WINDHAM, William (?1705-89), of Earsham, Norf.

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



1747 - 1761
4 Feb. 1766 - 1768

Family and Education

b. ?1705, 1st s. of William Windham, M.P., of Earsham by Anne, da. of Sir Charles Tyrrell, 2nd Bt., of Heron, Essex.  m. Apr. 1734, Mary, da. of Charles Howard and wid. of Henry, 1st Earl of Delorain [S], 1s.1  suc. fa. 1730.

Offices Held

Sub-governor to Duke of Cumberland 1731; afterwards comptroller of his Household till the Duke’s death in 1765.


William Windham belonged to the Felbrigg branch of the Windham family. He is sometimes referred to as Windham Ashe, apparently in confusion with his brother Joseph, who took the name of Ashe. In 1754 he was returned for Aldeburgh with the support of Government. By 1761 the main interest at Aldeburgh had passed to the Fonnereau family who returned both Members, and Windham was not a candidate at the general election. In 1763 he was recommended by Newcastle to Nathaniel Ryder for a seat expected to fall vacant at Tiverton. Newcastle described him as ‘of a very ancient family and considerable estate in Norfolk’.2 After Cumberland’s death Newcastle noted, 29 Nov. 1765: ‘Mr. Windham—36 years in the Duke’s service—I shall bring him into Parliament.’ On 17 Jan. 1766 the Duchess of Newcastle’s cousin Francis Godolphin succeeded as Lord Godolphin, vacating his seat at Helston, and on 20 Jan. Lord Albemarle wrote to Newcastle to thank him for his good intentions towards Windham, but ‘if I am not mistaken in my man, and I believe I am not, he will decline your Grace’s very kind and obliging offer’. Still, on 22 Jan. Newcastle wrote to Princess Amelia that Windham ‘seemed extremely pleased with that mark of duty and gratitude, which I was desirous to show to his royal master, and of regard to himself’. He was returned for Helston on 4 Feb.3

Windham is not known to have spoken in the House. He was classed by Rockingham in November 1766 as ‘Whig’, i.e. as an adherent of Rockingham, and also by Charles Townshend in January 1767. On 22 Feb. 1767 Newcastle wrote to Albemarle in anticipation of the vote on the land tax: ‘I wish you would send to our friend Windham in your name and mine.’4 In Almon’s list of the division (27 Feb. 1767) Windham appears as having voted with the Opposition, but in Newcastle’s list with the Government, and he was classed by Newcastle on 2 Mar. 1767 as ‘doubtful or absent’. He is not mentioned as voting on the nullum tempus bill, 17 Feb. 1768, and apparently did not stand at the general election.

Windham died 4 May 1789, aged 83.5

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: Mary M. Drummond


  • 1. Gent. Mag. 1743, p. 443; Hervey, Mems. ed. Sedgwick, iii. 744.
  • 2. N. & Q. clxx. 171.
  • 3. Add. 32792, f. 72; 32793, ff. 208, 232.
  • 4. Add. 32980, f. 151.
  • 5. M.I. at Earsham, ex. inf. R. W. Ketton-Cremer.