GRAVES, William (?1724-1801), of Thanckes, Cornw.

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



1768 - 1774
5 June 1775 - Nov. 1783
1784 - May 1786
1796 - Apr. 1798

Family and Education

b. ?1724, 1st s. of R.-Adm. Thomas Graves, and bro. of Thomas Graves. educ. Balliol, Oxf. 20 Nov. 1741, aged 17; M. Temple 1739, called 1747.

Offices Held

Master in Chancery 1761; bencher M. Temple 1782, reader 1790, treasurer 1794.


In 1768 Graves was returned on the Buller interest at West Looe. His first recorded vote was with Administration on the Middlesex election, 8 May 1769, but in the division of 25 Jan. 1770 he voted against them; remained in opposition till the end of the Parliament, and in 1774 was classed by Robinson as ‘contra’. Before the general election Robinson noted that Graves’s seat at West Looe, now managed by John Buller jun., would be available for an Administration candidate, and showed no intention of transferring him to East Looe or finding him another seat. In June 1775, when his brother Thomas vacated his seat at East Looe, William Graves was returned on the interest of John Buller sen., and henceforth consistently voted with North’s Administration till its fall.

During his first Parliament Graves spoke frequently on a variety of subjects, but after 1775 made fewer speeches and their substance is generally not reported; his only known departure from a mild pro-ministerial line was over the bill for new modelling the supreme court of judicature of Bengal, 19 June 1781, when he declared ‘he felt the greatest indignation at seeing such a bill patronized or defended by any one; it militated against every principle of justice and equity ... was of so unjust a nature, he should hold himself unworthy of the name of a legislator if he should give his consent to any part of it’.1 It was his last recorded speech before 1790.

In 1784 Graves was again returned for East Looe. In William Adam’s list of May 1784 he was classed as ‘Administration’, but no vote by him is recorded before he vacated his seat in May 1786.

He died 30 Apr. 1801, aged 77.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: Mary M. Drummond


  • 1. Debrett, iii. 639.