sibthorp, John], and Richard Waldo Sibthorp [q. v.] was his brother.

Charles entered the army at an early age, was a captain, first in the Scots Greys, and then in the 4th dragoon guards, and served with the latter regiment in the Peninsular war. On the death of his eldest brother, Coningsby, in 1822, he succeeded to the family estates, and was elected, in 1826, member of parliament for Lincoln, a borough which had been represented before him successively by his brother, his father, his great-uncle, and the latter's father. He was colonel of the South Lincoln militia, as his father and great-uncle had been before him, and was a deputy-lieutenant and a magistrate for the county. Except for a brief interval in 1833 and 1834, when Sir Edward Bulwer ousted him by a small majority. Colonel Sibthorp continued until his death to be re-elected for Lincoln, on personal rather than on political grounds, and often without opposition.

In parliament he belonged to the ultra-tory and ultra-protestant party, and was the embodiment of old-fashioned prejudice. Partly by his uncompromising opinions, partly by his blunt expressions, and partly by an eccentricity that did less than justice to his real abilities, he made himself for many years rather a notorious than a respected figure in political life. His appearance was extraordinary and was frequently caricatured, and his dress attracted attention. His delivery was rambling and uncouth (Fitzpatrick, Correspondence of O'Connell, ii. 180). His speeches were frequently witty and polished, though he had received little regular education, but they were too often personal and violent [see Russell, John first Earl Russell]. He made furious attacks on Peel's change of front on corn-law question (e.g. Hansard, lxxxiii. 310). He opposed in all their stages the Catholic Emancipation Bill and the Reform Bill, and was one of the last opponents of free trade. The 'Chandos' clause of the Reform Bill, which gave the vote to 50l. occupiers in counties, really originated with him, and his annoyance was great when it was actually moved by Lord Chandos instead of by himself. The provision (§ 36) in the act to make better provision for the residence of the clergy (1 and 2 Vict. c. 100), which enabled widows of deceased incumbents to retain possession of the parsonage-house for two months after the incumbent's death, also was strongly supported by him. He opposed the ministerial proposal for a grant of 60,000l. per annum to Prince Albert on 27 Jan. 1840, largely from dislike of foreign influences, and it was his amendment for its reduction to 30,000l. which, with the support of Peel, was eventually carried. He denounced the exhibition of 1851 for the same reason, and was unwearied in his opposition to the expansion of the Roman catholic church in England. His feelings on this subject were intensified by the conversion of his brother Richard Waldo to the church of Rome in 1841.

Sibthorp died at his house in Eaton Square, London, on 14 Dec. 1855, and was buried at Canwick, near Lincoln. He married, in 1812, Maria, daughter and coheiress of Ponsonby Tottenham of Clifton and of county Wexford, long M.P. for Fethard in the Irish parliament, by whom he had four sons; the eldest, Gervaise Tottenham Waldo Sibthorp (1815-1861), was M.P. for Lincoln.

[Gent. Mag. 1856, i. 84: Martin's Life of the Prince Cousort, i. 69; Memoirs of an Ex-Minister. Lord Malmesbury, i. III, 258; Times, 17 Dec. 1855; McCarthy's History of Our Own Times, ii. 109; Fraser's Mag. xxxvi. 462.]

J. A. H.