FOWNES LUTTRELL, Henry (?1722-80), of Dunster Castle, Som.

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



1768 - Dec. 1774

Family and Education

b. ?1722, 1st s. of John Fownes of Nethway, Devon by his 2nd w. Anne, da. of Samuel Maddock of Tamerton Foliott. educ. Queen’s, Oxf. 21 Apr. 1741, aged 17. m. (1) 16 Feb. 1747 his 2nd cos. Margaret (d. 13 Aug. 1766), da. and h. of Alexander Luttrell, M.P., by Margaret, da. of Sir John Trevelyan, 2nd Bt., M.P., of Nettlecombe, Devon, 6s. 4da.; (2) 1771, Frances, da. of Samuel Bradley of Dunster. Assumed add. name of Luttrell 1747.

Offices Held


The Luttrells of Dunster had represented Minehead in almost every generation since the borough first sent Members to Parliament in the sixteenth century. In 1753 Henry Fownes Luttrell was trying to sell the manor of Minehead but finding no purchaser at his own price of £30,000, finished by supporting a stranger, Henry Shiffner, stipulating, however, that he should stand on ‘the country interest’, and should not join either of the two other candidates without Luttrell’s consent. Shiffner was defeated by a narrow margin; but in 1757 Luttrell, who was now carefully nursing his interest in the borough, came to an agreement with Lord Egremont at the next general election to divide its representation between them. Still not anxious to enter Parliament, Luttrell returned Shiffner in 1761. But after the death of his wife he wrote about November 1766 to Leonard Herring, vicar of Minehead:1

The late severe loss I have sustained has made home become very dull and insipid to me, and therefore I have some thoughts of changing the scene and going into Parliament. If I persevere in my present intentions, I shall of course offer myself for Minehead at the ensuing election ... I purpose to communicate this intended scheme of mine soon to Mr. Shiffner, that he may look out for some other borough in case I should carry it into execution.

He had already declared that he neither intended ‘to ask for more than one vote, or even countenance another candidate’, unless agreeable to the Minehead electors.2 He countered attempts of a group of Minehead electors to raise Government-sponsored opposition to him, by going to London and obtaining from the Government ‘the immediate patronage of all offices at Minehead’;3 possibly on a promise of his giving them general support. Returned to Parliament he certainly never appears voting with the Opposition; but in the five divisions for which lists of the Government majority are available, his name is not among them either; nor is there any record of his having spoken in the House.

By 1774 Luttrell was able to fill both seats at Minehead, and chose to return himself and his eldest son John Fownes Luttrell. There seems to have arisen a misunderstanding with regard to that election: Lord North was under the impression that Luttrell was willing to accept his recommendation for one seat in the borough, and in writing to Robinson, 6 Oct. 1774, named Thomas Pownall for Minehead.4 Luttrell seems to have taken umbrage at their treating Minehead as if it were a Government borough, and Robinson being too ill to answer his letter, North did so himself on 22 Oct.5 ‘From the time that you explained to me that the borough was entirely in your hands’, he wrote, ‘I have always disposed of the offices there at your recommendation.’ Charles Whitworth was warned not to interfere at Minehead. ‘It was from your own suggestion that I first thought of recommending a candidate at Minehead ... This, I solemnly declare, is all I have done with respect to Minehead, and I cannot conceive how you can form, from any part of this conduct, an idea that I look upon it as a Government borough. If you have changed your opinion, and, instead of bringing in a gentleman at my recommendation, as you seemed inclined to do when I last heard from you, are now determined to represent Minehead yourself, I do not complain of it.’

Luttrell, once he was satisfied that there had been no undue Government interference at Minehead, was ready to vacate his seat, and did so, apparently on favourable terms, in December 1774. But in 1780 Robinson classed both future Members for Minehead as ‘doubtful’—the Government had no hold either on Luttrell or his borough.

Luttrell died 30 Oct. 1780.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: Sir Lewis Namier


  • 1. H. C. Maxwell Lyte, Hist. Dunster, i. 245.
  • 2. Draft of an address ‘to the Minehead gentlemen’, Dec. 1766, Luttrell mss at Dunster Castle.
  • 3. Maxwell Lyte, 249.
  • 4. Laprade, 24.
  • 5. Luttrell mss.