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Sir Thomas Dyke Acland, 11th Baronet FRS (25 May 1809 – 29 May 1898) was a British educational reformer and a politician who sat in the House of Commons between 1837 to 1886 initially as a Tory and later, after an eighteen year gap, as a Liberal.[1]

Acland was the eldest son of Sir Thomas Dyke Acland, 10th Baronet, and his wife Lydia Elizabeth Hoare, daughter of Henry Hoare, a partner in the banking firm of C. Hoare & Co. Sir Henry Wentworth Acland was his younger brother. He was educated at Harrow and Christ Church, Oxford, where he was friends with William Gladstone and Lord Elgin among others. He was a major in the Royal Devonshire Yeomanry Cavalry.[2] In 1839 he was made a Fellow of the Royal Society.[3]

In 1837 Acland entered Parliament for Somerset West as a Tory. During the tensions within the Tory party in the 1840s over the Corn Laws, Acland supported Sir Robert Peel's free trade policy. He did not stand for Parliament in the 1847 general election and was to remain out of the House of Commons for nearly twenty years.[4]

Acland showed a strong interest in and commitment to educational reform. He initially promoted the maintenance and defence of church schools and the establishment of diocesan theological colleges. However, he later became a supporter of educational projects of a more Liberal character and played a leading role in the establishment of the Oxford local examinations system in 1858. He was also involved in agricultural issues and was a Trustee of the Royal Agricultural Society. He was also Honorary Colonel 3rd Volunteer Bn Devonshire Regiment and a J.P. for Devon and Somerset.[2] He contested Birmingham as a moderate Liberal in 1859, but was defeated by John Bright.

In 1865, Ackland returned to the House of Commons as a Liberal when he was elected as one of two representatives for Devonshire North. Between 1869 and 1874, he served as a Church Estates Commissioner. He never held ministerial office but was sworn of the Privy Council in 1883. The Devonshire North constituency was abolished by the Redistribution of Seats Act of 1885 and Acland was instead returned to Parliament for Wellington. He voted for the First Home Rule Bill in June 1885 and this led to him being defeated at the 1886 general election.[4]

Apart from his public career Acland was also a patron of art. He was a friend of John Ruskin and an early admirer of John Everett Millais.

Acland married firstly Mary Mordaunt, daughter of Sir Charles Mordaunt, 8th Baronet, in 1841. They had three sons and two daughters. After her death in 1851 he married secondly Mary Erskine, only surviving child of John Erskine, in 1856. This marriage was childless. Lady Acland died in May 1892. Acland survived her by six years and died in May 1898, aged 89. He was succeeded in the baronetcy by his eldest son Thomas, who was also a politician. Acland's second son Arthur, who succeeded in the baronetcy in 1919, also had a successful political career.[1]


  • Stephen, Sir Leslie; Lee, Sir Sidney (editors). The Dictionary of National Biography. From the Earliest Times to 1900. Volume XXII. Supplement. Oxford University Press.
  • Kidd, Charles, Williamson, David (editors). Debrett's Peerage and Baronetage (1990 edition). New York: St Martin's Press, 1990.
  • Leigh Rayment's Baronetage Page

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Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Edward Ayshford Sanford
Charles John Kemeys Tynte
Member of Parliament for Somerset West
With: Edward Ayshford Sanford 1837–1841
Francis Henry Dickinson 1841–1847
Succeeded by
Charles Aaron Moody
Alexander Hood
Preceded by
James Wentworth Buller
Charles Hepburn-Stuart-Forbes-Trefusis
Member of Parliament for Devonshire North
With: Charles Hepburn-Stuart-Forbes-Trefusis 1865–1866
Sir Stafford Northcote 1866–1885
John Curzon Moore-Stevens 1885
Constituency abolished
New title Member of Parliament for Wellington
Succeeded by
Charles Isaac Elton
Baronetage of England
Preceded by
Thomas Dyke Acland
(of St Columb John)
Succeeded by
Charles Thomas Dyke Acland

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