LUTTRELL, Simon (1713-87), of Four Oaks, Warws. and Luttrellstown, co. Dublin.

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



24 Mar. 1755 - 1761
1761 - 1768
1768 - 1774
1774 - 1780

Family and Education

b. 1713, 2nd s. of Henry Luttrell of Luttrellstown by Elizabeth, da. of Charles Jones of Halkin, Flints.  m. 1737, Judith Maria, da. and h. of Sir Nicholas Lawes, gov. Jamaica 1718-22, 5s. 3da.  suc. bro. 1730; cr. Baron Irnham [I] 13 Oct. 1768; Visct. Carhampton [I] 9 Jan. 1781; Earl of Carhampton [I] 23 June 1785.

Offices Held


The Luttrells of Luttrellstown claimed kinship with the Luttrells of Dunster, and took their titles from estates of the Dunster family. There is no evidence for this claim: the Irish Luttrells had been settled at Luttrellstown since the 15th century, and until the 18th century appear to have owned no property in England.

In 1754 Luttrell stood for Mitchell jointly with Richard Hussey on the Edgcumbe-Boscawen interest, backed by the Duke of Newcastle. Luttrell and Hussey were defeated and petitioned, and Newcastle used all his influence to have them seated. About 1757 Luttrell bought Four Oaks and set about building a parliamentary interest—not on the basis of his property but by jobbery and corruption and in boroughs which welcomed an outsider.

At Wigan he allied himself with Fletcher Norton: by 1759 they had captured the borough, and were returned unopposed in 1761. But in 1763 the Duke of Portland and Sir William Meredith, sparing neither energy nor expense, began to intervene; and by 1765 Luttrell and Norton were on the point of being driven out. According to the account given by Norton to Bamber Gascoyne:1

Mr. Luttrell therefore proposed to Norton to listen to a compromise if they could retreat with honour. Norton said he did not like such a measure, nor had he time to treat, but could not wish this to stop Mr. Luttrell who seemed very pressing for a treaty, and declared he would take that trouble upon himself if Norton would give him leave, which he did.

On 31 May 1765 Luttrell, without further reference to Norton, concluded an agreement with Portland:2 Luttrell and Norton resigned ‘their pretensions to the borough’ in favour of Portland, and promised ‘to lend their best assistance’ towards giving him possession. He engaged to pay Luttrell £500, and at the next general election to bring in without expense either Luttrell or his son.3 No compensation was proposed for Norton, and Luttrell signed the agreement ‘for himself and Sir Fletcher Norton’.

Norton refused to accept this agreement and ‘some high words arose’ between him and Luttrell. Gascoyne’s account continues:

Sometime after Mr. Luttrell sent his son with the articles to Lincolns Inn Fields, requiring Sir Fletcher to sign them, who at once declared he never would and desired that message might be carried to his father.

Then Luttrell himself tried to get Norton to sign, ‘who told him he never would, upon which Luttrell told him he was a scoundrel and puppy’. Friends intervened to prevent a duel, and it was arranged that the dispute should be settled by referees. But Luttrell objected to the referees named, and ‘Sir Fletcher desired he would appoint any three gentlemen that were known and acknowledged as such, and he would abide by their determination’. In the end, Norton had to recognize the loss of Wigan.

At Tamworth Luttrell was less of an outsider: Four Oaks was only seven miles from the borough, he owned some houses there, and professed concern for local needs and advantages. But his interest was not equal to George Townshend’s or Lord Weymouth’s, and was effective only in co-operation with one of these. Luttrell first contested Tamworth in 1761 against Sir Robert Burdett, standing on his own interest, and Lord Villiers, Weymouth’s candidate. Townshend supported Burdett and Villiers, but concluded an agreement with Luttrell which was not to take effect until after the election.4 Luttrell and Townshend were then to join forces, ‘and at a joint and equal expense endeavour to bring in two for Tamworth, each party to name one’. Luttrell came bottom of the poll, but petitioned, alleging bribery: the House began to hear the case on 2 Feb. 1762, but on 4 Feb. Luttrell gave it up. ‘He made a proper speech’, wrote James Harris, ‘but by an artful use of the word partiality ... gave the House a hint how he thought he had been treated.’5

The agreement of 1761 was tested at the by-election of 1765 when Luttrell and Townshend put up George Shirley ‘at one common expense and as a common cause’ against Edward Thurlow, Weymouth’s candidate. For three months the two sides canvassed the borough, at a heavy expense to each, until on 29 Oct. 1765 a general agreement was signed. Weymouth and Townshend agreed for the future to return one Member each, and Luttrell was named as Townshend’s candidate for the general election.

