Birth: December 1807
Place or Registered Place of Birth: Humberstone, Leicestershire
Baptism: 27 December 1807
Place of Baptism: St. Martin's, Leicester, Leicestershire
Death: 16 October 1892 - Aged 85
Place or Registered Place of Death: Billesdon, Leicestershire
Place of Burial: Family Vault at Ibstock, Leicestershire
Father: Thomas Paget
Mother: Anne Pares
Spouse(s): Katherine Geraldine McCausland
Date of Marriage: 17 April 1850
Place or Registered Place of Marriage: Newtown Limavady, Drumachose Parish, co. Derry, Ireland
Thomas Tertius Paget (27 December 1807 – 16 October 1892) was an English banker and Liberal Party politician.
Paget was the eldest son of the banker and Whig politician Thomas Paget (1778–1862) and his wife Anne Pares. He was a partner in Leicester Bank and became a J. P. and a Deputy Lieutenant for Leicestershire and High Sheriff of Leicestershire in 1869.
Paget was elected as a Member of Parliament (MP) for the Southern Division of Leicestershire at a by-election in November 1867, filling the vacancy caused by the death of the Conservative Party MP Charles William Packe. However, he was defeated at the 1868 general election, and was unsuccessful both at a further by-election in 1870 and at the 1874 general election. He finally regained the seat, after a twelve-year absence from the House of Commons, at the 1880 general election, and when the constituency was abolished under the Redistribution of Seats Act 1885, he was elected at the 1885 general election for the new Harborough Division of Leicestershire. He retired from Parliament at the 1886 general election.
Unitarian Members of Parliament in the Nineteenth Century
D. W. Bebbington
Professor of History, University of Stirling
Thomas Tertius Paget
27 Dec. 1807 - 16 Oct. 1892
MP (L) for Leicestershire, S, Nov 1867 - 1868; 1880-86 Banker and landowner. Joined father's bank, 1825, becoming partner, 1839. High Sheriff of Leicestershire, 1869. JP, DL. Defeated in Leicestershire, S, 1868, June 1870 and 1874. Was firmly attached to the great principles which guide the Liberal party (1886). President of Trade Protection Society from 1850 until death. Joined in founding proprietary and British schools and Mechanics' Institute. Supported Leicester Opera House, which he adorned lavishly. Squire of Humberstone, Leics. Was a model country gentleman, fond of sporting (I, 12 Dec. 1885, p. 789). Patron of one living. Of 8 Charles Street, St James's, London; Humberstone, Leicester; Ibstock House, Ashby-de-la-Zouche; and Oxendon, Market Harborough. Member of Great Meeting, Leicester. Son of Thomas Paget MP. Educated under his uncle, Charles Perry, minister of Great Meeting. Supporter of MNC. Vice-president, B&FUA. (I, 22 Oct. 1892, p. 683) WWBMP. I, 22 Oct. 1892, p. 683
Thomas Tertius Paget was a theatre loving politician and a senior partner in Paget's Bank. He provided considerable financial support for Leicester's Royal Opera House, in Silver Street. It was built on a generous scale and cost £35,000. The official opening was on September 6, 1877.
Paget died at the age of 85
Paget married Katharine Geraldine McCausland, daughter of Marcus McCausland of Dreenagh, County Londonderry, in 1850.
John Paget, letter to his son Guy, 3 Sept. 1867.
(Preserved in Leicestershire Record Office)
46 Euston Sq. N.W. 3rd Sept 1867
My dear Guy,
[the letter begins by warning Guy against a certain George Melly] . . . impulsive, hasty, inaccurate, mere wax in the hands of such a man as your uncle Tertius & his judgment is, in no degree, to be relied upon. His account of Grandmother may have some foundation in fact (because of her age). As to your Aunt Geraldine she has played for £20,000 a year, she has got it & may possibly now find how very little mere money may do. Let us look back at the facts. Your Grandfather promised me an equal share in his property with your uncle. Your grandmother, your Uncle and your aunt Geraldine practising on his fears and his enfeebled intellect induced him to leave almost the whole of his property to your Uncle Tertius and that made his latter years miserable with remorse for the injustice he had inflicted on me, on your mother, your sister and yourself.
