STOPFORD, James George, Visct. Stopford (1765-1835).

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



24 Dec. 1790 - 1796
24 Jan. 1803 - 1806
1806 - Apr. 1807
20 Apr. 1807 - 30 Mar. 1810

Family and Education

b. 15 Aug. 1765, 1st s. of James Stopford*, 2nd Earl of Courtown [I] and 1st Baron Saltersford [GB]; bro. of Hons. Edward Stopford* and Robert Stopford*. educ. Eton 1779-81. m. 29 Jan. 1791, his 2nd cos. Lady Mary Montagu Scott, da. of Henry, 3rd Duke of Buccleuch [S], 5s. 4da. surv. suc. fa. as 3rd Earl of Courtown [I] and 2nd Baron Saltersford [GB] 30 Mar. 1810; KP 20 Aug. 1821.

Offices Held

Ensign, 2 Ft. Gds. 1781, lt. and capt. 1788, ret. 1791; lt.-col. 1 fencible cav. 1794; lt.-col. Mdx. yeomanry 1803, Boughton vol. inf. 1803.

PC 21 June 1793; treasurer of Household June 1793-Feb. 1806, Mar. 1807-1812; capt. gent. pens. Apr. 1812-1827; capt. yeomen of the gd. Jan.-Apr. 1835.

Gov. co. Wexford 1813-31.


Stopford, the son of a courtier, was awarded a commission in the Coldstream Guards by King George III ‘as soon as he was of age to have one’. On 13 Dec. 1786 his mother wrote to Pitt, without her husband’s knowledge, pointing out that her son’s income as an ensign was inadequate and asking if he might have a place in the customs. She added: ‘My ambition is, and I own my ambition runs very high for this son, that he should get into Parliament, in time I hope it will be accomplished, and if he is my son, Mr Pitt will have no firmer friend’. In August 1787 the Duke of York proposed Stopford to the King for his household, but nothing came of it. His mother’s uncle the 1st Earl of Ailesbury brought him in for Bedwyn on a vacancy in 1790, his father being then Ailesbury’s Member for Marlborough. Like him, he gave a courtier’s support to Pitt’s administration. He was listed hostile to repeal of the Test Act in Scotland in April 1791; early in 1792 he declined a pair with the champion of that repeal, Sir Gilbert Elliot. In 1793 he succeeded his father as treasurer of the Household and, as such, regularly delivered royal messages to the House, but had nothing to say in debate.1

Stopford’s father-in-law, the Duke of Buccleuch, returned him for Linlithgow Burghs in 1796, despite doubts as to his eligibility, his father having just been made a British peer. At the next election the duke was again his patron, when after a delay he was substituted for Charles Hope in Dumfries Burghs. Henry Dundas, who was behind the manoeuvre, had dissuaded the duke from substituting Stopford for his son Lord Dalkeith at Ludgershall.2 He was listed a supporter of Pitt’s second ministry and appeared in the government minority on Melville’s case, 8 Apr. 1805. Deprived of his place by the Grenville ministry he opposed them, voting against their repeal of Pitt’s Additional Force Act, 30 Apr. 1806. At the ensuing election he was once more returned for Bedwyn on the Ailesbury interest, transferring to Marlborough on the same interest before the dissolution. He was listed adverse to the abolition of the slave trade and was in the minority on the Hampshire election petition, 13 Feb. 1807. As Melville hoped and expected,3 Stopford was restored to office under the Portland administration. He was listed as being against the opposition by the Whigs in March 1810, when he voted with ministers on Lord Chatham’s conduct, 5 Mar., and was absent favourable to them on the Scheldt inquiry, 30 Mar., the day he succeeded to the peerage. As an Irish landowner, he possessed a considerable interest in county Wexford and in 1820 realized his ambition of securing his heir’s return for that county. He died 15 June 1835.

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: R. G. Thorne


  • 1. PRO 30/8/126, f. 62; Geo. III Corresp. i. 384; ii. 895; Blair Adam mss, Elliot to Adam, 3 Feb. 1792.
  • 2. SRO GD51/1/200/19; GD224/581, Dundas to Buccleuch, 28 July 1802.
  • 3. SRO GD51/1/195/24.