TOWNSHEND, Hon. Thomas (1701-80), of Frognal, Kent.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1715-1754, ed. R. Sedgwick, 1970
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1 Nov. 1722 - 1727

Family and Education

b. 2 June 1701, 2nd s. of Charles, 2nd Visct. Townshend, and bro. of Hon. Charles, William and Roger Townshend. educ. Eton 1718; King’s, Camb. 1720; L. Inn 1720. m. 2 May 1730, Albinia (d. 7 Sept. 1739), da. of John Selwyn of Matson, Glos., 3s. 2da.

Offices Held

Under-sec. of state to his fa. 1724-30; teller of the Exchequer 1727-d. ; sec. to ld. lt. [I] 1739-45.


Son of Walpole’s brother-in-law and nephew of the Pelhams, Thomas Townshend served as private secretary and under-secretary to his father, who procured him a life sinecure worth at the time of his death nearly £7,000 a year.1 After sitting for Winchelsea, he was returned in 1727 for both Hastings and Cambridge University, choosing the latter, which he represented for the next forty-seven years, after 1734 without opposition. He and his fellow member, Edward Finch, founded the Members’ prizes in 1752.

Townshend went out with his father in 1730 but continued to support the Government. In 1739 he was appointed secretary to the Duke of Devonshire, the lord lieutenant of Ireland. On 8 Sept. 1739 Henry Pelham wrote to Devonshire:

Poor Mrs. Townshend died yesterday in the afternoon which has put her whole family in the greatest distress; he is, as you may imagine, in as great affliction as is possible for any man to be, and of consequence at present utterly incapable of business ... The thoughts of men in his condition may alter, but to your Grace I venture to say, that in my own opinion he will scarce ever come out into any public way again ... I know your good nature will make you pity this unhappy young man, who besides having lost a very good companion, has lost one [who] managed their whole affairs, and to whom he left everything.2

As Pelham forecast, Townshend never again took any active part in politics. He died 21 May 1780.

Ref Volumes: 1715-1754

Author: Romney R. Sedgwick


  • 1. CJ, xxxviii. 708.
  • 2. Devonshire mss.