ELLIS, Augustus Frederick (1800-1841).

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



1826 - Apr. 1827
5 Sept. 1827 - 7 Mar. 1831

Family and Education

b. 17 Sept. 1800, 2nd s. of Charles Rose Ellis* and 1st w. Elizabeth Catherine Caroline, da. of John Augustus Hervey, Lord Hervey. educ. Eton 1811-14. m. 25 June 1828, Mary Frances Thurlow, da. of Sir David Cunynghame, 5th bt., of Milncraig and Livingstone, Ayr, 2s. 3da. d.v.p. 16 Aug. 1841.

Offices Held

Cornet 9 Drag. 1817, lt. 1818; capt. (half-pay) 76 Ft. 1821; capt. 16 Drag. 1822; maj. (half-pay) 1825; maj. 60 Ft. 1826, lt.-col. 1828-d.


‘Gussy’ Ellis and his elder brother Charles Augustus, 6th Baron Howard de Walden, whose right to that title (claimed on the status of his maternal great-grandfather, the 4th earl of Bristol, as sole heir to it) had been confirmed in 1807, were with their father in Paris in 1817. Lady Granville thought them ‘very handsome men, the second like his mother’, dead for 14 years.1 They both entered the army that year. Howard gave up his commission in the Grenadier Guards in October 1822, when he became a précis writer in the foreign office under their father’s close friend and political mentor Canning. He was promoted to under-secretary in May 1824, resigned four years later and subsequently turned to diplomacy, holding senior posts in Sweden, Portugal and Belgium from 1832 until his death in 1868. Ellis was described in 1820 by George Agar Ellis, just returned with his father for Seaford, as ‘a good looking, gentlemanlike youth of an amorous complexion’; but two years later Henry Fox* dismissed him as ‘a bore’.2 His father seems to have enlisted the aid of his fellow Canningite Huskisson, a member of the government, to pave the way for his promotion to a regimental captaincy in May 1822. He was in London in March 1824.3

At the general election of 1826 Ellis stood for Seaford on the interest of his father, who was about to be created Lord Seaford. He was returned with their coadjutor John Fitzgerald after a contest forced by two Whigs.4 There is no trace of parliamentary activity before he vacated his seat in April 1827 to accommodate Canning on his appointment as prime minister. He resumed it on Canning’s death only four months later, when he was ‘with the British troops in Portugal’.5 In November 1827 Lord Seaford, on the eve of going to Paris, wrote to Huskisson, the leader of the Canningite group:

Let me refer you ... to Howard on the subject of Augustus’s return to attend his duty in Parliament. Whenever you wish him to attend, he shall come over. But Howard will explain to you for what reasons it might be desirable for him to remain till his regiment returns, subject always, however, to your decision, on which side the balance preponderates.6

He was evidently summoned (as was his father) when Huskisson found himself under attack for taking office under the duke of Wellington, and was sworn in, 31 Jan. 1828. He voted with Huskisson against repeal of the Test Acts, 26 Feb. A month later Seaford asked him to urge Fitzgerald to pester ministers to secure a modification of a pending bill to amend the regulations governing assessment for the poor rates, which might adversely affect their borough interest.7 He voted for Catholic relief, 12 May 1828, and after Huskisson’s resignation from the ministry later that month, which prompted his brother’s departure from the foreign office, was duly listed as one of the Canningite remnant. He was, however, a reluctant and ineffectual parliamentarian, whose attendance seems to have lapsed even more after his promotion to lieutenant-colonel of the 60th Royal Rifles in December 1828. He voted for Catholic emancipation, 6, 30 Mar., and the transfer of East Retford’s seats to Birmingham, 5 May 1829, and against government on the question of British interference in Portugal, 10 Mar. 1830.

At the general election that summer he stood again with Fitzgerald for Seaford, where they were attacked by two strangers whose intrusion, though ostensibly aimed at Lord Seaford’s electoral domination, was regarded as part of the Wellington ministry’s vendetta against the Huskissonites. Criticized for failing to support the sale of beer bill, he was defended during the campaign by Fitzgerald, who said that Ellis had ‘warmly approved of its principle’. He came second in the poll, but only four votes clear of one of the interlopers. In returning thanks, he brushed aside the charges of ‘tyranny’ levelled against his father and deplored ‘the baseness of some old friends’ who had encouraged the opposition. He confirmed that he would have supported the beer bill had he not been ‘detained in Seaford by indisposition’. He also

spoke with much warmth of feeling on the desire which existed in a certain quarter of sacrificing the remnants of a party, obnoxious because they were the friends of a deceased statesman; a dead set ... had been made at four or five Members, known to be favourable to his political views.8

Ministers listed him as one of ‘the Huskisson party’, and he was absent from the division on the civil list which brought them down, 15 Nov. 1830. Four months later, just after the Grey ministry’s reform bill, which proposed the disfranchisement of Seaford, was made public, he was unseated on his opponents’ petition. According to his father, Ellis, who ‘dislikes Parliament as interfering with his military duties’, immediately ‘announced to his friends that he should not offer himself again as a candidate’. Lord Seaford commented that the election committee’s decision

though in one sense a disappointment, had its compensation, and, under all circumstances, one that was fully equivalent. It not only gave him a reason for withdrawing, but it relieved him from a very disagreeable dilemma, of either voting for the disfranchisement of his constituents who had many of them supported him zealously and disinterestedly, or of opposing the government on a measure on which they staked their existence.

Accordingly he did not stand at the 1831 general election even though, so his father believed, he ‘might ... have come in’.9

Had he survived his father, Ellis would have inherited ‘the greatest portion’ of his ‘money in the funds’.10 As it was, he died v.p. in August 1841 in Jamaica, where he was commanding the second battalion of his regiment: ‘his death was accelerated by his indefatigable attention and anxiety to arrest the mortality which had already destroyed so many of his regiment’.11 Administration of his estate, which was sworn under £4,000, was granted to his widow, 3 June 1842.12 By his will of 1843 Seaford, in compliance with Ellis’s dying request, bequeathed her a bust of her late husband by Chantray. Seaford, who had been paying her £300 a year to make up her jointure to £800 in accordance with her marriage settlement, released Ellis’s estate from all claims in respect thereof.13

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: David R. Fisher


  • 1. Countess Granville Letters, i. 95.
  • 2. Keele Univ. Lib. Sneyd mss SC8/43; Fox Jnl. 110.
  • 3. Add. 38743, f. 26; TNA 30/29/9/5/22.
  • 4. Brighton Herald, 3, 7 June 1826.
  • 5. The Times, 10 Sept. 1827.
  • 6. Add. 38752, f. 42.
  • 7. Add. 38754, f. 234; 38755, f. 207.
  • 8. Brighton Herald, 10, 17 July; Brighton Guardian, 14, 21 July, 4 Aug. 1830.
  • 9. TNA 30/29/9/5/78, 81.
  • 10. W. Suff. RO, Acc 941/56/30.
  • 11. Gent. Mag. (1841), ii. 558.
  • 12. PROB 6/218/42.
  • 13. PROB 11/2023/670.