Maximilian Gowran Townley (22 June 1864 – 12 December 1942) was a British land agent, agriculturist and politician. He served one term in Parliament as a Conservative, and later campaigned for policies to support agriculture. At the end of his life he chaired the River Great Ouse Catchment Board, where he attempted to prevent damage to Fenland farms caused by regular flooding.
Townley was the fifth son of Charles Watson Townley, who was Lord Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire from 1874 to 1893, and was born at Fulbourn. He attended Eton College and Trinity College, Cambridge. He went into business as a land agent to Lord St John of Bletso based in Melchbourne near Sharnbrook in Bedfordshire. In 1908 he was appointed as a Justice of the Peace of the county of Bedfordshire. He was also Chairman of Norfolk Estuary Company.
In September 1911, Townley was unanimously adopted as the Conservative candidate for Wisbech or North Cambridgeshire division, a seat held narrowly by Hon Neil James Archibald Primrose for the Liberal Party. However, when Primrose was killed during the First World War, the Conservative Association felt obliged to endorse the Liberal candidate Colin Coote by the terms of the electoral pact. During the war, Townley was a temporary Major in the Remount Service, attached to General Headquarters.
Townley was adopted as Conservative candidate for Mid Bedfordshire on 18 November 1918, where he received the Coalition Coupon in opposition to Sir Arthur Black, incumbent MP for Biggleswade who was a Liberal supporter of H. H. Asquith. He won the seat with a majority of 1,721, In Parliament, Townley concentrated on agricultural issues on which he had professional knowledge; he was a member of a delegation from the Agriculture Committee of the House of Commons to see the Prime Minister in July 1919.
When the Agriculture Bill was before Parliament in 1920, Townley defended the inclusion of a clause giving compensation to agricultural tenants for disturbance by their landlords, arguing it would not harm any good landlord. He made it clear that his commitment to agriculture dominated other issues, joining a protest in July 1921 against the Government’s Corn Production Acts (Repeal) Bill which removed subsidy. Townley asked rhetorically what the Government intended to do with ex-servicemen who had been encouraged to go into farming, and whether it was better “to spend money on British agriculture than to seek to make Palestine a land fit for Hebrews to live in?” He was within the mainstream of the Conservative Party in general, not joining with the right-wing in seeking to limit spending. He opposed making British Summer Time permanent.