DE PONTHIEU, John (1765-1813), of 43 Portland Place, Mdx. and Esher, Surr.

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



1806 - 1807
24 Mar. 1810 - 1812

Family and Education

b. 27 Apr. 1765, 2nd but 1st surv. s. of Henry de Ponthieu, ‘general merchant’ and naturalist, of Princes Street, Bedford Row, Mdx. by w. Anne (d.1817). educ. by R. Bland, Bromley by Bow. ?unm. suc. fa. 1808.

Offices Held

Writer, E.I. Co. (Bombay) 1783, factor 1790; sec. and accountant to military board 1795; home by 1801.


De Ponthieu’s father Henry was the second son of Josias de Ponthieu,1 a Huguenot merchant of London, whose father Messire Charles de Ponthieu was a refugee officer from Saintonge, married in London in 1691 to Marguerite de la Rochefoucald and naturalized in 1707.2 Henry de Ponthieu, whose sister Elizabeth married John Wilkes’s brother Isaac, seems to have been associated with the West Indian house of de Ponthieu and Egerton of Friday Street (1749), afterwards of 36 Coleman Street (1770), but went bankrupt in 1774.3 He had in any case spent much of his time in the West Indies (his brother John had been a Grenada merchant) collecting specimens of plants and fish, which he handed over to Sir Joseph Banks for the Royal Society. Under the latter’s patronage he returned to Antigua, provided with a minor place, to pursue his scientific interests.4 His son was a partner in the firm of Bruce, de Ponthieu, Bazett & Co., East India agents, of 7 Tokenhouse Yard (1803), afterwards of 71 Broad Street (1808) until his death, and bought a residence at Esher, where his parents spent their later years. He was an East India Company stockholder, who had spent his youth at Bombay in the Company service.5

Like his business partners Patrick Craufurd Bruce*, George Simson* and Henry Fawcett*, de Ponthieu sought to purchase a seat in Parliament6 and came in on two different occasions for short periods, without making any mark there. His first seat was for Helston, as a guest of (Sir) Christopher Hawkins*. The Grenville ministry evidently expected him to support them, but he was in the minority on the Hampshire election petition, 13 Feb. 1807, and Lord Grenville’s agent, writing to him in November about friends for whom seats were to be found, thought ‘Mr de Ponthieu should be excepted’.7 Nevertheless, when he next came in on a vacancy in 1810, he seems to have voted more often than not with opposition, as Lord Liverpool complained in a letter to Lord Harewood, who had been de Ponthieu’s patron, 21 Sept. 1812, adding that he would prefer a friend of his administration to be returned. Creevey described de Ponthieu as a Wellesleyite, probably because of his East Indian connexions and perhaps without justification. His known votes were against ministers on the Scheldt inquiry, 30 Mar. 1810; with them on the Regency, 1 Jan. 1811; but against them on the offices in reversion bill, 7 Feb. 1812, McMahon’s sinecure, 24 Feb., and on Stuart Wortley’s motion, 21 May. On 21 Mar. 1811 he was added to the select committee on Indian affairs.8 De Ponthieu retired in 1812 and died, said to be aged 46, on 26 Apr. 1813. He was buried with his parents at Esher, where his memorial inscription described him as ‘just, honourable and upright. His liberality was as prompt as his charity was diffuse.’ In his will, dated 1803 and contested by his business partners, he referred to premises in Bombay and left £20,000 to his unmarried sister Ann.9

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: R. G. Thorne


  • 1. By another Huguenot, Anne Beaufils: D. C. Agnew, French Protestant Exiles, ii. 124.
  • 2. Ibid. ii. 101, 144; Naturalizations 1701-1800 (Huguenot Soc. Publ. xxvii), 57.
  • 3. Gent. Mag. (1774), 391.
  • 4. Banks Letters ed. Dawson, 679-80, 882.
  • 5. Gent. Mag. (1808), ii. 1045; (1817), ii. 379; India Office Lib. J/1/11, ff. 147-50.
  • 6. Lancaster Gazette, 15 Nov. 1806. The Johnstone mss (Cornw. RO, DDJ 2104) contain a letter of de Ponthieu’s arranging an interview with Hawkins, dated merely 28 Apr.
  • 7. Fortescue mss, Fremantle to Grenville, 15 Nov. 1807.
  • 8. Add. 38328, f. 41; Whitbread mss W1/384.
  • 9. Gent. Mag. (1813), i. 495; Univ. Coll. London, French hosp. coll. Wagner ped.; PCC 542 Heathfield.