TOWNSHEND, Hon. William Augustus (1776-1816).

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



15 July 1800 - 3 July 1816

Family and Education

b. 10 Mar. 1776, 2nd s. of Thomas Townshend, 1st Visct. Sydney, and bro. of Hon. Horatio George Powys Townshend* and John Thomas Townshend*. educ. Eton 1783. unm.

Offices Held

Ensign, 1 Ft. Gds. 1792, lt. and capt. 1794, ret. 1800; lt. W. Kent yeoman cav. 1800.


Townshend left the Guards on succeeding to his elder brother’s seat for Whitchurch on the family interest. His sister Lady Chatham summed him up in an undated letter on his behalf to her brother-in-law Pitt:

William is in Parliament as you know, and his seat shall be filled up as you named for the remainder of this Parliament. Knowing that he has no turn for political business (though unluckily he likes Parliament and will be sorry to leave it) I must wish for a permanent situation for him.

Nothing was found. He silently supported Pitt and Addington. He was a member of the East India judicature committee of December 1801. On 8 Apr. 1805 he was in the government minority against the censure of Melville. He followed the family line of dissent from the Grenville ministry, opposing them on the repeal of Pitt’s Additional Force Act, 30 Apr. 1806, and on the Hampshire election petition, 13 Feb. 1807.

Townshend supported the Portland ministry, except on the charge of corruption, 25 Apr. 1809. He rallied to Perceval’s administration, voting with them on the address and on the Scheldt inquiry, 23, 26 Jan., 23 Feb. and 5 Mar. 1810. The Whigs then listed him ‘against the Opposition’. He voted against both sinecure and parliamentary reform, 17 and 21 May 1810, and sided with ministers on the Regency, 1 Jan. 1811. He voted against a more comprehensive administration, 21 May 1812. Listed a Treasury supporter in the next Parliament, he opposed Catholic relief, 11 and 24 May 1813, and mustered for government on the civil list, 8 May 1815, the army estimates, 6 and 8 Mar. 1816, and on 18 Mar. for the continuation of the property tax. He died 3 July 1816, with no speech to his name in debate.

PRO 30/8/122, f. 175.

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Authors: Brian Murphy / R. G. Thorne