BEAUCLERK, Aubrey, Earl of Burford (1765-1815).

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. 21 Aug. 1765, 1st s. of Aubrey Beauclerk, later 5th Duke of St. Albans, by Lady Catherine Ponsonby, da. of William Ponsonby, 2nd Earl of Bessborough [I]. m. (1) 9 July 1788, Jane (d. 18 Aug. 1800), da. of John Moses of Hull, 1da.; (2) 15 Aug. 1802, Grace Louisa, da. of John Manners of Grantham Grange, Lincs., by Lady Louisa Tollemache, later s.j. Countess of Dysart, 1s. suc. fa. as 6th Duke of St. Albans 9 Feb. 1802.

Offices Held

Ensign 1 Ft. Gds. 1781; capt. 45 Ft. 1783; capt. 34 Ft. 1783, maj. 1789, lt.-col. 1789, ret. 1794.


Burford, a nephew of Lady Fitzwilliam, was approached by Earl Fitzwilliam, soon after his marriage to the Hull heiress Jane Moses,1 to become a candidate for Hull and thus revive the old Rockingham-Savile interest which before 1784 had been able to name one Member. He felt unable to come forward, however, without the support of his wife’s uncle and former guardian, Sir Henry Etherington, who was sympathetic to one of the sitting Members Walter Spencer Stanhope*, a leading negotiator of Burford’s marriage alliance.2 But Fitzwilliam, after unsuccessfully approaching Francis Ferrand Foljambe*, brought Burford forward shortly before the general election of 1790 and Etherington, after at first retiring to his country seat, was persuaded to give his support.3 With the backing of Fitzwilliam money he was able to force Spencer Stanhope’s retirement and prevent several third men from undertaking a contest. Although Fitzwilliam asked of him only a ‘small part of the expenses’, Burford had to find £2,500 and five months after the election apologized for not rendering prompt payment: ‘the difficulty of borrowing money when the security, though good, is not marketable, is the occasion of my not having yet fulfilled my engagement to you’. Burford, however, claimed that he had formed ‘a plan whereby the security will be indisputable’ and offered to pay interest ‘not from any idea of remaining much longer in your debt but for the length of time I have been already’. Fitzwilliam docketed the letter ‘desired him to let it remain as it now is, until it suits his convenience’. It in fact became convenient for Burford to pay only when he succeeded to the family estates 12 years later.4

There is no record of Burford, a weak and sickly man,5 having spoken in the House. He had joined Brooks’s Club on 16 Feb. 1788 and played whist there.6 He sided with opposition in the Oczakov divisions, by pair on 12 Apr. 1791 and by vote on 1 Mar. 1792, and was reckoned a supporter of repeal of the Test Act in Scotland in 1791, but was listed a Portland Whig in December 1792 and ceased to act with opposition. On 8 Aug. 1794, with his sights on a colonelcy, he asked the Duke of Portland to get him made a.d.c. to the King, referring to his 15 years’ service, four of them in America. The duke could make no promises. On 20 Sept. Burford wrote again, explaining that he had been in Ireland with his regiment ‘almost entirely these two last years’ and had just returned from Flushing with Lord Mulgrave. His regiment being now ordered to the West Indies, he wished to be granted leave for the present. On 30 Sept., finding the duke reluctant, he claimed that the private business (‘which is to be brought before Parliament’) that detained him was of such financial importance to him that, rather than forego it, he would resign the service— which he did. Possibly the pension granted the dukes of St. Albans by Charles II, which would terminate at his father’s death, was involved.7

Sharing his patron’s disillusion with Whig prospects, Burford retired from Hull in 1796. His address to his constituents stated:

Under the present circumstances of public affairs (critical and important as they must be allowed by persons, whatever opinions they may entertain thereon) I confess that I wish to retire from Parliament not because I relinquish the sentiments I have ever entertained on these important subjects, but because I find myself almost single in my adherence to them.8

Burford maintained his leanings towards the Whigs as a peer and died 12 Aug. 1815.

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: J. M. Collinge


  • 1. On the marriage alliance, see A. M. W. Stirling, Annals of a Yorks. House, ii. 199-215.
  • 2. Fitzwilliam mss, box 39, Burford to Fitzwilliam, 12 Dec. 1788.
  • 3. Ibid. Etherington to Fitzwilliam, 29 June 1790.
  • 4. Fitzwilliam mss, Burford to Fitzwilliam, 21 Nov. 1790, 22 July 1802.
  • 5. Gent. Mag. (1815), ii. 189.
  • 6. Lady Bessborough and her Family Circle, 72.
  • 7. Portland mss PwF320, 321, 323; PwV107; HMC Fortescue, viii. 72.
  • 8. Hull Advertiser, 21 May 1796.