LOWNDES (afterwards SELBY LOWNDES), William (?1767-1840), of Whaddon Hall, Bucks.

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



3 Jan. 1810 - 1820

Family and Education

b. ?1767, 1st s. of William Lowndes (afterwards Lowndes Selby) of Winslow by Mary, da. and coh. of Thomas Goostrey of London, and Great Missenden Abbey, Bucks. educ. New Coll. Oxf. 18 June 1785, aged 17; L. Inn 1788. m. 25 Aug. 1806, Ann Eleanor Isabella, da. of Rev. Graham Hanmer of Hanmer, Flints., 6s. suc. fa. 1813; took name of Selby before Lowndes by royal lic. 19 June 1813.

Offices Held

Capt. Winslow vol. cav. 1798, Mid Bucks. 1803; officer, London and Westminster light horse vols. 1799-1803; maj. 2 Bucks. yeomanry 1813.


Lowndes’s family was of long standing in Buckinghamshire, which his grandfather had represented from 1741 to 1774. Thomas James Selby of Whaddon, a former sheriff of the county, who died in 1772, left directions in his will that, in default of rightful heirs, the estate should go to Lowndes’s father, on condition that he assumed the name of Selby. After litigation, his claim was recognized in 1783. On succeeding to the Whaddon estate in 1813 Lowndes himself took the additional name of Selby, ‘out of respect for the memory’ of his father’s benefactor.1

Lowndes was returned unopposed for Buckinghamshire on an independent platform at a by-election in January 1810 following the lapse of the Portland interest, and retained the seat until his retirement at the dissolution of 1820. He voted with government on the address, 23 Jan., but against them on the motion for the production of Lord Chatham’s narrative concerning the Scheldt expedition, 23 Feb. 1810. The Whigs accordingly classed him as ‘doubtful’ in mid March, but he voted with them on Porchester’s resolutions condemning the Scheldt expedition, 30 Mar. 1810, and, according to Canning, would have voted with him had he decided to oppose government on the resolution approving the retention of Walcheren.2 In his only other known votes in the 1807 Parliament he opposed the committal of Burdett, 5 Apr. 1810;3 supported the reduction of sinecures, 17 May 1810, and the sinecure offices bill, 4 May 1812; opposed parliamentary reform, 21 May 1810, and divided with government on the Regency bill, 1 Jan. 1811.

The Liverpool government numbered him among their supporters after the 1812 election and on 30 Sept. 1813 Thomas Le Mesurier, informing Lord Sidmouth of a mild complaint by Lowndes of ‘something like inattention’ to his claims to constituency patronage, described him as ‘a firm friend of government’.4 He evidently proved a less than completely dependable supporter and was probably an indifferent attender. His name appears on the ministerial side in only nine of the divisions of the 1812 and 1818 Parliaments for which full lists have been found, including those on the renewed suspension of habeas corpus, 23 June 1817, the censure of Scottish law officers, 10 Feb., the domestic espionage system, 5 Mar. 1818, and the foreign enlistment bill, 10 June 1819. At the same time, ministers did get his support against Tierney’s censure motion, 18 May 1819, and his known wayward votes were only seven in number, all on questions of economy and retrenchment on which he clearly had strong personal views. He voted to end the property tax, 18 Mar. 1816, for example, because of his conviction of ‘the inability of the people to pay it’, as he explained to Arbuthnot, 6 Mar., in answer to the argument that his recent vote for the military establishment had committed him to support the retention of the tax.5 He was one of the Members summoned to Fife House to hear the ministerial proposals for the grants to the royal dukes, but he voted to halve the Duke of Clarence’s allowance, 15 Apr. 1818. Lowndes, who opposed Catholic relief, is not known to have spoken in the House. He died 18 May 1840.

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: David R. Fisher


  • 1. Lipscomb, Bucks. iii. 497, 544; VCH Bucks. iii. 437; Recs. Bucks. ii. (1859), 123.
  • 2. Harewood mss, Canning to his wife, 1 Apr. 1810.
  • 3. Morning Chron. 14 Apr. 1810.
  • 4. Sidmouth mss.
  • 5. T. 64/260.