TOWNSHEND, Hon. William (1702-38).

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



11 June 1723 - 28 Jan. 1738

Family and Education

b. 9 June 1702, 3rd s. of Charles Townshend, 2nd Visct. Townshend, and bro. of Hon. Charles, Thomas and Roger Townshend. m. 29 May 1725, Henrietta, da. of Lord William Powlett, 1s. 2da.

Offices Held

A.-d.-c. to the King with the rank of col. Jan. 1724, renewed 1727; capt.-lt. 3 Drag. Gds. Feb. 1727-d.; groom of the bedchamber to the Prince of Wales 1729-d.; usher of the Exchequer 1730-d.


Succeeding to the family seat at Yarmouth on coming of age, Townshend was appointed groom of the bedchamber to the Prince of Wales when Frederick was brought over to England from Hanover at the beginning of 1729. By 1733 he had become a great favourite with the Prince, whose views on the excise bill were generally supposed to be indicated by Townshend’s voting against it. For this the King offered Walpole to make the Prince dismiss Townshend, but the offer was refused. When the Prince, on his marriage, asked for permission to appoint Townshend’s wife as one of the Princess’s women of the bedchamber, the King told the Queen to reply that

as Mr. Townshend was the most impertinent puppy in the Prince’s whole family, he was determined not to reward him for being so; and that it was more favour than either the servant or the master deserves that he himself was not turned out.

In the end she was appointed without the King’s permission. Discussing the Prince’s entourage in 1737, George II described Townshend as ‘a silent, proud, surly, wrong-headed booby’.1 On Townshend’s death, 28 Jan. 1738, his cousin, Horace Walpole, succeeded to his sinecure at the Exchequer.

Ref Volumes: 1715-1754

Author: Romney R. Sedgwick


  • 1. Hervey, Mems. 176, 554, 748, 817.