Townshend and Luttrell had spent over £4,700, only £1,000 coming from Luttrell (and this he had borrowed from Charles Townshend6). Luttrell, while protesting himself willing to pay his full share, first delayed until a detailed item of the expenses had been drawn out, and then objected to some as incurred by Townshend on his personal account. He argued that Townshend had stayed at Tamworth for more than three months, that he had had ‘a number of persons constantly with him for his own particular pleasure and diversion and not in the least incidental or necessary to the election’, and that ‘very great, extraordinary, and unnecessary expenses had been incurred ... contrary to common reason and equity’.7 Townshend denied this, and in March 1767 quarrelled with Luttrell at the opera; again friends intervened to prevent a duel.8

When on 20 Aug. 1767 Luttrell offered to give up his right to a seat at Tamworth if Townshend would guarantee him one elsewhere, Townshend took the chance of ridding himself of his partner. He consulted Weymouth, equally anxious to get Luttrell out of Tamworth, and together they offered him a seat at Weobley, with ‘no expense but the trouble of going down’.9 Luttrell insisted that Townshend be bound in a penalty of £6,000 to perform his promise, and agreed to refer the dispute about the expenses to referees. Townshend named Lord Robert Bertie, and Luttrell John Dodd.

Besides being obnoxious to both Townshend and Weymouth, Luttrell seems now to have become unpopular at Tamworth. On 19 Mar. 1768, the day after the election, Thurlow wrote to Townshend:10

Your Lordship’s engagements having prevented you from naming your candidate so long produced somewhat more than the appearance of an opposition; grounded as I think entirely on the fear of having an exceptionable man, whom I need not further allude to, put upon them.

Later in the letter he refers to ‘the odium not yet extinguished of our common enemy’.

In Parliament Luttrell spoke frequently and generally voted with the court. In 1761 he received Newcastle’s whip through Lord Lincoln, possibly because of his connexion with John Dodd, Lincoln’s close friend. Luttrell, however, was one of the earliest to go over to Bute, who treated him with ‘great kindness and goodwill’11 and retained a regard for him. In February 1764 Luttrell twice voted against the Grenville Administration—on the 10th, on the repeal of the cider tax, and on the 18th, on general warrants. On the 26th Grenville wrote by ‘the King’s commands’ to Lord Northumberland, lord lieutenant of Ireland, requesting for Luttrell the appointment of muster master general of Ireland. ‘This application is that of all others, and the only one, which Mr. Luttrell has set his heart upon the success of, both from the rank of the office, and from the circumstance of its being in Ireland.’ But Northumberland was unwilling to give the office outside the Irish Parliament, and Grenville acquiesced, although he wrote to Northumberland on 10 Mar., ‘Mr. Luttrell’s success would have been a desirable object here for many reasons.’

In July 1765 Rockingham classed Luttrell as ‘doubtful’ and on 22 Feb. 1766 he voted against the repeal of the Stamp Act. For a time he remained connected with Grenville: on 11 Nov. 1766 he spoke for Grenville’s amendment to the Address, and both Rockingham, November 1766, and Newcastle, March 1767, classed him as a follower of Grenville. He voted against the court on the land tax, 27 Feb. 1767, but Grenville took no trouble to retain him and by July 1767 he had gone over to Administration. In 1768 at Grafton’s recommendation, solicited by Bute,12 he was created an Irish peer.

In 1772 Irnham deserted the court over the royal marriage bill—occasioned by his daughter’s marriage with the Duke of Cumberland. From 1772 to 1774 his name appears in no division list, and he rarely spoke in the House. In Ireland he went into opposition, but not in England: he had no contacts with the Rockinghams, and it was easier in Ireland than in England to switch from Opposition to Administration. In November 1773 he refused to join Rockingham against the Irish absentee land tax, and, in the style of an Irish patriot, told Rockingham that the tax ‘would have been beneficial’, and he would have better employed his time in considering the trade of Ireland.13 At the general election of 1774 he captured both seats at Stockbridge—a very corrupt borough.

