THELLUSSON, George Woodford (1764-1811), of Philpot Lane, London and Aldenham, Herts.
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Family and Education
Dir. E.I. Co. 1796-1807, Imperial Insurance Co. 1803-d.
Maj. 2 R.E.I. vols. 1796, col., res. 1809.
Thellusson was noticed in the House before he obtained a seat there, as chairman of a meeting of claimants on property confiscated in Martinique whose memorial to the Duke of Portland caused controversy in the debates of May and June 1795.2 A partner in the family mercantile house, he signed the London merchants’ declaration of loyalty, 2 Dec. 1795, and at the general election of 1796 stood for Southwark as ‘a friend to the constitution’ and ‘a friend to peace’. His chief rival was the reformer George Tierney, uncle of his younger brother’s wife, but Thellusson spent heavily, beat him into third place and promised after his election to support the constitution, though not as ‘the servile tool of any administration’. Four months later he was elected a director of the East India Company at his second attempt, overcoming, so his elder brother Peter claimed, ‘every effort of ministerial and presbyterian influence’.3
On inquiry into Tierney’s petition Thellusson was found guilty of treating offences and his election was declared void, 11 Nov. 1796. The following day Peter Thellusson asked Windham to inform Pitt that if the family were to incur fresh trouble and expense at the Southwark by-election they required a ‘reasonable assurance’ of a peerage for their father or himself: otherwise George would leave Tierney to walk over and ‘take a quiet seat for a borough in the Isle of Wight’.4 The response must have been encouraging for Thellusson contested the by-election against Tierney and was again successful. His second lease on the seat lasted a month, during which he made his only known speeches in the House, 8 and 12 Dec., on points arising out of Tierney’s renewed petition. He was unseated on 21 Dec. 1796.
Thellusson, who bought Aldenham in 1799 and sold it to the trustees of his father’s infamous will in 1805,5 contested Okehampton, unsuccessfully, with his elder brother at the general election of 1802. In August 1804 he considered standing for Barnstaple on a vacancy, but withdrew, and instead exploited the disarray in the affairs of the dying Richard Barwell* to secure his unopposed return for Tregony in place of one of the sitting Members, Lord Blandford, who was seeking re-election after appointment to office. Like Peter Thellusson, he supported Pitt, voting against the censure of Melville, 8 Apr. 1805, and opposed the ‘Talents’. He voted against the repeal of the Additional Force Act, 30 Apr., and, with a number of his fellow East India Company directors, divided in favour of Hamilton’s motion concerning Lord Wellesley’s conduct in India, 21 Apr. 1806.
He did not find a seat in the 1806 Parliament, but in 1807 stood, with the good wishes of the Portland ministry, for the venal borough of Barnstaple and topped the poll. He voted for Folkestone’s motion on Wellesley’s conduct in Oudh, 15 Mar. 1808, and against Perceval’s exculpatory resolution on the Duke of York scandal, 17 Mar. 1809. A month later he failed to secure re-election as an East India Company director, but in January 1810 Richard Ryder reported that he had ‘avowedly changed sides’6 and in March the Whigs listed him under ‘Government’. He voted with the Perceval ministry on the address, 23 Jan., the Scheldt question, 5 and 30 Mar. 1810, and the Regency bill, 1 Jan. 1811. He opposed parliamentary reform, 21 May 1810.
George Thellusson was the last of the three brothers to remain active in the family business, taking as his partners his nephew George Thellusson and one William Mitchell of Serjeants’ Inn. The firm, now known as Thellusson, Nephew & Co., had moved from 34 Little Eastcheap to 24 Old Jewry by 1811 and the following year was located at Meeting House Court. In his will, dated 21 Jan. 1811, he released Mitchell from a personal debt and ‘most earnestly’ solicited him ‘to recover as speedily as possible the considerable debts owing to my several partnerships’ and ‘give every assistance in his power to the executors of my late brother Lord Rendlesham for the like purpose’.7 He died 30 Dec. 1811.
Ref Volumes: 1790-1820
Author: David R. Fisher
- 1. Huguenot Peds. i. 38; Gent. Mag. (1790), i. 474.
- 2. Portland mss PwF8680-1; Debrett (ser 2), xli. 238, 250-1, 458.
- 3. True Briton, 20, 30 May; Morning Chron. 23, 26 May, 20 Aug., 15, 29 Sept. 1796; PRO 30/8/182, f. 177.
- 4. PRO 30/8/182, ff. 174-7.
- 5. VCH Herts, ii. 151.
- 6. NLI, Richmond mss 62/530.
- 7. PCC 48 Oxford.