Blencowe Families’ Association Newsletter Vol. 23 No. 2 May 2008

Using old newspapers to learn about the life and times of our early family members.

Marilyn Astle located the following article in the online Penny Illustrated newspaper published on 14 December 1861 where Anglo/ America relations are discussed with reference to Robert Willis Blencowe M.P. for Lewes. Robrt Willis Blencowe

Firstly, Robert Willis Blencowe II (1791-1874) M.P. was the great, great grandson of Sir John and Lady Ann Blencowe and is of the Chailey branch of the family. He was educated at Eton and Oriel College, Oxford, where he read classics. Robert was the owner of an extensive estate and Magistrate for Lewes for many years. He was the founder of the Sussex Agricultural Society and was regarded as “the father of the 4th Sussex Yeomanry”. He took a leading role in many local enterprises and events. The following gives an insight to the issues of his day.


At the dinner which followed the Lewes Fat Stock Show, on Tuesday, the Earl of Chichester presided, his immediate supporters being the Hon. H. Brand, M.P., the whipper-in of the Government, and Mr Blencowe, M.P., the other member for Lewes.  

The health of the borough members having been proposed, Mr Brand said he had that morning read in a newspaper a speech of a Member of Parliament (Mr Williams), who, the night before, delivered an able address, full of statistical details of great interest, in of the course of which he was continually interrupted by cries of “How about America?” Well that was the question, “Is there to be a war with America?” Well, who could answer such a question as that? But that question was not to be answered by England, but by America. And if anyone would tell him whether the American Government, in their councils, were guided by passion or by reason, he would then be able to say whether there would be war or peace. If the councils of the American Government were guided by reason, we should have peace; if these councils were guided by passion, we should have war. Of this he was quite sure, that England regarded with the most friendly feeling the people of the United States. They looked at the civil war between the States themselves as a great calamity. They would look upon war between England and America as a greater calamity. But the greatest calamity of all would be national dishonour. That England could not submit to. Peace was the greatest blessing on earth, and we ought to make great sacrifices for it: but forbearance had its limits. Peace, although a great blessing, may be bought too dear. He had had much intercourse with Americans. They had friendly feelings towards England as England had towards America. But, unfortunately, there was a small section in America of noisy and excited politicians, who, having nothing to lose, might wish to involve the two countries in a war. Heaven grant that they might not have the upper hand! Heaven grant that peace might be maintained between these two great nations!  

Mr Blencowe coincided in the expressions of Mr. Brand with regard to the American question.  

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updated: 31 October 2008