SLOPER, William (1709-89), of West Woodhay, Berks.

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



15 Dec. 1747 - Dec. 1756

Family and Education

b. 28 Apr. 1709, 1st surv. s. of William Sloper, M.P., of West Woodhay by his w. Rebecca Abbott.  educ. Westminster 1722; Trinity, Camb. 1725.  m. 20 Sept. 1728,1 Catherine, da. of Maj.-Gen. Robert Hunter, sis. of Thomas Orby Hunter, 2s.  suc. fa. 1743.

Offices Held

Ld. of Trade Dec. 1756-Mar. 1761; dep. paymaster of the forces at Gibraltar 1761- d.


William Sloper’s father, an old Whig, represented Great Bedwyn 1715-22 and 1729-41. Young Sloper attached himself to Henry Fox; and when Fox became secretary of state in October 1755 Sloper was one of the five Members for whom he asked places. In a plan of a new ministry, drawn up by Fox on 1 Nov. 1756, Sloper was set down for a seat at the Board of Trade. ‘Give me leave to add’, Fox wrote in his covering letter to the Duke of Devonshire,2 ‘that if Sloper and my friend Charles Hamilton3 are omitted I can take nothing.’ An arrangement seems to have been made between Fox and Devonshire by which Sloper on going to the Board of Trade would give up his seat in Parliament to Charles Townshend, who could not without difficulty be re-elected at Yarmouth. Fox at first stipulated that Sloper should not vacate until after the Minorca inquiry—‘common prudence will not allow of parting with a sure friend for a certain enemy’;4 but he later retreated and Sloper vacated his seat even though by then Townshend had been provided with one at Saltash. It is difficult to imagine that Fox could not have arranged for Sloper’s re-election had Sloper wished it, and the fact of a lord of Trade not being in Parliament was so unusual as to suggest a definite arrangement.

In 1758 Sloper had been willing to exchange his place for the sinecure of deputy paymaster at Gibraltar, incompatible with a seat in Parliament, held by John Roberts; and this was effected in October 1761.

Sloper died July 1789.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: Sir Lewis Namier


  • 1. Hist. Reg. 1728, p. 51.
  • 2. Devonshire mss.
  • 3. About Chas. Hamilton see Namier, Structure, 446.
  • 4. Fox to Devonshire, 21 Nov. 1756.