PRINGLE, Sir William Henry (?1771-1840), of 17 Stratford Place, Mdx.

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



1812 - 1818
1818 - 1832

Family and Education

b. ?1771, 1st s. of Lt.-Col. Henry Pringle of 51 Ft. and Mary, da. of Rev. William Godley, DD, of Dublin. educ. by Rev. Richard Norris, Drogheda; Trinity, Dublin 16 May 1789, aged 17. m. 20 May 1806,1 Hester Harriet Pitt, da. and h. of Hon. Edward James Eliot† of Bromfield, Clapham, Surr., 1s. 4da. suc. fa. 1800; KCB 2 Jan. 1815; GCB 19 Dec. 1834. d. 23 Dec. 1840.

Offices Held

Cornet 16 Drag. 1792, lt. 1793; capt. Ind. Ft. 1794; maj. 111 Ft. 1794; lt.-col. 4 Ft. 1799; capt. and lt.-col. 2 Ft. Gds. 1802; col. army and inspecting field officer of militia in Canada 1809; maj.-gen. 1812; on staff of Peninsular army 1812; col. R. Newfoundland fencibles 1814; col. 64 Ft. 1816; lt.-gen. 1825; col. 45 Ft. 1838-d.


Pringle, who had married William Pitt’s† niece in 1806, served with distinction in the Peninsula and survived being shot through the body at Orthes in 1814. Nevertheless, Charles William Wynn*, president of the board of control, when reviewing potential candidates for the Indian command in 1825, wrote that he ‘appears a very dull man, and never has been in any situation which enabled him to exhibit the sort of ability which is required’.2 In the Commons, where he sat undisturbed for Cornish boroughs controlled by his wife’s uncles, the 1st and 2nd earls of St. Germans, he was an occasional attender who continued to give silent support to Lord Liverpool’s ministry. He divided against economies in revenue collection, 4 July 1820. He voted in defence of ministers’ conduct towards Queen Caroline, 6 Feb. 1821. He divided for Catholic relief, 28 Feb. He voted against repeal of the additional malt duty, 3 Apr., and Hume’s economy and retrenchment motion, 27 June 1821. He divided against more extensive tax reductions, 11, 21 Feb., and abolition of one of the joint-postmasterships, 13 Mar. 1822. He voted in defence of the lord advocate’s conduct towards the Scottish press, 25 June 1822. He divided against repeal of the Foreign Enlistment Act, 16 Apr., and inquiry into the prosecution of the Dublin Orange rioters, 22 Apr. 1823. He voted for the Irish insurrection bill, 14 June 1824. The previous month he had obtained official permission to ‘pass through the Horse Guards, on horseback occasionally’, on his way to the Commons from his house just north of Oxford Street.3 He divided for Catholic relief, 1 Mar., 21 Apr. (paired), 10 May 1825. On 15 Apr. he was one of three Members who confirmed that they had not heard the question put for the division on the Southwark paving bill, and whose names were subsequently added to the favourable minority. He voted for the financial provision for the duke of Cumberland, 30 May, 10 June 1825. It was said of him at this time that he ‘attended occasionally and voted with ministers’.4

His only known votes in the 1826 Parliament were for Catholic relief, 6 Mar. 1827, 12 May 1828, the Wellington ministry’s emancipation bill, 6, 30 Mar. 1829, and against the enfranchisement of Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester, 23 Feb. 1830. He paired against abolition of the death penalty for forgery, 7 June 1830. After his return for Liskeard at the general election that summer ministers reckoned him as one of their ‘friends’, and he duly voted with them in the crucial civil list division, 15 Nov. 1830. He divided against the second reading of the Grey ministry’s reform bill, 22 Mar., and for Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr. 1831. He voted against the second reading of the reintroduced bill, 6 July 1831. In his only reported contribution to debate in 20 years, 29 July, he ‘bore testimony to the intelligent character of the constituency of Liskeard’, which was scheduled to lose one of its seats. He divided against the bill’s passage, 21 Sept., and the second reading of the Scottish bill, 23 Sept. Opposition managers hoped at this time that he might be able to persuade his wife’s notoriously feckless uncle Lord Chatham (Pitt’s brother) to take his seat in the Lords and oppose reform; but if he tried he failed.5 He was absent from the division on the second reading of the revised reform bill, 17 Dec. 1831, but voted against the enfranchisement of Tower Hamlets, 28 Feb., and the third reading, 22 Mar. 1832. He divided against ministers on the Russian-Dutch loan, 12 July 1832. He retired from Parliament at the dissolution in December.

Pringle died suddenly of ‘disease of the heart’ in December 1840. He left an inherited estate in county Armagh to his only son John Henry, and the remainder of his property to his wife, noting that ‘almost all I am possessed of I have through her’; his personalty was sworn under £14,000.6 His widow, who died in 1842, distributed £41,000 among their four daughters and left her inheritance of £5,000 from the 1st earl of St. Germans to John Henry; her personalty was sworn under £14,000 and the residue calculated for duty at £2,309.7

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: David R. Fisher


  • 1. Gent. Mag. (1806), i. 477.
  • 2. Buckingham, Mems. Geo. IV, ii. 215.
  • 3. Add. 40365, f. 124.
  • 4. Session of Parl. 1825, p. 481.
  • 5. Wellington mss WP1/1198/1.
  • 6. Gent. Mag. (1841), i. 317; PROB 8/234; 11/1939/49.
  • 7. PROB 11/1971/266; IR26/1622/734.