DAWNAY, Hon. Henry (1664-1741), of Cowick Hall, Yorks.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1690 - 1695
1698 - 1700
3 Dec. 1707 - 1727

Family and Education

bap. 7 June 1664, 1st surv. s. of John Dawnay†, 1st Visct. Downe [I], by his 2nd w. Dorothy, da. of William Johnson of Wickham, Lincs.  m. 29 Sept. 1685, Mildred (d. 1725), da. of William Godfrey of Thonock, Lincs., 11s. (2 d.v.p.) 2da.  suc. fa. as 2nd Visct. Downe [I] 1 Oct. 1695.1

Offices Held


At the general election of 1690 Dawnay’s father stood down at Pontefract, a borough some 12 miles from Cowick and in which the family owned burgages. Returned unopposed, Dawnay was classed as a Tory and a Court supporter by Lord Carmarthen (Sir Thomas Osborne†). In December Dawnay was classed as a probable supporter of Carmarthen in the event of an attack upon the minister in the Commons. However, in April 1691 Dawnay was noted as a Country supporter by Robert Harley*, a classification that was more consistent with his political stance. Initially he was an inactive Member: on 2 Jan. 1693 he was absent from a call of the House, was ordered to be taken into custody of the serjeant-at-arms, and was discharged on paying his fees on the 13th. In the following session he was given leave of absence on 30 Nov. for one month due to his wife being ill. His failure to seek re-election in 1695 may perhaps be ascribed to the poor health of his father, who died that autumn. However, at the 1698 election Dawnay, now Lord Downe, put up unexpectedly for the county, standing with Lord Fairfax (Thomas*) against Sir John Kaye, 2nd Bt.* Having regained his place in the Commons, Downe was forecast as likely to oppose a standing army. On 13 Feb. 1699 he reported from the committee for considering petitions from the merchants and clothiers of Leeds and Halifax relating to the Hamburg Company. Although appointed in 1699– 1700 as a deputy-lieutenant of the East, North and West Ridings and the Ainsty and City of York, he was unable to resist a resurgence of county opinion in favour of Kaye. At a poorly attended county meeting in August 1699 Fairfax and Kaye were adopted as prospective parliamentary candidates: so great, indeed, was the concern of the gentlemen at Kaye’s previous defeat that a county subscription was raised ‘to exclude Lord Downe’. In response, Downe withdrew, ‘designing for a country retirement’. Although out of Parliament, Downe’s name arose in the House on 27 Mar. 1701 in a report on crown grants made under James II. In 1686 Downe and John Ramsden* had been jointly granted the manor of Coppingthorp in Yorkshire, forfeited for treason by Sir Michael Livesey and Augustine Gaitland. At the second 1701 election Downe was one of many Yorkshire peers and gentry to support the successful candidature of Lord Irwin (Arthur Ingram) for knight of the shire.2

Although it was rumoured prior to the 1702 election that Downe intended standing for the county again, he did not endeavour to re-enter politics until an unsuccessful attempt at a by-election for the county in January 1707, but he was returned unopposed at a second by-election in December. On 20 Mar. 1708 the House interposed to stifle a quarrel between Downe and Robert Monckton* (see MONCKTON). Two days later, Downe reported from the committee on a petition of merchants and clothiers from Leeds, complaining about the exportation of wool. He was classed as a Tory in two separate analyses of Parliament, before and after the election in that year, in which he was returned at the top of the poll in one of the fiercest contests in Yorkshire in this period. In the 1709–10 session he was noted as voting against the impeachment of Dr Sacheverell, while on 4 Mar. 1710 he told in favour of recommitting an address of thanks to the Queen, and on the 11th was granted leave of absence for one month.3

At the 1710 election, held in an atmosphere of Sacheverellite hysteria, Downe and Sir Arthur Kaye, 3rd Bt., son of Sir John, were triumphant on the ‘Church’ interest. Downe was classified as a Tory in the ‘Hanover list’. In 1711 he was listed as a Tory ‘patriot’ who had opposed the continuance of the war, and was also noted as one of the ‘worthy patriots’, who helped to detect the mismanagements of the previous administration. He was also listed on two occasions as a member of the October Club. On 24 Apr. he told against passing the bill for the better preservation of game, while on the 28th he acted as a teller for a motion that the failure to compel revenue officials to pass their accounts was a high injustice to the nation, part of the October Club’s attack on the outgoing Treasury ministers. In July he wrote to Harley, now Lord Treasurer Oxford, to say that he would be ‘mighty happy’ to succeed the recently deceased Duke of Newcastle (John Holles†) as governor of Hull. His claims were supported by the archbishop of York, who urged that ‘his being in that place will be of great service for the breaking that interest in the East Riding which has always opposed your lordship’s measures’. These solicitations, however, fell on deaf ears. In the 1711–12 session Downe was chosen on 13 May 1712 in the ballot for commissioners for the resumption of crown grants, but the enabling bill was lost in the Lords. On the 14th he told for a motion to agree with the Lords’ amendment relating to Quakers in the bill for preventing frauds in parliamentary elections. In the 1713 session he presented a bill for endowing poor vicarages in the West Riding (30 Apr.), and told in favour of its being committed (5 May). On 9 June he acted as a teller for hearing the report of the ways and means committee, while on the 18th he told against the motion for engrossing the French commerce bill.4

