BRODRICK, Allen (1623-80), of Wandsworth, Surr.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Constituency

Dates

1660
1661

Family and Education

b. 28 July 1623, 1st s. of Sir Thomas Brodrick of Wandsworth by Catherine, da. of Robert Nicholas of Manningford Bruce, Wilts. educ. Magdalen Hall, Oxf. 1639; G. Inn 1642, called 1648; travelled abroad (Italy) c.1650. unm. suc. fa. 1642; kntd. 1 Aug. 1660.1

Offices Held

J.p. Mdx. July 1660-Jan. 1680, Surr. 1661-d.; commr. for oyer and terminer, Mdx. July 1660, assessment, Sept. 1660-3, 1673-9, Surr. 1661-80, Orford 1664-79, recusants, Surr. 1675.

Surveyor-gen. [I] Aug. 1660-7; comptroller of the pipe by 1661-?67; registrar of marine assurances 1662-d., commr. for settlement [I] 1663-9.2

MP [I] 1661-5.

Biography

Brodrick’s grandfather, a Yorkshireman by birth, became embroiderer to James I and settled in Surrey. While Brodrick’s younger brother was a Cromwellian officer in Ireland, he himself, who had been ‘taught foolish and wicked principles in religion by his father and his aunt’, took no part in politics until his royalist sympathies were aroused during the Interregnum by his kinswoman, Lady Morton. He became secretary to the Sealed Knot in 1656, and his letters of military intelligence to the exiled Court have been adjudged the most positive contribution made by this group. Mordaunt, the leader of the rival conspiratorial group known as the Great Trust, accused him of drunkenness, indiscretion, and Popish tendencies. Brodrick admitted the first charge, but retained the confidence of Sir Edward Hyde. He had hopes of a seat in Richard Cromwell’s Parliament, but is not known to have stood. Arrested on 1 Aug. 1659, he was released on bail three months later. With the collapse of the Sealed Knot he formed his own group of conspirators, including his cousins Sir Allen Apsley and Lord Falkland (Henry Carey), but achieved little or nothing.3

At the general election of 1660 Brodrick was promised seats ‘by four as probable persons as any in the nation’. His membership of the Sealed Knot had given him a useful connexion in East Anglia, and he was returned for Orford, probably on the interest of Lady Dysart, the first of the family to enter Parliament. He withdrew from the ballot for the deputation to be sent to the King in order not to be absent from the Convention. A moderately active Member, he made 18 recorded speeches and was appointed to 24 committees, including the committee of elections and privileges, the drafting committee, and the committee for the indemnity bill. He made himself responsible for liaison with the Cavaliers excluded from Parliament, writing on 3 May to Hyde:

I daily confer with the best men before the House sits, and deliver out notes of direction contrived by Mr [Geoffrey] Palmer and the ablest lawyers [and] perused by my Lord Southampton (to whom I constantly address) and the soberest statesmen: by which all with whom I had any former correspondence, and many new men, direct their votes.

He helped to draft the proclamation against recusants, to inquire into unauthorized Anglican publications, and to consider a proviso touching Col. John Hutchinson in the indemnity bill. In the debates on the religious settlement he took the Anglican line, defending the 39 Articles and refusing to separate doctrine from discipline. On 16 July he was given leave to speak twice about tunnage and poundage. He spoke in the debate on 30 July about settling ministers in their livings, and was appointed to the committee for the bill. He was also named to the revenue committee. On 6 Aug. he seconded a motion to oblige bishops and cathedral chapters to increase the allowances made to poor clergy out of the tithes in their possession, and on the following day he was able to read to the House the King’s instructions that no impropriations should be leased until the vicarages had been endowed to the value of £80 p.a. at least. Together with the Privy Councillors, he was sent to thank the King for his goodness and favour. He supported the Lords’ amendments to the indemnity bill, and was appointed to the committee to state the facts. He moved to defer the disbandment of the guards, and was among those ordered to manage a conference. His ‘natural affection’ for his kinswoman Mrs Hutchinson prompted him to continue his efforts to save her husband’s life and estate, though her ostentatious piety provoked him into telling her that ‘it is not now as God wills, but as we will’. He was named to the committee for the attainder and militia bills and desired to take care over the rights of purchasers of chapter lands. He was sent to the Lords on 12 Nov. to seek concurrence in two small grants of public money. On 27 Nov. he moved to lay aside the bill for modified episcopacy, ‘saying the King would suddenly call a new Parliament, and with them a synod’. He carried up the bill to enable Sir Harbottle Grimston to make leases of the Rolls estate. On 20 Dec. he acted unsuccessfully as teller for the Lords proviso to exclude the intruded dons from the college leases bill, and was among those ordered to prepare for a conference. A week later he was sent to ask Hyde for a patent for the Cromwellian clerk of the Parliament, William Jessop.4

