BARRINGTON, William Wildman, 2nd Visct. Barrington [I] (1717-93), of Beckett, Berks.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1715-1754, ed. R. Sedgwick, 1970
Available from Boydell and Brewer



13 Mar. 1740 - 1754
1754 - 24 May 1778

Family and Education

b. 15 Jan. 1717, 1st s. of John Barrington, 1st Visct. Barrington [I]. educ. under James Graham,1 schoolmaster at Dalston, Mdx.; Geneva 1735-8. m. 16 Sept. 1740, Mary, da. and coh. of Henry Lovell of Northampton, wid. of Hon. Samuel Grimston, s.p. suc. fa. 14 Dec. 1734.

Offices Held

Ld. of Admiralty Feb. 1746-Apr. 1754; master of the great wardrobe Apr. 1754-10 Oct. 1755; P.C. 11 Mar. 1755; sec. at war Oct. 1755-Mar. 1761; chancellor of the Exchequer 21 Mar. 1761-May 1762; treasurer of the navy June 1762-July 1765; sec. at war 19 July 1765-Dec. 1778; jt. postmaster gen. Jan.-Apr. 1782.


Barrington was returned as an opposition Whig in 1740 for Berwick, previously held by his father. His first reported speech was made on 4 Mar. 1741 against a bill for manning the fleet, on the ground that it would increase the electoral influence of the Government in coastal boroughs, such as Berwick. He remained in opposition after Walpole’s fall, moving unsuccessfully, 2 Dec. 1742, for a bill excluding pensioners from Parliament.2 On 6 Dec. 1743 he seconded another unsuccessful opposition motion for discontinuing the Hanoverians in British pay as from Christmas, stating that it would be better to pay them to join the French than to have them with us. At the beginning of 1744, after again opposing the retention of the Hanoverians, 18 Jan., he moved, 20 Feb., for the House to be supplied with all the intelligence received about the threatened French invasion, which he described as a figment of the ministry’s imagination, concocted to conceal their lack of real intelligence; and on 28 Feb., supported by Sir John Philipps and Admiral Vernon, he moved to postpone the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act. Both motions were heavily defeated, several leading opposition members, including Pitt, showing their contempt for the second by walking out of the House in the middle of Barrington’s speech.3 By the next session he had gone over to the Government, attaching himself to the Cobham group, with whom he discussed his prospects of office. ‘Tell Lord Barrington’, Richard Grenville wrote to his brother George, 8 Jan. 1745, ‘ ... since he will not be a lord of Trade, he may, I dare say, soon be a lord of whatever he pleases’.4 On 23 Jan. 1745 he ‘attempted to show that by voting against an army in Flanders last year, and for it this, he acted a consistent part’;5 in March he spoke in support of the Government on a vote of credit; and in February 1746, at the insistence of Lord Cobham,6 he was made a lord of the Admiralty, beginning an official career which lasted for over thirty years. He died 1 Feb. 1793.

Ref Volumes: 1715-1754

Author: Romney R. Sedgwick


  • 1. HMC Egmont Diary, iii. 268.
  • 2. HMC Egmont Diary, iii. 268.
  • 3. Yorke's parl. jnl. Parl. Hist. xiii. 138-9, 651-2.
  • 4. Grenville Pprs. i. 34.
  • 5. Yorke, op. cit. 1056.
  • 6. Owen, Pelhams, 293.