YORKE, Philip, Visct. Royston (1784-1808).

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



1806 - 7 Apr. 1808

Family and Education

b. 7 May 1784, 1st s. of Philip Yorke, 3rd Earl of Hardwicke, by Lady Elizabeth Lindsay, da. of James, 5th Earl of Balcarres [S]. educ. Harrow 1795; St. John’s, Camb. 1801; European tour 1806-8. unm.

Offices Held

Capt. Cambs. militia 1803.


Royston canvassed Cambridgeshire in 1802 for his uncle, Charles Philip Yorke*, and his father looked forward to his being in Parliament. But where should he come in? The options were the family seat for Reigate, his university, or Cambridgeshire, if his uncle received a peerage. His father also wished him to embark on an ambitious tour of unoccupied Europe. Hardwicke was still in Ireland as viceroy (and hoping to secure the reversion of Lord Buckinghamshire’s sinecure for his two sons before he departed) when Pitt’s death vacated a university seat in January 1806. Royston had set off for Ireland on a visit and missed his opportunity. His father advised waiting until the next vacancy and Royston’s tour was postponed in case of a dissolution.1 When the dissolution occurred later that year he was, however, already en route for Russia. He was chosen to sit for Reigate in absentia, Hardwicke brushing aside an offer from his half-brother James Yorke to keep the seat warm for Royston until his return. The electors were told that they might expect to benefit from having such a travelled Member.2

As ‘Lord Royston in Russia’ he was listed ‘friendly’ to the abolition of the slave trade. He was still absent when re-elected in 1807. Had he returned home and taken his seat, he was expected to follow his father’s line of opposition to the Portland ministry and, as his uncle disagreed with this line, the possibility arose of his replacing him as county Member on his return. As it was, he was lost at sea off Memel, 7 Apr. 1808.3

An oblique view of these proceedings was taken by his kinsmen at Erddig. Brownlow Yorke wrote:

He was a young man of very first rate abilities, but I believe of an eccentric disposition. He had suffered much by his anxiety to visit countries that no other traveller had resorted to, and had been to Mount Caucasus.

It was reported that he had twice had plague of which his servants had died. He had lost one eye and was supposed to be in such general ill health in consequence of exposing himself to such manner of dangers, that he would probably not have lived long had he reached this country in safety.4

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Authors: Arthur Aspinall / R. G. Thorne


  • 1. Add. 35393, f. 99; 35701, f. 219; 35706, ff. 185, 199, 272, 280, 318, 320, 327, 335, 342.
  • 2. Add. 35395, f. 43; 35646, ff. 36, 39.
  • 3. Add. 35395, f. 45; 45034, ff. 53, 55; Fremantle mss, box 46, Buckingham to Fremantle, 16 June [1807]; Gent. Mag. (1808), i. 461.
  • 4. A. L. Wherry, Chrons. Erthig, ii. 294.