LASCELLES, William Saunders Sebright (1798-1851), of Harewood House, Yorks. and 13 Hanover Square, Mdx.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832, ed. D.R. Fisher, 2009
Available from Cambridge University Press



1820 - 1826
1826 - 1830
1831 - 1832
1837 - 1841
21 Apr. 1842 - 1847
1847 - 2 July 1851

Family and Education

b. 29 Oct. 1798, 3rd s. of Henry Lascelles†, 2nd earl of Harewood, and Henrietta, da. of Lt.-Gen. Sir John Saunders Sebright†, 6th bt., of Beechwood, Herts.; bro. of Hon. Henry Lascelles*. m. 14 May 1823, Lady Caroline Georgina Howard, da. of George Howard†, 6th earl of Carlisle, 7s. (3 d.v.p.) 5da. d. 2 July 1851.

Offices Held

Ensign 1 Ft. Gds. 1817, half-pay 1818, ret. 1837.

PC 22 July 1847; comptroller of household July 1847-d.


Lascelles, who supposedly joined the navy at an early age before transferring to the army,1 was returned for the family seat at Northallerton in 1820 in the room of his father, who succeeded as 2nd earl of Harewood shortly afterwards. He was an occasional attender and a silent Member who, like his father, gave general support to Lord Liverpool’s ministry. He voted in defence of their conduct towards Queen Caroline, 6 Feb., and against Maberly’s resolution on the state of the revenue, 6 Mar., and parliamentary reform, 9 May 1821. He was absent from the division on Catholic relief, 28 Feb. 1821, but voted against relieving Catholic peers of their disabilities, 30 Apr. 1822. He divided against more extensive tax reductions, 11, 21 Feb., reduction of the junior lords of the admiralty, 1 Mar., and abolition of one of the joint-postmasterships, 13 Mar. 1822. That autumn, the Whig Thomas Creevey* described him as being ‘of the most Tory cast’, and in January 1823 the patronage secretary Arbuthnot mentioned him as a possible mover or seconder of the address, observing that he was ‘very presentable’ but ‘probably not to be got at’; nothing came of this.2 He voted against inquiries into the prosecution of the Dublin Orange rioters, 22 Apr., and delays in chancery, 5 June 1823.

That spring he married into the Howard family, earls of Carlisle, whose politics and connections were largely Whig. Although Lord Harewood accepted the marriage, relations between him and the couple were strained at times, and the situation was no doubt exacerbated by the necessity of their living with him at Harewood and in London, as they could not afford to set up on their own. Lascelles had some heated exchanges, too, with his brother-in-law Lord Morpeth*, although his views became more tempered than those of his father and brother Henry. John Stuart Wortley* learned that ‘the old earl [his wife’s grandfather] is gracious and civil to him, which from what I had heard I hardly expected’.3 Lascelles presented a petition from Northallerton curriers against the combination laws, 16 Mar., and was added to the select committee on artisans and machinery, 2 Apr. 1824. He divided in the minority for repeal of the usury laws, 8 Apr. 1824, and paired against the grant for new church building the next day. He was named to the select committee on the export of machinery, 24 Feb., and added to that on the combination laws, 17 May 1825. In February he received a letter from his brother-in-law George Agar Ellis* urging him to attend the forthcoming debate on Catholic relief. Before the division on 1 Mar., according to Lady Spencer, he ‘went out declaring he could not vote with government and would have voted with us but for his father’. Edward Littleton* claimed that he had been converted by Plunket’s speech and that ‘he wrote to his father to announce himself a rat and ... though admonished, as I was told, on his conduct, refused to vote against the motion’.4 In fact, he became bolder and voted for relief, 21 Apr., 10 May 1825. In the spring of 1826, after a particularly heavy loss, he gave up gambling on horses, which had been his chief weakness.5 He paired against reducing the salary of the president of the board of trade, 12 Apr. 1826, and voted against reform of Edinburgh’s representation the next day. It was reported at the beginning of May that he had ‘just gone off to Yorkshire to command his troop of yeomanry, in case of its being wanted to suppress riots’.6 At the general election that summer he vacated Northallerton for Henry, possibly on account of disagreements with his father, but was returned for East Looe with the patron, James Buller Elphinstone. Around this time he joined the London debating society set up by John Stuart Mill.7

