RASHLEIGH, Philip (1729-1811), of Menabilly, nr. Fowey, Cornw.

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



21 Jan. 1765 - 1802

Family and Education

b. 28 Dec. 1729, 1st s. of Jonathan Rashleigh of Menabilly by Mary, da. of Sir William Clayton, 1st Bt., of Marden, Surr. educ. New Coll. Oxf. 1749. m. 17 Apr. 1782, his cos. Jane, da. of Rev. Carolus Pole. gd.-da. of Sir John Pole, 3rd Bt., s.p. suc. fa. 1764.

Offices Held


Rashleigh was the seventh of his family to represent Fowey in two centuries and ‘father of the House’ on his retirement in 1802. In 1790, after a double return, he was not confirmed in his seat until 7 Mar. 1791. Of this he wrote, 5 Nov. 1790, ‘my ambition to sit in Parliament is not so great as to give my friends the trouble they are so kind to take for me, unless I had stood in the particular situation of inheriting a claim which I cannot tamely give up’.1 His conduct continued to be that of a thoroughly independent country gentleman, critical of ‘a general reform’ and of radicals, who was prepared to support Pitt’s administration as long as he agreed with its measures, which he usually did. In 1791 he was listed among opponents of repeal of the Test Act in Scotland. On 1 June 1795, however, he divided with the minority for Sumner’s amendment on the Prince of Wales’s debts. In November 1795 he organized a county meeting in favour of the ‘treason and sedition bills’.2 On 29 Feb. 1796, apologizing for not being accustomed to address the House, he spoke in favour of postponing the report on the amendments to the personal succession tax bill, in which he was not successful. He objected to the bill, which he said would lead to nobody being willing to be an executor and, seconding Alderman Newnham’s opposition to it on 22 Mar., he claimed that the exposure of the state of a person’s financial affairs which it entailed would be very damaging to traders. On the third reading, 5 Apr., he further objected to a clause in the bill which he could not understand. The same objections applied, in his view, to the real succession tax bill, 5 May, and he was especially opposed to a tax on mines and fisheries: he failed to secure its postponement.

On 7 Apr. 1797 Rashleigh spoke against the exportation of barley. He divided with the minority on the second reading of the land tax redemption bill, 23 Apr. 1798, and particularly objected to a clause in it allowing trustees to sell freehold property to purchase the land tax, 30 May. He voted against the land tax bill on 9 May. On 18 May he voted for deferring it and also for Sir Robert Buxton’s proposal that there should be no new land tax without taxing all property. His last known speech, 18 June 1799, was on the difficulties of the copper trade, on which he attended the committee.

Rashleigh’s attendance after 1794 was affected by crippling rheumatism. Before Parliament opened in 1796 he informed his colleague Pole Carew ‘I have no inclination to fling away £50 in a journey to add one more to a majority on an address’.3 On 14 Dec. 1796 he obtained six weeks’ leave of absence. He was a great expert on mineralogy, and his collection of minerals, especially tin, was catalogued in his Specimens of British Minerals (1797, 1802). Rashleigh retired, 24 June 1802, though his correspondence shows that he had not lost interest in public life, despite increasing infirmities. He died 26 June 1811, ‘without a single groan or struggle’. William Rashleigh* was his heir. Another nephew John Colman Rashleigh, reported that his uncle had ‘outlived his faculties’, but was ‘a perfect model of an English country gentleman’ and ‘an independent Member of Parliament’.4

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: R. G. Thorne


  • 1. Gent. Mag. (1811), i. 683; Pole Carew mss CC/K/20, 22, Rashleigh to Pole Carew, 5 Nov. 1790, 12 June 1792.
  • 2. Pole Carew mss CC/K/25, Rashleigh to Pole Carew, 25, 27 Nov. 1795.
  • 3. Ibid. CC/K/24, 26, same to same, 17 May 1794, n.d. [1796].
  • 4. Boase and Courtney, Bibliotheca Cornub. ii. 547; Pole Carew mss CC/L/44, Rashleigh to Pole Carew, 26 June 1811; Cornw. RO, T/S ‘Mems. of J. C. Rashleigh’, iii. 5.