Brodrick was rewarded for his services to the Restoration with a knighthood, a sinecure in the Exchequer and the post of surveyor-general in Ireland, which became the foundation of the family fortune. At the general election of 1661 he was reelected for Orford, and also returned for Callington and the Irish borough of Dungarvan; but he was unsuccessful at New Radnor. He was again moderately active in the Cavalier Parliament, with 114 committees, in five of which he took the chair. He was named to all the politically important committees in the first session, reporting on 3 July on Members who had failed to take the sacramental test. On 1 Feb. 1662 he carried up the marine assurance bill, which created for him the office of registrar. He helped to manage two conferences on London highways, and was sent to desire another on the exemption of Exeter House. On 16 Apr. he reported on compensation for court of wards officials. In the House, however, he was less useful to the Court than Henry Coventry, whom he succeeded as commissioner for the Irish land settlement, consequently missing the 1663 session. It was said that of the seven commissioners three were for the King, three for the English interest, and ‘one for himself, viz. Brodrick’. Listed as a court dependant in 1664, he was named to the committee for the conventicles bill. On 19 Jan. 1665 he reported a bill to make the Hampshire Avon navigable, in which his patron Hyde (now Lord Chancellor Clarendon) was interested as lord of the manor of Christchurch. He acted as teller for allowing the Government to borrow at more than the statutory rate of interest; the bill failed, but the practice continued, with Brodrick himself advancing £5,300 at 8 per cent. In the Oxford session he spoke against the bill to prohibit the import of cattle from Ireland, but was appointed to the committee. He was also named to the committee to attaint English officers in the service of the enemy. He returned from Ireland for the next session on 12 Oct. 1666, and in accordance with the King’s directions attended the House on the following day to speak and vote against the Irish cattle bill; but it was carried by 57 votes. On 29 Oct. he tabled a report on the corporate communion. Reporting to Ormonde on the slow progress with supply, he declared himself ashamed

at our own folly who depend on the King and are in truth able to carry any vote we firmly resolve within these walls; but to deal frankly with your Grace we are not directed as formerly, it being left to that accident of wind and tide, [which] in a populous assembly, drive at random. The consequence will be fatal if not timely prevented.

Brodrick and Apsley were described by Andrew Marvell about this time as Clarendon’s ‘two Allens’, leaders of the drunkards in the court party, a charge that is borne out by Sir Richard Ford in his account of their disorderly conduct in the House.5

Nevertheless on the eve of his downfall the lord chancellor begged Ormonde to send him back to England again, because ‘his presence here is of great use to me’. On 26 Oct. 1667 he denied that Clarendon had usurped authority over the Treasury or received £50,000 for passing Irish patents. Later in the session he himself came under attack for his conduct on the claims commission. He tabled a reply on 26 Mar. 1668, and was given leave to return to his duties, despite some opposition from Marvell and others. In the autumn four of the Irish land commissioners were questioned about their alleged mishandling of the Duke of York’s estate, part of which had been purchased from Brodrick. Nevertheless he was on both lists of the court party in 1669-71 among those Members reckoned as the Duke’s followers. He was among those ordered to receive information about seditious conventicles (is Nov. 1669) and to consider the renewed conventicles bill (2 Mar. 1670), and twice took the chair for an Oxfordshire estate bill designed to secure the interests of his kinswoman Lady Rochester. In a satirical account of the court party he was described as Clarendon’s ‘bribe-broker’, who had ‘got £30,000, but in keeping whores has spent a good part of it again’.6

Brodrick became much less active as a committeeman under the Danby administration, but ‘opposed the Court much in Parliament, which was generally imputed to his revenge, because of his patron’s disgrace’. In I674 he may have introduced the bill for easing sheriffs in their accounts, since he was the first Member named to the committee and reported the bill. He was also appointed to the committee for judges’ patents. His last important committee was to bring in a declaration bill against the suspending power on 20 Oct. 1675. His name appeared on the working lists, but Shaftesbury classed him as ‘worthy’. When Laurence Hyde was endeavouring to bring about a rapprochement between his brother and the Court, he wrote:

I would be glad Sir Allen Brodrick would come off a little, and be as forward as he should be in such a compliance; it may be such a contrary step in him to what he hath of late practised, might be more imputed to you than anything else of that kind would be.

However, there is no evidence that he modified his opposition. According to Burnet he had become ‘a strict and religious person. He had been very atheistical and wicked, but was as great an example as ever I knew of an eminent conversion before his death.’ In his will he declared himself an Anglican, and according to his funeral sermon, he read the Bible (especially the psalms) and attended prayers daily. It is unlikely that he stood in 1679, and on 13 May he wrote to Ormonde:

The revolutions since ’67 have appeared to me and my thinking friends the inevitable consequences of my old banishment. ... The House of Commons debauched by committee to serve that turn were never afterwards true to their trust, and a new method of retaining pensioners dissolved the very essence of that assembly, who represented not those that chose them, but those that fed them.

He died on 25 Nov. 1680, and was buried at Wandsworth. His nephew Allen became lord chancellor of Ireland and sat for Midhurst as a Whig from 1717 to 1728.7

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Authors: M. W. Helms / Paula Watson

Notes

  • 1. Misc. Gen. et Her. ii. 364.