BONHAM, Henry (1765-1830), of 45 Portland Place, Mdx.; Broad Street Buildings, London; Titness Park, Berks., and Rochetts, Essex

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832, ed. D.R. Fisher, 2009
Available from Cambridge University Press



1806 - 1812
10 Feb. 1824 - 1826
1826 - 20 Feb. 1830

Family and Education

bap. 31 July 1765,1 3rd s. of Samuel Bonham, London merchant and ship owner, of Great Warley Place, Essex and Sarah, da. of George Richardson, merchant, of London. m. 8 Dec. 1802, Charlotte Elizabeth, da. of Rev. James Morrice of Betteshanger House, Kent, 3s. 6da. (1 d.v.p.). suc. fa. to property at Bulphan and elsewhere in Essex under entail from uncle Henry Bonham (d.1791) 1821. d. 9 Apr. 1830.

Offices Held

Dir. E.I. Dock Co. 1803-d., Albion Fire and Life Insurance 1808-d.

Vol. London and Westminster light horse 1798-1801.


At the end of his first spell as a Member in 1812 Bonham, the grandson of a sea captain in the slave trade, owned nine ships engaged in East Indian commerce, but it is not clear whether he remained active in that line in this period. On the death of his father, aged 92, 25 Jan. 1821, he inherited property in various Essex parishes under entail from his uncle and namesake, and his last child was born at Kelvedon Hall later that year.2 At the time of his return for Sandwich in February 1824 his address was given as Titness Park, near Sunninghill, Berkshire, and later he was said to be resident at Rochetts, near Brentwood, Essex. He may have owed his introduction to Sandwich to the Liverpool ministry, though it was for the seat usually filled by the local independent interest that the vacancy had occurred. He was acceptable to all parties, and at the nomination declared that

his principles were those of perfect independence, unconnected with any party. He should on all occasions give ... a free, honest, unbiased vote ... At the same time ... he should not shrink from supporting the measures of government at all times when he considered those measures calculated for the public good; he would support ministers on pure Whig principles ... Real Whiggism did not consist of an uniform opposition to every existing ministry, but ... on some occasions it became imperative for the real Whigs to give their decided support to the members of the administration.3

He presented Sandwich petitions against the coal duties, 26 Feb., for the abolition of slavery, 16 Mar., and against the beer bill, 11 May 1824, but is not known to have spoken in debate.4 He voted with government on the case of the Methodist missionary John Smith, 11 June, and for repressive legislation for Ireland, 14 June 1824, 25 Feb. 1825, and the duke of Cumberland’s grant, 6, 10 June 1825. He divided against Catholic relief, 1 Mar., 21 Apr., 10 May 1825, and was in the minority against Russell’s resolutions condemning electoral bribery, 26 May 1826. At the general election that year Bonham was returned for Rye on the Lamb interest after a contest. His only recorded votes thereafter were against Catholic relief, 6 Mar. 1827, 12 May 1828 (but not emancipation in 1829), the disfranchisement of Penryn, 28 May 1827, repeal of the Test Acts, 26 Feb. 1828, and reduction of the salary of the lieutenant-general of the ordnance, 4 July 1828. On 20 Feb. 1830 he made his will and vacated his seat. He left his real estate to his eldest son Henry Frederick Bonham and distributed a total of £39,000 among his wife and five of his seven other children. His eldest daughter Charlotte, who had married Lord Garvagh, Canning’s cousin, in 1824, had already been provided for; and his third son Charles, who pursued a naval career, received only £500, by virtue of ‘the advantages which I contemplate will accrue to him, and not by any want of affection towards him’. Bonham died at Hastings in April 1830, and his personalty was sworn under £25,000.5

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: David R. Fisher


  • 1. At St. Andrew, Holborn (IGI).
  • 2. G.J. Kidston, Bonhams of Wilts. and Essex, 105-15; C.N. Parkinson, Trade in Eastern Seas, 127, 188, 260; Gent. Mag. (1821), i. 188; E.W. Bonham, Ped. Bonham of Essex, 29, 38, 46.
  • 3. Add. 57367 f. 39; Kentish Chron. 13 Feb. 1824.
  • 4. The Times, 27 Feb., 17 Mar., 12 May 1824.
  • 5. PROB 11/1772/359; IR26/1216/361.