Returned for the county once more in the 1713 election, in the first session of 1714 Downe acted as a teller on 5 Mar. against hearing the petition on behalf of the Whig candidates in the London election. In keeping with the aims of the March Club, of which he was a member, he seconded a motion by Kaye, his fellow Member, for a place bill, and on the 11th he and Kaye were given leave to bring in such a bill. However, he did not join Kaye and other Hanoverian Tories in attacking the government in the stormy ‘succession in danger’ debate of 14 Apr. Instead, on 22 Apr. he moved to agree with the Lords’ address that the ‘peace was safe, honourable and advantageous’. Speaker Hanmer (Thomas II) was accused of partiality in sending Sir William Wyndham, 3rd Bt., to the Lords with this address rather than Downe. At this time it was rumoured that Downe was to be made an English peer. On 12 May he was ordered to bring in the schism bill, a measure designed to unite the Tory party. On 1 June he told for the passage of this bill, while on the 23rd he carried up a private estate bill. He was classed as a Tory in the Worsley list and in an analysis comparing the 1715 Parliament with its predecessor. He may even have shared his son’s Jacobitism and been involved with Sir William Blackett, 2nd Bt.*, in preparations for the Fifteen; at any rate Lord Carlisle (Charles Howard*) tried to get Lords Derwentwater and Widdrington to confess to Downe’s participation. His name was sent to the Stuart court in 1721 as a probable sympathizer. He died in May 1741 and was buried on the 21st.5

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Authors: Eveline Cruickshanks / Ivar McGrath


  • 1. Dugdale’s Vis. Yorks. ed. Clay, ii. 335–6; The Gen. n.s. vi. 212.
  • 2. G. Holmes, Pol. in Age of Anne, 143; Luttrell Diary, 347; CSP Dom. 1699–1700, pp. 310, 399; 1700–2, p. 30; BL, Althorp mss, Halifax pprs. box 4, Gervase Eyre* to 2nd Mq. of Halifax (William Savile*), 19 Aug. 1699; box 10, Ld. Weymouth (Thomas Thynne†) to same, 28 Aug. 1699; Huntington Lib. Stowe mss 58(1), pp. 17–18; W. Yorks. Archs. (Leeds), Temple Newsam mss TN/C9/114, Thomas Lumley to Irwin, 29 Sept. 1701, TN/PO10/4, Downe to same, 16 Nov. 1701.
  • 3. Temple Newsam mss TN/C9/239, Lumley to John Roades, 18 Apr. 1702; W. Yorks. Archs. (Leeds), Vyner mss 5781, ‘contested elections’; Cumbria RO (Carlisle), Lonsdale mss D/Lons/L1/4/Stray letters (Wharton), Ld. Carlisle to [Ld. Wharton], 13 Dec. 1707; Bagot mss at Levens Hall, Sir John Bland, 4th Bt.*, to James Grahme*, 25 May 1708; W. A. Speck, Tory and Whig, 147.
  • 4. Add. 24475, f. 138; 70421, newsletter 4 May 1710; Thoresby Diary, ii. 69; G. Holmes and W. A. Speck, Divided Soc. 48, 153–4, 159–60; Thoresby Letters (Thoresby Soc. xxi), 214; Huntington Lib. Q. xxxiii. 163, 169; HMC Portland, v. 50, 58; Cobbett, Parlty. Hist. vi. 1130; Boyer, Anne Annals, iii. 308.
  • 5. NLS, Advocates’ mss, Wodrow Pprs. letters Quarto 8, f. 64; BL, Trumbull Alphab. mss 52, Thomas Bateman to Sir William Trumbull*, 23 Apr. 1714; Douglas diary (Hist. of Parl. trans.), 22 Apr. 1714; Bull. IHR, xxxiv. 215; xxxix. 64; Wentworth Pprs. 376; HMC Townshend, 169; Clay, 335.