MASON, Sir Richard (c.1619-85), of Bishop's Castle, Salop and Worcester Park, Surr.
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Family and Education
b. c.1619, s. of Edward Mason of Bishop’s Castle by Julian, da. of Edward Thomas of Bishop’s Castle. m. by 1661, Anna Margaretta, da. of Sir James Long, 2nd Bt., of Draycot Cerne, Wilts., 2da. Kntd. July 1671.1
Avenor June 1660-71; clerk-comptroller of the green cloth 1671-d.; agent for taxes 1673-6, 1677-d.; commr. of the stables 1679-82.2
Commr. for assessment, Westminster 1663-79, Salop, Surr. and Mont. 1673-80; j.p. Salop and Surr. 1673-d., Mdx. and Westminster 1680-d.
Mason’s family had provided a bailiff of Bishop’s Castle in 1572, and had remained prominent in the borough ever since. He acted as secretary to Lord Percy (Henry Percy†), general of the royalist artillery until 1644. In December 1646 he asked for a licence to come to London to compound ‘for being in the King’s quarters as servant to Lord Percy, though he never bore arms and has been living one and a half years quietly in France’, but he was not allowed to do so. As his master was a prominent member of Henrietta Maria’s circle of royalist exiles, Mason was distrusted by Sir Edward Hyde, who described him as ‘a foolish, busy fellow’. After Percy’s death in April 1659, he returned to London, where he claimed influential political contacts.3
At the Restoration, Mason was rewarded with the post of avenor, or chief officer of the royal stables. But his rapid rise in the social scale, including a grant of arms in 1669, was due less to the profits of office than to his marriage to the great-niece of another member of the Louvre group, (Sir) Robert Long, who conveyed to him the Surrey manors of Sutton and Coulsdon, and the reversion of Worcester Park, where he sometimes resided. From 1668-70 he lent the King sums amounting to £1,533, which were duly repaid. He acted as Long’s deputy as auditor of the receipt, and was appointed agent for taxes. In this capacity, he was reported as working ‘much to the King’s benefit and advantage and with much less expense than the same had been formerly performed’, and he was granted a special allowance of £200 p.a. as a reward in 1679.4
Mason apparently stood unsuccessfully for Bishop’s Castle at the first election of 1679; but he was returned for the government borough of Yarmouth. He was classed as ‘base’ by Shaftesbury and voted against exclusion. An inactive Member of the first Exclusion Parliament, he was named to a committee on a private bill, and also ordered to prepare a bill for continuing the Royal Progresses Act. He was re-elected in August, but remained inactive in the second Exclusion Parliament. The speeches sometimes attributed to him were probably delivered by Sir Robert Markham. His only committee was on the bill to abolish the court of the council in the marches of Wales. He was returned for Bishop’s Castle in 1681 and was appointed to the committee of elections and privileges. In the same year, he assisted (Sir) Stephen Fox in carrying out a retrenchment in the Household. He died on 12 Mar. 1685 and was buried at Sutton. His eldest daughter, Anne, with a fortune valued at between £12,000 and £25,000, married first Lord Brandon (Charles Gerard) who divorced her, and secondly Henry Brett†, who sat for Bishop’s Castle 1701-8. His second daughter, Dorothy, to whom he left £5,000 in his will, married William Brownlow. His nephews Charles and Richard continued to represent Bishop’s Castle, with intervals, until 1727.5
Ref Volumes: 1660-1690
Author: Eveline Cruickshanks
- 1. Le Neve’s Knights (Harl. Soc. viii), 132; Trans. Salop Arch. Soc. (ser. 2), x. 51; (ser. 4), xiii. 178; Add. 37047, f. 244; 36916, ff. 218-19.
- 2. Cal. Treas. Bks. i. 226; iv. 148, 515, 528; v. 6, 609; vi. 321; vii. 208, 674; CSP Dom. 1679-80, p. 263; 1685, p. 20, 94.
- 3. Borough of Bishop’s Castle: List of mayors; CSP Dom. 1644, p. 14; Cal. Comm. Comp. 1629; Cal. Cl. SP, i. 316; ii. 151, 206, 228; iv. 172, 180, 473, 485, 517.
- 4. Grantees of Arms (Harl. Soc. lxvi), 166; Manning and Bray, Surr. ii. 451, 482, 606; Cal. Treas. Bks. ii. 618; iii. 642, 659, 696; iv. 169; vi. 321.
- 5. Luttrell, i. 68; PCC 35 Cann; Ellis Corresp. i. 309-10.