COMPTON, Sir Francis (c.1629-1716), of Hamerton, Hunts. and Kew, Surr.
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Family and Education
b. c.1629, 5th s. of Spencer Compton†, 2nd Earl of Northampton; bro. of Sir Charles Compton and Sir William Compton. educ. privately (Dr Peter Gunning) m. (1) Elizabeth, da. and coh. of Sir Capel Bedell, 1st Bt.†, of Hamerton, s.p.; (2) lic. 20 June 1664, Jane (d. Apr. 1677), da. of Sir John Trevor† of Trevalun, Denb., wid. of Arthur Elmes of Lilford, Northants., 2s. 3da.; (3) Mary, da. of Samuel Fortrey of Kew, wid. of Sir Thomas Trevor, 1st Bt., of Enfield, Mdx. and Leamington, Warws., s.p.; (4) 16 Aug. 1699, Sarah, niece of Anthony Rowe of Whitehall, 1da. Kntd. 27 Dec. 1661.1
Lt. R. Horse Gds. (The Blues) Feb. 1661, capt. Nov. 1661, maj. 1676, lt.-col. 1678-Dec. 1688, 1689-d.
J.p. Hunts, July 1660-?85, Surr. 1680-3, by 1700-?d., Warws. 1690-1, by 1701-?d.; commr. for assessment, Hunts. Aug. 1660-80, Northants. and Warws. 1664-80, Denb. and Warws. 1689, Denb. 1690; dep. lt. Hunts. c. Aug. 1660-?84; commr. for loyal and indigent officers, Hunts. 1662, complaints, Bedford level 1663.
Jt. surveyor and receiver of greenwax fines 1677-9.2
Compton’s first marriage and purchase of the other moiety of the Bedell estate presumably took place before the Restoration, for he was credited on the list of proposed knights of the Royal Oak with an income of £2,000 p.a. In the words of Sir Philip Warwick he
was of so tender age that he came not into play till his present Majesty’s happy restitution; but since showed himself in the command he hath of a troop of horse in his Majesty’s guard here at home, and abroad in Flanders, equal to his brothers.
His eldest brother, the third earl, was lord lieutenant of Warwickshire, and presumably arranged his return for Warwick at a by-election in 1664 with Lord Brooke, the patron of the borough. He celebrated his election by carrying off the wealthy widow Elmes under the noses of his rivals Sir John Chicheley and (Sir) Thomas Crew. He was not an active Member, serving on only five committees of elections, nine for private bills and 12 others. He was appointed to the committee for the continuance of the Conventicles Act in 1669, and his name appeared on both lists of the court party. He received the government whip for both sessions in 1675, perhaps unnecessarily, as he was to introduce a private bill of his own for the sale of his first wife’s estate, presumably to meet the expenses of a career in The Blues. (Sir) John Berkenhead took the chair in the committee, and the bill received the royal assent on 9 June. On 21 Oct. Compton was appointed to the committees for appropriating the customs for the use of the navy and preventing illegal exactions. He also acted as teller for the adjournment of the supply debate on 6 Nov. His name appears on the list of officials in the Commons, and Shaftesbury marked him ‘doubly vile’. He was noted in Flagellum Parliamentarium and A Seasonable Argument as a captain in the guards; but before the next session he had moved towards the Opposition on foreign policy. Owing to a mistake in his estate Act, a supplementary bill had to be introduced in the Lords, and when it was sent down to the Commons (Sir) John Malet, a prominent country spokesman, took the chair instead of the courtier Berkenhead. Nevertheless his bill received the royal assent, on the same day that his second wife’s death set him free to hunt out another wealthy widow, so that he was not obliged to sell Hamerton till six years later. In the division on 23 May 1677 Compton was one of the Members who voted against the Court on naming Holland as an ally. Danby seems to have bought him off with a grant to him, as one of a syndicate headed by the Earl of Peterborough, of the profits of the fines of court, and included him among the court party in 1678, though noting that he was ‘in the country’ for the spring session. He took little part in proceedings in Parliament, except when it was alleged that his sister, the wife of Sir Hugh Cholmley, could throw some light on the Popish Plot. ‘All know our family to be Protestant’, he said, ‘and I believe my sister would not conceal anything she knew.’3
Compton does not seem to have stood at the general election, though it was reported that there was ‘great labouring’ for him in Warwickshire, and he was not blacklisted in the ‘unanimous club’. The grant of the fines of court was cancelled as ‘prejudicial to the King’s subjects’, but the syndicate received some compensation. Compton fought at Sedgemoor, where he was wounded, but under the influence of his brother, the bishop of London, he became increasingly hostile to James II’s policy, and was listed by Danby among the Opposition. He undertook to lead his regiment over to William of Orange in November 1688, but he was less successful than Lord Cornbury (Henry Hyde), partly owing to his ‘want of head or heart’ according to Burnet, and returned to James. His career in the army was only briefly interrupted, and he was still a serving soldier when he died in his Pall Mall lodgings on 20 Dec. 1716, aged 87. He was buried next to his brother at Fulham.4
Ref Volumes: 1660-1690
Author: A. M. Mimardière
- 1. London Mar. Lic. ed. Foster, 317; HMC Buccleuch, i. 326; St. James Duke’s Place Par. Reg. iii. 340; Luttrell, iv. 577.
- 2. Cal. Treas. Bks. v. 795; vi. 121.
- 3. VCH Hunts. iii. 67; Warwick, Mems. 286; HMC Buccleuch, i. 315; 326; CJ ix. 325; 416; Foxcroft, Halifax, i. 129; Grey, vi. 393-4.
- 4. Add. 34730, f. 36; Cal. Treas. Bks. vii. 361; HMC Sackville, i. 17; Burnet Supp. ed. Foxcroft, 530; Clarke, Jas. II, ii. 217; PCC 205 Whitfield.