AMHERST, William (1732-81), of Troublefield, Hants.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1754-1790, ed. L. Namier, J. Brooke., 1964
Available from Boydell and Brewer



17 Nov. 1766 - 1768

Family and Education

bap. 5 Feb. 1732, 7th s. of Jeffery Amherst of Riverhead, Kent, barrister, by Elizabeth, da. of Thomas Kerrill of Hadlow, Kent, and bro. of Field Marshal Lord Amherst. m. 31 Mar. 1766, Elizabeth, da. of Thomas Paterson of London, 1s. 2da.

Offices Held

Ensign 1 Ft. Gds. 1755, lt. and capt. 1757, capt. and lt.-col. 1765; col. 1766; col. 32 Ft. 1775- d.; maj.-gen. 1777; lt.-gen. 1779.


In 1766 Hythe was disputed between the lord warden, Lord Holdernesse, with Government support, and Lord George Sackville. Amherst was nominated as a candidate acceptable to both parties, being a personal friend of Sackville, but well inclined towards Administration. Lord Holdernesse, however, ‘lest Col. Amherst should be supposed to come in on any interest of the Sackvilles’, wished him ‘removed to some other place’1 at the general election. Amherst’s position was summed up in a letter from Grafton to Chatham, 22 Jan. 1767:2

The step which Lord Holdernesse has very properly resolved for the borough of Hythe lays Colonel Amherst under very peculiar difficulties, as his private friendship and some obligations cannot justify him in taking a part in opposition to Lord George Sackville in that borough, whatever his political opinion calls him to do in a more essential and public place.

Grafton asked for leave to ‘tell Colonel Amherst that he should be a candidate at one of the Government boroughs at the general election’. On 28 Jan. Holdernesse wrote that he had dissuaded Amherst from standing at Hythe at the general election ‘though there are few gentlemen whom ... I would sooner have wished to have obliged.’3

Classed as a follower of Chatham in Rockingham’s list of November 1766, Amherst’s one recorded vote in this Parliament was with Administration on the land tax, 27 Feb. 1767.

In 1768 Amherst was nominated by Administration at Launceston and returned unopposed. He supported the Government over Wilkes (3 Feb., 15 Apr., 8 May 1769, 26 Apr. 1773), but appears in no other division list. His only recorded speech was on the fortification of Newfoundland, 10 Dec. 1770.

Amherst did not stand in 1774. Before the general election of 1780 Jenkinson suggested to John Robinson (24 Aug.) that there was ‘no military man so proper for Bath as General Amherst, and I wish it the more as it will contribute to strengthen the army interest in the House of Commons’,4 but was afraid that Amherst would decline; and in fact he did not stand. He died 13 May 1781.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: Mary M. Drummond


  • 1. G. Wilks, Barons of Cinque Ports, 165.
  • 2. Chatham mss.
  • 3. Wilks op. cit. 112-13.
  • 4. Abergavenny mss.