MOORSOM, Robert (1760-1835), of 21 Upper Brompton Row, Mdx. and Cosgrove Priory, nr. Northampton.

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



15 Jan. 1812 - 1820

Family and Education

b. June 1760, 2nd s. of Richard Moorsom, ‘an extensive ship owner’, of Airyhill, nr. Whitby, Yorks. educ. Rev. Holmes’s sch., Scorton, Yorks. m. 1791, Eleanor, da. of Thomas Scarth of Stakesby, nr. Whitby, 2s. 1da. surv. KCB 2 Jan. 1815.

Offices Held

Midshipman RN 1777, lt. 1784, paid off 1786, capt. 1791; col. marines 1808-10; r.-adm. 1810, v.-adm. 1814; c.-in-c. Chatham 1824-7; adm. 1830.

Priv. sec. to first ld. of Admiralty June 1807-Mar. 1809; ld. of Admiralty Mar. 1809-July 1810; surveyor-gen. of Ordnance July 1810-Mar. 1820.


Moorsom was described to the King by Lord Mulgrave in 1809 as ‘an officer of service and of science, who was brought into the navy and instructed in his profession by the late Lord Mulgrave’. Recognition of his abilities had come slowly: in 1798 and 1799 he complained to the prime minister about his failure to obtain promotion from Lord Spencer at the Admiralty. He distinguished himself at Trafalgar. He became private secretary to Mulgrave in 1807 and, under his aegis, successively a lord of Admiralty and surveyor-general of the Ordnance. He entered Parliament for Queenborough on the Ordnance interest in 1812.

Moorsom proved a steady ministerialist. He voted against sinecure reform, 24 Feb. and 4 May, and against a more comprehensive administration, 21 May 1812. He was an opponent of Catholic relief throughout in 1813, pairing on 24 May, in 1816 (by pair) and in 1817. He favoured Christian missions to India, 12 July 1813. Government could rely on his attendance on all critical divisions and on 14 Feb. and 10 Apr. 1816 he was a spokesman for them on naval questions. No other speeches are known.

Moorsom retired from office and Parliament in 1820, respected for the improvements he effected in his department. He died 14 May 1835.

Geo. III Corresp. v. 3840, 4220; PRO 30/8/161, ff. 39, 42; Gent. Mag. (1835), ii. 321; Annual Biog. (1836), 17.

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: R. G. Thorne