GREENHILL (afterwards GREENHILL RUSSELL), Robert (1763-1836), of Chequers Court, Ellesborough, Bucks.

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



1806 - 1832

Family and Education

b. 1763, o. surv. ch. of Rev. John Russell Greenhill, LLD, rector of Fringford, Oxon. by Elizabeth, da. and h. of Matthew Noble of Sunderland, co. Dur. educ. Westminster 1773; Christ Church, Oxf. 1780; L. Inn 1780, called 1790. unm. suc. fa. 1813; to estates of the late Sir George Russell, 10th Bt., of Chequers Court and took additional surname of Russell by sign manual 13 May 1815; cr. Bt. 15 Sept. 1831.

Offices Held


Greenhill, who practised in Chancery as an equity draftsman, was returned for Thirsk on the interest of Sir Thomas Frankland, 6th Bt.* They were kinsmen through the Russell family of Chequers, to whose estates Greenhill succeeded in 1815: on his death without issue, his patron’s son and heir Robert Frankland* succeeded to them. On this basis he held his seat until it was disfranchised. Like his patron’s brother William, a member of the Grenville administration, Greenhill was their supporter in and out of office. He voted for Brand’s motion following their dismissal, 9 Apr. 1807, and steadily with them in the ensuing Parliament. In this he went further than William Frankland, as his votes for Cochrane’s motion on places and pensions, 7 July 1807, for Whitbread’s plea for a mediated armistice, 29 Feb. 1808, and for inquiry into allegations of ministerial corruption, 25 Apr. 1809, indicated. Like Frankland he met with the Whigs to endorse George Ponsonby’s leadership of them in the Commons, 18 Jan. 1809. They listed him a ‘thick and thin’ adherent in 1810. Unlike his colleague, he voted for the discharge of the radical Gale Jones, 16 Apr. 1810. He was a supporter of sinecure reform and invariably supported Catholic relief. Robert Ward*, a ministerialist, said of him in January 1811 that he was ‘red hot on the other side ... but his honour and kindness of heart do not suffer this to break his friendships ... he adores Perceval and hates Canning’. His only known speech before 1820 was in opposition to Lockhart’s motion for inquiry into the proceedings in the Palace court, 30 June 1812.

Greenhill was equally steady in opposition in the Parliaments of 1812 and 1818, pairing with them during his rare absences (for instance on 6 Mar. 1816, 29 Apr. 1817 and 10, 11 Mar. 1818). He joined Brooks’s Club, 16 Apr. 1815, and signed the requisition to Tierney to lead the Whigs in the Commons in 1818. Unlike William Frankland, he was well inclined to their fellow lawyer Romilly. On 25 Feb. 1811 he had voted for inquiry into the lord chancellor’s conduct during the King’s illness in 1804. He opposed the vice-chancellor bill, 11 Feb. 1813, the aliens bill, 10 May 1816 and the suspension of habeas corpus throughout. He voted for inquiry into criminal law reform, 2 Mar. 1819. He was against the resumption of hostilities, 25 May 1815, and voted against ministers on their foreign policy as well as for retrenchment at home. He was shyer of parliamentary reform, but at least voted for Scottish burgh reform, 6 May 1819. He opposed the repressive measures against radicalism until 13 Dec. 1819 and reappeared in opposition to the sureties clause of the newspaper stamp bill, 20 Dec., and in support of the amendment to make the bill a temporary one, 22 Dec. He died 12 Dec. 1836.

Phipps, Plumer Ward Mems. i. 315-16; Romilly, Mems. ii. 375; Gent. Mag. (1837), i. 204.

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: Winifred Stokes