GROSVENOR, Sir Thomas, 3rd Bt. (1655-1700), of Eaton Hall, Cheshire.
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Family and Education
b. 20 Nov. 1655, 1st s. of Roger Grosvenor (d. 1661) of Eaton by Christian, da. of Sir Thomas Myddelton of Chirk, Denb. educ. travelled abroad 1670-3. m. 10 Oct. 1677, Mary (d. 10 Jan. 1730), da. and h. of Alexander Davies, scrivener, of Ebury, Mdx., 5s. (2 d.v.p.) 3da. suc. gdfa. Sir Richard Grosvenor, 2nd Bt.†, 31 Jan. 1664.1
Freeman, Chester 1677, alderman 1677-Aug. 1688, Oct. 1688-93, 1697-d., mayor 1684-5; commr. for assessment, Cheshire and Denb. 1677-80, Flints. 1679-80, Chester 1689, Cheshire 1689-90, j.p. Cheshire 1681-?d., Mdx. and Westminster 1687-9; sheriff, Cheshire, Nov. 1688-9; mayor, Holt 1693-4.2
Capt. indep. tp. 1685, Earl of Shrewsbury’s Horse 1685-7.
The Grosvenor family claimed to trace their descent back to the Conquest, and they were certainly well established in Cheshire by the time of Richard II. Grosvenor’s grandfather was the first of the family to sit in Parliament, representing Cheshire in 1621, 1626 and 1628. He was a Royalist in the Civil War and compounded for his estates in 1646 for £1,250. In 1659 he was suspected of complicity in the rising of Sir George Booth. Grosvenor’s father was a militia commissioner in March 1660 and was nominated a knight of the Royal Oak, his income being estimated at £3,000 per annum. In 1661 he was killed in a duel.3
Grosvenor was granted the freedom of Chester in June 1677 at the second attempt, and three months later was elected alderman. Although he married a great heiress, the development of the Ebury estate lay in the future, and his wealth was derived chiefly from the Welsh mines inherited from his grandfather. He rebuilt Eaton Hall, some four miles from the city, ‘a very noble hall, square and very regular, with many fine walks and trees planted about it’. Grosvenor was returned for Chester to the first Exclusion Parliament, apparently without opposition. He was an inactive Member, being named only to the committee for the bill for the speedier conviction of recusants. On 10 Apr. 1679 he wrote to the corporation that
this day I had a hard bout in the Commons about the bringing in of Irish cattle. I thought I should be pulled in pieces by my countrymen and the rest of my acquaintances for dividing in the House against them for the good of the city, the which I shall always prefer before my own interest.
He had been marked ‘worthy’ by Shaftesbury, but he was absent at the vote on the exclusion bill. He was re-elected in September but must have come out against exclusion as he was made a j.p. for the county in 1680. He left no trace on the records of the second Exclusion Parliament and is unlikely to have stood in 1681. In September 1684 he was foreman of the Cheshire grand jury which presented the Earl of Macclesfield and several other Whigs as dangerous to the King and kingdom because of their association with Monmouth and their alleged complicity in the Rye House Plot, and recommended that they be bound over to keep the peace. Macclesfield replied with an action of scandalum magnatum in the court of the Exchequer against Grosvenor and several other jurymen, but all were acquitted, the judge declaring that ‘no action lies against an officer doing his duty’.4
Grosvenor was instrumental in procuring the surrender of Chester’s charter and was named mayor in the new charter of November 1684, which he carried down to the city. He was returned to James II’s Parliament without a contest, and was listed among the Opposition. He was again an inactive Member, being named only to the committee of elections and privileges and to that for estimating the yield of a tax on new buildings. On Monmouth’s landing he raised a troop of horse, which was eventually incorporated into the Earl of Shrewsbury’s regiment and stationed on Hounslow Heath. His wife had become a Roman Catholic, and, according to his son, Grosvenor
was closeted by the King, and proffered the regiment and a peerage for his assent [to the repeal of the Penal Laws], which he refused, preferring the religion and liberty of his country to all honours and power.
In any case he gave up his commission on 1 Apr. 1687, and on the next day, so his old friend Bishop Cartwright noted in his diary, he
came to me for satisfaction, whether in conscience he could submit to the taking off of the Penal Laws, to whom I read my papers, with which he declared himself well satisfied, but that he thought the King expected the taking off all Penal Laws, etc.
In August 1688 he was removed as alderman in the general purge of the corporation of Chester, and was not reappointed in the new charter. He was defeated in the 1689 election, and on 2 Sept. Charles Trelawny reported that ‘the frequent and great meetings of Roman Catholics every week at Sir Thomas Grosvenor’s have occasioned his neighbours to complain of him’.5
Despite the handicap of his wife’s religion, Grosvenor regained his seat in 1690. A Tory under William III, he nevertheless signed the Association in 1696 after an initial refusal. He died of a fever on 2 July 1700 and was buried at Eccleston. His son, the 4th Baronet, sat for Chester as a Tory from 1715 until his death.6
Ref Volumes: 1660-1690
Authors: Gillian Hampson / Basil Duke Henning
- 1. C. T. Gatty, Mary Davies and the Manor or Ebury, i. 215,222; CSP Dom. 1670, p. 149.
- 2. Chester corp. assembly bk. 2, ff. 185, 186, 198-200; 3, f. 59v; SP44/70, p. 75; PC2/72, pp. 723, 752; A. N. Palmer, Town of Holt, 150; Diary of Bp. Cartwright (Cam. Soc. xxii), 43.
- 3. Ormerod, Cheshire, ii. 383-4; Cal. Comm. Comp. 1187.
- 4. Gatty, i. 214; ii. 35; Chester corp. mayors’ letters 4, f. 509; Arch. Camb. i. 412; lxxxiv. 198-9; L. A. Dasent, Grosvenor Square, 16-21; R. Morrice, Entering Bk. 1, pp. 421,431,456; CSP Dom. 1683-4, p. 391; HMC Portland, ii. 156.
- 5. Fenwick, Chester, 231-5; SP44/70, p. 75; T. Wotton, Baronetage (1741), i. 497-8; Cartwright Diary, 23, 43; Morrice, 1, p. 598; 3, P. 123; Grey, x. 79; CSP Dom. 1689-90, p. 238.
- 6. Chester corp. assembly bk. 3, f. 59v.