BULLER, James (1717-65), of Morval, Cornw.

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



1741 - 1747
27 Apr. 1748 - 30 Apr. 1765

Family and Education

bap. 17 June 1717, 1st s. of John Francis Buller, M.P., and bro. of Francis and John Buller. educ. Balliol, Oxf. 1735. m. (1) 19 Nov. 1739, Elizabeth (d. Apr. 1742), da. and coh. of William Gould of Downes, Devon, 1s.; (2) Apr. 1744, Hon. Jane Bathurst, da. of Allen, 1st Lord Bathurst, 3s. 3da. suc. fa. June 1751.

Offices Held


James Buller was in a peculiar position: Cornish borough mongers required Government patronage, and therefore under George II had to be ‘Whigs’; while the Cornish knights of the shire had to be ‘Tories’, and were therefore, as a rule, chosen from families under no such obligations to Government. James Buller was a Tory but had an important electoral interest in the two Looes; sat for East Looe 1741-7, and though returned at the request of Governor Trelawny and with the Government’s consent, voted against them;1 left Parliament in 1747 till returned for the county; and was replaced at East Looe by his younger brother John who in 1754 became Treasury manager for the two boroughs. But in 1764, with John Buller in opposition to the Government, it was James who on the death of their brother Francis offered Grenville to supply the vacancy with any person recommended by Grenville;2 though even then it was John who managed the election. He wrote to James on 10 Jan. 1765:3

The writ is moved for W. Looe, and I expect every hour to have it brought to me, and intend to set out with it early tomorrow morning ... Mr. Sargent has charged me with the requisite for Bawden [a Buller agent], and seems so very well disposed that I cannot think you will in any event find your expectations unanswered by him.

And in a postscript: ‘My nephew Francis and Mr. Sargent are this moment gone from here.’ Each member of the Buller family followed his own individual line in Parliament, but the family interest at the Looes was a great common asset.

Buller was from the very outset well inclined to Bute,4 and is marked accordingly in his list: but he is not in Fox’s list of Members favourable to the peace preliminaries; still, he did not vote against them. In the autumn of 1763 Jenkinson classed him as ‘pro’; he attended the Cockpit meeting on 14 Nov.; but in the decisive division on general warrants, 18 Feb. 1764, voted against the Government. He also opposed the cider tax, and when thanked by his constituents promised his best endeavours to secure its repeal.5 Buller rarely spoke in the House. Over the game bill, 29 Mar. 1762, Harris, with some amusement, lists ‘Cornish knight Buller’ among ‘all such speakers, as did never speak’; and on 10 Feb. 1764 James Buller is specifically mentioned by him as speaking against the cider tax. But when the speaker on the cider tax appears merely as ‘Mr. Buller’—three times in Harris’s reports (24 Jan., 7 Feb. and 7 Mar. 1764), and once in Jenkinson’s to Bute (11 Mar. 1763)6—it is uncertain which of the three brothers it was, though John seems the most likely: speaking came easier to him than to James, and opposition easier than to Francis.

James Buller died 30 Apr. 1765.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: Sir Lewis Namier


  • 1. See letter from Adm. Wager, first ld. of Admiralty, to the mayor of East Looe, 24 Mar. 1741, East Looe Town Trust.
  • 2. Grenville to Jas. Buller, 1 Dec. 1764, Grenville letter bk.
  • 3. Buller mss at Antony.
  • 4. See his letter to Bute of 19 Feb. 1761, Add. 5726C. f. 96.
  • 5. High Sheriff to Buller, 2 Aug. 1763, and Buller’s reply, 3 Aug., Buller mss.
  • 6. Bodl. North mss.