WROTTESLEY, John (1744-87), of Wrottesley Hall, Staffs.

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



22 Mar. - June 1768
5 July 1768 - 23 Apr. 1787

Family and Education

b. 22 Dec. 1744, o.s. of Sir Richard Wrottesley, 7th Bt., M.P., by Mary, da. of John, 1st Earl Gower.  educ. Westminster.  m. 7 June 1770, Hon. Frances Courtenay da. of William, 1st Visct. Courtenay, 5s. 5da.  suc. fa. as 8th Bt. 20 July 1769.

Offices Held

Ensign 2 Ft. Gds. 1761; capt. 85 Ft. 1762; capt. 1 Ft. Gds. and lt.-col. 1770; col. army 1779; maj.-gen. 1782; col. 45 Ft. 1784- d.


Wrottesley’s uncle, Lord Gower, returned him for Newcastle-under-Lyme at the general election of 1768; and it was as the Gower candidate that he represented the county. His early connexions were with court and Administration: he had been equerry to the Duke of York 1766-7; his uncle Gower was lord president 1767-79; and in 1769 his sister married the Duke of Grafton, then first lord of the Treasury. The only vote Wrottesley is known to have given against Administration, 1768-1774, was on the naval captains’ petition, 9 Feb. 1773, when he was classified in the King’s list as a ‘friend’. Even on Grenville’s Act, 25 Feb. 1774, he voted with Administration. Twelve speeches by him are reported for this period, none of much consequence.

From 1775 to 1778 he served with his regiment in America. His first speech in Parliament after his return was on 26 Nov. 1778, during the debate on the Address. Referring to the King’s Speech

[he] asked if the House was called upon for unanimity against France? If it was for a war with America, he could not give his approbation to it. All that could be done, he said, had been done. If 50,000 Russians were sent, they could do nothing. He thought New York, Rhode Island, and Halifax should be garrisoned, and the rest of the army brought away.

On 16 Dec. he spoke again, ‘said he was by no means for withdrawing the fleet and army from America, but ... contended we were not able to carry on the war there offensively’. He criticized the strategy of the war: ‘our posts were too many, our troops too much detached on various services to be timely collected for any effective operations ... the chain of communication was too far extended’. And on his own position:

He said it was imputed to him as a crime that he had joined Opposition bec