Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Trench, Frederick William

TRENCH, Sir FREDERICK WILLIAM (1775–1859), general, born in 1775, was the only son of Frederick Trench of Heywood, Ballinakill, Queen's County. Richard Le Poer Trench, second earl of Clancarty [q. v.], was a distant relative. He obtained a commission as ensign and lieutenant in the 1st foot-guards on 12 Nov. 1803, and became lieutenant and captain on 12 Nov. 1807. He was employed on the quartermaster-general's staff in Sicily in 1807, and in the Walcheren expedition in 1809. He went to Cadiz with his company in June 1811; but on 1 Aug. he was appointed assistant quartermaster-general, with the rank of major, in the Kent district, and returned to England. On 25 Nov. 1813 he was made deputy quartermaster-general, with the rank of lieutenant-colonel, to the corps sent to Holland under Graham [see Graham, Thomas, Lord Lynedoch]. In 1814 he was placed on half-pay; and on 27 May 1825 he was appointed aide-de-camp to the king, with the rank of colonel. He was storekeeper of the ordnance under the Wellington administration (1828–30).

He sat in parliament nearly continuously for forty years, viz. for St. Michael, 1807–12; Dundalk, 1812–18; Cambridge, 1819–32; Scarborough, 1835–47. He was a conservative, but followed Peel in regard to the corn laws. A man of energy and of large ideas, he worked out (in conjunction with the Duke and Duchess of Rutland) several schemes for the embellishment of London. Of these the most important was the Thames Embankment from Charing Cross to Blackfriars. On 17 July 1824 a meeting was held, with the Duke of York in the chair, at which Trench explained his plans. It was estimated that the work might be done for less than half a million, and that it would yield an income of 5 per cent. on the expenditure. A committee of management was formed, and applications for shares were invited. On 15 March 1825 he obtained leave to bring in a bill to give the necessary powers. But the scheme met with strong opposition and slack support, and the bill was dropped. In 1827 he published ‘A Collection of Papers relating to the Thames Quay, with Hints for some further Improvements.’ In 1841 he returned to the subject in a public letter to Lord Duncannon, first commissioner of woods and forests. An overhead railway was now added to the scheme, and the quay was to be extended to London Bridge. But it was not till nearly five years after his death that the first stone of the Embankment was laid (8 July 1864).

Another project, which met with more immediate success but deserved it less, was for the colossal statue of Wellington placed on the arch opposite Hyde Park Corner. Trench took an active part in the promotion of it, and in the selection of Matthew Cotes Wyatt [q. v.] as sculptor. Wellington told Greville that it was ‘the damnedest job from the beginning’ (Journals, 29 June 1838), but once up he was unwilling that it should come down, and it remained there till 1883.

Trench was secretary to the master-general of ordnance from 1842 to 1846. He was made K.C.H. in 1832. He was promoted major-general on 10 Jan. 1837, lieutenant-general on 9 Nov. 1846, and general on 25 June 1854. He died at Brighton on 6 Dec. 1859.

[Gent. Mag. 1860, i. 195; Dod's Parliamentary Companion; Royal Military Calendar; Croker Papers.]

E. M. L.