LUTTRELL, Hon. Henry Lawes (?1737-1821), of Painshill, Surr.

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



1768 - Apr. 1769
15 Apr. 1769 - 1774
1774 - 1784
1790 - Feb. 1794
28 June 1817 - 25 Apr. 1821

Family and Education

b. ?1737, 1st s. of Simon Luttrell, and bro. of James, John, and Temple Simon Luttrell.  educ. Westminster 1751; Ch. Ch. Oxf. 13 Jan. 1755, aged 17.  m. 25 June 1776, Jane, da. of George Boyd of Dublin., s.p.  Styled Lord Luttrell 23 June 1785-14 Jan. 1787 when he suc. fa. as 2nd Earl of Carhampton [I].

Offices Held

M.P. [I] 1783-7.

Ensign 48 Ft. 1757; lt. 34 Ft. 1759; capt. 16 Lt. Drag. 1759, maj. 1762; dep. adjutant-gen. in Portugal and local lt.-col. 1762; lt.-col. 1 Horse 1765; adjutant-gen. [I] 1770-83; col. 1777; maj.-gen. 1782; lt.-gen. of Ordnance [I] 1787-97; col. 6 Drag. Gds. 1788- d.; lt.-gen. 1793; [I] 1796-7; master-gen. of Ordnance [I] 1797-1800; gen. 1798.


In 1768 Luttrell was returned for Bossiney by Lord Edgcumbe, the seat being bought for him by the Duke of Portland as compensation for the surrender of the Luttrell interest at Wigan. In Parliament he soon became prominent by his hostility to Wilkes. According to Walpole, he had ‘a personal enmity to Wilkes’,1 and although the two seem never to have come into contact it is difficult otherwise to account for the rancour and pertinacity with which Luttrell pursued Wilkes. On 16 May 1768, in his maiden speech, Luttrell raised the question of Wilkes; on 18 May embarrassed Administration by asking why the law had not been put into force against him; and on 23 Jan. 1769 charged him with ‘infamous crimes’ and ‘infernal practices’, and demanded his expulsion and punishment.2

On 16 Mar. 1769, Wilkes was re-elected a third time for Middlesex, although he had been twice expelled and declared incapable of sitting in that Parliament; and the next day the election was declared void. It was obvious that he would again offer himself and that no other candidate stood a chance; and there appeared no end to the process of election, expulsion, and re-election. Now Luttrell, who had no property in Middlesex, offered to stand for the county if the court would support him and ensure his return on petition; and on 27 Mar. he declared himself a candidate. It was a rash and presumptuous act: for over a year Middlesex had been in a turbulent state, and few men of property in the county were willing to incur the unpopularity of supporting Luttrell. The election was on 13 Apr., and Luttrell was beaten by 1,143 votes to 296; on the 14th the election was again declared void; and on the 15th a motion declaring Luttrell duly elected was carried in the House by 197 to 143.

Luttrell, wrote Walpole,3‘for some months did not dare to appear in the streets or scarce quit his lodgings.’ He was the most unpopular man in the House of Commons; newspapers were full of abuse of him; scores of pamphlets appeared, vilifying his character and private life; and the most scandalous stories were circulated about him and his family. Not until the winter of 1770, when war with Spain threatened, did the uproar about the Middlesex election die down in the House of Commons.

As a reward, the post of adjutant-general in Ireland was vacated for him. But he was dissatisfied, and towards the end of 1771 threatened to resign his seat for Middlesex.4 According to Gibbon:5

The Colonel’s expenses in his bold enterprise were yet unpaid by Government. The hero threatened, assumed the patriot, received a sop, and again sunk into the courtier.

In March 1772 he voted with his father against the royal marriage bill, probably in deference to his brother-in-law, the Duke of Cumberland. He does not appear in any other division list for this Parliament, and seems to have spent most of his time on military duty in Ireland.

In 1774 he was again returned for Bossiney on Lord Edgcumbe’s interest, but this time as a nominee of Administration. He quarrelled with his father, and refused to follow his family into Opposition. On 27 Jan. 1778 he ‘expressed his abhorrence of principles which led gentlemen to support rebellion’, and caused an uproar in the House by describing the Opposition as ‘abettors of treason and rebellion, combined purposely for the ruin of their country’.6 Only five speeches of his are reported between 1774 and the fall of North’s Administration, and he appears in no division list during this period—again, he probably spent most of the time in Ireland.

He did not vote on Shelburne’s peace preliminaries, 18 Feb. 1783, and was classed by Robinson as a follower of North; he voted for Fox’s East India bill, 27 Nov. 1783. In 1784 Edgcumbe put his boroughs at Pitt’s disposal, and Luttrell was not returned at the general election.

Soon, however, he was trying to get into favour with Pitt. On 2 June 1785, the Duke of Rutland, lord lieutenant of Ireland, wrote to Pitt:

I shall have occasion by the next packet to write to Lord Sydney with a memorial from General Luttrell, requesting to be continued as a major-general on the future staff. His services in Parliament, and his real utility as a general officer on this establishment, are circumstances too essential for me not to become his warm advocate; and ... I must earnestly beg of you to second my application in an effectual manner.

And on 12 June Rutland wrote to Sydney about Luttrell: ‘He has rendered great services to the Government, and shown great address in some very difficult emergencies.’7

Thus the way was smoothed for his return to Westminster, and in April 1786 Pitt recommended him to Lord Mount Edgcumbe for a vacancy at Bossiney. But the recommendation came too late. Mount Edgcumbe wrote to Pitt on 26 Apr., a few days before the election:8

I owe I am much embarrassed, and wish I knew how to disentangle myself, for certainly I have no object in view but supporting your Administration in every way you can wish, but I fear in the present case the business is gone too far; had you been pleased to name your friend sooner, or communicated to me your intention of opening the borough, it might have been prevented, but I was so loudly called upon to name a candidate that it was impossible to avoid, and you were not in town ... Lord Luttrell’s professions of supporting Government both in England and Ireland leave me no doubt of his attachment to your Administration.

A different story was told by Thomas Orde to the Duke of Rutland on 31 May:

It is whispered to me by authority that the cause of Lord Luttrell’s failure is solely to be explained by Lord Edgcumbe, who had certainly, on his account, declined to accept the recommendation of Mr. Pitt ... I have, however, strongly impressed the opinion of its being a wise measure to seek to attach Luttrell to the Government, on both sides of the water.

And on 4 Aug.: ‘I have hinted Saltash for him, but as yet have no answer.’9 But Luttrell was not selected for the vacant seat at Saltash, and had to wait until the general election of 1790 before reentering Parliament.

He died 25 Apr. 1821.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: John Brooke


  • 1. Mems. Geo. III, iii. 146.
  • 2. Cavendish’s ‘Debates’, Egerton 216, ff. 79-82.
  • 3. Mems. Geo. III, iii. 239.
  • 4. The King to North, 2 Jan. 1772, Fortescue, ii. 308.
  • 5. To Holroyd, 3 Feb. 1772.
  • 6. Almon, viii. 317-18.
  • 7. HMC Rutland, iii. 213, 215.
  • 8. Chatham mss.
  • 9. HMC Rutland, iii. 305, 329.