Lopes, Manasseh Masseh (DNB00)
LOPES, Sir MANASSEH MASSEH (1755–1831), politician, a descendant of a family of Spanish Jews, and only son of Mordecai Rodriguez Lopes of Clapham, Surrey, by his wife Rebecca, daughter of Manasseh Pereira of Jamaica, was born in Jamaica on 27 Jan. 1755.
In 1802 he abandoned judaism, conformed to the practices of the church of England, and was returned to parliament for New Romney, and on 5 Oct. 1805 was created a baronet (Gent. Mag. 1805, ii. 1231), with remainder to his nephew, Ralph Franco, only son of his late sister, Esther, wife of Abraham Franco, and he obtained a license under the sign-manual to take the name of Masseh before his own. In 1812 he was returned to parliament for Barnstaple. Subsequently he arranged with one Hoare, a voter at Grampound in Cornwall, to procure his return for that constituency by dividing 2,000l. among the sixty freeholders of the borough. For this he was brought to trial at Exeter assizes before Mr. Justice Holroyd and a special jury on 18 March 1819, and on conviction was sentenced to two years' imprisonment and to pay a fine of 1,000l. This conviction of a baronet and a member of parliament for corruption marks a great advance in the public demand for electoral purity. Pending this trial he had been returned for Barnstaple in 1818. His return had been petitioned against; it was proved that he had spent 3,000l. in bribes, and had bribed sixty-three out of three hundred resident electors at 5l. each. The committee before which it was heard reported that it deserved the serious consideration of the house, 9 March 1819. The house thereupon unseated him, and on 2 April directed the attorney-general to prosecute him, and he was sentenced on 13 Nov. by the court of king's bench to a further fine and term of imprisonment. But this mishap did not exclude him from public life. On his release from gaol he was returned in 1823 for his pocket borough of Westbury, though he was very unpopular there, and again in 1826, but he resigned the seat, upon what consideration is unknown, to provide one for Peel on his rejection by the university of Oxford in 1829. He died on 26 March 1831 at his seat, Maristow House in Devonshire, leaving a fortune of 800,000l., principally in government and East India stock, but also in land near Plymouth. He was a magistrate for Devonshire and Wiltshire, and recorder of Westbury. He married Charlotte, daughter of John Yeates of Monmouthshire, by whom he had a daughter, Esther, who died on 1 July 1819. His nephew and heir, Ralph Franco, assumed the surname Lopes on succeeding to the baronetcy.
[Gent. Mag. 1831; Walpole's Hist. of England; Hansard's Parl. Debates, xxxix. 1390; Picciotto's Sketches of Anglo-Jewish History; Peel's Memoirs, i. 342.]