Clerk of the House of Commons: Sir Denis Le Marchant

February 2, 2014 at 3:06 pm (history, london's landscape, people) (, , , )


In 1850 (ie, a bit past the period I research), Sir Denis Le Marchant — husband to Emma’s sister Sarah Eliza Smith — became Clerk of the House of Commons (a position held until 1871).

At a loose end today, I was on the hunt for more … of anything … letters … diaries … info.

I found an anecdote!

I wouldn’t have thought Denis had such a sense of humor (or was it self-preservation?). Do click on the photo to hear Sir Robert Rogers, current Clerk of the House of Commons, give his delightful talk, but below is the tale he tells of Sir Denis.

sir robert rogers

In describing the duties of the Clerk, Sir Robert claims (at 15:46), “We do try, of course, to be a bit more helpful then one of my learning predecessors, Sir Denis Le Marchant in Victorian times, where the Speaker of the day could see that there was disaster approaching. He leaned forward and he said ‘Sir Denis, Sir Denis, what do I do?’ and the Clerk of the House got up, tipped his wig on his head, gathered his books, shrugged his gown around his shoulders and went and stood beside the Chair and the speaker obviously thought, ‘right this is it, I’ve got the get out of jail card.’  Sir Denis Le Marchant said ‘I advise you Sir, to be extremely cautious’ and then disappeared behind the Chair.

Denis_etching-1874-Illustrated London News

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