BETHELL, Hugh (1615-79), of Rise, Yorks.
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Family and Education
b. 1 Oct. 1615, 1st s. of Hugh Bethell of Rise by Ellen, da. of Thomas Johnston of Bishop Burton. m. 14 Jan. 1641, Mary, da. and coh. of Thomas Mitchellbourne of Carleton, 1s. d.v.p. 1da. suc. fa. 1659; kntd. aft. 4 Sept. 1660.1
Capt. of horse (parliamentary) by 1643, col. by 1644-9, Jan.-Nov. 1660; gov. Scarborough Castle c.1649-51.2
Commr. for northern assoc., Yorks. (E. Riding) 1645, assessment 1649, 1657, Jan. 1660-d., Yorks. 1650-2, militia 1649, 1659, Mar. 1660; j.p. (E. Riding) 1649-76, Beverley 1657; sheriff, Yorks. 1652-3; commr. for scandalous ministers (E. Riding and Hull) 1654, sewers Sept. 1660, corporations, Yorks. 1662-3, dep. lt. (E. Riding) 1670-?76; commr. for recusants, Yorks. 1675.3
Bethell was a more active supporter of Parliament in the Civil War than his cousins in the other ridings. He served in the northern army and commanded a regiment at Marston Moor, where he lost an eye. His father served on a number of local commissions during the Interregnum, and he himself, after sitting in two of the Protectorate Parliaments, was ‘knighted’ by Richard Cromwell in 1658. He took part in the Yorkshire rising for a free Parliament led by Thomas Fairfax, 3rd Lord Fairfax in January 1660, and George Monck commissioned him to take over the regiment of horse formerly commanded by John Lambert, writing to the Rump:
He is a person of great interest in the northern parts, and often in the time of the Protector Oliver was offered a commission but refused it, and the regiment was much of it his before Lambert had it, and he is of unquestionable courage and faithfulness, which he eminently testified in the late interruption by raising the county for you.
When Lambert escaped from the Tower in April, Bethell prevented a rising in York by arresting the leaders before any serious trouble occurred.4
At the general election of 1660 Bethell was returned for both Beverley and Hedon, and chose to sit for the latter. Marked as a friend by Lord Wharton, his military duties presumably prevented him from taking much part in parliamentary activities. He was appointed to only four committees in the Convention, including those considering the revenue to be settled on the King and on the bill for settling ministers in their livings, both in July. His services were rewarded with a knighthood and a renewed crown lease of the manors of Rise and Hempholme at £20 p.a. He continued to represent Hedon in the Cavalier Parliament, in which he was again inactive. He was appointed to 46 committees, including the committee of elections and privileges in eight sessions. In 1661 he was nominated to the committee for the corporations bill and in 1663 he was added to the committee set up to examine the working of the law. Although still classed as a friend by Wharton, he was listed as a court dependant in 1664, presumably because he was anxious about his leases. He helped to inspect the militia laws in 1668, and in the following year Sir Thomas Osborne included him among the independent Members who usually voted for supply. Nor did he oppose the second Conventicles Act. His leases were renewed in 1670, though not on the terms he desired, but the Government still kept a hold on him through the fee-farm rents. He was among those appointed to consider the bill to prevent the growth of Popery in 1670 and to inquire into the condition of Ireland in 1674. Eventually in 1676 he was allowed to purchase the fee-farm rents on five years’ purchase, and when Parliament met after the long recess in 1677 he joined the country party. Shaftesbury marked him ‘thrice worthy’, he was named to the committee on the bill to prevent illegal exactions, and on 1 June 1678 during a debate on foreign affairs he acted as teller for the Opposition.5
Bethell was re-elected in 1679, and classed as ‘worthy’ by Shaftesbury. An active Member of the first Exclusion Parliament, he was appointed to ten committees, including the elections committee, and those set up to examine the disbandment accounts, to investigate abuses in the Post Office, and to consider the bills for the easier collection of hearth-tax and for continuing the prohibition on Irish cattle. He was one of the leading members of the committee appointed in April to examine the state of the navy. Although a member of the Green Ribbon Club, he was absent from the division on the exclusion bill. He was re-elected in the autumn, but died on 3 Oct. before the second Exclusion Parliament met. He was buried at Rise. As both his son and grandson had predeceased him, the estates went to a nephew, Hugh, who represented Hedon from 1695 to 1700 as a court Whig.6