INNES, William (1719-95), of Lime Street Sq., London, and Blackheath, Kent

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



1774 - 4 Dec. 1775

Family and Education

b. 29 July 1719, s. of Alexander Innes of Cathlaw, West Lothian, banker and merchant of Edinburgh, by Johanna, da. of Alexander Ainslie, Edinburgh merchant.  m. 19 May 1753, Ann Wintle, s.p.

Offices Held


In 1749 Innes was established as a London merchant, trading with the West Indies where he had extensive family connexions.

In 1774 he was returned at Ilchester on the interest of Thomas Lockyer. There is no record of his having voted in the House, but on 8 Nov. 1775 he spoke at length in a debate on the army estimates.1 He advocated a strong army to deal with America: ‘You laid on the Stamp Act without power to enforce it: you were so weak to repeal it, without giving time to try what effect it might have in the ordinary course of things, owing to your own unsteady and factious pursuits at home.’ Vigorous measures should be taken against the colonists: ‘If our forefathers have been so negligent as not to give stability to the authority of this country over her colonies, it is high time we should do it’; though peace

was recommended by some right honourable gentlemen who tell you the Declaratory Act (an Act passed while they themselves were in office) means nothing. That Act certainly meant something at the time it was made; the intention of it must at least have been a deception on this country to palliate the disgrace of repealing the Stamp Act.
Those advocates for a paltry and inglorious peace seem to depend too much on their rhetorical abilities; they wantonly sport with the constitution of this great nation, merely with a view to overturn the present ministry, under the pretence of rescuing their country from imminent danger ... Let the Americans trust them, if they will; but ... it would be the height of folly in this country to put confidence in such men a second time.

Innes is reported to have made one other speech, 13 Nov. 1775,2 when he supported an increase in the land tax ‘as it did not affect him’—to which Joseph Mawbey replied that he would be glad to know what was Innes’s qualification for a seat.

The defeated candidates at Ilchester petitioned against Innes and his fellow Member Peregrine Cust, and on 4 Dec. the election was declared void. Innes did not stand again for Parliament.

He died 14 Jan. 1795.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: Mary M. Drummond


  • 1. Almon, iii. 136-47.
  • 2. Ibid. 162.