Finding himself compelled to devise some excuse for thus appropriating my property to himself your Uncle invented the most abominable slander on my conduct & character & though repeatedly challenged either to prove their truth or to admit their falsehood he does neither. Is it possible for you with a fitting regard to the respect due to me & to yourself to take any step towards the renewal of intercourse with such a man?
By your Grandmother's desire I went to Hastings in April (last year) & had a long interview with her. She feels no interest in me, in your mother, your sister or yourself. Every feeling is centred on your Uncle Tertius and she desires a renewal of intercourse because she feels that whilst we stand aloof her great wealth is no protection against the contempt of the world.
The great desire of your Uncle has been to create dissension amongst us. Hitherto he has failed. I hope he will continue to do so. I cannot conceal from you that if you were to go to Humberstone it would place me in a position of great difficulty & discomfort. You & I should then be pursuing antagonistic lines of conduct. Your Uncle Tertius would immediately say - 'You see as soon as Guy is a free man he takes the first opportunity of repudiating his father & marking his disapproval of his conduct'. Others would impute to (falsely I know) a desire to make up with your Uncle for the sake of his wealth. When I talked these matters fully over with Sir John McNeill & asked him if he would give me any advice or suggestion he said 'The only advice I can give you is to do nothing that shall fetter the future action either of yourself or of Guy. It is impossible to foresee what may occur. DO nothing'. Upon this I have acted, & I have felt the wisdom of the advice. If you were to take the step you suggest you would greatly fetter my future actions.
My very earnest advice is that you should not go to Humberstone.
If after reading this letter & reconsidering the matter you do not agree with me at any rate do nothing until you have seen me. On a matter of so much importance you might possibly ask for leave of absence for a day & as one that concerns me so it is not unreasonable that I should be fully consulted before you act.
I sit at the Thames Thursday, Friday & Saturday in this week.
I have very good accounts of your Mother.
Let me hear from you.
Believe me, always my dear Guy, most affectly. yrs.
This letter was written by John Paget who was born in 1811, the second son of Thomas Paget of Humberstone, then a village on the outskirts of Leicester. He had much in common with William Biggs. Both the families were wealthy, among the elite of Leicester, both were connected with the Leicester Unitarian congregation, the Great Meeting, which contributed substantially to that elite, and both took an active part in politics.
John Paget's father had been the acknowledged leader of the Reformers in their struggle against the old Corporation, then served as the first Mayor of the reformed Corporation and until his death remained a respected figure among the Liberals of Leicester. However, when the divisions in their ranks deepened, Thomas Paget's sympathies lay with John Biggs's opponents.
There was also some difference in the social standing of the families. The wealth of the Biggs brothers was very obviously new wealth. Their hosier father had taken the first steps but the brothers were, to a large extent, self-made men, who had known physical labour. Thomas Paget's would not have been considered so tainted. He was a banker; and although the bank was relatively recent, having been founded by his father, it had developed out of the older and respectable Pares Bank, and Paget had married into the Pares family. Further, the Pagets were not exactly 'new men'. They could trace their origins back to the sixteenth century and had a wide connection in the county. They not only possessed a manor-house in Humberstone but a family vault in Ibstock, which provided the family with its territorial marker.
This brings us back to the letter. The differences between Biggs's hurried little note and Paget's calculated missive are obvious at the first reading. Much, of course, can be explained simply by the differing circumstances and purpose; but one might reasonably doubt whether William, in Paget's place, could have penned so sophisticated and literary a piece. It reads like a passage extracted from some lost novel by Anthony Trollope. Apart from its rhetorical flourishes and rhythms it pursues a cunningly contrived argument intended to put the unfortunate Guy in the position of having to choose between loyalty and treachery. The reader will not be surprised to learn that John Paget was a lawyer.
