BULKELEY, Thomas James, 7th Visct. Bulkeley [I] (1752-1822), of Baron Hill, Anglesey

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1754-1790, ed. L. Namier, J. Brooke., 1964
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1774 - 1784

Family and Education

b. 12 Dec. 1752, posth. s. and h. of James, 6th Visct. Bulkeley, M.P., by Emma, da. and h. of Thomas Rowlands of Nant, Caern.; she m. 28 June 1760, Sir Hugh Williams, Bt.. educ. Westminster 1764-9; Jesus, Oxf. 1769; Grand Tour, with George Grenville jun. m. 26 Apr. 1777, Elizabeth Harriet, da. and h. of Sir George Warren, s.p. cr. Baron Bulkeley [GB] 14 May 1784. Took name of Warren before that of Bulkeley 20 Sept. 1802.

Offices Held

Chamberlain, N. Wales from 1771; ld. lt. Caern. Dec. 1781- d.; constable, Beaumaris castle 1795- d.


After his long minority Bulkeley tried to re-establish the parliamentary interest of his family. He first thought of standing for Caernarvonshire at the general election of 1774, but seeing that this might have let in Thomas Wynn, he gave his interest to T. A. Smith,1 and was himself returned unopposed for Anglesey. In Parliament his earliest political connexions were with the young Grenvilles, based on his close personal friendship with George Grenville jun., who on 26 Mar. 1774 wrote about Bulkeley from Naples to his uncle Lord Temple:2

I am proud ... of the choice I have made of my friend, for since I have travelled with him I have never found in him one quality which I did not admire. We are on the happiest terms, and mean to continue our intimacy in England, by seeing as much of each other in the country as we can make convenient to ourselves, and by living together when in London: a thing which he requested from me and which I love him too affectionately to refuse.

Bulkeley’s first recorded vote in Parliament, 22 Feb. 1775, was for Wilkes’s motion to expunge the resolution of 1769 on the Middlesex election, and his first speech, 15 Mar. 1775, was in support of George Grenville’s motion (opposed by the Government) to enable Members to vacate their seats.3 Still, he seems to have supported Administration more often than he opposed them; and if on 23 Feb. 1778 he ‘quitted the majority’ on a motion unpopular to them (to allow Parliament to nominate the conciliation commissioners), on 17 Mar. he spoke against an amendment to the Address calling for the removal of ministers.4 It was the Government scheme to inquire into encroachments of private landowners on the royal domain in Wales which finally made him join the Opposition.

The first that took the alarm [wrote Horace Walpole5] was the young Lord Viscount Bulkeley. He immediately published a very warm advertisement against what he called the tyrannic intentions of the Administration, with which hitherto he had most commonly acted. He went farther, and infused the same spirit into his countrymen, especially young Sir Watkin Williams [Wynn].

And John Robinson wrote to Charles Jenkinson, 5 Mar. 1779:6

Lord Bulkeley I doubt is gone and adverse, G. Grenville and the Welsh business carries him, although he told me on voting against us in the contractors bill [12 Feb.] that he was not going into opposition.

From now onwards Bulkeley seems to have voted steadily with the Opposition, gaining for them for a time the support of Glyn Wynn and securing the attendance of Hugh Williams. He himself appears on their side in every extant division list February-April 1780.

Naturally Robinson would now have liked to raise an opposition to him in Anglesey, but failed. In Caernarvonshire the election of John Parry against Lord Newborough marks the re-assertion of the Bulkeley interest and the defeat of the Wynns of Glynllivon. At Beaumaris he returned his father-in-law Sir George Warren. On 8 Feb. 1781 he wrote to Hugh Williams, now out of Parliament:7

The power of the Crown has entirely routed us patriots, which, added to the division and animosity between the heads of the Opposition, renders the business of the House very lukewarm and insipid. The new Parliament consists much of moneyed men, who provided they get six instead of five per cent or seven instead of six care very little whether the land and the nation goes to the devil or not.

On 26 Feb. 1781 Bulkeley spoke for Burke’s establishment bill;8 and on 12 Dec. voted for the Opposition motion on the American war. When nevertheless he was that month appointed lord lieutenant of Caernarvonshire, James Hare wrote to Lord Carlisle,9 5 Jan. 1782, that Bulkeley ‘though he has given a vote or two in opposition, is considered as a lost sheep’—which was wrong: he voted against the North Government in the divisions of February-March 1782 which brought about its fall.

On the formation of the Rockingham Government, Bulkeley, ‘whose opinions and principles have coincided with the system of Administration which has now taken place’,10 adhered to it; waived his claim to the lord lieutenancy of Anglesey in favour of Paget; but deeply resented it when in some matters of patronage Glyn Wynn’s recommendations seemed to have been preferred to his. After Rockingham’s death Bulkeley adhered to Shelburne; and there are ten letters from him among the Shelburne mss at Bowood, July 1782-March 1783, mainly on patronage. That of 21 Feb. 1783 refers, however, to the vote on Shelburne’s peace preliminaries:

I am much concerned that Sir George Warren should have taken so active a part against the peace. But ... I have no hold upon him although I bring him into Parliament. His having no hold upon me on this occasion will draw down upon me some marks of his dissatisfaction.

On the formation of the Coalition Government Bulkeley went into opposition and voted against Fox’s East India bill. He next supported Pitt; and assured of a British peerage, did not himself stand again in 1784 but fought a bitter and expensive electoral battle both in Anglesey and in Caernarvonshire against another supporter of Pitt, Lord Paget, followed by a compromise which left Beaumaris and Caernarvonshire to Bulkeley, and Anglesey and Caernarvon to Paget. In the Parliament of 1784-90 Bulkeley and his nominees continued to support Pitt.

He died 3 June 1822.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: Peter D.G. Thomas


  • 1. Bulkeley to Geo. Grenville, 9 Sept. 1774, Grenville mss (JM).
  • 2. Grenville Pprs. iv. 555.
  • 3. Almon, i. 316.
  • 4. Walpole, Last Jnls. ii. 122, 138.
  • 5. Ibid. 213.
  • 6. Add. 38210, f. 324.
  • 7. Baron Hill ms 5894, Lib. Univ. Coll. N. Wales.
  • 8. Debrett, ii. 39.
  • 9. HMC Carlisle, 564.
  • 10. Rockingham to Lord Paget, n.d., Rockingham mss.