Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/King, Peter John Locke

KING, PETER JOHN LOCKE (1811–1885), politician, second son of Peter King, seventh baron King [q. v.], and brother of William King-Noel, first earl of Lovelace, was born at Ockham, Surrey, on 25 Jan. 1811. He was educated at Harrow and at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he graduated B.A. 1831, and M.A. 1833. In 1837 he unsuccessfully contested East Surrey, but was elected for that constituency on 11 Aug. 1847, and retained his seat until the conservative reaction at the general election in February 1874. He supported an alteration in the law of primogeniture for many sessions. On 15 March 1855 he delivered a speech in which he showed emphatically ‘the crying injustice of the law.’ On 11 Aug. 1854 he passed the Real Estate Charges Act, according to which mortgaged estates descend with and bear their own burdens. In the session of 1856 he was successful in obtaining the repeal of 120 sleeping statutes which were liable to be put in force from time to time. He also waged war against the statute law commission, and more than once denounced it as a job. King introduced a bill for abolishing the property qualification of members, which passed the House of Lords on 28 June 1858, and in eight successive sessions he brought forward the county franchise bill, on one occasion, 20 Feb. 1851, defeating and causing the resignation of the Russell ministry. He succeeded in carrying through the House of Commons a bill for extending the 10l. franchise to the county constituencies, so as to include every adult male who came within the conditions of the borough suffrage. He was also well known for his advocacy of the ballot and of the abolition of church rates, and for his strenuous opposition to the principle and practice alike of endowments for religious purposes. He died at Brooklands, Weybridge, on 12 Nov. 1885. He married, on 22 March 1836, Louisa Elizabeth, daughter of William Henry Hoare of Mitcham Grove, Surrey. She died in 1884, leaving two sons and four daughters.

King was the author of:

  1. ‘Injustice of the Law of Succession to the Real Property of Intestates,’ 1854; 3rd edit. 1855.
  2. ‘Speech on the Laws relating to the Property of Intestates,’ 15 March 1855.
  3. ‘Speech on the Laws relating to the Property of Intestates in the House of Commons,’ 17 Feb. 1859.
  4. ‘Speech on the Law relating to the Real Estates of Intestates,’ 14 July 1869.

Four letters which King wrote to the ‘Times’ in 1855 on ‘Chancery Reform’ are reprinted in ‘A Bleak House Narrative of Real Life,’ 1856, pp. 55–66.

[Hansard, 1849, ciii. 88 et seq.; Statesmen of England, 1862, No. 46, with portrait; Drawing-room Portrait Gallery, 2nd ser. 1859, with portrait; Foster's Peerage; Times, 14 Nov. 1885, p. 9.]

G. C. B.