NORTHEY, William (?1722-70), of Compton Bassett, nr. Calne, and (after 1761) Ivy House, nr. Chippenham, Wilts.

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



1747 - 1761
1761 - 1768
13 Nov. 1768 - 24 Dec. 1770

Family and Education

b. ?1722, 1st s. of William Northey (M.P. Calne 1713-15, Wootton Bassett 1715-22) of Compton Bassett by Abigail, da. of Sir Thomas Webster, M.P., 1st Bt. (she m. 2ndly Sir Edmund Thomas); gd.-s. of Sir Edward Northey, M.P., attorney-gen. 1701-7, 1710-18.  educ. Corpus Christi, Camb. 1739; M. Temple 1739.  m. (2) 20 June 1742, Harriet (d. 25 Oct. 1750), da. of Robert Vyner of Gautby, Lincs. s.p.; (2) 4 May 1751, Anne, da. of Edward Hopkins, M.P., of Coventry, sis. of Richard and Benjamin Hopkins, 3s. 4da.  suc. fa. 1738.

Offices Held

Groom of the bedchamber 1760- d.; ld. of Trade Apr. 1770- d.


The Northey family had an estate near Calne; and in 1747 William Northey bought the prebendal manor of Calne, which carried considerable electoral influence in the borough. He was a Tory, and a close friend of Sir Charles Mordaunt and Sir Roger Newdigate. Horace Walpole in 1755 counted him as one of the leading speakers in the Commons, and wrote: ‘Northey saw clearly, but it was for a very little way.’1 He took a prominent part in the discussions of the Tories on the Mitchell election petition in 1755, and on 28 Feb. spoke in the House for Newcastle’s candidates.2 On the preparations for war and its subsequent conduct, he persistently attacked Newcastle and Fox. On 13 Nov. 1755 he spoke against the subsidy treaties; on 23 Mar. 1756 seconded Lord Downe’s call ‘to arm the nation’;3 and on 29 Mar. opposed the motion to bring over the Hanoverian troops. He was one of the Tories who met at the Horn Tavern in 1757 to discuss the Minorca inquiry,4 and on 25 Apr. seconded George Townshend’s censure motion against Newcastle and Fox. On 26 Jan. 1759, when Pitt moved for a subsidy of £60,000 to Hesse, Northey declared that

he did not object to giving the money, but was apprehensive that it was to be an annual demand for the four years that the new treaty is to continue in force; and desired to be satisfied as to that particular.5

In the new reign Northey was one of the Tories appointed to the King’s bedchamber. In 1761 he sold Compton Bassett to John Walker Heneage, a distant relative of the Earl of Aylesford; and stood at Maidstone on Aylesford’s interest. Through Lord Granby, Aylesford’s brother-in-law, he secured Newcastle’s support, and was returned head of the poll.6 He appears in Fox’s list of Members favourable to the peace preliminaries, and in November 1762 was suggested by Fox to second the Address.7 After Bute’s resignation he supported the Grenville ministry; was classed by Rockingham in July 1765 as ‘doubtful’; but did not vote against the repeal of the Stamp Act.

In the fairly well reported Parliament of 1761-8, four speeches by Northey are recorded.8 One only (7 Mar. 1764, on the repeal of the cider tax) was on a political issue. His last known speech was on 13 Mar. 1764. On 13 Mar. 1765 John Bull of Calne9 reported to Shelburne:

’Tis generally thought in town that Mr. Northey cannot recover. If his death should happen I can’t but think, as his affairs seem to be circumstanced, that this prebend manor must be sold.

It was sold later in the year to Shelburne for £12,490.10

Henceforth Northey supported successive Administrations. He did not stand for Maidstone in 1768, but was returned at a by-election for Great Bedwyn by Lord Bruce, a Wiltshire neighbour. His attendance in the House seems to have been infrequent. He appears in no division list 1767-70; and between his appointment to the Board of Trade and his death attended only 14 of the Board’s 56 meetings.

Northey died 24 Dec. 1770, aged 48.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: John Brooke


  • 1. Mems. Geo. II, ii. 145.
  • 2. Newdigate’s diary, 28 Feb. and 24 Mar. 1755, Newdigate mss; Namier, ‘Country Gentlemen in Parliament’, Personalities Powers, 67-70.
  • 3. Newdigate’s diary.
  • 4. Newdigate’s diary, 14 Jan. and 1 Feb. 1757.
  • 5. Andrew Stone to Newcastle, 26 Jan. 1759, Add. 32887, f. 351.
  • 6. Namier, Structure, 113-18.
  • 7. Fox to Bute, 17 Nov. 1762, Bute mss.
  • 8. In James Harris’s ‘Debates’.
  • 9. See CALNE.
  • 10. Lansdowne mss.