La Touche, Peter (1733–1828), politician and banker, was born 26 November 1733 in Dublin, third eldest among three surviving sons and four daughters of David La Touche II (qv), banker, and his wife Mary Anne, daughter of Gabriel Canaseele of Dublin. He served as MP for Co. Leitrim (1783–90, 1796–7). In College Green he was regarded as a friend of parliamentary reform, though a poor speaker, and was generally in opposition to the government. He also supported demands for catholic emancipation, being reliant upon the popular interest in his Leitrim constituency, unlike his siblings elsewhere. He served as high sheriff in Co. Wicklow during 1798, taking a more moderate stance towards disaffection than other local notables. Perhaps because of this his residence was not destroyed by local rebel forces, a fate that befell some sterner magistrates. He opposed the act of union like his brother John (qv), though unlike his brother David III (qv). On his father's death in 1785 he inherited an income of £5,000 a year as well as a third share, along with his two brothers, in the family bank. David III assumed control of the day-to-day running of the bank and Peter focused on developing Bellevue, the estate he inherited from his father, near Delgany, Co. Wicklow.
Here he erected glasshouses at a cost of £4,000, which were furnished with exotic plants and vegetation. One contemporary commentator regarded this endeavour as second only to the conservatories erected in St Petersburg by Prince Potemkin, on the grounds of the latter's greater magnitude alone (Malins, 168). He purchased Lugalla, a rugged untouched valley fronting on to Lough Tay in Co. Wicklow, and built a gothic retreat there in the early 1790s which ‘helped to bring one dimension of the romantic movement to Ireland’ (Dickson, 25). The architect of the latter was probably Francis Sandys (qv), who in 1788 had built a gothic banqueting room on to Bellevue. In his development of Bellevue and Lugalla, La Touche helped to introduce new architectural and horticultural ideas into Ireland.
La Touche purchased the Arigna iron works in Co. Leitrim c.1793 from the court of chancery for £25,000. The family bank had provided a mortgage to the previous owners, three cousins of Thomas Reynolds (qv); after a succesful application for a parliamentary grant (1789) was not acted upon by the Irish treasury, La Touche was spurred to action, thinking all the enterprise lacked to make it a success was capital investment, which he duly supplied. However, he was unable to make a success of it. The family bank loaned considerable sums of money on favourable terms to John Foster (qv), speaker of the Irish house of commons. Such generosity was reciprocated when Foster spoke of the supposed profitability of coal mining in Leitrim, along with the availability of the Arigna iron works for sale after a parliamentary inquiry into industry in the region in 1824. Within the year La Touche had sold the enterprise. Including the purchase price, he had invested a total of £80,000, which he wryly commented brought him only a fine set of gates, hung at the entrance to Bellevue, and the goodwill of the Leitrim freeholders. This sale, and the recent history of the mines, was the subject of a house of commons select committee report in 1826.
La Touche served on the first board of governors of the Bank of Ireland, with his brother David serving as the first governor. The brothers contributed £10,000 each to the stock of the bank, the maximum allowed to any individual.
All three of the La Touche brothers were freemasons. Peter served as junior grand warden in 1766 and as senior grand warden the following year. Indeed, in 1767 the triumvirate nearly monopolised the high offices of the Irish order, with David serving as deputy grand master, while John was junior grand warden. When in Dublin Peter resided at 2 St Stephen's Green, which he had bought from the 2nd earl of Rosse (qv) in 1812. He was a vice-president of the (Royal) Dublin Society 1816–20. He was involved in a number of charitable institutions in Dublin, a tradition already well established in the family, and was a governor of the Prussia Street Boys Orphanage, of the Charitable Music Society (1780), the Foundling Workhouse and Hospital (1772–97), and of the Lying-In-Hospital (1786–1800). He was also at one time a prefect of the Grand Knot of the Order of the Friendly Brothers of St Patrick, the anti-duelling society, as well as a member of the Kildare Street Club, to which his brother David served as first treasurer.
La Touche married first (24 December 1766) Rebecca (d. 1786), only daughter of Robert Vicars, of Grantstown, Queen's Co. (Laois). He married secondly (1787) Elizabeth, daughter of Richard Vicars of Lavally, the first cousin of his first wife. Elizabeth La Touche was noted for her charitable activities, which included establishing a school for girls at their Bellevue estate and helping to establish an orphanage for destitute girls in Dublin (1792). They had no children, and on La Touche's death in November 1828 his estate passed to his nephew Peter (fourth son of David III, died 11 February 1830 in London), who had already succeeded him as MP for Leitrim in 1802. A portrait of him in the NGI, painted by Robert Hunter (qv) in 1775, in oil on canvas, shows him seated with his hunting dog (Lugalla also served as a hunting lodge). A collection of Peter La Touche's letters to the 3rd earl of Hardwicke (qv) in 1804 are in BL, Add. MSS 35,751, f. 18, and 35,756, f. 7.