CAVENDISH BRADSHAW, Hon. Augustus (1768-1832), of Putney, Surr. and High Elms, nr. Watford, Herts.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer



13 Mar. 1805 - 1812
1812 - Feb. 1817

Family and Education

b. 17 Feb. 1768, 3rd s. of Sir Henry Cavendish, 2nd Bt., of Doveridge Hall, Derbys. and Phoenix Park, Dublin by Sarah, da. and h. of Richard Bradshaw of Cork, cr. Baroness Waterpark [I] 15 June 1792. educ. Repton; Trinity Coll. Camb. 1788. m. 15 Nov. 1796, Marianne, da. of James St. John Jeffreys of Blarney Castle, co. Cork. div. w. of George Frederick Nugent, 7th Earl of Westmeath [I], s.p. Took additional name of Bradshaw pursuant to will of mat. gdfa. by royal lic. 5 Jan. 1790. MP [I] 1790-1796.

Offices Held

Teller of exchequer [I] June 1806-May 1807; groom of bedchamber 1812-d.

Ensign, R. Cornw. and Devon Miners 1806, 2nd lt. 1811.


Cavendish Bradshaw, a ‘pretty, little, thin, delicate man’, married the divorced Lady Westmeath in 1796, ten months after Lord Westmeath had been awarded £10,000 damages for his crim. con. with her.1 He was listed among the supporters of government in the Irish house of commons shortly before his father’s appointment as receiver-general of revenue in Ireland in 1795, but in 1799 he was elected to Brooks’s, sponsored by his distant kinsman, the 5th Duke of Devonshire.

On the formation of the Addington administration he applied to Hardwicke, the new lord lieutenant of Ireland, for the reversion to his father’s office, but was informed that it had already been promised to Sir George Shee, a former secretary to the treasury in Ireland, who in August 1801 became an under-secretary at the Home Office. In 1803 Shee agreed to negotiate for the sale of the reversion and Sir Henry Cavendish twice sought Hardwicke’s permission to resign his office into his son’s hands. Hardwicke advised caution, warning that government’s intended regulation of the office would make it worth less in future than Shee could expect to be paid for it. Both he and the Irish secretary, William Wickham, were privately of the opinion that

however desirable it might be to gratify so old a servant of government as Sir Henry Cavendish, there were objections to Cavendish Bradshaw, which could not be well explained to a father, though they were certainly deserving of weight. They consisted principally, if not entirely, in the idea generally entertained of his character and habits of life, which to the public opinion would not point him out to be the fittest person to be the receiver and depository of the public revenue.

Wickham subsequently mentioned this difficulty to Sir Henry Cavendish who, according to the Irish secretary, agreed to continue in office until such time as his son, whose name was to be added to the patent, ‘had taken to habits of business and renounced all his former gaieties’. Cavendish Bradshaw’s version was that Wickham had given his father Hardwicke’s blessing for his immediate acquisition of the reversion, which he promptly bought from Shee for £9,500, and that it was only when he arrived in Ireland to prepare to take up the post that Wickham ‘expressed Lord Hardwicke’s wish to have my father’s name continue in the patent and Sir Henry consented, though it was not the original design’. Before signing the patent Hardwicke felt obliged to submit the matter to Addington, the more so because of reports that Shee, on his recent retirement from the Home Office, had obtained a pension, payable until he succeeded to the receivership. Addington vetoed the transfer of the reversion to Cavendish Bradshaw, who complained bitterly to Wickham:

This business being completely arranged, I sold my house and furniture in Portland Place at considerable loss ... [and] removed my family and establishment to ... [Ireland]. I disposed of a seat in Parliament which I had procured, and lost 200 guineas by the event ... I need not comment upon my unfortunate situation, completely ruined, and an object of ridicule to the whole world. I wish to come into any terms with the government to release me from ... a situation which I have by no means involved myself in.2

Before his death in August 1804 Sir Henry Cavendish made several applications to Hardwicke for alternative provision for his son, but the lord lieutenant, who took the view that Cavendish Bradshaw had acted foolishly, even though Shee was the real villain of the piece and Wickham may have gone too far in encouraging the transaction, was unable to promise anything. Cavendish Bradshaw subsequently sought reparation from Pitt’s second ministry, but without success.3