As a young man John had served for a few years in Paget's Bank, but in 1835, having either found banking unpalatable or discovered that the rewards were to be reserved for his elder brother Tertius, he decided to take up the Law. On becoming a barrister he moved to London; and having married (his wife being a Rathbone, one of the most eminent Unitarian families of Liverpool) and apparently in need of a steady income, became secretary to two Lord Chancellors in succession. When he reached his fifties he settled down as a stipendiary magistrate in various London Police Courts (among them the Thames) which he served until his retirement.
This amounted to a sound but hardly brilliant career. What makes John Paget one of the most interesting figures to come out of Victorian Leicester is the literary activity that occupied his leisure hours. For some twenty-five years he produced a flow of essays and articles over a wide range of subjects, judicial, literary, historical and even artistic. What distinguished them was his originality, his readiness to take a fresh look at problems, and the sharp critical edge which did not spare established reputations. The papers published in his Paradoxes and Puzzles best display his versatility, but historians are most likely to remember him for The New Examen in which he savaged that hero of Victorian historiography, Lord Macaulay.
So much for the writer of this letter. Let us now turn to the letter itself. Though its general character is clear enough some explanation is required. The letter is of course addressed to John's only son, Thomas Guy Paget, then aged 24. A note attached to it at a later date by John's great-grandson, Reginald, Lord Paget, explains that the letter was prompted by Guy's proposal 'to visit Humberstone on excuse of seeing his grandmother, who was growing old'. Guy's grandmother was the widow of Thomas Paget the banker, who had died five years before this. To visit her might seem innocent enough; but John suspected that this was merely a cover for Guy to meet Thomas Tertius Paget and his wife Geraldine8, and perhaps even to try to end the rift between the Paget brothers. This prospect was clearly intolerable. A reconciliation would merely legitimize the injustice which John considered he had suffered.
We are left in no doubt about the depth of John Paget's feelings on this subject. He is clearly obsessed with it. No one is to be trusted. Melly, who is perhaps an agent, is a mere tool. John's own mother is besotted with Tertius and only wants a reconciliation for the sake of her reputation. Tertius and Geraldine are scheming villains who took advantage of Thomas Paget's senility to rob John of his promised share of the property and now hope to drive a wedge between Guy and his father. The only person accorded any respect is Sir John McNeill, who tells John what he wishes to hear.
It is difficult to know what truth there is in John's accusations. Certainly John did not become rich. He had to continue working for his living. Certainly Tertius took over the bank; and when he died in 1892 he left £589,000, a very large sum indeed in those days. But that does not make him a villain. He seems to have been a conscientious politician who fought hard to win and keep his parliamentary seat in South Leicestershire. The only really adverse account of him is provided by Penn Lloyd in his Anecdotes of Bygone Leicestershire. There he states categorically that Tertius was a mean man, hated by everyone; and that at his death, when the funeral cortege had to pass through Leicester on the way from Humberstone to the family vault at Ibstock, people could only be got to line the streets by the promise of good ale. Unfortunately the book, while rich in good stories, is poor in documentation and can hardly be relied upon.
Even if John was deprived of his promised share of the inheritance it might not have been as a consequence of Tertius's machinations. It could be that at some point he had brought his troubles on himself by offending his father. There were two occasions when he might have appeared to push himself rather brashly into the political scene. The first was in the general election of 1852 when the Moderates were trying to recover from the gains the Radicals had made in the previous election. Though now based in London, John had sprung into action and quickly conjured up a candidate. It happened that the Lord Chancellor to whom he was secretary, Lord Truro, had a nephew, James Wild, who was not only appropriately moderate in his politics, but tolerably happy to be nominated. This was useful but it was also brash and one wonders how well his act of electoral prestidigitation was really received by John's elders, especially as Wild was singularly unsuccessful.
