RAWDON, Hon. John Theophilus (1756-1808), of Bolney Court, Oxon.

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



18 May 1791 - 1796
1796 - 1802

Family and Education

b. 19 Nov. 1756, 2nd s. of John, 1st Earl of Moira [I], by 3rd w., and bro. of Hon. George Rawdon*. educ. Harrow 1770. m. 30 Oct. 1792, Fanny, da. of Joseph William Hall Stevenson of Skelton Castle, Yorks., sis. of John Wharton*, 1da.

Offices Held

Ensign, 15 Ft. 1773, lt. 1775; capt. 4 Ft. 1777; capt. Yarmouth Castle 1780-d.


Rawdon served in America with his brother Francis, Lord Rawdon (afterwards 2nd Earl of Moira) who reported of him on 3 July 1776: ‘his behaviour gives me infinite satisfaction: it is equally becoming the soldier and the gentleman’. The loss of a leg at the battle of Brandywine, 11 Sept. 1777, terminated his active career and he was provided with the honorary captaincy of Yarmouth Castle.1 Although he is not known to have sought a seat in 1790, he replaced Richard Ford on Lord Thanet’s interest at Appleby a year later and voted with the Whigs on Whitbread’s motion on Russia, 1 Mar. 1792. A committee member of the association for preserving the freedom of the press, he cast no recorded vote with the Foxite wing of the party until 17 June 1793 (against the war), but from 28 Mar. 1794 became their regular supporter. He opposed the abolition of the slave trade, 15 Mar. 1796.

In 1796 he was elected for Launceston on the interest of the friend of his brother and the Prince of Wales, the Duke of Northumberland, who, according to the Prince, subjected him to ‘no political restriction or condition’. He voted with the Whigs until the secession, supporting Grey’s motion for parliamentary reform, 26 May 1797, and opposed the second and third readings of the assessed taxes bill, 14 Dec. 1797 and 4 Jan. 1798. There is no record of his having spoken. His brother wrote to Northumberland on 25 Dec. 1800:

A considerable time ago the Prince accidentally adverted to John Rawdon’s never attending in the House. I replied that I had in vain remonstrated on the subject: but that I had availed myself of his wish to go abroad, and had made it a positive condition for my furnishing him with the means of making that excursion that he should not be re-elected for Launceston; because that I could not suffer your weight in the House to be diminished by the non-efficiency of my brother as one of your Members ... If my memory does not deceive, I had to your Grace expressed the same sentiment and had begged that you would not think of bringing in my brother again.2

A defaulter from the House in March 1801, he was discovered to be abroad and Lord Minto confirmed that he was in Vienna, ‘a strange though a dull man’ with a ‘cork leg’ and ‘a coquettish sort of wife’.3 He duly retired from the House in 1802 and died in Vienna, 5 May 1808.

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: J. M. Collinge


  • 1. HMC Hastings, iii. 177-8; Beatson, Naval and Military Mems. vi. 82.
  • 2. Prince of Wales Corresp. iv. 1577; Alnwick mss.
  • 3. CJ, lvi. 232; NLS mss 11054, f. 130.