MASTERMAN, William (1722-86), of Trinity House, nr. Lostwithiel, Cornw.

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



1780 - 1784

Family and Education

b. 1722, o.s. of Thomas Masterman, tanner and small landowner, of Little Ayton, Yorks. by his w. Catherine.  m. bet. 1756 and 1762, Loveday Sarah, da. of William Luke, London attorney, niece of Thomas Jones, attorney, borough agent to Lord Edgcumbe, 2 surv. da.1

Offices Held

Deputy to George Edgcumbe as clerk of the council of the duchy of Lancaster 1758, clerk 1762; mayor, Lostwithiel 1764; deputy town clerk, Bossiney 1771, town clerk 1781.


Masterman was admitted attorney in London, 4 July 1745, became partner of William Luke who had extensive business connexions in the West country, especially with the Edgcumbe family, and succeeded him as head of the firm in 1750. His practice probably involved much business concerned with the law of parliamentary elections, on which he later wrote a handbook.2 Through his relationship with Thomas Jones he became associated in the electoral management of the Edgcumbe boroughs, handling the arrangements for Bossiney in 1768;3took his place as election agent on his death in July 1774; and negotiated with the Treasury about the disposal of Edgcumbe’s boroughs at the general election the following October.4 He apparently ceased to act for him before 1780. In 1774 he drew up the new charter for Saltash and became Government agent for the borough, receiving for its management occasional payments from the secret service funds.5 In 1780 he retired from practice and was returned on his own interest at Bodmin. He supported North’s Administration; voted 18 Feb. 1783 for Shelburne’s peace preliminaries; and, 27 Nov. 1783, for Fox’s East India bill. He went over to Pitt before the general election of 1784,6 when he lost his seat to the wealthy Foxite candidate, Sir John Morshead.

He died c.31 July 1786.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: I. R. Christie


  • 1. C. Masterman & C.R. Everett, Ped. of Masterman Fam.
  • 2. HMC 5th Rep. 257.
  • 3. Cory Carpenter to Lady Bute, 1 Jan., 15 Mar. 1768, Wharncliffe mss, Sheffield City Lib.
  • 4. Laprade, 26.
  • 5. I. R. Christie, ‘Private Patronage versus Government Influence’, EHR, lxxi. 251-2.
  • 6. Laprade, 124.