CAMPBELL, George (1759-1821), of Foxhall, Ealing, Mdx.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1806 - Dec. 1813

Family and Education

b. 14 Aug. 1759, 2nd s. of Pryse Campbell of Stackpole Court, Pemb. by Sarah, da. and coh. of Sir Edmund Bacon, 6th Bt., of Garboldisham, Norf.; bro. of John Campbell I*. m. 1 Feb. 1805,1 his cos. Eustacia, da. of John Hooke Campbell of Bangeston, Pemb., Lyon King of Arms, s.p. KCB 2 Jan. 1815; GCB 8 June 1820.

Offices Held

Groom of bedchamber Oct. 1817-d.

Entered RN 1771, lt. 1778, cdr. 1780, capt. 1781, r.-adm. 1804, v.-adm. 1809, adm. 1814; port adm. and c.-in-c. Portsmouth.


Campbell was returned on the interest of his brother Lord Cawdor, who since 1804 had been leader of the Blue (Whig) party in the borough of Carmarthen. Cawdor was also eager to obtain naval promotion for him through Thomas Grenville* at the Admiralty.2 Campbell was a non-resident stranger at Carmarthen and, although opposition to him in 1806 and 1807 was ineffective, he was strongly challenged by John Jones* in 1812. Late in 1813, ostensibly for health reasons, he made way for his nephew, who had failed to win the county seat for Pembrokeshire. On the occasion of this ‘requisition’, as he termed it, to give up his seat, Campbell wrote in protest to Cawdor, 28 Oct., pointing out that he had begged to be replaced more than a year before the election of 1812, feeling that he had already sacrificed enough to the family interest, but that Cawdor had deprecated the suggestion. When he had renewed the plea, on the grounds that ‘being in Parliament had proved hurtful to my circumstances and also injurious to my professional interest’, Cawdor, in reply, had treated him ‘like a child’, told him not to divulge his wish and obliged him to remain in Parliament until now, when he was with as little ceremony required to give his seat up.3

In Parliament, where he made no known speech, Campbell supported the Whigs in and out of power, his brother’s line, voting with them on Brand’s motion, 9 Apr. 1807, against the address, 26 June 1807, and pairing in opposition to the conduct of the Scheldt expedition, 30 Mar. 1810, and in favour of Catholic relief, 24 Apr. 1812, 2 Mar. and 24 May 1813. Clearly his naval duties prevented him from attending regularly after 1807, as did indifferent health. In 1816 he was named as prospective candidate for Pembroke Boroughs on his brother’s interest, but nothing came of this plan.4

A familiar of the Prince Regent, he was made a groom of the bedchamber in 1817. When the Regent first proposed this to Lord Liverpool in September 1816 the latter, writing to Bloomfield, 13 Sept., objected that although Campbell was ‘a very respectable man’, his brother had ‘always been in opposition’ and he himself had ‘always voted against government till he vacated his seat’; unless Campbell’s family’s politics had changed, which clearly they had not, it was ‘a serious evil to government, and eventually to his Royal Highness, to pass over friends and to promote enemies’. Liverpool went so far as to record that even while Campbell was in professional command at Deal, ‘his language was opposition language’.5

To Cawdor’s relief, the difficulty was at length overcome, but all did not end well: on 23 Jan. 1821, while in command at Portsmouth, Campbell took his own life. His valet found him at 6.50 p.m., ‘lying on the floor, with a pistol at his side’. This event was the more distressing as he was ‘of the most humane and charitable disposition, and of exemplary domestic habits’ and ‘highly esteemed by all the navy’. The coroner returned a verdict of lunacy.6 Cawdor recorded in his diary, 25 Jan., that it was ‘one of the severest afflictions I ever experienced as I love no man on earth as well as him after my own sons’.7 Campbell, who had no issue, took an affectionate interest in the naval career of his nephew George Campbell.8

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: R. G. Thorne


  • 1. St. Petrox reg., ex. inf. Mrs Sheila Rowlands.
  • 2. R. D. Rees, 'Parl. Rep. S. Wales 1790-1830' (Reading Univ. Ph.D. thesis, 1962), ii. 329; Carm. RO, Cwmgwili mss 574; 1 Cawdor 129, Grenville to Cawdor, 13 Dec. 1806.
  • 3. 1 Cawdor 132.
  • 4. Cwmgwili mss 574; Carm. Jnl. 30 Aug. 1816.
  • 5. Geo. IV Letters, ii. 661.
  • 6. Gent. Mag. (1821), i. 87.
  • 7. 1 Cawdor 244.
  • 8. Ibid. 132, corresp. of Campbell and his wife with George Campbell.