George Augustus Selwyn (politician)

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George Augustus Selwyn (11 August 1719 – 25 January 1791, age 71) was a Member of Parliament (MP) in the Parliament of Great Britain.

George Augustus Selwyn; Richard Edgcumbe, 2nd Baron Edgcumbe; George James Williams, by Henry Graves.


He was the eldest surviving son of John Selwyn MP of Matson House and his wife Mary, the daughter of General Thomas Farrington. He was educated at Eton College and Hart Hall, Oxford (1739) and studied law at the Inner Temple (1737). He succeeded his father in 1751, including the inheritance of Matson House in Gloucester.

Selwyn spent 44 years in the House of Commons without being recorded as making a speech. He put his electoral interest, as the person who controlled both seats in Ludgershall and one in Gloucester, at the disposal of the King's ministers (whoever they might be), because he was financially dependent on obtaining (a total of three) sinecure offices and a pension, which offset his expenses of bribing the electorate, and his gambling debts.

He was MP for Ludgershall in 1747–1754 and for the constituency of Gloucester 1754–1780. After he lost his interest in Gloucester, Selwyn was again member for Ludgershall from 1780 until his death in 1791. He was Mayor of Gloucester for 1758 and 1765.

He was also elected for the Scottish constituency of Wigtown Burghs in 1768, when he thought he might be defeated at Gloucester. He was the first Englishman to be elected to Parliament by a constituency in Scotland. He chose to retain the English seat.

Selwyn was a friend of Horace Walpole, and a member of the Hellfire Club.

He was known for his fascination with the macabre[1] and other forms of sexual eccentricity.[2] He was also a keen observer of public executions.[3] When Selwyn visited a dying Henry Fox, he was refused admission. When Fox learned of this he quipped, "If Mr. Selwyn calls again, show him up. If I am alive, I shall be glad to see him, and if I am dead, I am sure he will be delighted to see me!"[4]

He died unmarried in 1791 and was buried in the Selwyn vault at St. Katherine's church, Matson, Gloucester on 6 February 1791. However, the vault has since been filled in and the brass plate from his coffin is now to be found on a wall inside the church. He left his estate to his adopted daughter, Maria Emilia Fagnani, who married Francis Seymour-Conway, 3rd Marquess of Hertford.


Further readingEdit

  • History of Parliament: House of Commons 1754–1790, by Sir Lewis Namier and James Brooke (Sidgwick & Jackson, 1964)
  • Jesse, John Heneage, George Selwyn and his contemporaries, London : Bickers & Son, 1882, 2nd ed.; 1st edition, 1843–1844
  • George Selwyn; his letters and his life, edited by E.S. Roscoe and Helen Clergue, London, 1899.[5]
  • Sherwin, Oscar, A gentleman of wit and fashion: the extraordinary life and times of George Selwyn, New York : Twayne Publishers, (1963).
  • George Augustus Selwyn (1719–1791) and France : unpublished correspondence, edited by Rex A. Barrell, Lewiston, N.Y., USA : E. Mellen Press, (c. 1990).
  • The Ghosts of Piccadilly, Chapters IV & XIV, by G. S. Street, London: Constable & Company Ltd.
  • The Age of Scandal, Chapter named The Necrophilist by T.H. White


  1. ^ Wilson, Colin (1988). The Misfits: A study of Sexual Outsiders. Grafton. p. 17.
  2. ^ BBC History Magazine. February 2011 vol 12 no 2 pp 53–54. "George Selwyn, a necrophiliac, gay transvestite, sat mute, loved, and undisturbed in the House of Commons for 44 years."
  3. ^ John Marshall Gest (1999). The Lawyer in Literature. The Lawbook Exchange, Ltd. pp. 14–. ISBN 978-1-886363-90-8.
  4. ^ Tillyard, Stella (1995). The Aristocrats. Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
  5. ^ "Review of George Selwyn; his letters and his life edited by E.S. Roscoe and Helen Clergue". The Athenæum (3768): 75–76. 20 January 1900.

External linksEdit

Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
Charles Selwyn
Thomas Hayward
Member of Parliament for Ludgershall
With: Thomas Farrington
Succeeded by
Sir John Bland
Thomas Hayward
Preceded by
Charles Barrow
Benjamin Bathurst
Member of Parliament for Gloucester
With: Charles Barrow
Succeeded by
Charles Barrow
John Webb
Preceded by
Sir Peniston Lamb
Lord George Gordon
Member of Parliament for Ludgershall
With: Sir Peniston Lamb 1780–1784
Nathaniel Wraxall 1784–1790
Hon. William Assheton Harbord 1790–1791
Succeeded by
Hon. William Assheton Harbord
Samuel Smith