LUSHINGTON, Stephen II (1782-1873), of the Inner Temple, London.

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



1806 - June 1808
1820 - 1826
1826 - 1830
4 Apr. 1831 - 1831
1831 - 1832
1832 - 1841

Family and Education

b. 14 Jan. 1782, 2nd surv. s. of (Sir) Stephen Lushington I*, 1st Bt. educ. Eton 1789; Christ Church, Oxf. 1797 BA 1802, fellow of All Souls 1802-21, MA 1806, BCL 1807, DCL 1808; L. Inn 1801, I. Temple 1801, called 1806. m. 8 Aug. 1821, Sarah Grace, da. of Thomas William Carr of Frognal, Mdx., 5s. 5da.

Offices Held

Adv. Doctors’ Commons 3 Nov. 1808; charity commr. 1818-34; commr. for building new churches 1825; chancellor, diocese of Rochester 1826-56, diocese of London, judge of consistory ct. 1828-58; judge of ct. of Admiralty 1838-67; PC 5 Nov. 1838 (member of judicial cttee.); bencher I. Temple 1840, reader 1850 treasurer 1851; dean of the Arches 1858-67.

Capt. Blickling and Gunton vols. 1803.


Dr Lushington’s brief parliamentary experience in this period was not a happy one. He came in for Yarmouth as a friend and colleague of Edward Harbord, whose father Lord Suffield was establishing an interest there and made the arrangement with Lushington’s father. They had ousted the ministerial candidates, but both men were inclined to support the Grenville administration, Lushington strongly so: William Windham* described him in December 1806 as ‘very much a friend of mine’. Although his family were West India proprietors, he was one of the ‘staunch friends’ of abolition, and both spoke and voted against the slave trade, 23 Feb. 1807; but his speeches of 10 Aug. 1807 and 13 Apr. 1808 showed that he was not unsympathetic to the plight of the West Indian commercial interest.1 He voted for Brand’s motion against the incoming Portland ministry, 9 Apr. 1807.

This conduct irritated his patron, whose elder son William Assheton Harbord* had complained to his father that Lushington’s conduct was ‘particularly observed’ and that he was currying favour with his constituents without regard to the Suffield interest.2 Re-elected in 1807, he felt obliged to imply in his election address that he was not an advocate of Catholic relief, but he continued to vote with the dismissed ministers and later used to boast on the hustings that if he had forsworn Catholic relief, he might have been rewarded with a place by the new government, which he would have refused to consider.3 When he voted with the minority on the address, 26 June 1807, Suffield remonstrated with him for acting as if his seat were ‘independently your own from your personal interest, or as gentlemen think they have a right to do for that Parliament into [sic] which by an actual payment of £5,000 or £6,000 they obtained a seat’. Suffield’s justification (to his son Edward) was this:

If I had a wish to ask any favour from administration and was to hint that I had brought my younger son into Parliament at a great expense and he will support the measures of government, what would or might not be the answer: ‘I know you did, but you must recollect that the same influence and at the same expense you also introduced into Yarmouth and Parliament a decided oppositionist ...’ If I had any ambitious view in engaging in a contest for Yarmouth, those purposes you have defeated.4

Lushington had taken the line that he had given no pledge.5 He went on to vote for Whitbread’s censure motion, 6 July 1807, and for Lord Cochrane’s motion next day against sinecures; to speak in favour of the parochial schools bill several times that month; to oppose the Irish arms bill, 7 Aug.; to tell for Burdett’s motion on the droits of Admiralty, 11 Feb. 1808; to vote against the orders in council (on which he also spoke) 3 Mar., for Calcraft’s motion on the mutiny bill, 14 Mar., and on 15 Mar. and 17 June 1808 against the Marquess Wellesley’s conduct in India, a subject on which he also delivered his longest speech to date. He introduced a motion critical of the conduct of Sir Home Popham*, 31 May 1808, having already attacked him on 11 Feb.: it was lost by 126 votes to 57. His votes of 3 Mar., 5 and 11 May 1808 indicated his support for Catholic relief.

In the spring of 1808 Suffield’s ambitious views led to a bargain with administration involving the replacement of Lushington by a Member friendly to government. He resigned and was out of Parliament, though at first ‘too anxious to return’, until 1820. Francis Horner* wrote of him, 26 Jan. 1809, as ‘my excellent friend Stephen, the denouncer of Sir Home Popham’, and added that he was ‘out of Parliament and working hard at Doctors’ Commons ... he has a very fair share of natural talents, though he has hitherto been idle after the manner of Oxford, but he is honest, intrepid, and good tempered. He is what an old Englishman would call a well conditioned man.’6

Lushington, who joined Brooks’s Club on 22 Mar. 1808, continued to see his Whig political friends ‘occasionally’, gained some notoriety as counsel to Lady Byron in her proceedings against her husband, and before the session of January 1818 wrote to Lord Folkestone to advocate a motion against the suspension of habeas corpus. Brougham thought that he should be ‘quite invaluable’ as a speaker in Parliament and Lord Sefton described him after the election of 1818 as one of the men of talent whom the Whig borough patrons had ignored. He was an active supporter of county meetings after the Peterloo tragedy in 1819, thinking that ‘the Whigs ought to come forward with their whole strength’. When he was informed by George Tierney* in January 1820 that a seat in Parliament could be found for him he replied:

Some three or four years since I had determined never again to engage in any parliamentary speculation however eligible: this resolution has in a degree been shaken when I have occasionally met with my political friends, and so I may have appeared inconsistent; but upon deliberation I deem it wisest to adhere to it, and to decline making any attempt to re-enter Parliament.

His reasons were ‘many and various’; but the chief were his 12 years’ absence and want of confidence, and the loss of ambition in that direction, especially when it involved ‘pecuniary sacrifice’.7 Yet he was persuaded to sit on Lord Darlington’s interest in the ensuing Parliament and sprang into prominence as third counsel for Queen Caroline. A forceful, if not a brilliant speaker, he distinguished himself both in Parliament and as a judge and died one of the ‘old giants’, 19 Jan. 1873, after seeing the realization of all the liberal objectives for which he had worked.8

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: R. G. Thorne


  • 1. R. M. Bacon, Mem. of Baron Suffield, 27; Add. 37885, f. 19; 51917 (Holland House mss list).
  • 2. Norf. RO, Suffield mss, Harbord to Suffield, 15 Apr. 1807, cited by B. D. Hayes, ‘Norf. Pol. 1750-1832’ (Camb. Univ. Ph.D. thesis, 1957), 115.
  • 3. Ipswich Jnl. 2, 16 May 1807; The Times, 29 Oct. 1832.
  • 4. Suffield mss, Suffield to Lushington, 29 June and draft n.d. [1807], cited by Hayes.
  • 5. Ibid. Lushington to Suffield, 24 May 1807, cited by Hayes.
  • 6. See GREAT YARMOUTH; Hants RO, Tierney mss 47; Horner mss 4, f. 18.
  • 7. Add. 51565, Brougham to Lady Holland, Tues.; 51566, Folkestone to Holland, 23 Jan. 1818; 51584, Tierney to same, 14, 21 Sept., Lungshington to Tierney mss 47.
  • 8. Grey mss, Tierney to Grey, Mar. 1820; Random Recollections of the House of Commons (1836), 255-6; DNB; D. Eltis, Jnl. of Caribbean Hist. (1970), i. 41.