LYGON, Hon. William Beauchamp (1782-1823).

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



3 Mar. 1806 - 21 Oct. 1816

Family and Education

b. 1782, 1st s. of William Lygon*, 1st Earl Beauchamp, and bro. of Hon. Edward Pindar Lygon* and Hon. Henry Beauchamp Lygon*. educ. Westminster 1795; Christ Church, Oxf. 28 Jan. 1801, aged 18. unm. Styled Visct. Elmley Dec. 1815-Oct. 1816; suc. fa. as 2nd Earl Beauchamp 21 Oct. 1816.

Offices Held

Commr. for Exchequer bills 1813, 1815.

Capt. S. Worcs. vols. 1803, lt.-col. 1803.


Lygon, ‘a most worthy and amiable young man’,1 survived a contest with William Henry Lyttelton* when he aspired to the county seat vacated by his father for a peerage in 1806. He resumed his canvass soon afterwards, in anticipation of a renewal of the contest at the general election, but he faced no others. He had voted for the Grenville ministry’s repeal of Pitt’s Additional Force Act, 30 Apr. 1806, and was listed among the ‘staunch friends’ of the abolition of the slave trade, but he transferred his support to the Portland ministry in 1807. He joined the minority, 17 Mar. 1809, against Perceval’s resolution on the Duke of York’s conduct, so strongly denounced by his colleague Lyttelton.

Lygon ‘refused without comment’ an invitation to move the address in January 1810, but voted for it, 23 Jan. On 26 Jan. he voted for inquiry into the Scheldt fiasco. Canning, who was prepared to stand by Perceval, reported him as saying, ‘if you had been in P’s place this would have been better managed’.2 He sided with ministers in the critical divisions on the inquiry that ensued. The Whigs listed him ‘against the Opposition’. He opposed the release of the radical Gale Jones, 16 Apr. 1810. He was a member of the conference with the Lords on the Regency bill and voted for it, 1 Jan. 1811. He opposed the bill to regulate offices in reversion, 7 Feb. 1812, and the attack on McMahon’s sinecure, 21 Feb. As anticipated, he voted against Stuart Wortley’s motion for a stronger administration, 21 May 1812, being one of the ‘respectable country gentlemen’ resolved to do so. He voted against Catholic relief, 22 June. On 25 June he was proposed by Castlereagh as a member of the committee of inquiry into Lincoln gaol, as a county Member, instead of William Wellesley Pole, which proposal was carried by 36 votes to 27. He was in the minority against the penitentiary grant, 1 July.

Listed a Treasury supporter after the election of 1812, Lygon voted against Catholic relief, 2 Mar. 1813, and again in 1816. He was a member of the select committee on the corn trade appointed in 1813. On 4 Mar. 1813, when it was doubted whether ‘any Member would execute so unwelcome a task’, he moved the exclusion of strangers (peers included) when Cochrane Johnstone threatened to air the grievances of the Princess of Wales and, on his deferring his motion, promised to do so on every occasion: he was as good as his word next day3 and again on 3 June 1814. He voted steadily with ministers in the critical divisions of 1815 and 1816, except for Milton’s amendment to the income tax, 1 May 1815, and the farm horse tax, 14 June 1816. The property tax renewal caused him some embarrassment. He was in favour of it and presented a petition to the same effect, 18 Mar. 1816; but it was discredited by his colleague and followed by a larger petition hostile to the tax, which he presented unobtrusively in a thin House, 27 Mar., as his colleague complained next day. On 13 May he was a ministerial teller. In October he succeeded to the peerage. He died 12 May 1823.

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: M. J. Williams


  • 1. Add. 29181, f. 94.
  • 2. Add. 35648, f. 279; Harewood mss, Canning to his wife, ?23 Feb. 1810.
  • 3. Colchester, ii. 430; Heron, Notes (1851), 11.