ROWLEY, Sir William, 2nd. Bt. (1761-1832), of Tendring Hall, Suff.

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



1812 - 1830

Family and Education

b. 10 Feb. 1761, 1st s. of Adm. Sir Joshua Rowley, 1st Bt., by Sarah, da. and h. of Bartholomew Burton, dep. gov. Bank of England, of Petersham, Surr. educ. Harrow 1774. m. 23 Mar. 1785, Susanna Edith, da. of Adm. Sir Robert Harland, 1st Bt., of Sproughton, Suff., 5s. 6da. suc. fa. as 2nd Bt. 26 Feb. 1790.

Offices Held

Lt. and capt. 96 Ft. 1780, 3 Ft. Gds. 1782-6; lt.-col. commdt. Suff. vol. cav. 1798.

Sheriff, Suff. 1791-2.


Rowley joined Brooks’s Club, sponsored by Fox, on 28 Apr. 1790, soon after coming into Tendring, which he rebuilt. He was a nephew of Clotworthy Rowley* and cousin of Samuel Campbell Rowley* and William Rowley*. He would have liked to offer for the county in 1796, but was precluded by an undertaking not to oppose the candidature of Viscount Brome. He stipulated that he would take advantage of the next vacancy. It arose on Brome’s succession to the peerage in 1805, but the sense of the county was against him, despite Fox’s blessing, and he did not then persevere.1 The retirement of Bunbury in 1812 gave him his opportunity.

Rowley is not known to have spoken in the House before 1820, but he was a steady supporter of the Whig opposition and, as such, cancelled his colleague Gooch’s votes on the other side. He supported Catholic relief as steadily as Gooch opposed it. Critical divisions apart, he was in the minorities against the East India Company trade monopoly, 17 June 1813, and against the resumption of war with Buonaparte, 28 Apr., 25 May 1815. He sat on the corn trade committee (from 7 Apr. 1813) and his house in Welbeck Street was attacked by the London mob because of his support of the corn bill in 1815. He voted against ministers on foreign policy questions, 1814-16, and regularly supported retrenchment. He opposed the suspension of habeas corpus in February and June 1817. He was for inquiry into the trade depression, 13 Mar. 1817, and opposed the public lottery, 19 May. He was advanced enough to support Burdett’s reform motion, 20 May 1817, and Heron’s for the repeal of the Septennial Act, 19 May 1818. His attendance was limited in the latter session, the only other votes known being against the ducal marriage grants, 13, 15 Apr., and for the Bank resumption of cash payments, 1 May. He was of the Poor Laws committee that session and in 1819. He received radical support for his conduct on seeking re-election in 1818.2

Rowley signed the requisition to Tierney to lead the Whig opposition in the House after his re-election. He voted for Tierney’s motion for a committee on the Bank, 2 Feb. 1819, and, after an interval of illness, resumed steady opposition by 18 Mar. He supported burgh reform, 1 Apr., 6 May. His opposition to the malt and excise duties in June was reinforced by constituency pressure. He supported inquiry into the abuse of charitable foundations, 23 June. In the next session he voted in the minority until 6 Dec., when he supported the attempt to limit the duration of the seditious meetings bill to three years. He died 20 Oct. 1832.

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: Winifred Stokes


  • 1. Gent. Mag. (1833), i. 83; Add. 53805, ff. 43, 44; PRO 30/8/170, f. 356; Bury Post, 30 June 1802; Sidmouth mss, Rous to Sidmouth, 6 July 1806.
  • 2. Geo. IV Letters, ii. 537; The Late Elections (1818), 328-35.