HARCOURT, George William Richard (1775-1812), of Bagshot, Surr.

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



28 Oct. 1796 - Apr. 1800

Family and Education

b. 9 Feb. 1775, 3rd s. of John Harcourt of Ankerwycke, Bucks. by 2nd w. Margaret Irene, da. of John Sarney of Somerset House, Westminster; bro. of John Simon Harcourt*. unm.

Offices Held

Ensign 3 Drag. Gds. 1793; capt. 24 Drag. 1794, maj. 1795; lt.-col. 40 Ft. 1795, 12 Ft. 1799; col. 1803, maj-gen. 1810.

Gov. St. Croix 1808-d.


In 1795, as his mother informed the prime minister, Harcourt (a godson of the King) secretly accepted an invitation to offer himself as a ministerial candidate at Totnes. As the election approached, it became clear that there were three candidates, none of them anti-ministerial, so she begged Pitt to remove one of them to Honiton for her son’s benefit.1 This manoeuvre failed and Harcourt was defeated. Soon afterwards he found an opening, as a paying guest of the 4th Earl of Abingdon at Westbury. A professional soldier ambitious of a colonelcy,2 he seems to have spoken only once in the House, in defence of Pitt’s cavalry augmentation bill, 13 Dec. 1796. He was also teller for the bill. In 1800 he made way for his elder brother and resumed his military career, in India. He was an emissary between Lord Wellesley and the government in 1802 and Addington wrote of him on his return to India, ‘I do not know a more zealous and honourable man’, despite some unexplained ‘peculiarity and awkwardness’ in his circumstances ‘before he went to Boulogne’.3

Harcourt served with distinction in the Mahratta campaigns and acted as military secretary to Wellesley.4 On his return to England he made another bid to enter Parliament, standing as a ministerialist at Lincoln in the by-election of January 1808. He was defeated and promised to stand again, but his affairs were in disarray and his appointment as governor of St. Croix saved the situation. He died there 19 Dec. 1812.

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: R. G. Thorne


  • 1. PRO 30/8/177, f. 239.
  • 2. PRO 30/8/142, f. 32.
  • 3. Wellesley Pprs. i. 154.
  • 4. Add. 13608-10 passim.