EDWARDES, William, 1st Baron Kensington [I] (?1711-1801), of Johnston Hall, Pemb.

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



1747 - 1784
6 Feb. 1786 - 13 Dec. 1801

Family and Education

b. ?1711, 3rd but 2nd surv. s. of Francis Edwardes of Heylett by Lady Elizabeth Rich, da. of Robert, 5th Earl of Warwick, aunt and h. of Edward, 7th Earl of Warwick. m. (1) his cos. Rachel (d. 14 Aug. 1760), da. of Owen Edwardes of Trefgarn, s.p.; (2) 10 June 1762, Elizabeth, da. and coh. of William Warren of Longridge, 1s. suc. bro. Edward Henry to the Warwick estates, inc. Kensington, Mdx. 1738; cr. Baron Kensington [I] 28 July 1776.

Offices Held


The death of Sir Hugh Owen, the county Member, in 1786 enabled Kensington to resume his seat for Haverfordwest by opening the county to Lord Milford, with whom he thus renewed his local alliance.1 He continued his silent support of the administration of the day, but was disappointed in his ambition to obtain an English peerage. Applying to Pitt through George Rose for this honour, 20 Oct. 1794, he claimed to have served in Parliament for over 40 years, ‘at the expense of above £40,000 to support his interest, a constant attender, and ever steadfastly and immovably attached to his Majesty and administration upon all occasions, without place, pension or any emolument whatever to himself’. Renewing the application on 27 June 1796, he asserted that he had been ‘very ill used’, thinking his claim superior ‘to such that have been in opposition almost to the time they were created’. This time he asked for a viscountcy, not a barony. In another memorial he stated that he had been in Parliament ‘above 50 years at an immense expense, and ever attached to government ... wants nothing out of the pocket of government nor ever asked it, and has sacrificed all the enjoyments of life to his attendance in Parliament’. He failed: according to Thomas Knox he was ‘only valuable as a sure vote’ and he could not afford a contest: his heir was only a boy. His wife applied in vain to Pitt to become keeper of Greenwich Park or even sweeper of St. James’s Park, 29 Oct. 1791, 31 July, 16 Aug. 1793.2

It is doubtful whether Lord Kensington was able to attend regularly in his last two Parliaments owing to age and infirmity. He was listed hostile to the repeal of the Test Act in Scotland in April 1791. There was a pathetic incident on 8 Mar. 1793, when he was ordered to be taken into custody for absence without leave: it turned out that he was in the lobby a few minutes after the door of the House was locked. Sir Watkin Lewes pointed out that he had been excused before on compassionate grounds and this time Pitt himself secured his exoneration. On 21 Apr. 1797, Lord Milford informed Pitt that Kensington was ‘severely ill and not likely to recover’.3 Kensington doubtless regarded his usefulness to government as essentially local: applying to Pitt for patronage for a Pembrokeshire protégé, 24 Aug. 1795, he claimed that it had cost him ‘near £800’ towards making a new road from Haverfordwest to the ‘new intended town’ of Milford Haven. George Rose on this occasion reported that Kensington had been ‘unlucky in his applications unavoidably’ and thought he would be ‘sadly disappointed’ at the failure of yet another.4 Resisting to the end Lord Milford’s pressure to resign his seat, he died 13 Dec. 1801, aged 90, ‘usually called the father of the House of Commons, from his being the oldest member of the House’.5

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: R. G. Thorne


  • 1. R. D. Rees, ‘Parl. Rep. S. Wales 1790-1830’ (Reading Univ. Ph.D. thesis, 1962), ii. 350; DWB, 183.
  • 2. PRO 30/8/149, ff. 85, 87, 89, 90-94; HMC Var. vi. 212.
  • 3. Debrett , xxxvi. 42; PRO 30/8/158, f. 151; see also Carm. RO, 1 Cawdor 129, Kensington to Campbell, 3 Feb. 1795.
  • 4. PRO 30/8/149, f. 83; 173, ff. 260, 270.
  • 5. Bodl. ms. Clarendon dep. c. 431, bdle. 5, Milford to Foster Barham, 30 May 1802; Gent. Mag. (1801), ii. 1157.