COLEBROOKE, Robert (1718-84), of Chilham, Kent

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



1741 - 1761

Family and Education

b. 24 June I718, 1st s. of James Colebrooke, London banker, by his w. Mary. Hudson; bro. of George and James Colebrooke. m. (1) 12 July 1741, Henrietta (d. 22 Dec. 1753), da. of Lord Harry Powlett, s.p.; (2) 4 Aug. 1756, Anne, da. and h. of John Thresher of Bradford-on-Avon, Wilts., s.p. suc. fa. 18 Nov. 1752.

Offices Held

Minister to Switzerland 1762-4; appointed ambassador to Turkey 1765 but never went out.


Though classed as a Government supporter in 1747, for reasons unknown Colebrooke changed sides, and when re-elected in 1754 at Maldon after a contest, was listed by Dupplin among the Opposition Whigs (as were his younger brothers James and George). But by 1756 he held a secret service pension of £600 p.a., of which the first half-yearly instalment was paid to him on 13 Feb. In July 1760 Colebrooke unsuccessfully applied to Newcastle to be appointed resident at Hamburg, and before the general election of 1761 offered Government ‘to bring in two Members at Maldon ... and go out himself if he could get a consulship, or any other employment to live abroad’.1 He seems to have made the same offer to Fox.2 In the end he himself stood at Maldon, and when defeated, ascribed it to the support he had given to John Bullock by Newcastle’s directions; and hoped the Duke would bring him in ‘upon one of the double returns’.3

The secret service pension was continued to him till he kissed hands for minister to the Swiss Cantons; there he ‘exhibited to a frugal people an unprecedented mode of splendour and profusion’.4 Although on his return from Switzerland he received a pension of £500 p.a., which was doubled after he had resigned his appointment to Turkey, his financial circumstances remained ‘deplorable’. Finally he ‘decamped’ to France, where he died, 10 May 1784.5

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: Sir Lewis Namier


  • 1. Memorandum in Newcastle’s handwriting, Add. 32915, f. 377.
  • 2. Fox to Fitzmaurice, 6 Jan. 1761, Lansdowne mss.
  • 3. R. Colebrooke to Newcastle, 31 Mar. 1761, Add. 32920, f. 242.
  • 4. Seymour, Survey of Kent (1776), p. 249.
  • 5. Namier, Structure, 440, n. 2.