TUFNELL, William (1769-1809), of Chichester, Suss. and Barnsbury, Mdx.

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



1806 - 1807

Family and Education

bap. 4 May 1769, 1st s. of George Forster Tufnell of Chichester by 2nd w. Mary, da. of John Farhill of Chichester. educ. St. John’s, Camb. 1787; M. Temple 1791, called 1795. m. 24 May 1804, Mary, da. and event. coh. of Thomas Carleton of Carleton, Cumb., 2s. 1da. suc. fa. 1798.

Offices Held

Lt. E. Mdx. militia 1793.


Tufnell’s grandfather, Samuel Tufnell of Langleys, Essex, sat for Colchester 1727-34 and his father and uncle represented Beverley in turn: in fact, according to the family historian, ‘since 1640 every generation, with one exception, has produced its Members of Parliament’.1 William Tufnell was called to the bar, but appeared in the law lists only briefly, at 6 Grays Inn Square. In 1802 he made inquiries about a possible opening at Lewes, where he had practised at sessions, but not necessarily for himself: he seems rather to have contemplated standing for Colchester, but demurred because he had left it too late. In 1806 he stood for Colchester as a friend of the Grenville administration: when the Prince of Wales tried to promote the candidature of another man, Thomas Creevey, by his own account, thwarted it by letting the Prince have ‘a bill of fare of Tuffy’s merits and pretensions’.2

All Tufnell’s family were employed in securing his success, after which he proceeded to Brentford to propose Byng for Middlesex.3 He was listed as a staunch supporter of the abolition of the slave trade. He supported ministers to the end, defending Brand’s motion against the King’s replacement of them, 9 Apr. 1807, on the grounds that it would discourage the allies and raise the hopes of the enemy, besides which ‘ministers appointed by the crown should possess the confidence of both the aristocracy and the democracy of the country’, which the new administration did not, owing its appointment to a dangerous use of the royal prerogative. Only one other speech of his is known, 18 Mar. 1807: he attempted, unsuccessfully, to secure the recommittal of the forfeited estates bill.

Tufnell did not come forward at Colchester in 1807, being replaced by his younger brother Col. John Charles Tufnell. The latter was heavily defeated and the victim of a ‘No Popery’ cry. William Tufnell died ‘of a complaint in his bowels’, 26 Apr. 1809, aged 40. His son Henry was a prominent Member of Parliament later.4

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: R. G. Thorne


  • 1. E. Tufnell, Fam. of Tufnell, 1.
  • 2. Add. 33110, f. 420; The Times, 2 July 1802; Creevey Pprs. ed. Maxwell, i. 81.
  • 3. Tufnell, 30.
  • 4. Ibid. 31; Gent. Mag. (1809), i. 482; DNB.