His cause cannot have been helped by the fact that soon after his arrival in Ireland he had devoted himself to the task of rallying the attendance of the Irish friends of the Prince of Wales, whom he called ‘the best of human beings’. In February 1804 the Prince’s secretary held out the prospect of a seat in Parliament, which he professed himself willing to buy ‘at any price’, provided ‘there be a clause in case I vacate, to bring in a friend in my place during the Parliament or purchase at a larger price for a term of years’. He subsequently agreed to waive conditions, boasting that his services as Irish whip for the Carlton House party would be more effective if he was in the House, but the project fell through. He left Ireland in November 1804 and in the following March secured his return for the venal borough of Honiton by spending freely at a contested by-election.4

He voted for the censure of Melville, 8 Apr., and was duly listed among ‘Opposition’ in July 1805. Later in the year there was talk of his purchasing the Praed electoral interest at St. Ives, but nothing came of it. He supported the ‘Talents’, voting for the repeal of Pitt’s Additional Force Act, 30 Apr. 1806, and procured from them the tellership of the Exchequer in Ireland. His request for an increase in its salary was turned down, but he was granted an addition of £500 to the allowance for clerks, along with the right to distribute it. His re-election for Honiton was contested and expensive and on 25 Aug. 1806 he informed the Prince’s secretary:

I trust I shall some day or other be remunerated for what I have suffered both in fatigue and expense. I have made my canvass good beyond a doubt of success at the general election, but the last election and this canvass have cost me £3,500, making my expense altogether at Honiton £7,700 ... I have paid the money which I borrowed in Ireland and must retrench a little to pay the interest. I am determined not to give up the borough as long as it is deemed wise for me to persevere.5

He was returned again for Honiton at the general election and reckoned ‘friendly’ to the abolition of the slave trade.

In 1812 the Duke of Richmond, lord lieutenant of Ireland in the Perceval government, alleged that Cavendish Bradshaw ‘would have voted with us when the Talents were turned out, though he thought the Prince was against us, on the condition of keeping his place’. He certainly made an attempt to hold on to his place under the Portland ministry. The following letter to the Prince’s secretary is undated, but seems most likely to have been written just after the change of government in 1807:

I received the enclosed [presumably a note requesting attendance] ... by the usual Treasury messenger ... I imagine they do not wish to remove me and want my support. Anxious as I may be (in the unpleasant situation in which I stand as to vacating etc. etc.) to retain my office I should be equally well satisfied to lose it and vote against them should that be the sentiment of the Prince and indeed should his Royal Highness remain neutral I will take no part without his consent and approbation.

He subsequently discussed his position with the new Irish secretary, Sir Arthur Wellesley, who told him on 8 Apr. 1807 that he could not ‘hold out ... any hope that you will continue to fill that office, under the circumstances which you stated to me, although I am convinced that, if the Prince were to express a wish upon the subject, it would be gratified’.6 The following day Cavendish Bradshaw voted for Brand’s motion condemning the ministerial pledge and he was duly turned out of his office the following month.

Returned unopposed for Honiton at the general election, he attended the opposition dinner before the opening of the new Parliament and voted against government on the address, 26 June, the state of the nation, 6 July, places and pensions, 7 July, and Ireland, 13 Aug. 1807. He worked to procure a good attendance of Irish opposition Members before the 1808 session7 and in that and the two subsequent sessions voted steadily against government on all major issues. He also voted for Whitbread’s peace resolution, 29 Feb. 1808, for inquiry into alleged ministerial corruption, 17, 25 Apr., 11 May 1809, and for parliamentary reform, 21 May 1810. He supported motions in favour of Catholic relief in May 1808. His only known speeches in the House were made in February 1809, when he participated in the examination of witnesses in the Duke of York inquiry, and on 24 May 1810, when he explained the manner in which his father’s balances as receiver-general had been discharged. He was one of the Whigs who met to endorse Ponsonby’s leadership, 18 Jan. 1809, but at the end of the year Creevey reported him as being ‘inclined to talk very contemptuously of our political leaders’.8

Cavendish Bradshaw voted with opposition on the Regency, 15 and 29 Nov. 1810, 1 and 21 Jan. 1811. He staked his claim on the Prince for employment in the anticipated Whig government, but had to rule himself out for any office necessitating re-election, which he could not afford, and was willing to settle for a place in the household of the lord lieutenant of Ireland, though he hoped ‘of course upon a new Parliament or a fit opportunity’ to be ‘reinstated in my old office’.9 The Regent’s decision to make no change dashed his hopes, but his only known votes against government after the establishment of the Regency were on issues relating to the Catholic question, namely the Irish secretary’s circular letter, 22 Feb., liberty of conscience for Irish militia in England, 5 June 1811, the state of Ireland, 4 Feb., and Catholic relief, 24 Apr. 1812, and he voted with them against sinecure reform, 24 Feb. and 4 May, and against the call for a stronger administration, 21 May 1812. It was reported in March 1812 that he had declined to become a groom of the bedchamber ‘because he expected better, and because he cannot afford the expense of re-election’. The following month he assured the Irish secretary that his politics were ‘always to support the Regent’s government’; but the lord lieutenant, mindful of his shuffling behaviour in 1807, did not ‘place much reliance on him’.10

