PENTON, Henry (1736-1812), of Eastgate House, Winchester, Hants.

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



1761 - 1796

Family and Education

b. 11 Dec. 1736, o.s. of Henry Penton of Eastgate House by a da. of Simondi, Swedish consul at Lisbon. educ. Winchester 1748; Clare, Camb. 1753; L. Inn 1762; Grand Tour. m. (1) 3 Jan. 1765,1 Anne, da. of John Knowler of Canterbury, Kent, 3s. 1da; (2) 8 Apr. 1808, Catherine Judd, s.p. legit. suc. fa. 1762.

Offices Held

King’s letter carrier 1761-d.; ld. of Admiralty Dec. 1774-Apr. 1782.


Penton, whose London property commemorates his name, made himself a social pariah and the only question raised about him was when he would dispense with his seat in Parliament, on an interest established by his father. A former Northite, he was in opposition to Pitt and on 12 Apr. 1791 voted against him on the Oczakov question. On 15 Apr. he wrote to William Adam to complain that Sir Charles Ross was making difficulties about a pairing arrangement ‘for the remainder of the sessions’ which he had believed to be ‘complete’ and that he could not, therefore, attend ‘with regard to the business of this day’. As he had broken a pair with Thomas Johnes to accommodate Ross, he was indignant at the hitch. He was listed ‘doubtful’ on the Test Act repeal question at that time. In December 1792 he was listed a Portland Whig, and an application for patronage to William Windham, 26 Aug. 1794, indicated that he regarded himself as having gone over to government with Portland.2 The Treasury confirmed this in their election forecast of 1795: but he could not be relied on to attend—he was a defaulter in January and November 1795. In January 1796 Portland, with reference to Penton’s wish to retire and be replaced at Winchester, recommended Viscount Palmerston to him as meeting every requirement except ‘consanguinity’. Penton acquiesced, giving his health as his reason for retirement. Before doing so he treated the House to a witty speech against the tax on dogs, 25 Apr. 1796. He subsequently sold his Winchester house and estate to Sir Henry Paulet St. John Mildmay*.3

Penton’s stigma arose out of his liaison with Miss Judd, his wife’s maid, on account of which his wife left him. Apropos of an illness which necessitated the shaving of Penton’s head in 1806, Lord Thomond remarked that it must be a blow to Penton who

never appeared but with his hair in nice order. His manners are very courteous and gentle. Lord Thomond spoke of the great sacrifice he had made by forming his present connexion with a woman who was maid to his wife which caused a separation. By this woman he has two daughters now grown up, who are in some degree noticed, but their mother is not seen by ladies. Lord Thomond said, she is a fine woman, and that Mr Penton has spoken warmly in her praise for her attention to him. But it has caused him, who was formerly much in the world, Member for Winchester, and a lord of the Admiralty, to live many years in, comparatively, a secluded state, in which he has appeared to be obliged to those who called on him. ... After his separation from Mrs Penton in consequence of her having discovered the connexion, he took Miss Judd to Italy, and had her taught music and languages. Her voice is fine, and she sung so well that Mr Penton said £1,500 a year was offered to her if she would appear upon the Italian stage. The offer was made at Rome.4

Penton, who married Miss Judd five days after his wife’s death, died 15 Jan. 1812.

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Authors: Brian Murphy / R. G. Thorne


  • 1. Registers of Canterbury Cathedral, 96.
  • 2. Blair Adam mss; Add. 37914, f. 117.
  • 3. Portland mss, PwV110, Portland to Penton, 28 Jan.; True Briton, 27 May 1796; B. Connell, Whig Peer, 332-4; The Times, 21 Apr. 1801.
  • 4. Farington, iv. 13-14, 22.