Thomas Pares was born in Leicester on 30 October 1790, the eldest son of John Pares and his wife Agnes Lightbody, daughter of Adam Lightbody of Liverpool. John Pares owned a hosiery manufacturing business, and from 1800 was also partner in a bank, known as Pares, Heygate & Co, with his older brother Thomas Pares, a Leicester attorney; James Heygate, his partner in the hosiery business; and Thomas Paget, a local livestock breeder.
Thomas Pares was educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge. He was called to the bar at Lincolns Inn in 1816, but never practiced law.
The Pares family bank fell into difficulties in 1830, when it emerged that James Heygate junior, one of the bank’s partners, had been embezzling funds. Heygate junior, in addition to his involvement with the bank, was connected to Thomas Pares through marriage; the two men’s wives were sisters. A third sister was married to Heygate junior’s brother William. Responsibility for repaying the debts fell largely upon William and Thomas, and Thomas Pares had to sell the family home at Newarke to release sufficient funds.
In 1836 the bank converted from a partnership into a joint-stock bank, Pares’s Leicestershire Banking Co. Thomas Pares became one of its major shareholders. He was also a director from at least 1841, regularly attending board meetings from then until 1865.
Thomas Pares entered parliament as the Member for Leicester in 1818, when he ousted the corporation candidate. He was returned unopposed in 1820.
He generally aligned himself with the Whig opposition, and voted frequently in favour of parliamentary reform, Catholic relief and other causes in tune with his liberal sympathies. He presented petitions in favour of the abolition of slavery. Unsurprisingly, given his experiences in his own family bank, he supported the government’s proposals to reform the country banks in 1825-6.
Pares found parliamentary life onerous. In a letter to his sister in 1820 he described how ‘I am almost run off my legs by hard work and ... of the last 27 hours, 22 have been passed in the House of Commons.’ Between his various responsibilities, he said, ‘it is difficult (if not impossible) to find time for one’s ordinary meals and rest.’
He left parliament in 1826 but remained active in local politics for some years afterwards. He was invited to stand again for Leicester in 1831, but declined the offer.
Thomas Pares served as Magistrate and Deputy Lieutenant Sheriff of Derbyshire 1845-6 and Magistrate and High Sheriff for the County of Leicestershire in 1845.
On 19 May 1821 Thomas Pares married Octavia Macmurdo. They had at least 8 children:
- Thomas Henry, born 8 February 1830
- John, born 11 May 1833
- William, born 22 March 1837
- Anna Mary
Thomas Pares died on 26 April 1866, aged 76. He was buried in the Pares family vault in Ockbrook Church, Derbyshire. His obituary in the Leicester Chronicle and Mercury United recalled him as ‘benevolent, beloved by his tenancy and neighbours, a devoted believer in the essential varieties of religion, a good landlord and an exemplary man of business.’
Related publications and online sources
- ‘Thomas Pares’ on The History of Parliament Online
- Obituary in The Gentleman’s Magazine, vol.220
- Obituary in Leicester Chronicle and Mercury United, 1866
- ‘The Westminster Bank in Leicester’, in British Bulletin of Commerce Survey, 1956
- ‘Pares of Leicester and Hopwell Hall’ administrative history on The National Archives UK Discovery