AMHERST, William Pitt, Visct. Holmesdale (1805-1886), of 66 Grosvenor Street, Mdx.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832, ed. D.R. Fisher, 2009
Available from Cambridge University Press



11 Feb. 1829 - 1832

Family and Education

b. 3 Sept. 1805, 2nd but 1st surv. s. of William Pitt, 2nd Bar. Amherst, and 1st w. Hon. Sarah Archer, da. and coh. of Andrew Archer†, 2nd Bar. Archer, wid. of Other Hickman Windsor, 5th earl of Plymouth. educ. Westminster 1818; Christ Church, Oxf. 1824. m. 12 July 1834, Gertrude, da. of Hon. and Right Rev. Hugh Percy, bp. of Carlisle, 6s. (1 d.v.p.) 6da. (2 d.v.p.). styled Visct. Holmesdale 1826-57; suc. fa. as 2nd Earl Amherst 13 Mar. 1857. d. 26 Mar. 1886.

Offices Held


Holmesdale, whose father was promoted in the peerage in 1826 for his services as ambassador to China and governor-general of India, was returned on a vacancy for East Grinstead in 1829 on the interest of his half-brother the 6th earl of Plymouth. He sat undisturbed until the borough was disfranchised in 1832, but is not known to have spoken in the Commons. Although he took his seat on 17 Feb. 1829, he gave no recorded votes that session. He divided against the transfer of East Retford’s seats to Birmingham, 11 Feb., Lord Blandford’s reform motion, 18 Feb., and Jewish emancipation, 17 May 1830. That autumn the duke of Wellington’s ministry regarded him as one of their ‘friends’, but he was absent from the crucial civil list division, 15 Nov. 1830. He voted against the second reading of the Grey ministry’s reform bill, 22 Mar., and for Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr. 1831. At the ensuing general election he acted as chairman of the Ultra Tory Sir Edward Knatchbull’s* election committee in Kent.1 He divided against the second reading of the reintroduced reform bill, 6 July, but sided with ministers against two adjournment motions, 12 July 1831. He voted in the minorities to use the 1831 census for the purpose of determining the disfranchisement schedules, 19 July, and postpone consideration of Chippenham’s inclusion in schedule B, 27 July, and paired against Gateshead’s inclusion in schedule D, 5 Aug.2 He was absent from the division on the bill’s passage, 21 Sept. He divided for the motion condemning the Irish administration for improper interference in the Dublin election, 23 Aug. He was absent from the division on the second reading of the revised reform bill, 17 Dec. 1831, but attended to vote against the enfranchisement of Tower Hamlets, 28 Feb., the third reading, 22 Mar., and the second reading of the Irish bill, 25 May 1832. He retired from the Commons at the dissolution later that year.

He succeeded to his father’s earldom in 1857 but ‘rarely took part’ in Lords debates. He died in March 1886, ‘one of the last survivors of the unreformed ... Parliament’, and was succeeded by his eldest son, William Archer Amherst (1836-1910), Conservative Member for West Kent, 1859-68, and Mid Kent, 1868-80.3

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: Howard Spencer


  • 1. Maidstone Jnl. 10 May 1831.
  • 2. The Times, 8 Aug. 1831.
  • 3. Ibid. 27 Mar. 1886.