BROWN, Lancelot (1748-1802), of Elsworth, Cambs. and Stirtloe House, Hunts.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1780 - 1784
1784 - Apr. 1787
15 May 1792 - May 1794

Family and Education

bap. 13 Jan. 1748, 1st s. of Lancelot Brown (‘Capability Brown’), head gardener at Hampton Court, of Fen Stanton, Hunts. by Bridget Wayet of Stowe, Bucks. educ. Eton 1761-5; Trinity, Oxf. 1766; L. Inn 1766, called 1772. m. c. Oct. 1788, at Lausanne, Frances, da. of Rev. Henry Fuller, sis. of John Fuller* of Rose Hill, Suss., s.p. suc. fa. 1783.

Offices Held

Gent. of privy chamber Jan. 1795-d.


Brown, dubbed ‘Capey’ after his father at Eton, was a protégé of Lord Sandwich, to whom he wrote, ‘the best part of my life has been dedicated to your service, and my seats in Parliament, all taken at your request, have cost me much money’.1 In 1787 he gave up his borough seat, after prescribed opposition to Pitt, so that Sandwich could oblige John Willet Payne* and on the understanding that he would be compensated with another seat in the next election. The next two years or so Brown spent abroad, reminding Sandwich of his promise during the Regency crisis; otherwise, ‘if I return home I have nothing to do, and here I find good climate and amusement in seeing the various characters of different countries’.2

Sandwich provided Brown with an opening by dying in 1792 when his eldest surviving grandson was still a minor. Until 1794 he was a ‘sort of locum tenens’ for Viscount Hinchingbrooke. The arrangement was publicly ridiculed by ‘Verax’ (Lord Carysfort) who alleged that Brown ‘can never have any Capability to render even the slightest service being literally a mere mushroom sprung from a dung-hill in Stowe gardens’.3 Indeed, no speech or vote of Brown’s is known. After vacating his seat he was made a gentleman of the privy chamber. Lord Sandwich found that he was not so readily satisfied and, when Brown requested a church living for his brother in 1797, approached Pitt through Lord Cornwallis for it, considering it

a very moderate request after Mr Brown held the seat in Parliament till my son came of age and then resigned it into his hands—besides having been a very useful magistrate and a friend to my family for these last twenty years in the county of Huntingdon.4

In 1800, when Brown’s brother still had no living, Cornwallis claimed that Sandwich was afraid that if it were not procured, Brown would stir up an opposition to him in the county.5 Such opposition as there was came from other quarters: Brown died 28 Feb. 1802. His brother Adm. John Brown was his heir to the Fen Stanton estate.6

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: R. G. Thorne


  • 1. Hunts RO, Sandwich mss 11G, Brown to Sandwich, 19 Feb. 1789.
  • 2. Ibid, same to same from Toulon, Feb. 1789.
  • 3. Spencer mss, Spencer to his mother, 3 May 1792.
  • 4. Kent AO, Stanhope mss 729/5.
  • 5. SRO GD51/1/331/22, 23.
  • 6. VCH Hunts. ii. 283.