TONSON, Richard (d.1772), of Water Oakley, nr. Windsor, Berks.

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



1747 - 1754
18 May 1768 - 9 Oct. 1772

Family and Education

2nd s. of Jacob Tonson by a da. of Samuel Hoole of London, and gt.-nephew of Jacob Tonson, publisher and secretary of the Kit-Cat Club.  suc. bro. Jacob 1767. unm.

Offices Held


Richard Tonson, the last of a family of distinguished printers and publishers, was a partner with his elder brother Jacob but ‘interfered ... little in the concerns of the trade’, and retired after his brother’s death in 1767.1 He did not stand for Parliament in 1754, and shortly before the death of George II seems to have declined the offer of a seat from Newcastle, presumably for the next general election.2

Before that of 1768 he again had an offer of support from Newcastle if he would join Augustus Keppel at Windsor, and from Government if he would join Lord George Beauclerk. ‘I think I see Mr. Tonson very desirous of representing the town of Windsor’, wrote Keppel to Newcastle on 10 Nov. 1767, ‘but he wishes to do it by a unanimous voice of the whole.’ Tonson rejected a fresh offer of Government support if he stood single, and Newcastle’s suggestion that he should declare a junction with Keppel but accept any Government votes he could get.3 On Beauclerk’s death, two months after the general election, he was returned unopposed. Nothing is known of his political conduct in the Parliament of 1768, and no vote or speech by him is recorded.

Tonson died 9 Oct. 1772. He bequeathed his property to his sister Mary, wife of Sir William Baker.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: John Brooke


  • 1. Nichols, Lit. Anecs. i. 298.
  • 2. Add. 32986, f. 116.
  • 3. Ibid. ff. 333-4, 362; 32987, f. 59.