GOWLAND, Ralph (c.1722-c.1782), of Durham City and Laleham, Mdx.

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



12 Dec. 1761 - 11 May 1762
30 Jan. 1775 - 1780

Family and Education

b. c.1722, s. of Samuel Gowland, attorney, of Cook’s Court, Lincoln’s Inn, by his w. Averil Skinner,1 and gd.-s. of Ralph Gowland, Durham attorney and antiquary. m. 25 July 1749, Ann, da. of John Darby of Foots Cray, Kent, 1s.

Offices Held


During the seven years’ war Gowland served with Lord Darlington in the militia, and at the general election of 1761 unsuccessfully contested Durham City as Darlington’s candidate. He stood again at the by-election of December 1761 and was returned, but unseated on petition. Neither in wealth nor in popularity could he rival the Lambtons and Tempests, and he had difficulty in meeting the expense of the elections and the petition. According to R. S. Ferguson, Cumberland and Westmorland M.P.s, he ‘became insolvent in 1775’.

Before the Cockermouth by-election of January 1775 Gowland was recommended by George Johnstone to Sir James Lowther in the most extravagant terms:2

If you have not communicated your intentions to Major Gowland I shall presume to bring an image to your mind that has disturbed me all night. Genius, generosity, fortitude, and affability are painted on his mien, loving and beloved by all men of worth and real virtue. Known and esteemed by the first characters for the extent of his knowledge, with an elocution capable of enforcing his opinions. Talbot raised Thompson, Hertford, David Hume, Rockingham, Burke. But you have a prize in your power superior to all three and your glory and advantage would be in proportion.

Gowland’s career in the House scarcely accords with this encomium: he appears on the Opposition side in the division lists available for February 1775-February 1779, after which he is marked on the extant division lists as absent, too ill to attend; and there is no record of his having spoken in the House. The Public Ledger in 1779, though partial to those voting with Opposition, has nothing to say about him except that ‘he pins his political faith’ on Sir James, and votes with him. Gowland did not stand again in 1780, and died soon after.3

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: Sir Lewis Namier


  • 1. Sharp, Knights Burgesses of Durham, 43.
  • 2. 20 Jan., HMC Lonsdale, 134-5.
  • 3. Ferguson, 365.