BRUDENELL, Hon. James (1725-1811).

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1754-1790, ed. L. Namier, J. Brooke., 1964
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1754 - 1761
1761 - 1768
19 Mar. - Nov. 1768
17 Nov. 1768 - 1780

Family and Education

b. 20 Apr. 1725, 2nd s. of George, 3rd Earl of Cardigan, by Lady Elizabeth Bruce, da. of Thomas, and Earl of Ailesbury. educ. Winchester 1736; Oriel, Oxf. 1743. m. (1) 24 Nov. 1760, Anne (d. 12 Jan. 1786), da. of George Legge, Visct. Lewisham, sis. of William, 2nd Earl of Dartmouth, s.p.; (2) 18 Apr. 1791, Lady Elizabeth Waldegrave, da. of John, 3rd Earl Waldegrave, s.p. cr. Baron Brudenell 17 Oct. 1780; suc. bro, as 5th Earl of Cardigan 23 May 1790.

Offices Held

Deputy cofferer 1755-60; master of the robes to the Prince of Wales and to the King 1758-90; constable of Windsor castle 1791- d.


In 1754 Brudenell was returned for Shaftesbury on Lord Shaftesbury’s interest. Newcastle’s pre-electoral survey noted that Brudenell would ‘defray his own expenses’; and these were later reported to have amounted to more than £2000.1 Brudenell, like the rest of his family, was interested in making a figure at court rather than in the House of Commons and politics, and naturally supported Administration. When on the accession of George III he was not continued deputy cofferer he received a compensatory secret service pension of £600 a year which was continued till the fall of North, though by 1779 it was reduced to £400.2 In 1761 Brudenell was returned for Hastings on Newcastle’s recommendation. In the autumn of 1762 when the Administration was seeking support for the peace preliminaries, Newcastle wrote to James Peachey on 27 Oct.:3

They have begun with my two very good friends (as I thought) Mr. Brudenell and Mr. Offley; and they have prevailed so much with Mr. Brudenell, that he immediately assured my Lord Bute that he would support their measures in Parliament without knowing or inquiring what these measures were, or consulting or thinking of me, who gave him his seat there.

Brudenell faithfully supported each successive Administration throughout his parliamentary career, but his votes seem to have been mute for there is no record of his having spoken in the House. In 1768 he was returned for Great Bedwyn on the interest of his younger brother, Lord Bruce, to whom he wrote shortly afterwards:4

It is no doubt my business to apply to the minister for favours for my Bedwyn friends, and more particularly so, considering the very handsome and generous manner in which you have chosen me, and which I shall at all times acknowledge, but if I don’t succeed in my applications pray don’t lay any blame on me, as my recommendation cannot have so much weight with the Duke of Grafton as yours, considering you are a peer, and I a poor younger brother of no consequence whatever.

On 30 Sept. 1774, sending news of the dissolution, he was less ceremonious:

You will be so good as to let me know on what day the election is to be at Marlborough, and when you think it will be proper for me to come there ... I had a letter some days ago from my friend Lord N[ort]h,5 desiring to know if I could inform him who you intended choosing at Bedwyn, next Parliament ... He says he hoped two Members who would be friends to Government.

Bruce replied:

I should think that a little more ceremony is necessary about a seat in Parliament, even between brothers, than what you make use of upon the present occasion. Indeed your behaviour to your late constituents and me has been very unaccountable to Your affectionate brother.

Brudenell immediately apologized:

I am very sorry ... that you seem offended with the contents of my last to you. It was far from my intentions to say anything that could displease you. I wrote in the familiar manner that brothers generally do to each other. I certainly did not apply to you in form to choose me again at Marlborough, as I did not imagine you would expect it from me ... but I now assure you, I shall think myself much obliged to you, if you will choose me again at Marlborough.

Brudenell’s ambition was to obtain a peerage. North wrote to the King, 5 Sept. 1780:6

The principal objection appears to be that he has no estate at present, and that he seeks for this dignity purely to avoid the trouble and fatigue of attending the House of Commons, on the other [hand] Mr. Brudenell is a man of a very noble family, very polite manners, much respected and generally beloved: his elder and his younger brethren are both peers. He will, probably, not have any progeny, and he will certainly succeed to a peerage, so that this creation will add to the House of Lords for a very short time.

Brudenell did not stand again at the general election of 1780 and a month later was created a peer.

He died 24 Feb. 1811.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: Mary M. Drummond


  • 1. Add. 32995, ff. 63-67; 32913, ff. 16-17.
  • 2. Namier, Structure, 473.
  • 3. Add. 32944, ff. 105-6.
  • 4. This letter and the three following are quoted by J. Wake, Brudenells of Deene, 293-4.
  • 5. Brudenell’s w. was North’s step-sis.
  • 6. Fortescue, v. 113.