BROWNLOW, Sir John, 5th Bt. (1690-1754), of Humby, and Belton, nr. Grantham, Lincs.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1715-1754, ed. R. Sedgwick, 1970
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1713 - 1715
1715 - 1722
1722 - 1741

Family and Education

b. 16 Nov. 1690, 1st surv. s. of Sir William Brownlow, 4th Bt., of Humby by Dorothy, da. and coh. of Sir Richard Mason of Sutton, Surr. m. (1) 12 Aug. 1712, Eleanor (d. 11 Sept. 1730), da. and coh. of his uncle Sir John Brownlow, 3rd Bt., M.P., of Belton, Lincs., s.p.; (2) 24 Jan. 1732, Elizabeth, da. of William Cartwright of Marnum, Notts., s.p. suc. fa. 6 Mar. 1701, to Belton on d. of his mother-in-law 1721; cr. Visct. Tyrconnel [I] 23 June 1718; K.B. 27 May 1725.

Offices Held


On coming of age Brownlow was returned as a Whig for Grantham, where his property carried a commanding interest. Chosen unopposed for the county at George I’s accession, he spoke and voted for the Government, except on the peerage bill, acquiring an Irish peerage with the title of Lord Tyrconnel. Re-elected for Grantham in 1722, at the opening of the new Parliament he was one of the leading ministerial supporters in the Commons who attended private meetings at Walpole’s house, at one of which he was against a proposed suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act to deal with the Atterbury plot, but withdrew his opposition on Walpole’s explaining the need for it.1 He was made a knight of the Bath when Walpole revived that order in 1725. In 1726 his parliamentary conduct earned him the description of being one of Walpole’s ‘creatures’.2

After George II’s accession Tyrconnel went into opposition, speaking against the Government in a foreign affairs debate, 5 Feb. 1729, and on the civil list arrears in the following April. In 1730 he spoke against them on Dunkirk, and in 1731 on the Hessians and a pensions bill. He also spoke against a proposal for taking off the duties on Irish yarn.3

In March 1731 Tyrconnel, having recently lost his wife, proposed to the celebrated Mrs. Delany, then Mrs. Pendarves, who refused him. When asked how she could refuse ‘so vast a fortune, a title, and a good natured man’, she replied:

All that was no temptation to me, he had the character, very justly, of being silly and I would not tie myself to such a companion for an empire.4

Shortly before the opening of the next session it was learned that Tyrconnel was to move the Address for the Government,

on hopes they have given him that he shall be made an English peer if he behaves like a good boy this session.

When he moved the Address, 13 Jan. 1732, he was attacked by Shippen ‘for abandoning his party’, but was defended by Pelham, who ‘believed his example would be followed’. He continued to support the Government till 1733 when, after voting for the excise bill, he voted for the city of London’s petition to be heard against it, for which the King called him ‘a puppy that never votes twice together on the same side’. In the same session he spoke against the Government on a vote for increasing the number of seamen and on a motion authorizing the King to increase the forces in the event of an emergency during the recess. He spoke for the Government on the Spanish convention in 1739, and on the repeal of the Test Act in 1740, in which year he voted against them on the place bill. In 1741 he moved for a committee to consider Georgia, of which he had been an active supporter since becoming, at his own request, a member of the common council of the Georgia Society in 1733.5

Tyrconnel retired from Parliament in 1741, declining an invitation to stand again for Grantham. In 1743 his nephew and eventual heir, Sir John Cust, was returned for Grantham on the family interest, voting with the Government, to the annoyance of Tyrconnel, till Cust explained that his object was ‘to render himself of such consequence and weight with the Administration as to be able to procure his Lordship’ a peerage. He died 27 Feb. 1754, his ambition still unachieved.6

Ref Volumes: 1715-1754

Author: Paula Watson


  • 1. Knatchbull Diary, App. 115.
  • 2. HMC Portland, vii. 422.
  • 3. HMC Egmont Diary, i. 50, 55, 73, 126, 140, 177, 184; iii. 345; Knatchbull Diary, App. 132.
  • 4. Mrs. Delany, Autobiog. and Corresp. i. 274-5.
  • 5. HMC Hastings, iii. 9; HMC Egmont Diary, i. 214; ii. 15, 72; ii. 47, 199; Hervey, Mems. 162; Coxe, Walpole, iii. 517.
  • 6. Recs. Cust. Fam., ii. 199, 204.