On 2 July 1774 North wrote to Lord Harcourt, lord lieutenant of Ireland:

Colonel Luttrell ... some time ago desired that, as his father had once a promise of a step in the Irish peerage, he might now be advanced to an earldom. This I flatly refused, saying it was impossible to recommend Lord Irnham to a mark of the royal favour, while he was in declared opposition to the lord lieutenant of Ireland. This, as I guess, has been understood to mean that he should quit opposition. I was, accordingly, not a little surprised yesterday morning at seeing Lord Irnham enter my room with much satisfaction in his countenance, and many expressions of thankfulness for the attention I had paid to his son’s application in his behalf. He informed me that ... he had, from the moment he had received the news in a letter from Captain Luttrell, desisted from giving any further trouble in Parliament, and zealously contributed to voting the Address as the end of the session nem. con. This he seemed to consider as a valuable consideration which entitled him to an earldom immediately. He added, however, many promises of attachment to Government both in Great Britain and Ireland for the future.

In November 1774 he again applied for the office of muster master general, which he had first requested in 1763. Harcourt wrote to North on 14 Nov.:

He ... gave me an account of many things that had passed between him and Mr. Grenville, when that place was vacant on the death of Lord Charleville ... He said he had afterwards renewed his claim when the Duke of Grafton was minister, and that he had never lost sight of it, having, as he apprehended, a promise of it.14

He was disappointed in both these hopes.

In 1775 he went into opposition in England, and denounced the ministry as if he had been doing it for years. North’s followers were ‘as contemptible a collection of servile courtiers, renegade Whigs, and fawning, bigoted Tories, as ever strove to support the measures of any Administration’; ‘wisdom and true policy’ were on the side of the Americans; the nation was ‘plundered and fleeced in order to gratify and enrich a set of mercenary and rapacious contractors, who were raising immense fortunes, drawn from the very vitals of the people’.15 In 1779 he was described in the Public Ledger as ‘a strenuous oppositionist’ who ‘professes himself attached to no party whatever’—an amusing contrast to what had been written of him ten years earlier by the Opposition press.

In July 1780 Irnham came to terms with North on behalf of himself and his younger sons, his own share of the bargain being an Irish viscountcy.16 He did not stand at the general election. In 1784 his younger sons followed Pitt, and in 1785 their father was created an earl.

Horace Walpole allowed Irnham to have ‘parts, wit, and boldness’, but wrote that his character and morals ‘were not in good estimation’.17 Junius called him ‘this hoary lecher’;18 Lady Louisa Stuart ‘the greatest reprobate in England’, and she tells the following story:19

He once challenged his eldest son ... who in return sent him word that if he (the father) could prevail on any gentleman to be his second, he would fight him with all his heart.

He died 14 Jan. 1787.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: John Brooke


  • 1. Bamber Gascoyne to John Strutt, 11 July 1765, Strutt mss.
  • 2. Portland mss.
  • 3. See LUTTRELL, Hon. Henry Lawes.
  • 4. 6 Mar. 1761, Townshend mss, Tamworth borough archives.
  • 5. Harris’s ‘Debates’.
  • 6. Ld. Townshend to Chas. Townshend, 22 July 1765, Buccleuch mss.
  • 7. Luttrell to Ld. Robt. Bertie, 12 May 1768, Tamworth borough archives.
  • 8. Jnl. of Lady Mary Coke, i. 189.
  • 9. Maj. Staunton to Luttrell, 14 Sept. 1767, Tamworth borough archives.
  • 10. Townshend mss in the possession of W. S. Lewis.
  • 11. Grenville to Ld. Northumberland, 26 Feb. 1764, Grenville mss (HL).
  • 12. Grafton to Bute, 28 July 1768, Bute mss.
  • 13. Irnham to Rockingham, 18 Dec. 1773, Rockingham mss.
  • 14. Harcourt Pprs. ix. 216-17, 269.
  • 15. Almon, i. 154-8; iii. 410-11.
  • 16. See also LUTTRELL, Hon. James.
  • 17. Mems. Geo. III, iii. 234.
  • 18. Junius to the Duke of Grafton, 27 Nov. 1771.
  • 19. Jnl. of Lady Mary Coke, i. p. xcv.