Lord William Henry Cavendish-Bentinck

MP (Whig)


Dates of tenure for Nottinghamshire 1796-1803 are approximate.

His major political career was a Governor-General of India 1828-35; his domestic career as an MP was undistinguished:

1796 Bentinck MP for the rotten borough of Camelford (Cornwall); but soon swapped it for Nottinghamshire, which was controlled by his family. Returned as MP for Nottinghamshire (1796–1803, 1812–14, 1816–26), but made little impact in the Commons

1816: retrieved his Nottinghamshire seat. Had little impact and political affiliation unclear: favoured suspension of habeas corpus in June 1819, but supported Roman Catholic relief, burgh reform, and Henry Brougham's demand for inquiry into the abuse of charitable foundations.

Claimed to be a Pittite and follower of George Canning; but his identification with reform agendas ‘stretched, and in some cases severed, his links with mainstream Pittites’.

1826: elected MP for King's Lynn on the strength of his landholdings and local ties. He resigned the seat on setting off for India, but retained control over it and passed it on to his nephew, Lord George Bentinck.

February 1836: elected MP for Glasgow (and again in the 1837 general election)

Campaigned on a radical reform platform: notably, franchise extension, the ballot, and opposition to the corn laws and church rates.

Infrequent participant at House of Commons.

'Like other whigs, he did not consider supporting some Liberal or even radical causes incompatible with his profiting from "Old Corruption". In addition to his large military and civil salaries, he held lucrative sinecures, notably the clerkship of the pipe in the exchequer (£1131 p.a.) for life. John Wade commented in his Extraordinary Black Book (1832), "look at this nobleman's offices, emoluments, and localities, and then think of the incongruities tolerated under the system".'

Source: Douglas M. Peers, ‘Bentinck, Lord William Henry Cavendish- (1774–1839)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

Elections / Constituences

Camelford Cornwall
Nottinghamshire Nottinghamshire
1796 - 1803 
Nottinghamshire Nottinghamshire
1812 - 1814 
Nottinghamshire Nottinghamshire
1816 - 1826 
King's Lynn Norfolk
1826 - 1828 
Glasgow Lanark
1836 - 1839