Richard Beste (1805-85) was an English Catholic, a political radical, a political economist, a traveller in Europe and the United States of America, a minor literary figure and, in his own words, a cosmopolite.

He owned Botleigh Grange between 1833 and 1860, although he was often an absentee landlord, either living on his Devon estate at Abbotsham Court or abroad. He had a brief flirtation with the representation of Southampton, standing for the borough in 1846 and, briefly, in 1862. In 1846 he was the protégé of the radical wing of the Liberal party led by Richard Andrews. His second wife, Marian, was formerly the wife of James Barlow Hoy, Tory MP for the borough in the 1830s.

Richard Beste was also known at various stages of his life as Richard Best and John Richard Digby Beste.

Further details of this remarkable man can be found in ‘The travels and tribulations of an English Catholic: John Richard Beste (1805-85) of Botleigh Grange (Southampton Occasional Papers, no. 14)

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