FOWNES LUTTRELL, John (1787-1857), of Dunster Castle, Som. and 225 Regent Street, Mdx.

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



1812 - 1832

Family and Education

b. 26 Aug. 1787, 1st s. of John Fownes Luttrell† of Dunster Castle and Mary, da. of Francis Drewe of The Grange, Devon; bro. of Henry Fownes Luttrell*. educ. Eton 1802; Oriel, Oxf. 1805. unm. suc. fa. 1816. d. 11 Jan. 1857.

Offices Held


Fownes Luttrell was the patron of Minehead, where he sat unopposed throughout this period, nominating his own colleague.1 He continued to give general support to Lord Liverpool’s ministry, but was evidently a poor attender. He was granted three weeks’ leave for urgent private business, 21 June, but may have been present to vote with ministers against economies in revenue collection, 4 July 1820. He voted in defence of their conduct towards Queen Caroline, 6 Feb. 1821. He was allowed six weeks’ leave for private business, 13 Feb., but was listed among the pairs against Catholic relief, 28 Feb. He voted against repeal of the additional malt duty, 3 Apr., parliamentary reform, 9 May, and mitigation of the punishment for forgery, 23 May 1821. With his younger brother, he divided with ministers against more extensive tax reductions, 21 Feb., and abolition of one of the joint-postmasterships, 13 Mar., but he voted in favour of reduction of the salt duties, 28 Feb., and of the junior lords of the admiralty, 1 Mar. 1822. He was in the minority against Canning’s Catholic peers bill, 30 Apr. 1822. He divided with ministers against tax reductions, 3 Mar. 1823. He voted to suppress the Catholic Association, 25 Feb., and against Catholic relief, 1 Mar., 21 Apr., 10 May, and the Irish franchise bill, 26 Apr. 1825, in a session when he was said to have ‘attended frequently and appeared to vote in general with ministers’.2 However, he voted in the protectionist minorities against government measures for the emergency importation of foreign corn, 8, 11 May 1826. He divided against Catholic relief, 6 Mar., and was granted three weeks’ leave, having served on an election committee, 21 Mar. 1827. He voted against repeal of the Test Acts, 26 Feb., and Catholic claims, 12 May 1828. In February 1829 Planta, the Wellington ministry’s patronage secretary, listed him among those Members ‘opposed to the principle’ of Catholic emancipation who, once the principle was carried, would support any accompanying securities. He indeed voted against emancipation, 6, 18, 27, 30 Mar., and presented hostile petitions from Minehead and ‘another place’, 11 Mar. 1829.

After the general election of 1830 the Wellington ministry counted Fownes Luttrell among their ‘friends’, but he was absent from the crucial division on the civil list, 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. He divided against the second reading of the reintroduced bill, 6 July, and to use the 1831 census for the purpose of scheduling boroughs, 19 July. He unsuccessfully moved that Minehead be transferred from schedule A to B, 22 July, complaining of its ‘unjust and unconstitutional’ treatment and lamenting the severance of a familial connection with the borough so ancient that ‘I may almost consider it as a birthright’. He voted to postpone consideration of the partial disfranchisement of Chippenham, 27 July, and against the bill’s passage, 21 Sept. He divided against the second reading of the revised bill, 17 Dec. 1831, the motion to go into committee, 20 Jan., and the enfranchisement of Tower Hamlets, 28 Feb. 1832. He made another futile attempt to save Minehead from total disfranchisement, 14 Mar., and voted against the bill’s third reading, 22 Mar. He reportedly paired against the abolition of colonial slavery, 24 May, and the second reading of the Irish reform bill, 25 May.3 He was in the minorities for inquiry into the glove trade, 3 Apr., and against the Russian-Dutch loan, 12 July 1832.

Deprived of his seat by the Reform Act, Fownes Luttrell offered in June 1832 for the new division of West Somerset, claiming to be in favour of a ‘just arrangement’ of tithes, prudent reductions in public expenditure, the protection of all property and encouragement for agriculture, ‘the foundation of all our wealth and strength’. In a joint address with William Miles*, the farmers were urged to use the electoral power conferred by the Chandos clause to return candidates like themselves, ‘the steady friends of agriculture, men of the old English stamp, neither warped by the flattery of political unions, nor tainted through foreign travel with revolutionary principles’.4 His candidature provoked a number of ferocious character attacks, including accusations that he had persecuted Dissenters living on his estate, where he resembled ‘a little rural tyrant, a petty despot in his own domain’. One extraordinary poster described scenes of moral depravity at Dunster Castle: ‘a prostitute kept ... under the nose of his afflicted mother ... every servant prostituted to his lust. The wives of honest tradesmen assailed and seduced’; it was even claimed that his conduct had caused two husbands to commit suicide. By the time he withdrew, shortly before the poll, his expenditure had reached £5,000.5

Fownes Luttrell died in January 1857 and the Dunster estate passed to his brother Henry. His will, dated 14 Mar. 1855, instructed that £500 be paid to Mrs. Jane Richard, ‘now residing with me and usually known as Mrs. Luttrell’, who was also the beneficiary of a ‘personal trust fund’.6

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: Terry Jenkins


  • 1. H. Maxwell Lyte, Hist. Dunster, i. 272.
  • 2. Session of Parl. 1825, p. 474.
  • 3. The Times, 29 May, Taunton Courier, 30 May 1832.
  • 4. Som. RO, Luttrell mss DD/L/2/23/136A, addresses, 11, 25 June, 4 July 1832 and n.d.
  • 5. Ibid. ‘an elector’, 18 July, ‘an independent elector’, 30 July, address, 4 Dec., agents’ bills; Taunton Courier, 28 Nov. 1832.
  • 6. PROB 11/2248/215; IR26/2103/194.