ONSLOW, Richard (1654-1717), of West Clandon, Surr.

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



Mar. 1679
Oct. 1679
Feb. 1701
Dec. 1701
26 Jan. 1715 - 7 Nov. 1715

Family and Education

b. 23 June 1654, 1st s. of Arthur Onslow, and bro. of Foot Onslow. educ. St. Edmund Hall, Oxf. 1671; I. Temple 1674. m. 31 Aug. 1676, Elizabeth, da. and h. of Sir Henry Tulse, Grocer, of Lothbury, London, ld. mayor 1683-4, 3s. 2da. suc. fa. as 3rd Bt. 21 July 1688; cr. Baron Onslow 19 June 1716.1

Offices Held

Freeman, Guildford 1676, high steward 1701-d.; commr. for assessment, Surr. 1677-80, 1689-90, Suss. 1679-80, 1690; j.p. Surr. 1677-80, 1690-?d.; member Hon. Artillery Co. London 1678; dep. lt. Surr. by 1701-16, ld. lt. 1716-d.2

Lt.-col. 1 Marine Regt. 1690.

Ld. of the Admiralty 1690-3; gov. Levant Co. 1710-d.; PC 15 June 1710-d.; chancellor of the Exchequer 1714-15; teller of the Exchequer 1715-d.

Speaker of House of Commons 1708-10.


eOnslow, known as ‘Stiff Dick’ from his staunchness to the Whig cause, succeeded his father in the safe family seat at Guildford for the Exclusion Parliaments. A born politician, according to his nephew, the great Speaker, ‘his carriage was universally obliging, and he was of the most winning behaviour I ever saw’. Marked ‘honest’ by Shaftesbury, he was appointed by full name in 1679 only to the committee of elections and privileges and to that for the encouragement of woollen manufactures; but he voted for the exclusion bill. He represented his father at the uncontested county election in August, and was removed from the commission of the peace. No committee appointments can be definitely ascribed to him in the second Exclusion Parliament, and there is no evidence that he attended at Oxford. He was bound over to good behaviour in April 1684 for ‘some words spoken ... four years since reflecting on the Government’.3

So strong was the family interest at Guildford that Onslow retained his seat even in the Whig debacle of 1685. An inactive Member of James II’s Parliament, he was appointed only to the committees on the bills for providing carriages for the royal progresses and for regulating hackney coaches. He voted for the address against Roman Catholic officers in the second session. After his father’s death in 1688 he was one of the ‘persons in nomination’ for the county seat, and he was duly returned to the Convention. A moderately active Member, he was appointed to 17 committees. He helped to draft the address of thanks for the abolition of the hearth-tax, and to consider the bills for developing the grounds of Arundell House and for reversing the quo warranto proceedings against London. In the second session he was among those appointed to inquire into the miscarriages of the war, and to draw up the address about the appointment of Commissary Shales. He supported the disabling clause in the bill to restore corporations. Although a good Churchman, he remained an independent Whig under William III and Anne, serving as Speaker in the Parliament of 1708 and steering the Act of Succession through the Commons. When George I rewarded him with a peerage, his son Thomas succeeded him as knight of the shire. He died on 5 Dec. 1717, and was buried at Merrow, Surrey.4

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: J. S. Crossette


  • 1. Manning and Bray, Surr. iii. 54; J. R. Woodhead, Rulers of London, 165.
  • 2. Add. 6167, f. 208; Manning and Bray, i. 41; Ancient Vellum Bk. ed. Raikes, 106.
  • 3. Burnet, v. 395; HMC 14th Rep. IX, 489; True Dom. Intell. 24 Aug. 1679; HMC 7th Rep. 481, 680.
  • 4. Burnet, iii. 92; CJ, x. 38, 296; G. A. Holmes, British Politics in the Age of Anne, 41, 108, 340.