BIDDULPH, Sir Theophilus (c.1612-83), of Austin Friars, London and Westcombe Park, Greenwich, Kent.
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Family and Education
b. c.1612, 3rd but 2nd surv. s. of Michael Biddulph of Market Street, Lichfield, Staffs., and bro. of Michael Biddulph I. m. 10 May 1641 (with £8,000), Susanna, da. of Zachary Highlord, Skinner, of Hart Street, London and Morden, Surr., 4s. (2 d.v.p.) 4da. Kntd. 16 June 1660; cr. Bt. 2 Nov. 1664; suc. bro. 1666.2
Member, Drapers’ Co. c.1637, asst. 1653, master 1657-8; freeman, E.I. Co. 1647, committee 1656-7, 1660-2; alderman London 29-31 July 1651, common councilman 1654-9, 1660-5, auditor 1655-7; commr. for assessment, London 1657, Jan. 1660-1, Kent Aug. 1660-1, Staffs. 1661-80, Kent, London and Lichfield 1664-80, Warws. 1673-80, militia, London 1658, 1659, Kent Mar. 1660; j.p. Kent Mar. 1660-81, Staffs. 1668-?82; commr. for oyer and terminer, London July 1660, sewers, Ravensbourne Sept. 1660; member, corp. for the propagation of the Gospel in New England, 1661; dep. gov. Irish Soc. 1662-3; commr. for recusants, Kent and Staffs. 1675.3
Biddulph was apprenticed to a London Draper in 1628. He went into business as a silk mercer, France and Italy being his chief sources of supply. ‘A sober, discreet man’, he preferred to fine off for alderman in 1651, but became an influential member of the common council and represented London in the second and third Protectorate Parliaments. In November 1659, with William Love and other City radicals, he opposed the appeal from the London militia officers to George Monck in Scotland as inimical to ‘the government of the Commonwealth’, but unlike them, he signed the City petition for the readmission of the secluded Members and the calling of a free Parliament. He was appointed to the committee to draft the City’s petition against the excise on 2 Mar. 1660, and that to prepare the City’s answer to the Declaration of Breda. He was knighted by the King as one of the delegation which presented it. He was on the committee to raise a loan of £100,000 in the City in August for disbanding the army, and gave evidence against Thomas Scot at the trial of the regicides.4
In 1661, no doubt with the assistance of his elder brother, Biddulph was returned to the Cavalier Parliament as a Member for Lichfield. He was an inactive Member, serving on only 50 committees. In the first session he was appointed to the committees for inspecting the disbandment accounts and the execution of those under attainder. During the second session he was a member of the committees for the bills concerning grants of offices in London, and the better ordering and collecting of the hearth-tax. Biddulph inherited the family’s Staffordshire estates in 1666, and began to build a new house at Elmhurst. His parliamentary activity sharply declined, though he was on the committee for the bill for rebuilding the city of London appointed on 4 Jan. 1667. He appears to have modified his political position in the course of this Parliament, since Shaftesbury first classed him in 1677 as ‘doubly worthy’, then changed him to ‘doubly vile’, and again listed him as ‘vile’ in 1679, though it was his son, not himself, who had been returned for Lichfield. However, in 1682 it was reported that Biddulph was among those planning to entertain Monmouth on his progress through Staffordshire. He died on 25 Mar. 1683, and was buried at Greenwich. He bequeathed £200 to Christ’s Hospital, and provided for the purchase of lands worth £300 p.a. to be settled on his wife and son.5