POWLETT, William Powlett (1758-1821), of Lainston House and Little Somborne, nr. Winchester, Hants and Marrick, nr. Richmond, Yorks.

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



1790 - 1796

Family and Education

b. 18 Mar. 1758, o.s. of Rev. Richard Smyth of Itchen and Crux Easton, Hants, rector of Myddle, Salop, by 1st w. Annabella, da. and h. of William Powlett of Chilbolton and Easton, Hants. educ. New Coll. Oxf. 1774. m. 15 Aug. 1779, Mary, da. of Richard Dalton of Leatherhead, Surr. and Knaith, Lincs., s.p. suc. to Marrick estates under will of mat. gdfa. (d.1757) and took name of Powlett in lieu of Smyth bef. 1790.

Offices Held

Sheriff, Hants 1783-4; capt. N. Hants yeomanry 1803, Somborne vol. inf. 1803, maj. 1804.


Powlett was returned unopposed for Totnes in 1790 on the interest of his mother’s second cousin, the 6th Duke of Bolton. He voted with opposition on Oczakov, 12 Apr. 1791, was listed a supporter of repeal of the Test Act in Scotland the same month, and became a member of the Association of the Friends of the People the following year. His inclusion in the list of Members ‘supposed attached’ to the Duke of Portland in December 1792 was queried and he may have been tentatively considered by Windham as a possible recruit for the ‘third party’, but in the event he voted with Fox against the war, 18 Feb. 1793. On 7 May 1793 he joined the Whig Club, of which his kinsman the Rev. Charles Powlett, illegitimate son of the 3rd Duke of Bolton by the actress Lavinia Fenton (‘Polly Peacham’), had been a member since 1785, but he did not vote for Grey’s parliamentary reform motion the same day. He voted in favour of peace negotiations, 21 Jan. and 30 May 1794, 26 Jan., 27 May and 29 Oct. 1795; against the suspension of habeas corpus, 5 and 23 Jan., and the seditious meetings bill, 25 Nov., and for inquiry into the state of the nation, 24 Mar. 1795. In his only known speech, 9 May 1791, he opposed the extension to judges of the privilege of franking.

It was reported in 1795 that a number of Powlett’s constituents had publicly refused him their future support, presumably on account of his politics, and he did not seek re-election in 1796.1 He sold the Marrick estates, which contained lead mines, in 1817 and died 8 Mar. 1821.2

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: David R. Fisher


  • 1. Portland mss PwF9321.
  • 2. Coll. Top. et Gen. v. 256.