DAWNAY, John Christopher Burton, 5th Visct. Downe [I] (1764-1832), of Cowick Hall, Yorks.

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



9 Feb. 1787 - 1790
1790 - 1796

Family and Education

b. 15 Nov. 1764, 1st s. of Hon. John Dawnay. educ. Eton 1776-80. m. 31 Dec. 1815, Louisa Maria, da. of George Welsted of Apsley, Beds., s.p. suc. fa. as 5th Visct. 21 Dec. 1780;  cr. Baron Dawnay [GB] 9 June 1796.

Offices Held


William Jolliffe, patron of Petersfield and a steady adherent of the Coalition, returned Downe, who, like his father, followed the politics of Wentworth Woodhouse. Although he seems never to have spoken in the House, his rank and extensive estates in Yorkshire made Fitzwilliam propose to him, when Wilberforce fell seriously ill in 1788, to offer himself for the expected vacancy in the county.

At first Downe dissuaded Fitzwilliam from a declaration, fearing the resentment of Wilberforce’s friends and the independent freeholders. On 29 Aug. Fitzwilliam, believing that a dissolution was imminent, asked Downe to confirm that he would stand, if necessary against Wilberforce. But Downe hesitated, confessed he was ‘a novice’ at electioneering, and concluded: ‘Should Wilberforce’s health induce him to resign I would readily come forward, though I could not think of standing against him.’ Fitzwilliam was deeply disappointed: he believed Wilberforce to be equally reluctant to stand a contest and that it was only necessary to show determination, but Downe refused to reconsider his decision.1

Downe voted against Pitt on the Regency.

He died 18 Feb. 1832.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: E. A. Smith


  • 1. Corresp. in Fitzwilliam mss, Sheffield.