RAWLINSON, Sir Walter (1734-1805), of Stowlangtoft, Suff.
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Family and Education
b. 1734, o.s. of Sir Thomas Rawlinson, ld. mayor of London 1753-4, by Dorothea, da. of Rev. Richard Ray, vicar of Haughley, Suff. His sis. and h. m. in 1765 George Wombwell. educ. Bury St. Edmunds g.s. 1744; Trinity, Camb. 18 Jan. 1753, aged 18; L. Inn 1752. m. 2 Feb. 1769, Mary, da. of Sir Robert Ladbroke, s.p. suc. fa. 2 Dec. 1769. Kntd. 4 Mar. 1774.
Alderman, London 1773-7.
Rawlinson’s father was a London merchant, who bought Stowlangtoft in 1760. In 1771 Rawlinson became a partner with his father-in-law in a London bank. He was a friend of Lord Sandwich, who returned him to Parliament on the Admiralty interest at Queenborough in 1774.
In the House of Commons he supported North’s Administration, but took little part in politics and apparently never spoke in the House. He showed a similar lack of interest in City politics,1 and in 1777 resigned his alderman’s gown. Nor does he seem to have used his position as an M.P. to secure financial advantages for his firm. He was a frequent investor in Government stock, but not more so than his father-in-law who belonged to the Opposition. In the loans of 1780 and 1781 Rawlinson’s firm subscribed £60,000, but this was probably on behalf of clients.
On 27 Nov. 1781 Rawlinson wrote to Sandwich:2
I was extremely sorry to find by what passed at the Cockpit last night that it is intended still to prosecute the American war. Convinced as I now am that such a step must end in ruin to the mother country, I can no longer think of voting with ministry on this question; but, as unwilling to vote against them, am ready to absent myself whenever it shall become the subject of debate. How far this proposition may please, your Lordship can best inform me, but I have no other alternative to offer than that of vacating my seat.
There is a further letter from Rawlinson to Sandwich, probably written shortly before the debate on Lowther’s motion to end the war, 12 Dec. 1781:3
After the conversation I lately had the honour of holding with your Lordship I hoped I might have been excused attending a debate on the subject of the American war. I will however go down to the House, but must reserve to myself the liberty of withdrawing from the question should I find any difficulties arise in my mind respecting the vote I should give on that occasion.
Yet on 12 Dec. Rawlinson voted with Administration, as he did also in the divisions of February and March (except that of 22 Feb., from which he was absent). He voted for Shelburne’s peace preliminaries, 18 Feb. 1783, which Sandwich opposed; but followed Sandwich in his support of the Coalition. He was a member of the St. Alban’s Tavern group which tried to bring about a union between Fox and Pitt. Returned in 1784 on Sandwich’s interest at Huntingdon, he opposed Pitt.
Rawlinson died, aged 70, on 13 Mar. 1805.