ROBARTS, William Tierney (c.1786-1820), of Old Broad Street, London and 8 John Street, Berkeley Square, Mdx.

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



26 Feb. 1818 - 9 Dec. 1820

Family and Education

b. c.1786, 4th s. of Abraham Robarts† (d. 1816) of North End, Hampstead, Mdx. and Sabine, da. of Thomas Tierney of Limerick; bro. of Abraham Wildey Robarts* and George James Robarts*. unm. d. 9 Dec. 1820.

Offices Held

Dir. Bank of England 1810-d.


Robarts was a prosperous London merchant and bank director, who had been given a total of £30,000 by his father.1 At the general election of 1820 he fought his third contested election at St. Albans in two years. The support of Earl Spencer’s family and, crucially, his wealth, again secured him the seat.2 A nephew of George Tierney, the Whig leader in the Commons, and a member of Brooks’s since 1817, he would have joined his brothers in the opposition ranks had he not been incapacitated by a debilitating illness soon after his return. He is not known to have spoken or voted in the new Parliament and on 21 June 1820 he took a month’s sick leave. A false report of his death circulated in late September,3 but Tierney reported to Lady Holland, 1 Oct. 1820:

My nephew is I think much the same, quite a cripple, and notwithstanding he has an excellent appetite, hardly gaining any strength. I do not from all I can make out believe his life to be in any danger, but I own I can now see no chance of his getting well till next spring. A disorder, however, which nobody pretends to understand may take a sudden favourable turn, particularly when there is youth to assist.4

He was given ‘very slender hopes of continuing’ to breathe in early November 1820, but he lingered for four more weeks until his death at his mother’s house in Lower Grosvenor Street.5 ‘It was’, wrote Tierney, ‘a happy release to himself, and, indeed, all possible hope being at an end, a relief to the family’.6 This was not quite the last that was heard of him, for his shade was conjured to appear before the Royal Family during their ‘Christmas gambols at Brighton’, as Tierney complained to Lady Holland, 4 Jan. 1821:

I wish they had chosen some other object for their amusement than poor W. Robarts, because if, as is not improbable, the story of the apparition should find its way into the papers, it may give much pain to his mother and family. I know of no picture of him by which the old deception could have been practised.7

By his will, dated 21 June 1820, and proved under £80,000 (later revalued under £120,000), he divided his estate among his siblings.8

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: David R. Fisher


  • 1. HP Commons, 1790-1820, v. 24.
  • 2. Add. 76033, J. Harrison to Spencer, 25 Feb.; County Chron. 14 Mar. 1820.
  • 3. Add. 76124, A. Ross to Spencer, 30 Sept. 1820.
  • 4. Add. 51586.
  • 5. Add. 76033, Harrison to Spencer, 7 Nov.; Grey mss, Tierney to Grey, 21, 25 Nov. 1820.
  • 6. Grey mss, Tierney to Grey, 7, 13 Dec. 1820.
  • 7. Add. 51586.
  • 8. PROB 11/1637/694; IR26/838/1431.