RASHLEIGH, Philip (1729-1811), of Menabilly, Cornw.

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



21 Jan. 1765 - 1802

Family and Education

b. 28 Dec. 1729, 1st s. of Jonathan Rashleigh.  educ. New Coll. Oxf. 1749.  m. 17 Apr. 1782, Jane, da. of Rev. Carolus Pole, gd.-da. of Sir John Pole, 3rd Bt., M.P., s.p.  suc. fa. 24 Nov. 1764.

Offices Held


Philip Rashleigh, on the death of his father, was approached with offers from Sir George Pigot, who was in search of a seat for his brother Robert; and as rumours of such negotiations were apparently used in an attempt to undermine Rashleigh’s interest at Fowey, his refusal was attested to him: by Pigot, in a letter of 3 Jan. 1765, that he had offered Rashleigh 2,000 guineas if he would bring Pigot’s brother in for Fowey, which Rashleigh refused, saying that he was determined to stand for it himself; and Nathaniel Gibbon, the broker through whom the offers were made, 5 Jan., that Philip Rashleigh ‘did absolutely refuse to sell the borough of Fowey to me on account of Sir George Pigot’.1 Returned on his own interest after a contested election, Rashleigh was as independent as his father had been, and apparently incalculable. Rockingham classed him in the summer of 1765 as ‘doubtful’, at the end of 1766 as a ‘Whig’, but Newcastle, 2 Mar. 1767, as a ‘Tory’. He voted against the Government over the land tax, 27 Feb. 1767. Over the petition brought against his return in 1768, Thomas Davenport wrote to the Duke of Portland, 10 Feb. 1770: ‘Opposition will be pretty strong for Mr. Rashleigh.’2 He voted with them but his attendance seems to have been poor: of 14 extant division lists, 1768-74, only two mention him (on the expulsion of Wilkes, 3 Feb. 1769, and on Grenville’s Act, 25 Feb. 1774). Not a single speech by him is recorded in his first ten years in Parliament. In Robinson’s electoral survey of 1774 he was classed as an opponent of Government and in the new Parliament he continued to vote with the Opposition. The Public Ledger wrote about him in 1779: ‘A worthy, inoffensive country gentleman, votes as he thinks right, but oftenest in the minority.’ But in a voting record hardly paralleled by anyone else his last three recorded votes in this Parliament were given on the Government side: against economical reform, the abolition of the Board of Trade, and the motion against prorogation; and he did not vote on Dunning’s motion. None the less Robinson listed him at the dissolution as Opposition. In the next Parliament he voted for the censure motion against the Admiralty, and for Conway’s motion against the war, 22 Feb. 1782, but against that motion five days later; and was absent from the two crucial divisions of 8 and 15 Mar. 1782. He voted against Shelburne’s peace preliminaries; was listed by Robinson in March 1783 as ‘country gentleman, doubtful’; was absent from the divisions on Fox’s East India bill; appears as a Pittite in Stockdale’s list of 19 Mar. 1784, but as ‘doubtful’ in William Adam’s list of May 1784. He voted against Pitt on Richmond’s fortifications plan, but with him on the Regency.

Only three speeches of his are reported, all of very minor importance. On 27 Mar. 1776, in the debate on Burke’s bill to prevent the plundering of shipwrecks, he deplored its happening but affirmed that it ‘was generally prevented by the assiduity and exertions of the neighbouring gentlemen’; during the budget debate of 15 May 1777 he raised a small technical point; and in the debate on Richmond’s fortifications plan, 21 July 1784, he deprecated appropriating very large sums for objects which were not ‘well understood or very acceptable’—and he ‘entered into a description of the nature of the coast on the Cornish side of Hamoaze’.3

Rashleigh was a distinguished mineralogist and made one of the finest collections in Europe.  He died 26 June 1811.4

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: Sir Lewis Namier


  • 1. Rashleigh mss, Cornw. RO.
  • 2. Portland mss.
  • 3. Almon, iii. 471; vii. 207; Debrett, xvi. 161.
  • 4. Gilbert, Hist. Survey Cornw. ii. 246; Boase Courtney, Biblio. Cornub. 548.