CUST, Sir Richard, 1st Bt. (1622-1700), of The Black Friars, Stamford, Lincs.
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Family and Education
b. 23 June 1622, o.s. of Samuel Cust of Boston by Anne, da. of Richard Burrell, Grocer, of London and Dowsby. educ. Trinity Coll. Camb. 1638; I. Temple 1641, called 1650. m. lic. 29 Dec. 1644, Beatrice, da. and h. of William Pury of Kirton, Lincs., 7s. d.v.p. 5da. suc. fa. 1663; cr. Bt. 29 Sept. 1677.
Capt. of ft. (parliamentary) 1642.
J.p. Lincs. (Holland) 1649-July 1660, (Lindsey) 1651-July 1660, (Kesteven) 1653-July 1660, Lincs. 1670-81, Feb. 1688-d., Northants., Warws. and Rutland to 1681; treas. Holland 1649-50; commr. for assessment, Lincs. 1652, 1657, 1673-80, 1689-90, militia 1659, capt. of militia horse 1659, dep. lt. 1677-81; commr. for inquiry into recusancy fines, Derbys., Lincs. and Notts. Mar. 1688.1
Commr. for army 1653.
Cust’s ancestors had held land in the Lincolnshire village of Pinchbeck since the 14th century, but it was not until the Civil War that they became armigerous. His father served on the county committee, and he was himself in arms for Parliament. He became the first of the family to enter Parliament when he was nominated to represent Lincolnshire in 1653, and in the same year he was appointed to the army committee. He acquired his house in Stamford in 1654. At the Restoration he sued out a pardon, no doubt through the good offices of his kinsman, Sir Edward Nicholas†, and after succeeding to an estate which his own purchases increased to £1,000 p.a. took pains to ingratiate himself with the royalist Berties. Evidently he had no scruples about the Conventicles Act, for in 1670 he was restored to the commission of the peace. In return for a baronetcy, he used his influence with the Stamford corporation on behalf of Charles Bertie in the 1678 by-election. But at the next general election Cust agreed to stand with William Hyde on the interest of the Earl of Exeter (John Cecil), which obliged Bertie and his brother to beat an ignominious retreat. His ‘vigorous assistance’ for Sir Thomas Hussey in the county election was not enough to atone for this, and the Earl of Lindsey (Robert Bertie I) wrote to him:
My relations have such a resentment of your late proceedings that, as affairs now stand, I judge the interview of our families at present very unseasonable, both upon that score, and also it may create a jealousy in your new friends, who are too considerable to be lost upon such a trifle. But possibly a little time may allay all hearts and bring things to a happy composure.
Cust was classed as ‘doubtful’ on Shaftesbury’s list, but in the Exclusion Parliaments he acted uniformly with the country party. Despite two periods of leave, he was moderately active in 1679, with three speeches and 13 committees, including the committee of elections and privileges. On 21 Mar. he urged that the £500 reward promised for the discovery of Godfrey’s murderers should be given to Bedloe. He was among those instructed to bring in a bill for removing Papists from London and confining them to within five miles of their homes. During the debate of 29 Apr. on the bill to secure the King against Popish assassination plots he asked:
What if, for your present security you made an address to the King, with an humble proposal that all offices may be put into such hands for the people’s satisfaction as shall be recommended to his Majesty in Parliament, and that those offices should not become void, nor be filled up, upon the death of the King, but by Parliament? I see nothing can render such a proposal undutiful in presenting it, the present state of things considered; and by this means you will be sure of a Parliament upon demise of the King.
He was later added to the committee for the bill. On 2 May he reported to the House ‘the utmost truth’ about the disbandment accounts that ‘the committee could find out in so short a time’ as four days. He helped to draw up reasons for two conferences on the trials of the lords in the Tower, and an address promising to defend the King and the Protestant religion, and he duly voted for the committal of the first exclusion bill.2
Cust made no speeches in the second Exclusion Parliament, but he was very active as a committeeman. His 19 committees included those to draft addresses asking for a fast and insisting on exclusion, to consider the bill for religious comprehension, to prepare the repeal of the Corporations Act, and to bring in bills for security against arbitrary power. He left no trace on the records of the Oxford Parliament, though he is said to have attended. On 7 Apr. 1681 information was given that he had declared himself in favour of a ‘free state and no other government’ at a ‘grand cabal at the King’s Head tavern’ in Shaftesbury’s presence, and he was removed from the commission of the peace. Lindsey ordered his house to be searched for arms after the Rye House Plot, describing him to Secretary Jenkins as one of the leaders of the disaffected in the county, and adding: ‘I suppose you have heard him often in the House’. No arms were found, and no further action was taken.3
Cust soon resumed friendly relations with Lindsey. He did not stand again, and was able to secure the release of one of his kinsmen detained on suspicion during Monmouth’s invasion in 1685. He was listed among the Opposition in 1687, and Pury Cust, his only surviving son, was active in the Revolution, though he was defeated at Stamford in 1689. Cust himself died on 30 Aug. 1700 and was buried at St. George, Stamford. The next member of the family to enter Parliament was his great-grandson, the third baronet, who sat for Stamford from 1743 to 1770, for the last nine years as Speaker.
Ref Volumes: 1660-1690
Author: Paula Watson
This biography is based on Lady E. C. Cust, Recs. Cust Fam.