PONSONBY, Frederick, Visct. Duncannon (1758-1844).

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



1780 - 11 Mar. 1793

Family and Education

b. 24 Jan. 1758, o. surv. s. of William, Visct. Duncannon.  educ. Ch. Ch. Oxf. 1774; Grand Tour.  m. 27 Nov. 1780, Lady Henrietta Frances Spencer, da. of John, 1st Earl Spencer, 3s. 1da.  suc. fa. as 3rd Earl of Bessborough [I] and 3rd Baron Ponsonby [GB] 11 Mar. 1793.

Offices Held

Ld. of Admiralty Mar.-July 1782, Apr.-Dec. 1783.


Duncannon was returned for Knaresborough on the Devonshire interest, and throughout his career in the Commons adhered consistently to the Rockingham-Portland group. His first reported speech was in favour of Thomas Townshend’s motion of thanks to the late Speaker, Sir Fletcher Norton, 22 Nov. 1780. Duncannon also warmly supported Fox’s motion against the war, 12 June 1781: ‘the Americans had taken up arms in their own defence, and be the issue what it might, the evil advisers, who had imposed upon their Sovereign, Parliament, and the nation, ought to be deemed solely responsible for the consequences.’1

Although Duncannon belonged to the Devonshire House circle, he is barely mentioned in letters and diaries of the period. He ‘is as yet distinguished for nothing but the warmth and fidelity of his attachment to ... one of the daughters of Lord Spencer’, the English Chronicle wrote of him in 1780 shortly after his election; and Horace Walpole commented to Lord Strafford, 9 Sept. 1780: ‘I should not have selected, for so gentle and very amiable a man, a sister of the empress of fashion [Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire], nor a daughter of the goddess of wisdom [Lady Spencer].’

He died 3 Feb. 1844.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: Mary M. Drummond


  • 1. Debrett, i. 110; iii. 574.