FORD, Richard (1758-1806), of the Inner Temple, London.

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



27 Feb. 1789 - 1790
1790 - May 1791

Family and Education

b. 1758, 4th s. of Dr James Ford, physician to Queen Charlotte, of Albemarle Street, Piccadilly by w. Anne née Hole. educ. ?Westminster 1765-74; L. Inn 1777, called 1782. m. 7 Apr. 1794, Marianne, da. and coh. of Benjamin Booth, dir. E.I. Co., of the Adelphi, Westminster, 2s. 1da., 3 ch. illegit. Kntd. 16 Dec. 1801.

Offices Held

Police magistrate Shadwell 1792, Bow Street 1801 (and chief magistrate, Mdx. 1800).

Supt. aliens office Aug. 1800-Jan. 1801.

Capt. St. Sepulchre’s vols. 1798, maj. commdt. 1803; capt. 2 batt. Queen’s R. vols. 1803.


Ford owed his seats in Parliament to the 3rd Duke of Dorset, who in 1790 arranged for him to be returned by his ward. On 7 Dec. 1790 he wrote to Pitt:

Lord Thanet, under whose influence I was returned at the general election for Appleby, having embraced a system of politics different from that which I have adhered to, it becomes necessary that I should vacate my seat soon after the holidays ... Although I was aware of the nature of Lord Thanet’s sentiments before my election, yet I should be wanting in justice to myself, were I not to add that this resignation would not have been required had I chosen to have voted in conformity to them. I regret that the period of my remaining in Parliament has been so short as to have afforded me few opportunities of manifesting my attachment to your service. I am therefore deprived of any claim to your recollection of me, at a time when the effect which the embarrassed situation of my father’s affairs has had on my situation would render any employment to which I might be thought not wholly unequal a matter of the utmost consequence to me.1

Ford, listed hostile to the repeal of the Test Act in Scotland in April 1791, was friendly with Charles Long*, and the Duke of Dorset on 14 June 1791 wrote of him to Pitt:

I have been told that you approved of his parliamentary abilities (but if he did not exert them during the short time he sat, it was owing to the delicacy of his situation and not to want of zeal in support of your administration) and he stands also high in the opinion of his professional contemporaries.2

In 1792 he was appointed magistrate of Shadwell police court. He was subsequently employed by the Home Office to collect information on radical agitators and manage French agents. In 1795 he reported favourably on Bentham’s schemes for prison reform, but by 1802 considered transportation a better solution. He was asked to draft the regulations to control the entry of foreigners during the peace of Amiens, and as Bow Street magistrate was instrumental in unmasking the Despard conspiracy.3 At the time of his death he was acting magistrate for the Home Office. He died after a few days’ illness, 3 May 1806, aged 47.4 Through his father he had an interest in Drury Lane theatre and, until she transferred to the Duke of Clarence in 1790, the actress Mrs Jordan was his mistress and bore him three children.5

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: Winifred Stokes


  • 1. PRO 30/8/136, f. 60.
  • 2. PRO 30/8/130, f. 60.
  • 3. Farington, i. 174; Geo. III Corresp. ii. 1369, 1512; Add. 33108, ff. 100-3; 33110, f. 318; 33542, ff. 75 seq.; R. R. Nelson, Home Office 1782-1801, 115, 120; J. A. Hone, For the Cause of Truth, 69.
  • 4. Gent. Mag. (1806), i. 484.
  • 5. Prince of Wales Corresp. ii. 624; Aspinall, Mrs. Jordan and her Family, 1.