WINNINGTON, Sir Edward, 1st Bt. (?1727-91), of Stanford Court, Worcs.
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Family and Education
b. ?1727, 1st s. of Edward Winnington of Broadway, Worcs. by Sophia Boote of Wantage, Berks. educ. Eton 1742; Trinity Oxf. 15 May 1746, aged 18. m. 14 Aug. 1748, Mary, da. of John Ingram of Bewdley, 1s. cr. Bt. 15 Feb. 1755.
Storekeeper of the Ordnance Dec. 1762-July 1765; sec. to chancellor of the Exchequer Sept. 1765-July 1766.
The Winnington family had a considerable interest at Bewdley, and for most of this period were at odds with the Lytteltons over control of the borough. At the by-election of 1748 Winnington was defeated, and he did not stand in 1754. At the by-election of 1755 he withdrew in favour of a compromise candidate named by the King. In 1757 he secured control of the corporation, and at the general election of 1761 was returned unopposed.
Winnington had been strongly supported by Henry Fox in his struggle with the Lytteltons, and in December 1762 Fox secured for him the place of storekeeper of the Ordnance. ‘Lord Ligonier [the master-general] likes Sir Edward Winnington mighty well’, wrote Fox to Bute on 17 Dec.1 Naturally he supported the Bute and Grenville Administrations, but took no further active part in politics.
In July 1765 he was dismissed by the Rockingham Administration, and in Rockingham’s list of the House of Commons was classed as ‘doubtful’—not ‘contra’ as might have been expected. Probably Rockingham counted on Dowdeswell’s influence with Winnington—they were neighbours and close friends; or he may have known of Dowdeswell’s offer to Winnington of the sinecure of secretary to the chancellor of the Exchequer. Winnington wrote to Dowdeswell on 15 Sept. 1765:
I have neither parts nor application to be of public use to you, but there is nothing in private life that I would not do to show the sincerity of my friendship and esteem for you. I think myself disqualified for this employment in many respects. Some will naturally suggest themselves to you such as my ignorance in the business, my short stay in town every winter, etc. But I want one quality which may perhaps be thought more essential than all the rest, which is attachment to the gentlemen with whom you are connected in Administration. It would be thought strange to see the secretary to the chancellor of the Exchequer divide against the Treasury bench, but I think myself in honour obliged to tell you that may probably sometimes happen if you persist in appointing me.
Dowdeswell wrote in reply:
I assure you ... that I am not so altered by office as not to wish most sincerely that every man in office or out of it may vote with his opinion. I am satisfied that you will, divested of prejudice and partiality. Attendance is not wanted. If the office carried more business with it than it really does, I can by no means admit that you are not equal to it. But it is like many other offices, executed by deputy. As to the rest, I leave it to future events.2
Winnington did not vote against the main measure of the Rockingham Administration, the repeal of the Stamp Act.
He lost his office when the Chatham Administration was formed (the secretary to the chancellor of the Exchequer always retired with his principal). In December 1766 Rockingham classed him as ‘Swiss’ (a supporter of all administrations), Townshend in January 1767 as ‘Rockingham’ (presumably because of his friendship with Dowdeswell), and Newcastle in March as ‘doubtful or absent’. He voted against Administration on the land tax, 27 Feb. 1767. He was really an independent, and not primarily interested in office.
He was defeated at Bewdley in 1768, but returned on petition. In 1769 he voted with Administration on Wilkes and the Middlesex election, 3 Feb. and 15 Apr., but with Opposition when Dowdeswell renewed the question on 25 Jan. 1770. Only one other vote by him is known: on 6 Feb. 1772, for the petition of the clergy against subscription to the 39 Articles. Robinson classed him on the royal marriage bill, March 1772, as an opponent, and in September 1774 as ‘doubtful’. In 1774 Lyttelton had regained control of Bewdley, and Winnington did not stand again.
He died 9 Dec. 1791.