HARBORD, Hon. William Assheton (1766-1821), of Blickling and Gunton Hall, Norf.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1790 - 1796
7 Feb. 1807 - 4 Feb. 1810

Family and Education

b. 21 Aug. 1766, 1st surv. s. of Sir Harbord Harbord, 2nd Bt., of Gunton Hall (cr. Baron Suffield 1786), and bro. of Hon. Edward Harbord*. m. 4 June 1792, Lady Caroline Hans Hobart, da. and coh. of John Hobart, 2nd Earl of Buckinghamshire, s.p. suc. fa. as 2nd Baron Suffield 4 Feb. 1810.

Offices Held

Lt.-col. commdt. Norf. fencibles 1794, Blickling rifle vols. 1803, 1 regt. E. Norf. militia 1808.

Ld. lt. Norf. 1808-d.


Harbord’s father had been a county Member for 30 years until Pitt procured his elevation to the peerage and he himself was mentioned as a possible candidate for Norfolk before the election of 1790. He demurred and came in on the interest of George Augustus Selwyn*, after a contest, for Ludgershall. He gave a silent support to Pitt’s administration. In 1791 he was reckoned an opponent of the repeal of the Test Act in Scotland. In 1796 he was left without a seat. His father-in-law had in 1793 left him Blickling Hall with 8,000 acres, if he resided there a few months every year; in 1794 he raised the Norfolk fencibles and he was again a potential candidate for the county, but his father refused his consent. He was prepared to offer £2,000 for a seat elsewhere, but nothing materialized. He was mentioned for the Norwich vacancy in 1799, but not adopted.1

Not until February 1807 did Harbord return to Westminster. He then came in on his brother-in-law Mount Edgcumbe’s interest. He was adverse to the abolition of the slave trade espoused by the Grenville ministry and voted against them, 12 Mar. 1807. He took three weeks’ leave a fortnight later, was opposed to Catholic relief and silently supported the Portland administration. An active adherent of the Wodehouse interest in Norfolk, he became lord lieutenant in 1808, as part of a bargain made by his father with the government through him. His father was too infirm to undertake the office. His wife was Castlereagh’s sister-in-law, but he did not follow Castlereagh into the political wilderness in September 1809 and voted with ministers on the address and the Scheldt question, 23, 26 Jan. 1810. A week later he succeeded to the title and a 12,000 acre estate. Having urged his father to create an interest at Great Yarmouth, which returned his brother Edward, he reluctantly abandoned it in 1812, Edward having refused an unquestioning allegiance to administration. They fell out on the same principle in 1819.2 Suffield died 1 Aug. 1821.

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: R. G. Thorne


  • 1. B. D. Hayes, ‘Norf. Pol. 1750-1832’ (Camb. Univ. Ph.D. thesis, 1957), 265, 270; Add. 37908, f. 187; PRO 30/8/197, ff. 98, 247, 248; Norf. RO, Colman Lib. mss 632, f. 17.
  • 2. G