TOWNSHEND, Hon. Horatio George Powys (1780-1843), of 2 Chapel Street, Mdx.

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



13 Aug. 1816 - 1826
25 Feb. 1831 - 1832

Family and Education

b. 6 Feb. 1780, 3rd s. of Thomas Townshend†, 1st Visct. Sydney (d. 1800), and Elizabeth, da. and coh. of Richard Powys† of Hintlesham, Suff. educ. Eton 1787-91. unm. kntd. (and KCH) 25 Sept. 1835. d. 25 May 1843.

Offices Held

Ensign 1 Ft. Gds. 1795, lt. and capt. 1799, capt. and lt.-col. 1809; brevet col. 1819; lt.-col. commdt. 1 Ft. Gds. 1821; half-pay 1830.

Dep. ranger, St. James’s and Hyde Parks 1823-31; lt.-gov. Windsor Castle at d.


Townshend, a veteran of Waterloo, was again returned by his eldest brother Lord Sydney for the family borough at the 1820 general election.1 A regular attender, he continued to give mostly silent support to the Liverpool ministry.2 He voted with them on the Queen Caroline affair, 6 Feb., repeal of the additional malt duty, 3 Apr., the army estimates, 11 Apr., and the disfranchisement of ordnance officials, 12 Apr. 1821. He divided against parliamentary reform, 9 May 1821, and reform of the Scottish county representation, 2 June 1823, and Edinburgh’s electoral system, 13 Apr. 1826. He voted against Catholic relief, 28 Feb. 1821, 30 Apr. 1822, 1 Mar., 21 Apr., 10 May 1825. He divided against more extensive tax reductions, 11, 21 Feb., abolition of one of the joint-postmasterships, 13 Mar., and censure of the lord advocate’s dealings with the Scottish press, 25 June, and for the aliens bill, 19 July 1822. He sided with ministers against repeal of the house tax, 10 Mar., and the Foreign Enlistment Act, 16 Apr., and inquiries into the legal proceedings against the Dublin theatre rioters, 22 Apr., and currency reform, 12 June 1823. Townshend, who was commanding officer of the Grenadier Guards from 1821 until his retirement in 1830, voted against the abolition of flogging in the army, 5 Mar., and refuted allegations that it was routinely inflicted in his regiment, 11 Mar. 1824. He paired with ministers against inquiry into the prosecution of the Methodist missionary John Smith for inciting slave riots in Demerara, 11 June 1824. He divided for suppression of the Catholic Association, 25 Feb., and the duke of Cumberland’s annuity bill, 30 May, 2, 6 June 1825. He was in the minority against the second reading of the spring guns bill, 21 June 1825. Replying to opposition complaints against the housing of soldiers in barracks on the doorstep of Parliament at Charing Cross, 6 Mar. 1826, he declared that ‘the army would soon run to confusion and disorder if the barrack system were abolished’. On 10 Mar. he insisted that ‘gentlemen were much mistaken who thought that the discipline of the army could be maintained without corporal punishment’. He divided against Russell’s resolutions on electoral bribery, 26 May 1826.

At the 1826 general election Townshend made way for his nephew, but on the latter’s succession to the peerage early in 1831 he resumed the family seat. He voted against the second reading of the Grey ministry’s reform bill, by which Whitchurch stood to be completely disfranchised, 22 Mar., and for Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr. At the ensuing general election he offered again as an opponent of the bill, which he described as an ‘infernal nuisance’, and was returned unopposed.3 He voted against the second reading of the reintroduced reform bill, 6 July 1831. On 26 July he abandoned as futile his intention of pleading for a reprieve for Whitchurch ‘on the grounds of its being a burgage tenure’, but insisted that his motives for resisting reform were ‘honourable’:

If I for a moment thought that the ... [bill] was likely to be attended with advantage to my country, I would be among the foremost ranks in its support. But as, on the contrary, I conceive it to be fraught with danger and mischief to our constitution, I shall ever, with heart and hand, give my assistance in preventing it being made one of the laws of the land.

He divided against some of its details, 27 July, 2 Sept., and its passage, 21 Sept. He paired with the minority of diehards opposed to the Maynooth grant, 26 Sept. He voted against the second reading of the revised reform bill, 17 Dec. 1831, and was in the minorities against going into committee on it, 20 Jan., the enfranchisement of Tower Hamlets, 28 Feb., and the third reading, 22 Mar. 1832. He voted against the second reading of the Irish measure, 25 May. He divided against ministers on the Russian-Dutch loan, 26 Jan., but was in their majority against inquiry into military punishments, 16 Feb. He was in the minority of 17 against the malt drawback bill, 29 Feb. 1832. His parliamentary career ended with the disfranchisement of Whitchurch.

Townshend died unmarried at his home in Bolton Street, Piccadilly, in May 1843. By his will, dated 3 Apr. 1843, he left bequests of about £22,000, including £5,000 to his sister Lady Dynevor, £5,000 to each of his godchildren Lady Harriet Janet Sarah Moore and the Rev. Edward Moore, and £5,000 to his niece, Harriet Lucy Rice. His personal estate was sworn under £60,000. The residue passed to his nephew and executor Lord Sydney. At his request his burial pall was dressed in the ceremonial colours of the Grenadiers and his coffin carried to the family vault at Chislehurst by regimental survivors of Waterloo.4

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Authors: David R. Fisher / Philip Salmon


  • 1. Salisbury Jnl. 13 Mar. 1820.
  • 2. Black Bk. (1823), 198; Session of Parl. 1825, p. 487.
  • 3. Portsmouth Herald, 8 May 1831.
  • 4. Gent. Mag. (1843), ii. 202; PROB 11/1981/442; IR26/1657/489.