Bourne, William Sturges- (DNB00)


BOURNE, WILLIAM STURGES- (1769–1845), politician, the only son of the Rev. John Sturges, D.D., chancellor of the diocese of Winchester, by Judith, daughter of Richard Bourne, of Acton Hall. Worcester, was born on 7 Nov. 1769. After having been at a private school near Winchester, where he made the acquaintance of Canning, he entered the college where he remained as a commoner until 1786. In the Michaelmas term of that year he matriculated at Christ Church, Oxford; and as Canning was at the same house, their friendship was renewed and never interrupted. His degrees were B.A. 26 June 1790, M.A. 28 June 1793, and D.C.L. 15 June 1831. He was called to the bar at Lincoln's Inn on 23 Nov. 1793, and entered into public life as member for Hastings on 3 July 1798. During his parliamentary career he represented many constituencies in turn: Christchurch from 1802 to 1812 and from 1818 to 1826, Bandon 1815-18, Ashburton 1826-30, and Milburne Port 1830-1. On the death in 1803 of his uncle, Francis Bourne, who had assumed the name of Page, the bulk of his wealth came to Sturges, coupled with the condition that he should assume the name of Bourne. He refused the post of under-secretary of the home department in 1801, but acted as joint-secretary of the treasury from 1804 to 1806, and as a lord of the treasury from 1807 to 1809, when he resigned with Canning. In 1814 he was created an unpaid commissioner for Indian affairs, was raised to the privy council, and from 1818 to 1822 served as a salaried commissioner. Sturges-Bourne had more than once refused higher office in the state; but on the formation, in April 1827, of Canning's administration he consented to hold the seals of the home department. He only retained this place until July in the same year. When he resigned the home department in favour of Lord Lansdowne, he accepted the post of commissioner of woods and forests, and retained his seat in the cabinet. In January 1828 he resigned all his offices with the exception of the post of lord warden of the New Forest, and in February 1831 he retired from parliament. His name is commemorated by an act for the regulation of vestries passed in 1818 (58 Geo. III, c. 69), which is still in force, and is usually called after him Sturges-Bourne's Act. He died at Testwood House, near Southampton, on 1 Feb. 1845, and was buried at Winchester Cathedral. He married, on 2 Feb. 1808, Anne, third daughter of Oldfield Bowles of North Aston, Oxford. His manner was not impressive, and his speech was ineffective; but he had much knowledge of public affairs, and his opinions were highly valued in the House of Commons.

[Gent. Mag. (1808), 169, (1845) pt. i. 433-4, 661; Stapleton's Canning, iii. 343, 426; Return of Members of Parliament.]

W. P. C.