DASHWOOD, Sir Francis, 2nd Bt. (1708-81), of West Wycombe, Bucks.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1715-1754, ed. R. Sedgwick, 1970
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1741 - 1761
1761 - 19 Apr. 1763

Family and Education

b. Dec. 1708, 1st s. of Sir Francis Dashwood, 1st Bt., M.P., of West Wycombe by his 2nd w. Lady Mary Fane, da. of Vere, 4th Earl of Westmorland and 7th Lord le Despenser; gd.-s. of Francis Dashwood, Turkey merchant and alderman of London; half-bro. of John Dashwood King. educ. Eton 1725; Grand Tour (France and Italy) 1729-31. m. 19 Dec. 1745, Sarah, da. and h. of George Gould of Iver, Bucks., wid. of Sir Richard Ellis, 3rd Bt., of Wyham, Lincs., s.p. suc. fa. 4 Nov. 1724; abeyance of barony of le Despenser terminated in his favour 19 Apr. 1763.

Offices Held

P.C. 20 Mar. 1761; treasurer of the chamber 1761-2; chancellor of the Exchequer 1762-3; ld. lt. Bucks. 1763-d.; keeper of the great wardrobe 1763-5; jt. postmaster gen. 1766-d.


In 1741 Dashwood succeeded his brother-in-law, Sir Robert Austen, at New Romney, on the interest of Henry Furnese. His resentment of the treatment of his uncle, John Fane, made him one of the most violent and inveterate of the young opposition Whig Members who baited Walpole.

They list under Sandys [wrote Horace Walpole], a parcel of them, with no more brains than their general; but being malicious they pass for ingenious.

He is said to have gone to the length of supplying accounts of the last scenes of Walpole’s Administration to an abbé in Rome, who sent them to the Pretender.1 After Walpole’s fall, he spoke against a loyal address to the King on the threatened French invasion in Feb. 1744, comparing the situation with that which had led to the Revolution:

a weak, avaricious, narrow-minded Prince on the throne, a great part of the nation proscribed and forced into disaffection, the daily encroachments made upon the constitution — no wonder there was an unwillingness in the people to support the Government.

‘The general turn of this laboured oration’, Philip Yorke wrote,

gave deserved offence and was briskly taken up by Sir William Yonge, who observed that the honourable gentleman had stated his premises so strongly that it was impossible for the House not to draw the conclusion. It had the most of a Jacobite tendency of any speech that was ever pronounced in Parliament.2

On 7 Apr. 1747 he attacked the bill abolishing hereditary jurisdictions in Scotland, calling it

a breach of the Union, but not being able to maintain a close argument upon that subject he left it and spoke, as he called it, for liberty and against the prerogative, maintaining ... that the people of England lost their liberty when the barons of England lost their power to disobey the King and oppress the subject with impunity.3

About this time he set out his political aims in a document calling for ‘national bills’ to institute annual or triennial Parliaments, to establish ‘a numerous and effectual militia’, and to increase the number of offices disqualifying their holders from sitting in the House of Commons. The last two of these aims are included in the terms on which Frederick, Prince of Wales, commissioned Dashwood and Lord Talbot, as Whigs who had contacts with the Tory party, to invite the Tories to join with him on the eve of the general election of 1747.4

In the next Parliament Dashwood, Talbot, and Furnese became closely connected with Bubb Dodington, and through him with the Prince of Wales, from whom they all obtained promises of offices on his accession, when Dashwood was to become either treasurer of the navy or cofferer. Shortly before Frederick’s death, in a debate on a document charging the Duke of Cumberland, inter alia, with dismissing old army officers, Dashwood, ‘after much disclaiming of Jacobitism’, maintained that this particular charge was justified, quoting the case of his uncle, though this had occurred long before Cumberland’s time.5 After Frederick’s death he parted company with Dodington, who made his peace with the Government, while Dashwood continued in opposition.

He died 11 Dec. 1781.

Ref Volumes: 1715-1754

Author: Romney R. Sedgwick


  • 1. Walpole to Mann, 17 and 24 Dec. 1741, 22 Jan. and 3 Mar. 1742; Mann to Newcastle, 7 May 1742, SP For. 98/45.
  • 2. Yorke's parl. jnl. Parl. Hist. xiii. 647.
  • 3. HMC Polwarth, v. 235.
  • 4. Dashwood mss; Owen, Pelhams, 312-13.
  • 5. Dodington Diary, 6; Walpole, Mems. Geo. II, i. 10.