ONSLOW, Arthur (1691-1768), of Imber Court, Surr.

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



15 Feb. 1720 - 1727
1727 - 1761

Family and Education

b. 3 Sept. 1691, 1st s. of Foot Onslow, M.P., by Susanna, da. and h. of Thomas Anlaby of Etton, Yorks., wid. of Arnold Coldwall of Guildford; bro. of Richard Onslow.  educ. Guildford g.s. 1698; Winchester 1706; Wadham, Oxf. 1708; M. Temple 1707, called 1713, bencher 1728.  m. 8 Oct. 1720, Anne, da. and coh. of John Bridges, niece and coh. of Henry Bridges of Imber Court, 1s. 1da.  suc. fa. 1710.

Offices Held

Sec. to chancellor of the Exchequer 1714-15; receiver-gen. of Post Office 1715-20; recorder of Guildford 1719; Speaker of the House of Commons 1727-61; P.C. 25 June 1728; chancellor to Queen Caroline 1729-37; treasurer of the navy 1734-42.


‘The chief characteristics attaching to the office of Speaker in the House of Commons’, writes Erskine May, ‘are authority and impartiality.’ Arthur Onslow foreshadowed the modern conception of the Speaker’s role, and set new standards for impartiality and independence.

He has never yet, [wrote Lord Hardwicke on 20 Aug. 1760] at least during this Administration, and I believe never will, take sides in the factions and divisions at court, and create trouble and difficulty that way, which a man may easily do who will make use of the influence of the Chair for that purpose.1

On 18 Mar. 1761, he took his farewell of the House.

He rose at last [wrote Walpole2] and closed his public life in the most becoming manner; neither overacting modesty, nor checking the tender sensibility which he necessarily felt at quitting the darling occupation of his life. His thanks to the House for their patient sufferance of his errors, and for their gracious acceptance of his endeavours to serve them, were shortly, but cogently, expressed ... He was going, he said, into the most close and obscure retreat, where he should want little; and he concluded with a pathetic prayer for the perpetuity of the Constitution.

Onslow was granted a pension of £3,000 a year for his life and his son’s.  He died 17 Feb. 1768.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: John Brooke


  • 1. Add. 32910, f. 168.
  • 2. Mems. Geo. III, i. 141.