STRAHAN, Andrew (c.1749-1831), of New Street, Fleet Street, London

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



11 Nov. 1796 - 1802
1802 - 1807
1807 - 1812
1812 - 1818
1818 - 1820

Family and Education

b. c.1749, 3rd s. of William Strahan, King's printer, by Margaret Penelope, da. of Rev. William Elphinston of Edinburgh. unm.

Offices Held

King's printer 1785-d.


Fanny d'Arblay wrote of Strahan in 1798: 'He has all the appearance of a very worthy, sensible, unpretending man, well-bred and good natured'. He had 'inherited his father's professional enimence, his political attachments, his consistency of public conduct and his private virtues', according to an obituary. Like his father he purchased close borough seats in Parliament, but had no political ambitions. Writing to Lord Wellesley in 1810 in pursuit of the renewal of a contract to print the London Gazette awarded him by Canning as Foreign secretary, he referred to his 'unalterable attachment to his Majesty's government'. In nearly 24 years at Westminster he is known to have contributed to debate only once, and then on the distribution of state papers, 19 May 1803. He was however of material assistance to the select committee on the promulgation of the statutes, 1796-7.1

Strahan, who invested in East India Company stocks and subscribed £5,000 to the loyalty loan for 1797, is not known to have voted against Pitt's or Addington's administrations. He was listed 'Pitt' in September 1804 and, after voting against the censure of Melville on 8 Apr., in July 1805. In May 1807 he obtained, for £4,500, a borough seat, placed by Lord Charleville at the disposal of the Irish government at the instigation of Charles Long.2 The Whigs listed him 'Government' in 1810 when he rallied to Perceval's administration in all the crucial divisions of January-March. He voted against sinecure and parliamentary reform, 17 and 21 May 1810, rallied to minister on the Regency, 1 Jan. 1811, and opposed the reversions bill and sinecure reform, 7 Feb., 4 May 1812. He held no salary as King's printer, being remunerated for his work when it was completed.

The Treasury found another seat for Strahan in 1812, this time on the Crespigny interest. To their embarrassment he offered 6,000 guineas for it, obliging his colleagues to pay the same.3 He voted against Catholic relief throughout in 1813, again in 1817. He voted with ministers on the treatment of the Spanish Liberals, 1 Mar., and on civil list questions, 13 Apr., 8 and 31 May 1815; paired with them on the property tax, 18 Mar., and rallied to them on the public revenue bill, 14, 17, 20 June 1816. He further supported them on the composition of the finance committee and Admiralty salaries, 7 and 17 Feb. 1817, and on 23 June paired favour of the suspension of habeas corpus. He voted with them when opposition criticized the operation of it, 10, 11 Feb. 1818, and on the Duke of Clarence's marriage grant, 15 Apr. As Member for New Romney on the Dering interest in the Parliament of 1818, he voted with ministers against Tierney's censure motion and for the foreign enlistment bill, 18 May, 10 June 1819. He retired from the House in 1820.

'Equally eminent for the correctness of his typography and the liberality of his dealings', his modest way of life enabled him to act as patron to aspiring men of letters. He presented £1,000 each to the Literary Fund and to six other charities and £1,225 to the Stationers' Company, of which he was a member. 'He acquired great literary property and influence in the learned world of purchasing the copyrights of the most celebrated authors of his time.' At his death, 25 Aug. 1831, he left his nephews and successors, Andrew and Robert Spottiswoode, property valued at 'more than a million of money'.4

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: Winifred Stokes


  • 1. Diary of Madame d'Arblay ed. Dobson, v. 422; Gent. Mag. (1831), ii. 275; Add. 37310, f. 3; Colchester, i. 32-33, 54, 60, 69, 74, 112, 113, 114.
  • 2. Wellington mss, Long to Wellesley, 21 May 1807.
  • 3. Add. 40222, f. 1.
  • 4. Gent. Mag. loc. cit.; C. H. Timperley, Dict. of Printers, 918.