DOWNING, Sir Jacob Garrard, 4th Bt. (c.1717-1764), of Putney, Surr. and Gamlingay Park, Cambs.

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



1741 - 1747
21 June 1749 - 1761
29 Apr. 1763 - 6 Feb. 1764

Family and Education

b. c.1717, o.s. of Charles Downing of Bury St. Edmunds, Suff, comptroller of customs at Salem, Mass. (s. of Sir George Downing, 1st Bt.), by Sarah, da. and coh. of Jacob Garrard (1st: s. of Sir Thomas Garrard, 2nd Bt., of Langford, Norf.). educ. Emmanuel, Camb. 1734. m. 17 May 1750, Margaret, da. of Rev. John Price of Barrington, Glos., s.p. suc. fa. (‘vastly rich’)1 16 Apr. 1740, and his cos. Sir George Downing in baronetcy and estates 10 June 1749.

Offices Held


Downing was returned for his cousin’s pocket borough (which he inherited in 1749), and generally voted with the court.

He was closely connected with Lord Hardwicke.2 ‘As to my interest in this county’, he wrote to Hardwicke from Gamlingay on 27 July 1753, ‘it is undisputably at your disposal, and while I have the protection of your patronage I shall always think myself a man of consequence.’ In 1754, at Newcastle’s request, he returned for Dunwich Soame Jenyns, a friend of the Yorkes,3 and Newcastle promised to try to obtain a peerage for Downing.4 On 11 Nov. 1755 Downing wrote to him:5

The current report of some gentlemen being very soon to be created peers, and having nothing from your Grace, has given me great uneasiness; as I can’t tax myself with any one action in my whole life that has not been with the warmest and most sincere attachment to the present happy establishment and ministry, and will not suffer myself to think that I am to be laid aside, as I have had so many assurances of your Grace’s intention to serve me.

Moreover, he had ‘never asked any place, pension or employment’, and so had ‘been very little troublesome to any part of Administration’.6

Newcastle failed to obtain for him the peerage, and Downing (probably most unjustly) held him responsible. When the Newcastle-Pitt Administration was being formed, Downing wrote to Hardwicke, 16 June 1757, that while his feelings for Hardwicke remained unchanged, he could by no means think of acting with Newcastle, and did not desire to have ‘the most distant appearance of the least connexion’ with him; and on 18 June 1758, that he would not re-elect Soame Jenyns, but would return a Member ‘that has as little reason as myself to be satisfied with the Duke of Newcastle’. On Jenyns vacating the seat in November 1758, Downing placed it at Fox’s disposal. His friendship with Fox was now very close, and on 4 May 1759 he told him that the borough of Dunwich would ‘during your life be absolutely under your directions and consequently the choice of the Members in your option.’7

In June 1762 Fox described Downing as ‘very infirm’;8 yet when Fox was created a peer, Downing had himself returned again for Dunwich. But Fox, when asked by Sandwich, before the autumn session of 1763 to secure Downing’s support, replied: ‘Sir Jacob Downing I fear can’t attend an hour.’9

He died 6 Feb. 1764.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: Sir Lewis Namier


  • 1. Gent. Mag. 1740, p. 204.
  • 2. See corresp. between them in Add. 35679.
  • 3. Add. 32995, ff. 63-67, 138-41.
  • 4. Downing to Hardwicke, 25 June 1759.
  • 5. Add. 32860, f. 450.
  • 6. Downing to Hardwicke, 5 Apr. 1759.
  • 7. Henry Fox mss.
  • 8. Fox to Bute, 11 June 1762, Bute mss.
  • 9. Sandwich to Holland, 26 Sept. 1763 (printed in Ilchester, Letters to Hen. Fox, 179-84, omitting in the postcript the list of ‘Members to be applied to by Lord Holland’); Holland to Sandwich, 2 Oct., Sandwich mss.