In August 1812 he was appointed a groom of the bedchamber, worth £500 a year, but only a month later he expressed an interest in accompanying Lord Moira to India. A seat for Honiton at the general election was beyond his means and he evidently showed no interest in Lord Yarmouth’s proposal that he should contest Truro with the Regent’s backing. To his surprise, the Prince arranged his return for Castle Rising on Lord Cholmondeley’s interest.11

He was expected to support government and, while he voted for Catholic relief, 2 Mar., 13 and 24 May 1813, he did so in divisions on the civil list, 14 Apr., 8 May 1815, 6 May 1816, the Regent’s expenditure, 31 May, and the Duke of Cumberland’s grant, 29 June and 3 July 1815. He remained preoccupied with the problem of finding a way out of his financial difficulties. In March 1813 he unsuccessfully applied for the vacant chairmanship of the board of customs:

a situation of that kind would be a provision for me for life, though attended with considerable labour, for I am much afraid ... that any place I might get in which I was obliged to pay for a seat in Parliament would leave me little or nothing to live upon and you know from the circumstances of my life I am obliged to live entirely at home at my own expense and consequently am very poor, taking into consideration the sums of money I have expended in parliamentary pursuits.

On 11 Aug. 1814, the eve of the Regent’s birthday, which he hoped might be ‘propitious’ for an application, he told the Prince’s secretary that he was ‘distressed beyond measure by poverty brought on by annuities in raising money in the several contests I had at Honiton’, and requested an appeal to ministers on his behalf:

Any little addition to what I receive from his Royal H’s favour at present would make us comfortable. Mrs Bradshaw has not been used to poverty and is very unhappy which my imprudent elections have brought upon her and we both thought our expectations good.12

Nothing was done for him. Early in 1815 he was in France, and on his return he told the story that

at Rouen he dined a short time ago with a mess of eighteen officers, and when he was going to give the health of Louis XVIII, one whispered to him: ‘For God’s sake, don’t do that unless you wish to be turned out of the barracks.’13

Cavendish Bradshaw vacated his seat in 1817 for Cholmondeley’s son, and presumably continued to live from hand to mouth. On 20 Nov. 1830 he wrote to Earl Grey from Manaton, near Plymouth, congratulating him on his accession to power, reminding him of his services under the ‘Talents’ and his expenditure at Honiton, which had swallowed ‘the greater part of my fortune’, and asking for ‘any subordinate situation’. The letter was endorsed, ‘there is nothing open’.14 He died 11 Nov. 1832.

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: David R. Fisher


  • 1. True Briton, 27 Feb. 1796.
  • 2. Sidmouth mss, Wickham to Addington, 9 Nov. 1803; Add. 35704, f. 105; 35745, f. 41; 35783, f. 64; 35785, f. 40.
  • 3. Add. 35745, f. 287; 35777, f. 65; 35785, ff. 97, 103, 126; 35786, f. 44; PRO 30/8/329, f. 1.
  • 4. Prince of Wales Corresp. iv. 1820, 1822, 1827; Add. 35753, f. 149.
  • 5. Prince of Wales Corresp. v. 2083, 2209; NLS mss 12910, pp. 33, 174, 224; NLI, Newport mss, Elliot to Newport, 25 May 1806.
  • 6. NLI, Richmond mss 66/945; Geo. IV Letters, i. 209; Wellington mss.
  • 7. Grey mss, Tierney to Grey, 4 Jan. 1808.
  • 8. Creevey Pprs. ed. Maxwell, i. 111-12.
  • 9. Prince of Wales Corresp. vii. 2814.
  • 10. HMC Fortescue, x. 228; Richmond mss 66/945, 67/1032.
  • 11. Geo. IV Letters, i. 127, 150, 173-5; Fortescue mss, Fremantle to Grenville, 31 Sept. [sic] 1812.
  • 12. Geo. IV Letters, i. 253, 474.
  • 13. Broughton, Recollections, i. 209.
  • 14. Grey mss.