EDGCUMBE, Richard (1680-1758), of Mount Edgcumbe, Maker and Cothele, Cornw.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
Available from Boydell and Brewer



25 June - 11 Nov. 1701
Dec. 1701 - 1702
1702 - 1734
1734 - 1741
1741 - 20 Apr. 1742

Family and Education

bap. 23 Apr. 1680, 3rd but 2nd surv. s. of Sir Richard Edgcumbe† of Mount Edgcumbe and Cotehele by Lady Anne, da. of Edward Montagu†, 1st Earl of Sandwich.  educ. Trinity Coll. Camb. 1697; travelled abroad 1699.  m. 12 Mar. 1715 (with £20,000), Matilda (d. 1721), da. of Sir Henry Furnese* by 2nd w., 3s. (1 d.v.p.).  suc. bro. to family estates 1694; cr. Baron Edgcumbe 20 Apr. 1742.1

Offices Held

Stannator, Tyrwarnhaile 1710; recorder, Lostwithiel 1733–d., capital burgess 1736, mayor 1738, 1742; ld. lt. Cornw. 1742–d.2

Ld. of Treasury 1716–17, 1720–4; jt. vice-treasurer [I] 1724–42; PC [I] 1734–d.; ld. warden of Stannaries 1734–7; chancellor, duchy of Lancaster 1743–58; PC 28 June 1734–d.; col. of ft. 1745; maj.-gen. 1755; c.j. in eyre north of Trent Jan. 1758–d.


Edgcumbe succeeded his brother, Piers, to the family estates at the age of 14, shortly after his mother married Christopher Montagu*. After a spell at Cambridge, in April 1699 he received a pass and left England to travel on the Continent with his tutor, Isaac Diserete. The death of Hugh Boscawen II saw a vacancy for the county seat, to which he was returned unopposed at a by-election in June 1701. As Parliament had been prorogued the previous day he never took his seat. In December 1701, he switched to St. Germans, presumably on the Eliot interest. Contemporaries may have been unsure of his politics at this stage: his election was classed as a ‘gain’ by Lord Spencer (Charles*), whereas Robert Harley* classed him as a Tory. Returned at Plympton in 1702, presumably on the Treby interest, Edgcumbe survived a petition. He was forecast as a probable opponent of the Tack, and did not vote for it on 28 Nov. 1704. Re-elected in 1705 after a contest, he was classed as a ‘Churchman’ in a list of that year. On 25 Oct. he voted for the Court candidate as Speaker. The absence of his name from those supporting the Court over the ‘place clause’ of the regency bill perhaps suggests a ‘Country’ slant to his Whiggism, but if so it did not prevent the development of lifelong friendships with Court Whigs like Robert Walpole II*. Early in 1708 he was classed as a Whig, and at the general election of that year he was again returned for Plympton, this time without opposition. Following the election he was classed as a Whig. On 8 Feb. 1709 Edgcumbe was a teller against a Tory motion relating to the Bewdley election, and he told on the 22nd for a motion that the Whig, Robert Balle*, was elected for Ashburton. He also told on 25 Jan. 1710 against the recommittal of a report from the committee of privileges and on the 31st in favour of receiving the report on the place bill the following day. He was absent from the divisions on the impeachment of Dr Sacheverell, possibly being in Cornwall for the convocation of tinners. However, he was evidently regarded as one of the doctor’s opponents and after being mobbed by tinners at the convocation in Truro in April 1710 ‘said merrily . . . that he was a lucky man to have escaped out of one mob (meaning Dr Sacheverell’s) to fall into a new one here, which, he said, he thought really was worse than that’. Perhaps he was correct to comment on his good fortune because, according to Thomas Tonkin*, he was the leader of the ‘wardenists’ in the convocation. His prominent role in the Whig party in Cornwall was confirmed on 4 Oct. at the county meeting at Liskeard when along with Hugh Boscawen II* he objected to a letter being read from the lord lieutenant, the Earl of Rochester (Laurence Hyde†). He then played a leading role in rallying support for Boscawen in readiness for the county contest.3

Safely returned again for Plympton in 1710, Edgcumbe was classed as ‘doubtful’ in the ‘Hanover list’, and later was listed as a ‘Tory patriot’ who opposed the continuance of the war. However, he took a strongly Whiggish line in the new Parliament. On 9 Dec. 1710 he told for a motion that determination of election cases should be decided by ballot, and on the 16th was a teller against the return of Sir Francis Child for Devizes. He voted on 25 May 1711 for the amendment to the South Sea bill. In late November 1711 the government banned a great Whig procession in the city of London, which was to be led by the 2nd Duke of Montagu, Edgcumbe and Richard Steele*, all members of the Hanover Club, during which the devil and the Pope were to be burnt in effigy. On 7 Dec., the opening day of the new session, Edgcumbe voted for the motion ‘No Peace without Spain’. On 18 June 1713 he divided against the French commerce bill and was classed as a Whig on the subsequent division list. In the 1713 Parliament, he voted on 18 Mar. 1714 against the expulsion of Steele. He was listed as a Whig on the Worsley list and on two further lists comparing the 1713 and 1715 Parliaments. A pillar of the Whig establishment under the first two Georges, he died on 22 Nov. 1758.4

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Authors: Eveline Cruickshanks / Stuart Handley


  • 1. Vivian, Vis. Cornw. 143; The Gen. n.s. iii. 84; PCC 234 Barnes.
  • 2. R. Inst. Cornw. Thomas Tonkin’s ms hist. Cornw. ii. 244.
  • 3. Top. and Gen. iii. 152; CSP Dom. 1699–1700, p. 148; Tonkin, 246, 251; Add. 70204, ‘at the meeting of the gentlemen at Liskeard’; Cornw. RO, Buller mss BO/23/63/7, Edgcumbe to John Buller I*, 24 Oct. 1710.
  • 4. Wentworth Pprs. 212; Polsue, Complete Paroch. Hist. Cornw. iii. 248.