He was educated at a private school near Winchester and at Christ Church, Oxford. He then pursued a legal career and was called to the bar at Lincoln’s Inn in November 1793
He became M.P for Hastings in July 1798 and later represented Christchurch (1802-1812 and 1818-1826), Bandon (1815-1818), Ashburton (1826-1830), and Milburne Port (1830-1831).
Sturges-Bourne filled many minor ministerial and administrative posts. He was a joint secretary of the Treasury from 1804 to 1806; a lord of the Treasury from 1807 to 1809; and an unpaid commissioner for Indian affairs in 1814, also being raised to the Privy Council at that time. In 1818 he gave his name to the Sturges- Bourne Act, which rearranged the voting rights in vestries in order to favor property owners, who would thus gain more control over the local Poor Law arrangements. In April 1827 he accepted George Canning’s offer of the post of home secretary, but resigned from this post a few months later, in July, allowing the third Marquess of Lansdowne to take his place and accepting the alternative position of commissioner of woods and forests, which permitted him to retain his seat in the cabinet. In January 1828 he resigned all of his offices, and in 1831 he retired from the House of Commons. He died on 1 February 1845.