PRAED, William (1747-1833), of Tyringham, Bucks. and Trevethoe, nr. St. Ives, Cornw.

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



1774 - 8 May 1775
1780 - 1806
1806 - 9 Feb. 1808

Family and Education

b. 24 June 1747, 1st s. of Humphrey Mackworth Praed of Trevethoe by Mary. da. of William Forester of Dothill Park, Salop, wid. of Sir Brian Broughton Delwes, 4th Bt., of Broughton, Staffs. educ. Eton 1757; Magdalen Coll. Oxf. 1767. m. 19 June 1778, Elizabeth Tyringham, da. of Barnaby Backwell, banker, of Tyringham, h. of her bro. Tyringham Backwell, 7s. 3da. suc. fa. 1803.

Offices Held

Trustee, County Fire Office 1812.

Capt. Bucks. yeomanry 1795, maj. 1798, lt. col. N. Bucks. 1803.


Praed continued to sit for St. Ives unopposed, on his family’s long-established interest there. His business concerns, particularly the Grand Junction Canal Company, of which he was chairman, took up more of his time than Parliament, however; his main achievement in the House was to shepherd through the Grand Junction Canal bill in 1790. His part in the subsequent development of Paddington is commemorated in Praed Street. Apart from being senior partner in the family banks at Truro and Falmouth, he also started Praed’s & Co. of 189 Fleet Street, London in July 1801, in partnership with Digby, Box and Babbage. At the time of his death, he was still senior partner.1 In 1796 he aspired to a county seat for Buckinghamshire, but was persuaded not to disturb the peace.

Praed gave a general and silent support to Pitt’s ministry, and was listed among opponents of repeal of the Test Act in Scotland in 1791, though, unlike Pitt, he opposed the abolition of the slave trade, 15 Mar. 1796. He applied for a place for a relation. On 10 Dec. 1796 he informed Farington the diarist that though ‘by inclination a supporter of Mr Pitt’, he was a critic ‘with many others’ of his unconstitutional conduct over the imperial subsidy. He did not oppose Addington, whom he called ‘a good sort of man; but not able to stand up to opposition’.2 One of the rare specimens of Addington’s wit was at his expense, but told against himself by Praed. He was known to be obsessed with his ‘magnificent undertaking’ of the Grand Junction Canal and loved to give ‘an account of the extent and actual progress of the different branches of his favourite project’: one day Addington, then still Speaker, observed Praed looking thoughtful during a debate and ‘supposed him to be occupied only with his favourite object’, beckoned him to the chair and whispered to him ‘Praed, I am sure you have got water in your head’.3 On 25 Apr. 1804 Praed supported Pitt’s defence motion which led to the fall of Addington’s administration. On Pitt’s return to power he was listed a friend of the minister and so behaved, although he supported Whitbread’s successful censure motion on Melville, 8 Apr. 1805.

Before the election of 1806, Praed sold his property at St. Ives: he normally resided at his Buckinghamshire seat when not in town and had at the previous election disposed of his interest in the other seat at St. Ives (which he was wont to make available to banker friends) to the Duke of Northumberland. The latter reported in September 1805 that Praed had a mind to sell out; the purchaser emerged in February 1806 as (Sir) Christopher Hawkins*. Praed, abetted apparently by the Marquess of Buckingham, went on to contest the North family borough of Banbury, where he had contrived to seduce the corporation. He was a supporter of Lord Grenville, the new prime minister, and although the latter denied having encouraged Praed in his intervention, he did nothing to discourage him, either. Payments for seats purchased by friends of the ministry were being made to his bank.4

Praed was successful at Banbury. He had previously voted for the repeal of Pitt’s Additional Force Act, 30 Apr. 1806, though he had voted with the minority for Hamilton’s motion on Indian affairs, 21 Apr., and he remained adverse to the abolition of the slave trade. In 1807, when he was involved in a double return at Banbury, he was counted ‘a supporter of the late administration’, having voted for Brand’s motion on 9 Apr.5 He was unable to take his seat in this Parliament, however, for the Banbury election was declared void in February 1808 and he was defeated at the fresh election. Nor did he ever return to Parliament, though he seems to have retained a ‘personal’ influence at St. Ives.6 He died 9 Oct. 1833.

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: R. G. Thorne


Sometimes styled William Mackworth Praed but not, it seems, correctly. His first cousin the serjeant-at-law (1756-1835) was named William Mackworth Praed and was father of Winthrop Mackworth Praed, later Member for St. Ives.

  • 1. The Times, 15 July 1801; Hilton Price, London Bankers, 132; Gent. Mag. (1833), ii. 381.
  • 2. PRO 30/8/165, f. 140; Farington Diary (Yale ed.), iii. 715; Farington, ii. 80.
  • 3. Glenbervie Diaries, i. 191.
  • 4. Prince of Wales Corresp. v. 2083, 2141; see BANBURY; Add. 51584, Tierney to Holland, Sat. [Oct. 1806].
  • 5. Morning Chron. 22 June 1807.
  • 6. Fortescue mss, Lander to Grenville, 9 Nov. 1811.