BOUVERIE, Hon. William Henry (1752-1806), of Betchworth House, Surr.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1754-1790, ed. L. Namier, J. Brooke., 1964
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19 Feb. 1776 - 1802

Family and Education

b. 30 Oct. 1752, 2nd s. of William Bouverie, 1st Earl of Radnor; bro. of Hon. Bartholomew Bouverie, and half-bro. of Jacob, Visct. Folkestone. educ. Harrow c.1765; Univ. Coll. Oxf. 1771. m. 16 Aug. 1777, Lady Bridget Douglas, da. of James, 14th Earl of Morton[S], 1s. 2da.

Offices Held


Bouverie was regularly returned on the family interest at Salisbury without a contest. In Parliament he consistently voted with the Opposition till the fall of North. The English Chronicle wrote of him in 1781:

He is a very constant attendant on his parliamentary duties, and as constantly divides with the Opposition. He has never attempted to display his abilities as an orator in the House ... He possesses an estate of near two thousand pounds per annum, and with this fortune supports the consequence of his rank with great liberality and great respect.

Bouverie did not vote on Shelburne’s peace preliminaries, 18 Feb. 1783, but was classed by Robinson in March as a follower of Shelburne. He voted for parliamentary reform, 7 May 1783; against Fox’s East India bill, 27 Nov. 1783; was a member of the St. Alban’s Tavern group for a union of parties; and was classed by Robinson in January 1784 as a Pittite. But Stockdale on 18 Mar., and Adam in May, classed him as Opposition, and he usually voted against Pitt’s Administration. He appears, however, as voting with them in the first extant division list on the Regency, 16 Dec. 1788, and on 27 Jan. 1789 said he supported the Address offering the Regency to the Prince of Wales ‘provided no further restrictions were meant to be incorporated in the bill than the House had agreed to, but if any additional restrictions were intended he should vote against them’. But he voted with the Opposition in the division of 11 Feb., and appears with them in the consolidated list of votes on the Regency. Bouverie spoke several times during the Regency crisis, but few other speeches by him are reported (his first recorded speech was during a debate on taxing bricks on 22 July 1784—eight years after he entered Parliament). Bouverie objected to the House accepting a petition from Warren Hastings, 27 Apr. 1789, because he feared that such interference ‘would materially affect the prosecution, perhaps prove its ruin. If the petition were entered upon farther ... he really believed the loss of the cause would be the unfortunate consequence’. And on 4 May 1789 he moved ‘That the thanks of the House be given to the Right Hon. Edmund Burke and the rest of the managers for their exertion and assiduity in the prosecution of Warren Hastings, Esq., and that they be desired to persevere in the same.’ Bouverie continued to vote with the Opposition also after the outbreak of the war with France.1

He died 23 Aug. 1806. His obituary in the Gentleman’s Magazine (1806, p. 877) paid tribute to the ‘polished elegance of his manners’, mentioned his interest in literature and medicine, and added that ‘there were few subjects on which he was not intimately well informed’.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: Mary M. Drummond


  • 1. Stockdale, xvi. 312; xvii. 106, 163.