William Dowdeswell (politician, born 1721)

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William Dowdeswell
Chancellor of the Exchequer
In office
16 July 1765 – 2 August 1766
MonarchGeorge III
Prime MinisterThe Marquess of Rockingham
Preceded byHon. George Grenville
Succeeded byHon. Charles Townshend
Personal details
Born1721 (1721)
Died6 February 1775 (aged 53–54)
Nice, France
Political partyWhig
Spouse(s)Bridget Codrington
Alma materChrist Church, Oxford
University of Leiden

William Dowdeswell PC (12 March 1721 – 6 February 1775)[1] was a British politician who was a leader of the Rockingham Whig faction.

Background and education[edit]

A son of William Dowdeswell of Pull Court, Bushley, Worcestershire, he was educated at Westminster School, at Christ Church, Oxford, then at the University of Leiden.[2] One of his fellow students was Baron d'Holbach. He spent the summer of 1746 with him at the uncle´s Messire François-Adam, Baron d’Holbach, Seigneur de Heeze, Leende et autres Lieux (ca. 1675–1753) estate Heeze-Leende.[3]

Political career[edit]

Dowdeswell became member of Parliament for the family borough of Tewkesbury in 1747, retaining this seat until 1754, and from 1761 until his death he was one of the representatives of Worcestershire. Becoming prominent among the Whigs, Dowdeswell was made Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1765 under the Marquess of Rockingham, and his short tenure of this position appears to have been a successful one, he being in Lecky's words a good financier, but nothing more.[2]

To general astonishment, he refused to abandon his friends and to take office under Chatham, who succeeded Rockingham in August 1766. Dowdeswell then led the Rockingham party in the House of Commons, taking an active part in debate until his death.[2]

In 1774 during the Parliamentary debate of the Boston Port Act he warned the act will "soon inflame all America, and stir up a contention you will not be able to pacify and quiet".[4]

Family and death[edit]

Dowdeswell married Bridget, daughter of Sir William Codrington, 1st Baronet, in 1747.

Dowdeswell went abroad to recover his health in 1774 but died the next February in Nice.[5] The highly eulogistic epitaph on his monument at Bushley was written by Edmund Burke.[2]


  1. ^ DOWDESWELL, William (1721-75), of Pull Court, Worcs. Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1754-1790, ed. L. Namier, J. Brooke., 1964
  2. ^ a b c d  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Dowdeswell, William". Encyclopædia Britannica. 8 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 457.
  3. ^ Holohan, David: Christianity unveiled by Baron d'Holbach. A controversy in documents. Hodgson Press, Kingston upon Thames (2008) ISBN 978-1-906164-04-1, p. 29
  4. ^ Great Britain. Parliament: The History, Debates, and Proceedings of Both Houses of Parliament of Great Britain from the Year 1743 to the Year 1774. In Seven Volumes. Vol. VII. J. Debrett, London (1792), p. 96
  5. ^ Jeremy Black, "The British and the Grand Tour", (1985), p. 128
Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
The Viscount Gage
John Martin
Member of Parliament for Tewkesbury
With: The Viscount Gage
Succeeded by
Nicolson Calvert
John Martin
Preceded by
John Bulkeley Coventry
Edmund Pytts
Member of Parliament for Worcestershire
With: John Ward 1761–1774
Edward Foley 1774–1775
Succeeded by
Edward Foley
William Lygon
Political offices
Preceded by
George Grenville
Chancellor of the Exchequer
Succeeded by
Charles Townshend