CAMPBELL, Hon. George Pryse (?1792-1858).

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

Constituency

Dates

1820 - 1826
1830 - 1831

Family and Education

b. ?1792, 2nd s. of John Campbell†, 1st Bar. Cawdor (d. 1821), of Cawdor, Nairn and Stackpole Court, Pemb. and Lady Caroline Isabella Howard, da. of Frederick, 5th earl of Carlisle; bro. of Hon. John Frederick Campbell*. m. 13 Oct. 1821, Charlotte Elizabeth, da. of Isaac Gascoyne*, s.p. d. 12 Jan. 1858.

Offices Held

Vol. RN 1803, midshipman 1805, lt. 1811, cdr. 1814, capt. 1821, r. adm. (ret.) 1852.

Groom of bedchamber Feb. 1831-June 1837.

Biography

Campbell entered the navy as a first class volunteer in April 1803, joining the Culloden, the Channel flagship of his uncle, Rear Admiral George Campbell, who nurtured his career. In the Namur he saw action in Strachan’s victory over four French ships that had escaped Trafalgar, 4 Nov. 1805; and as a midshipman in the Seahorse he was involved in the bloody capture of a Turkish vessel, 5 July 1808. He served subsequently in the Downs, off Cadiz and, after being promoted lieutenant in March 1811, on the North American Station, where he distinguished himself in the frigate Belvidera’s escape from a powerful American squadron, 23 June 1812. In April 1814 he joined the Royal Sovereign yacht, which conveyed Louis XVIII to Calais. As a commander he had the Racehorse in the Mediterranean in 1818.1

He was absent on professional duties when he was returned unopposed for Nairnshire on his father Lord Cawdor’s interest at the 1820 general election.2 In January 1821, when Campbell got post rank, his uncle, now commander-in-chief at Portsmouth and a groom of the bedchamber to his friend George IV, shot himself dead in a fit of lunacy.3 Four months later Campbell’s elder brother succeeded their father in the peerage. He followed the family line of acting with the Whig opposition to the Liverpool ministry, though he never joined Brooks’s and, presumably as a result of professional commitments, was only an occasional attender in the 1820 Parliament. He is not known to have spoken in debate.4 His first recorded vote was for abolition of one of the joint-postmasterships, 13 Mar. 1822. He was in the protectionist minority of 36 against the revised corn duties, 9 May. He divided for cuts in diplomatic expenditure, 15, 16 May, criminal law reform, 4 June, inquiry into chancery delays, 26 June (and again, 5 June 1823), and repeal of the salt tax, 28 June, and the window tax, 2 July 1822. In 1823 he voted for inquiry into the Irish church establishment, 4 Mar., against the deadweight pensions bill, 14 Apr., for parliamentary reform, 24 Apr., abolition of the death penalty for larceny, 21 May, and to have a Catholic petition alleging bias in the administration of justice in Ireland referred to the law commission, 26 June. He may have voted in the largely Tory minority against the Scottish juries bill, 20 June 1823. He was probably in Lord Nugent’s minority of 30 for information on the government’s policy on the French invasion of Spain, 17 Feb., and he divided to accuse lord chancellor Eldon of a breach of privilege, 1 Mar., against the aliens bill, 23 Mar., and to consider the Scottish judicial commissioners’ reports, 30 Mar. 1824. Next day he applied unsuccessfully to Peel, the home secretary, for some church patronage in Nairnshire.5 He voted for proper use of Irish first fruits revenues, 25 May 1824. On 23 Feb. 1825 he was given a week’s leave on account of illness in his family. His only other known votes before the 1826 general election, when the return passed to Cromartyshire, were for Catholic relief, 21 Apr., 10 May 1825.

Campbell came in again unopposed for Nairnshire at the general election of 1830, when he promised to ‘support every measure of economy that would lighten the burdens of the people’.6 The Wellington ministry counted him among their ‘foes’, and he helped to vote them out of office on the civil list, 15 Nov. 1830. Under the aegis of the Grey administration, in which his uncle Lord Carlisle was a cabinet minister, he was made a groom of the bedchamber to William IV, at £400 a year, in February 1831. His quiet re-election took place on 21 Mar., so he was absent from the division on the second reading of the reform bill next day. He voted against Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr. 1831. The ensuing dissolution, when the return reverted to Cromartyshire, ended his parliamentary career.

Campbell left the household on the death of the king in 1837 and retired from the active navy list in 1846. He died in January 1858, ‘after a few weeks’ illness, aged 65’, at his London residence, 71 South Audley Street.7

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: David R. Fisher

Notes

  • 1. R.H. O’Byrne, Naval Officers, i. 163-4.
  • 2. Inverness Courier, 6 Apr. 1820.
  • 3. HP Commons, 1790-1820, iii. 371; Gent. Mag. (1821), i. 87.