TOWNSHEND, Lord James Nugent Boyle Bernardo (1785-1842), of Yarrow House, Bintree, Norf.

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



1818 - 1832
1835 - 1837

Family and Education

b. 11 Sept. 1785, 6th s. of George Townshend†, 1st Mq. Townshend, and 2nd w. Anne, da. and coh. of Sir William Montgomery, 1st bt., MP [I], of Magbie Hill, Peebles; half-bro. of Lord Charles Patrick Thomas Townshend† and Lord John Townshend†. educ. Eton 1796; Harrow 1797-9. m. 8 May 1813, Elizabeth Martha, da. of P. Wallis, government cooper, of Halifax, N.S., s.p. KCH 1835. d. 28 June 1842.

Offices Held

Entered RN as midshipman, lt. 1806, cdr. 1806, capt. 1809, ret. 1840.

Maj. commdt. Norf. Rangers 1822; capt. Norf. yeoman cav. 1831.


Townshend, a naval officer, was returned for Helston for the second time in 1820 on his brother-in-law the 6th duke of Leeds’s interest, after a contest forced by an ‘independent’ party among the freemen.1 He was an almost silent Member who continued to give general support to Lord Liverpool’s ministry, but he was a poor attender. He presented a Helston petition for a small debts recovery bill, 11 May 1820.2 He was granted a fortnight’s leave on account of ill health, 5 July 1820, and another month for the same reason, 15 Mar. 1821. He voted against the removal of Catholic peers’ disabilities, 30 Apr., and presented a Helston corporation petition for repeal of the salt duty, 24 May 1822.3 He divided against inquiry into the borough franchise, 20 Feb., and the prosecution of the Dublin Orange rioters, 22 Apr. 1823. He voted for the Irish unlawful societies bill, 25 Feb., and against Catholic relief, 1 Mar. 1825. According to The Times, it was he who voted against the financial provision for the duke of Cumberland, 27 May 1825.4 He was returned unopposed for Helston at the general election of 1826.5

He divided against Catholic relief, 6 Mar. 1827, 12 May 1828. He was granted a week’s leave to attend the assizes, 23 Mar. 1827. He acknowledged the request from Peel, the leader of the Commons in the duke of Wellington’s ministry, to attend at the opening of the 1828 session, but explained that his arrival was likely to be delayed by a ‘severe fit of gout’.6 He presented a Helston anti-slavery petition, 12 June. He stated from personal experience that the fortifications at Dartmouth were ‘in good order’ and had ‘done good service’, 20 June. However, he voted against ministers to condemn the misapplication of public money for building work at Buckingham House, 25 June 1828. In February 1829 Planta, the patronage secretary, listed him as being likely to vote ‘with government’ for Catholic emancipation, which accorded with the wishes of Leeds, a member of the royal household; he paired for the measure, 18, 23, 27 Mar. 1829. He was granted a month’s sick leave, 1 Mar. 1830. At the general election that summer he was returned unopposed for Helston.7 The ministry regarded him as one of the ‘good doubtfuls’, who was one of their ‘friends ... where not pledged’, but he was absent from the crucial division on the civil list, 15 Nov. He was granted three weeks’ leave on account of the disturbed state of his neighbourhood, 2 Dec. 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. At the ensuing general election he was returned unopposed for Helston, which was scheduled to lose one of its Members.8 Shortly afterwards he was given command of the frigate Dublin on the South American station, and Leeds expected him to vacate, but in the event he retained his seat despite his absence from the House.9 He retired at the dissolution in 1832 but sat again for Helston as a Conservative from 1835 to 1837; contrary to the statement in an obituary, he never ‘voted with the Whig party’.10 He died childless in June 1842 and left all his property, including land in St. John’s, Newfoundland, to his wife; his personalty was sworn under £25,000.11

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: Terry Jenkins


  • 1. R. Cornw. Gazette, 11 Mar. 1820.
  • 2. The Times, 12 May 1820.
  • 3. Ibid. 25 May 1822.
  • 4. Ibid. 30 May 1825.
  • 5. West Briton, 9, 16 June 1826.
  • 6. Add. 40395, f. 158.
  • 7. West Briton, 7 Aug. 1830.
  • 8. Ibid. 6 May 1831.
  • 9. Wellington mss WP1/1184/27.
  • 10. M. Stenton, Who’s Who of British MPs, 1832-1885, p. 382; Gent. Mag. (1842), ii. 423-4.
  • 11. PROB 8/235; IR26/1625/554.