Acland, Sir Thomas Dyke 1787-1871, politician and philanthropist, was the eldest son of Sir Thomas Dyke Acland, who married the only daughter of Sir Richard Hoare, and was born in London on 29 March, 1787. His father died when the boy was in his ninth year, and he became the heir to the family estates. He was educated at Christ Church, Oxford, where he took the degree of Bachelor of Arts on 23 March 1808, and became M.A. 16 June 1814. On 15 June 1831, he received the honorary degree of Doctor of Civil Laws During his undergraduate days at Oxford he aided in founding Grillion's Club, of which many eminent politicians were members. In October 1812 he was returned to parliament in the tory interest as member for the county of Devon, but lost his seat in 1818, when the yeomanry brought forward Lord Ebrington as their champion, and remained out of parliament until he was again returned for Devon in 1820. When the Duke of Wellington declared himself in favour of catholic emancipation, he found an energetic supporter in Sir Thomas Acland. This offended his former friends, but drew to his side in the election of 1830 the whigs of Devon, who split their votes between him and his old antagonist, Lord Ebrington. By this time Sir Thomas Acland had spent, it was believed, over 80,000l. in his parliamentary contests. His new friends were displeased at his vote for General Gascoyne's motion, which caused the rejection of the first Reform Bill, and the loss of his seat was the penalty which he paid for his conduct. From 1831 to 1837 he was without a seat in parliament; but from the latter year until 1857 he represented the division of North Devon in the conservative interest. He stood by protection until 1840, but voted steadily with Sir Robert Peel through all the divisions which were forced on by Lord George Bentinck and Mr. Disraeli. On 7 April 1808 he married, at Mitcham, Lydia Elizabeth, only daughter of Henry Hoare, of Mitcham Grove, head partner in the banking firm of Messrs. Hoare, and an active supporter of all church work at home and in the colonies. In the house of his father-in-law he passed many happy days, and there he met many zealous churchmen. His interest in religious progress is shown by the references in the first volume of Bishop Wilberforce's life and by a passage in Sir Walter Scott's diary for 1828, where Sir Thomas Acland is styled the head of the religious party in the House of Commons. Alexander Knox and Bishop Jebb were also numbered among Sir Thomas Acland's friends, and he is frequently mentioned (under the initials of Sir T. A.) in their thirty years' correspondence. Lady Acland died in 1856, and in the next year her husband withdrew into retirement. His name was often on men's lips as the type of an independent politician and a thorough gentleman, and in 1861 a statue of him by Stephens was erected in Northernhay, Exeter, as a tribute of affectionate respect for private worth and public integrity. His death occurred suddenly at Killerton, Broad Clyst, 22 July 1871.
J. B. Sweet's Life of Henry Hoare
Exeter Western Times.
Contributor: W. P. C. [William Prideaux Courtney]