IRBY, Sir William, 2nd Bt. (1707-75), of Whaplode, Lincs.

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



24 Mar. 1735 - 1747
1747 - 1761

Family and Education

b. 8 Mar. 1707, o.s. of Sir Edward Irby, 1st Bt., of Whaplode, Lincs. by Dorothy, da. of Hon. Henry Paget of Dublin, yr. s. of William, 7th Lord Paget.  educ. Westminster 1719-22.  m. 26 Aug. 1746, Albinia, da. of Henry Selwyn of Matson, Glos., 2s. 1da.  suc. fa. 11 Nov. 1718; and to unsettled estates of his cos. Henry Paget, 1st Earl of Uxbridge, 1743;  cr. Baron Boston 10 Apr. 1761.

Offices Held

Page of honour to the King 1724-8; equerry to the Prince of Wales 1728-36; vice-chamberlain to the Princess of Wales 1736-51, chamberlain 1751-72; chairman of committees in the House of Lords 1770- d.


In 1747 Irby, returned by Thomas Pitt for both Old Sarum and Bodmin, chose to sit for Bodmin. In 1752 he advanced £1,000 to Pitt against a promise to return him for Old Sarum at the general election, or else to have the money repaid ‘by the person who came in’.1 But by the spring of 1753 Irby’s thoughts were again turning toward Bodmin where his colleague George Hunt, possessed of a ‘natural’ interest in the borough, was planning to run his brother Thomas for Irby’s seat at the general election, alleging that Irby was obnoxious to Henry Pelham. Irby therefore, in a letter of 3 May 1753,2 appealed to Pelham for his recommendation—‘you may depend firmly on my attachment to your interest in all respects’. He had received letters (two of which he enclosed)

from that borough and the neighbouring gentlemen to it, that the offer of my future services would be agreeable to a majority in the corporation, and that numbers of the electors were determined not to choose both the Hunts ... [They] I find are inclined to choose me again, nothing can prevent it in all probability but your disapprobation of my standing for it, on which account I would not positively declare myself a candidate, before I had consulted you, and knew your mind.

Nor did he think that Hunt would then persist ‘in his chimerical notions ... in particular when he perceives the corporation won’t choose him, and his brother together’. Irby, having apparently received Pelham’s approval (which left both seats at Old Sarum at Pelham’s disposal), was returned unopposed. The election ‘cost me the same money I had laid down for Old Sarum’, he wrote on 19 Mar. 1755 when claiming refund of his £1,000: which was made from secret service money on 8 May.3 Irby did not stand again in 1761; gave his interest at Bodmin to Bute’s candidate, John Parker; and having been created a peer, wrote on 19 May 1761:4

I have laboured long, I have served five apprenticeships in the vineyard of a court, it was time for me to taste some of the good wine it produced, and I might with reason hope I should receive some reward besides the penny a day bestowed on the other labourers in it ... I have not been forgot, and I am very content, though I have not yet reaped in a lucrative manner a share in the loaves and fishes distributed amongst the multitude of the hungry in such profuse proportions.

He died 30 Mar. 1775.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: Sir Lewis Namier


  • 1. Add. 32853, ff. 378-9.
  • 2. Newcastle (Clumber) mss.
  • 3. Namier, Structure, 437.
  • 4. Add. 5718, f. 86.