LUSHINGTON, Stephen I (1744-1807), of South Hill Park, Beds.
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Family and Education
b. 17 June 1744, 3rd s. of Rev. Henry Lushington, vicar of Eastbourne, Suss., by 1st w. Mary, da. of Ven. Roger Altham, DD, archdeacon of Mdx.; bro. of William Lushington*. m. 6 June 1771, Hester, da. of John Boldero, London banker, of Aspenden Hall, Herts., 3s. 6da. cr. Bt. 26 Apr. 1791.
Proctor, Doctors’ Commons c.1767-d.
Dir. E.I. Co. 1782-1805, dep. chairman 1789-90, 1798-9, chairman 1790-1, 1795-6, 1799-1800.
After holding ‘several high and confidential situations’ in the Company service in India,1 Lushington became the leading Whig director at home. His ‘personal friend’ the Duke of Portland secured him his first seat in Parliament. Having declined to become an assistant commissioner under Fox’s East India bill, he opposed Pitt’s in 1784. He failed to secure his return for Hastings that year. On 6 Dec. 1784 he became a member of the Whig Club and on 20 Feb. 1786 was admitted to Brooks’s, sponsored by Fox. In 1790, standing on the corporation interest and on behalf of the Whigs at Helston, he was involved in a double return and seated on petition.
Lushington remained in Parliament for 17 years, but his attendance was unimpressive: he suffered from gout. In July 1790 he informed the prime minister, with whom he necessarily corresponded on East Indian affairs, that he was unable to walk. On 8 Feb. 1791 he defended Cornwallis’s campaign in India and on 14 Feb. paid tribute to Warren Hastings, though he bowed to Pitt’s view that the impeachment should proceed. He was absent on 12 Apr. when opposition mustered on the Oczakov question. As chairman of the East India Company, he was created a baronet that month.2 On 7 July he seconded at the Whig Club the proposal that they should join the Revolution Society in celebrating the French Revolution a week later, to no avail. No minority votes of his are known (though he was listed favourable to the repeal of the Test Act regarding Scotland in April 1791) and when in December 1792 he was listed a Portland Whig, the duke queried it. He was suggested for Windham’s ‘third party’ in February 1793, but his name was deleted from the provisional list. In September 1795 he described himself as having been ‘long laid up’ with gout and on 27 Nov. was ‘still confined’.3 In April 1796 he was one of a committee of seven City men chosen to lobby Pitt on the state of specie.
Returned for Mitchell on the interest of (Sir) Christopher Hawkins* in 1796, he was equally inactive in that Parliament. As a proctor in Doctors’ Commons, he advised Pitt on the distribution of prize money and in July 1798 claimed to be ‘as attentive and full of spirit as ever’, but on 9 Apr. 1799 he was ‘at present afflicted so severely with disease’ as to hinder his work as chairman of the East India Company.4
Lushington was a partner in the London bank of Boldero, Lushington & Co. with his brothers-in-law and his eldest son Henry. On 21 Sept. 1801 he approached Charles Abbot* to deplore the transfer of the payment of Irish tontine annuities from their house to the Bank of England, after nearly 20 years’ agency. He explained:
I have been in three successive Parliaments, and have in the whole course of the present contest, supported government in Parliament and elsewhere, where my situation gave me more weight. I have several times been chairman of the India Company with acknowledged advantage to the public, my patronage has been extended to government and its friends ... I am ready to give any security, that may be required ... I have a private fortune of £100,000 ... clear, and independent of the banking house and property of my son and the other bankers.
Abbot replied that the viceroy had decided to take advantage of the withdrawal of Stephen Thurstan Adey* from Boldero’s bank to transfer the account to the Bank of England, ‘where the other creditors of government are in the habit of being paid’.5
At the election of 1802 Lushington headed the poll at Penryn, on Lord de Dunstanville’s interest. On 28 June 1803, ‘very infirm’, he was allowed to remain seated in the House to give an account of his partnership with James Heseltine, the King’s proctor, and said he was not ‘personally acquainted with every minute particular; his concerns as chairman at the India House, and director of the ... Company’s affairs having taken up a great portion of his time’. He was listed as ‘doubtful’ by Pitt’s friends in 1804 and as ‘nil’ by them in July 1805.
Lushington’s partner Heseltine died in 1804 and his office went to Charles Bishop. On 20 Jan. 1805 Lushington informed Pitt that Heseltine’s death had deprived him of ‘considerable advantages after being upwards of forty years a member of the profession’.6 His conduct as chairman of the Company having met with Pitt’s approbation and his having done so much for Pitt and never given Melville, Portland or Grenville a share in his patronage, made Bishop’s being preferred to his own nominee a severe disappointment. As compensation he asked to be made a commissioner for the sale of the Spanish prizes: the only favour he had ever asked.7 In 1806 Lushington had ‘not of late taken an active part in public affairs’, but was still described as a banker in partnership with his brother-in-law and as having extensive business as a proctor of Doctors’ Commons. At the general election he came in for Plympton on the Mount Edgcumbe interest, paying £5,000 for his seat, the negotiations being conducted by the Treasury.8 He died two months later, 12 Jan. 1807.
Ref Volumes: 1790-1820
Author: P. A. Symonds
- 1. Gent. Mag. (1807), i. 274, 295.
- 2. PRO 30/8/153, f. 203; Morning Chron. 13 Apr. 1791; Geo. III Corresp. i. 669.
- 3. Scott Corresp. (Cam. Soc. ser. 3), lxxv. 39, 48.
- 4. PRO 30/8/153, f. 208; Scott Corresp. lxxv. 131, 174.
- 5. Hilton Price, London Bankers, 17; PRO 30/9/1, pt. 3/3.
- 6. Gent. Mag. (1804), i. 600. In wartime the office was worth £12,000-£20,000.
- 7. PRO 30/8/153, f. 211.
- 8. J. Wilson, Biog. Index (1806), 355; Add. 37415, f. 38.