MILNES, James (1755-1805), of Thornes House, nr. Wakefield, Yorks.

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



1802 - 21 Apr. 1805

Family and Education

b. 11 Oct. 1755, o. surv. s. of James Milnes of Wakefield by Esther, da. and h. of John Widowes of Brimsup Hall, Lancs. m. 24 Feb. 1778, Mary Ann, da. and coh. of Hans Busk of Leeds, Yorks., sis. of Rachel, w. of Richard Slater Milnes*, s.p. suc. fa. 1792; took name of Rich only, in compliance with will of wife’s gt.-uncle Aymor Rich of Bullhouse, Yorks. 17 Aug. 1802, but resumed name of Milnes on w.’s death 13 Jan. 1803.1

Offices Held

Sheriff, Yorks. 1800-1.

Capt. Wakefield vols. 1798.


Milnes, heir to a wealthy Wakefield woollen merchant, was not interested in trade. On the death of his father, a religious dissenter and a prominent local supporter of Pitt, he soon showed contrary political tendencies too: Michael Angelo Taylor informed William Adam, 9 Oct. 1794, ‘By the way, Mr James Milnes who bought Egremont House will purchase and vote with us, and he desired to speak about it.’2 At the general election of 1796, evidently at the instigation of Lord Lauderdale, Milnes was lured into a contest for Shaftesbury, in company with William Dawson, whose family had been business associates of his. Told that the outlay would probably be £4,000, he paid most of the estimated cost of failure (£17,000).3 In 1802 he purchased a quiet seat on the Kenrick interest.

Milnes was an inconspicuous Member. He joined Brooks’s Club, sponsored by Fox, on 17 May 1803 and a week later voted with the Whigs on the failure of negotiations to prevent the resumption of war with France. He appeared in some lists of the minority for Pitt’s naval motion, 15 Mar. 1804. Pitt’s calculators listed him ‘Prince’ in September. He died 21 Apr. 1805. Wilberforce described him in 1795 as ‘good natured and well intentioned’ and an obituary commended his ‘urbanity of manners and inflexible integrity in public and private life’.4

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: Brian Murphy


  • 1. The Times, 8 Sept. 1802, 31 Jan. 1803.
  • 2. J. W. Walker, Wakefield, 463-6; Wentworth Woodhouse mun. F34/160, 183; Blair Adam mss.
  • 3. Egerton 2137, ff. 149-150; see SHAFTESBURY.
  • 4. Life of Wilberforce (1838), ii.107; Gent. Mag. (1805), i. 489.