PENTON, Henry (1736-1812), of Eastgate House, Winchester, Hants.

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



1761 - 1796

Family and Education

b. 11 Dec. 1736, s. of Henry Penton.  educ. Winchester; Clare, Camb. 1753; L. Inn 1762; Grand Tour.1  m. 4 Feb. 1765, a da. of John Knowles of Canterbury, 1s.  suc. fa. 1762.

Offices Held

King’s letter carrier 1761- d.; ld. of Admiralty 1774-82.


In 1761 Penton was returned unopposed at Winchester, which his father had represented since 1747. He was sent Newcastle’s whip through the Duke of Bolton; was classed in Bute’s list of December 1761 as ‘Newcastle, Government’; and appears in Fox’s list of Members favourable to the peace preliminaries, December 1762. In the divisions of 1763 and 1764 on Wilkes and general warrants he voted against Administration. He supported Rockingham’s Administration, and in November 1766 Rockingham still classed him as a friend, but Townshend in January 1767 as a supporter of Government, with whom he voted on the land tax, 27 Feb. 1767.

He supported the Grafton and North Administrations and spoke occasionally—21 speeches are reported between 1770 and 1782, most of them after 1774 on Admiralty business. He was closely connected with the Duke of Chandos, and was consulted by North on Hampshire affairs. In 1780 North suggested appointing him comptroller of the Household in order to make a vacancy for Lord Lewisham at the Admiralty, and told the King that though Penton was ‘sometimes troubled with the gout’ and had ‘wished to go out of Parliament entirely, yet he would accept of the change, or, perhaps might be prevailed upon to quit without any compensation at all’. The King replied on 25 Sept.:

I cannot see why Lord Lewisham should not at once have the comptroller’s staff. Lord North cannot seriously think that a private gentleman like Mr. Penton is to stand in the way of the eldest son of an Earl; undoubtedly if that idea holds good it is diametrically opposite to what I have known all my life.2

Penton remained with North after his resignation, voted against Shelburne’s peace preliminaries, 18 Feb. 1783, and supported the Fox-North Coalition. Robinson noted in his electoral survey of December 1783: ‘Mr. Penton feels himself neglected and hurt and therefore may be classed hopeful, but he had formerly a wish to quit Parliament. The seat, therefore, might perhaps be got.’ But Penton was returned again in 1784 and opposed Pitt.

He died 15 Jan. 1812.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: Mary M. Drummond


  • 1. Augustus Hervey’s Jnl. ed. Erskine, 283.
  • 2. Fortescue, v. 134-5.