The next occasion, in the by-election of 1856, provided an opportunity for an even brasher initiative, which this time involved John in pushing himself to the front of the stage. In spite of being egged on by a chorus of Dissenting ministers calling for a crusade against the godless Radicals, whose proposal to open the Museum on Sunday afternoons would give the English Sabbath its death-blow, the Moderates remained strangely hesitant to act. As if reproving their supineness John threw himself into the breach and offered himself as a candidate. However, he found himself a general without any troops. When Nomination day arrived he abandoned the field to the enemy without so much as calling for a show of hands. It is difficult to believe that this episode did much for John's reputation. He had failed to rally the Moderates behind him and had exposed their weakness. Perhaps his action did more than that. It may have flouted the decisions of the Moderate leaders who seem to have resolved to save their ammunition for the next General Election rather than waste it on an impregnable opponent like John Biggs, whom John had tried to challenge. If so, John's judgment and his own respect for parental authority might have been put in doubt. These efforts might also have created or intensified ill-feeling between the brothers. In view of Tertius's own political ambitions John's interventions might have appeared threatening and even offensive. This brings us back to the theme of fathers, sons and brothers.
If we compare the two families the contrast between them is striking. The Biggs brothers made an effective partnership; and their loyalty to one another was well demonstrated when William agreed to resign his parliamentary seat and give his full time to the management of the business, in order to give John his turn in Parliament. It is difficult to imagine either of the Paget brothers making a similar sacrifice. Similarly the easy relationship that appears to have existed between William Biggs and his children contrasts strongly with the heavy-handed tone adopted by John Paget towards Guy and with the harsh treatment that John himself seems to have suffered at the hands of his father. Perhaps we should not be too ready to generalize about Victorian family relationships or about the rules for successful 'dynasty-building'. William Biggs raised a family which was bonded well together, well-educated, and trained to continue the business, but appears to have over-extended his resources in his attempts to provide a place for his sons. By contrast, Thomas Paget seemed likely to have provided more wisely for his bank by respecting the rule of primogeniture and concentrating the bank's capital in the hands of his elder son, especially since Tertius proved-to be a capable man of business. Yet this exercise in 'dynasty-building' also failed. Tertius had no son and the business was eventually incorporated into Lloyds Bank. John Paget might have p roved a better bet.
To return to the letter by way of conclusion: what was Guy's response to his father's letter? A note by Reginald Paget attached to the letter provides the answer. Guy did not go to Humberstone. So did the letter achieve its purpose? The answer is, not completely. Reginald Paget goes on to note that instead of going to see his aunt and uncle he wrote to Geraldine to congratulate Tertius on his recent electoral success - 'a most foolish action on Guy's pan,' Reginald comments, 'which he did not communicate with (sic) his father'.
Thomas Tertius Paget, Esqre
J.P. and D.L.
elder son of Thomas Paget Esq re
born 27th December 1807,
died 16th October 1892,
and was buried in the family vault
Leicester Road, Humberstone, Leicestershire
Thomas Paget - Head - Married - 72 - Landed Proprietor and Banker - Ibstock, Leicestershire
Anne Paget - Wife - 66 - 1785 - Leicestershire
Thomas Tertius Paget - Son - 43 - Banker at Leicester - Leicestershire
Katherine Geraldine Paget - Sons Wife - 28 - 1823 - Rownham, Somerset
Thomas Paget - Head - Married - 82 - 1779 - Landed Proprietor and Banker - Ibstock, Leicestershire
Anne Paget - Wife - Married - 76 - 1785 - Leicester
Thomas Tertius Paget - Son - Married - 53 - 1808 - Landed Proprietor and Banker - Leicester
Privates, Humberstone, Leicestershire
Thos. Tertius Paget - Head - 62 - Widower - Land Owner - Humberstone, Leicestershire
Theodosia Sidney - Sister-in-Law - Widow - 52 - Annuitant
The Hall W Front St, Humberstone, Leicestershire
Thos T. Paget - Head - Widower - 73 - Banker, M.P. - Leicester
The Hall, Main Street, Humberstone, Leicester
Thos. T. Paget - Head - Widower - 83 - Banker - Leicester
Thomas Tertius Paget