Dowdeswell, William, 1721-1775

Alternative names
Birth 1721
Death 1775-02-06

Biographical notes:

English politician.

From the description of Autograph letter signed : Pull Court, to Lord Rockingham, 1769 Sept. 7. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270527268

Epithet: politician

British Library Archives and Manuscripts Catalogue : Person : Description : ark:/81055/vdc_100000000508.0x0003d9

Epithet: MP

British Library Archives and Manuscripts Catalogue : Person : Description : ark:/81055/vdc_100000000508.0x0003d7

English politician-chancellor of the exchequer, etc.

From the description of Autograph signature to an order (for payment) : Treasury Chambers, 1765 Sept. 30. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270535206

British politician, William Dowdeswell (1721-1785), was the son of William Dowdeswell (1682--1728), landowner and politician, and Amy Hammond (d. 1728). He attended Westminster School, Oxford University, and the University of Leiden. In 1747, he married Bridget Codrington; they had 13 children. Between 1747 and 1754, Dowdeswell was the MP for Tewkesbury. For the next 6 years, Dowdeswell acted as a strategist and advisor for the Rockingham Whigs. He re-entered Parliament for Worcestershire in 1761 and held that seat, uncontested, until his death.

Throughout his political career, financial issues deeply interested Dowdeswell. He was a vocal advocate for the reduction of the army and navy, and gained prominence as an outspoken opponent of the Cider Tax in 1763. Dowdeswell warned of the inherent danger in the Townshend Duties, predicting American resistance to any duty for revenue purposes, yet believed Great Britain would lose sovereignty over the colonies if it did not maintain its right of taxation. When Lord Rockingham became prime minister in 1765, Dowdeswell was appointed chancellor of the exchequer. He remained loyal to Rockingham when William Pitt, 1st earl of Chatham, took over as prime minister in 1766, and he helped formulate policies that unified the Rockinghams during their years in opposition. Dowdeswell became Rockingham's principal spokesman in the House of Commons, and was his close friend and adviser.

Dowdeswell's health faltered in 1774 and, at his doctor's recommendation, he traveled to Nice, France, to recover. He died there in February 1775.

From the guide to the William Dowdeswell papers, Dowdeswell, William papers, 1765-1774, (William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan)


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  • Taxation--Great Britain--Early works to 1800
  • Taxation--Great Britain--Colonies--America
  • Elections--Great Britain--Middlesex--Early works to 1800
  • Tea tax (American colonies)


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  • Edinburgh, Scotland (as recorded)
  • London, England (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • Ireland (as recorded)
  • Great Britain (as recorded)
  • Ireland (as recorded)
  • Great Britain (as recorded)