In October 1826 Agar Ellis advised Lord Harewood to seek a government appointment for his son. Lascelles’s wife was keen on the idea, believing that it ‘might open a career for him’, but she had ‘no hope of any result, as all [Harewood’s] feelings are against it’. This hostility apparently stemmed not from any political disagreement, but from the earl’s distaste for political life and official men, which was such that ‘it would make him very uncomfortable to think of William in the midst of it’.8 Lascelles was listed as dividing both for and against Catholic relief, 6 Mar. 1827, but he presumably maintained his favourable stance. He voted to go into committee on the spring guns bill, 23 Mar. The following month he welcomed the resignations of the duke of Wellington, Peel and other Protestant Tories, and his father-in-law, now Lord Carlisle, was one of the Whigs who took office in Canning’s ministry.9 Nevertheless, he voted in the minority against the Penryn disfranchisement bill, 28 May 1827. Early in January 1828 his wife was told that William Huskisson* had considered asking him to move or second the address on behalf of Lord Goderich’s ministry, but had not done so ‘as it might have been disagreeable to Lord Harewood’. Shortly afterwards Thomas Macaulay* reported that Lascelles was one of a number of men he had met in Leeds who shared ‘the universal opinion that none but a coalition ministry can stand or can deserve to stand’.10 He voted for repeal of the Test Acts, 26 Feb., and Catholic relief, 12 May. He divided against extending East Retford’s franchise to Bassetlaw freeholders, 21 Mar. He was absent from the East Retford division which prompted Huskisson’s resignation from Wellington’s ministry, 19 May, but was subsequently listed as one of the Huskissonite group by Lord Palmerston*. He voted in the minority against the East Retford bill, 27 June 1828. In February 1829 Planta, the patronage secretary, listed him as being ‘with government’ in favour of Catholic emancipation, and he voted accordingly, 6, 30 Mar. That autumn the Ultra leader Sir Richard Vyvyan* numbered him among the supporters of emancipation whose sentiments on a possible coalition ministry were unknown. He divided in the opposition minority on the incident at Terceira, 28 Apr. 1830, his only recorded vote of that session. At the dissolution that summer he did not stand again at East Looe, where a change of patron had occurred, and rumours that he might contest Pontefract came to nothing. He later wrote to Lady Carlisle congratulating her on Morpeth’s ‘glorious success’ in Yorkshire.11

At the general election of 1831 Lascelles replaced his brother as Member for Northallerton. He divided against the second reading of the Grey ministry’s reintroduced reform bill, 6 July. He voted for use of the 1831 census to determine the disfranchisement schedules, 19 July, and against the partial disfranchisement of Chippenham, 27 July, and the bill’s passage, 21 Sept. He paired against the second reading of the revised bill, 17 Dec. 1831, and voted against going into committee on it, 20 Jan 1832. He agreed with Wrangham that Northallerton rather than York should be the polling place for the North Riding of Yorkshire, 24 Jan., and added that Beverley would prove most inconvenient for the East Riding. He divided against the enfranchisement of Tower Hamlets, 28 Feb., and the bill’s third reading, 22 Mar., and paired against the second reading of the Irish bill, 25 May. He voted against ministers on the Russian-Dutch loan, 26 Jan., 12 July 1832. The opening of Northallerton by the Reform Act meant that he was left without a seat at the general election later that year, though he may have been the Lascelles who was reportedly pressed by the Conservatives to contest Pontefract.12 He returned to the House as a Conservative in 1837 and supported repeal of the corn laws in 1846, but the following year he came in as a Liberal and received a household appointment. He died in July 1851 and left all his real and personal estate to his wife.13


Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: Martin Casey


  • 1. Howard Sisters, p. x.
  • 2. Creevey mss, Creevey to Miss Ord, 19 Sept. 1822; Add. 38744, f. 49.
  • 3. Howard Sisters, 32, 70, 97, 104; Add. 52011, Stuart Wortley to H.E. Fox, 10 Sept. 1823.
  • 4. Add. 75938, Lady to Lord Spencer, 4 Mar. 1825; TNA 30/29/6/3/93.
  • 5. Howard Sisters, 54.
  • 6. Northants. RO, Agar Ellis diary, 1 May 1826.
  • 7. Macaulay Letters, i, 232.
  • 8. Howard Sisters, 58-59.
  • 9. Ibid. 66, 68.
  • 10. Ibid. 97; Macaulay Letters, i. 232.
  • 11. Leeds Mercury, 10 July; Castle Howard mss, Lascelles to Lady Carlisle, 7 Aug. 1830.
  • 12. Staffs. RO, Stafford Jerningham mss D641/3/P/3/14/68.
  • 13. Gent. Mag. (1851), ii. 193; PROB 11/2136/574; IR26/1906/477.