SHERARD, Bennet, 2nd Baron Sherard of Leitrim [I] (1621-1700), of Stapleford, Leics.
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Family and Education
bap. 30 Nov. 1621, 1st s. of William, 1st Baron Sherard of Leitrim [I] by Abigail, da. and coh. of Cecil Cave of Greenwich, Kent, wid. of Henry Tresham of Newton, Northants.; bro. of Hon. Philip Sherard. educ. St. John’s Oxf. 1639; travelled abroad (Italy) 1641-4; Padua 1642, m. lic. 8 Mar. 1661, Elizabeth (d. 17 Dec. 1713), da. and h. of Sir Robert Christopher of Alford, Lincs., 2s. (1 d.v.p.) 2da. suc. fa. 1 Apr. 1640.1
Commr. for assessment, Rutland 1652, Leics. and Rutland Aug. 1660-80, Leics., Lincs. and Rutland 1689-90; j.p. Leics. 1656-Feb. 1688, 1689-?d., Rutland July 1660-d., Lincs. (Lindsey) 1670-bef. 1680; commr. for militia, Leics. Mar. 1660, oyer and terminer, Midland circuit 1662; dep. lt. Leics. 1667-Feb. 1688, Oct. 1688-?d., Lincs. 1670-bef. 1680, Rutland 1671-Mar. 1688; commr. for recusants, Leics. 1675; ld. lt. and custos rot. Rutland 1690-d.2
Sherard’s ancestors acquired Stapleford by marriage in 1402, added the Rutland estate of Whissendine later in the century, and first represented Leicestershire in 1491. Sherard’s father died before the Civil War, during which he himself was abroad on his travels; but his mother, a lover of antiquity and a generous benefactress of the Church, was fined £500 as a delinquent by the county committee. Sherard, who did not marry during her lifetime, inherited from her a taste for the arts. He was appointed to local office during the Interregnum, but never took the oaths. He is not known to have stood until 1679, but then sat for Leicestershire in six successive Parliaments. In his first election he stood jointly with the court supporter Lord Roos (John Manners), and Shaftesbury marked him ‘doubtful’; but he took no certain part in the first Exclusion Parliament. He is said to have voted for the bill, but this was probably his brother. He was moderately active in 1680, when he was appointed to the committees to consider the bills prohibiting the import of Irish cattle and encouraging woollen manufactures, and to examine the abuses and misdemeanours in the Eye election. He can hardly have opposed exclusion; but he took no known part in the Oxford Parliament, and in 1685 he was named only to the committees to consider a naturalization bill and to propose remedies for the fall in wool and corn prices.3
Sherard was listed among the opposition to James II in 1687 as one considerable both for interest and estate, and, after giving negative answers to the lord lieutenant of Leicestershire on the repeal of the Penal Laws and Test Act, he was removed from local office. During the Revolution he brought out the Leicestershire militia in support of William of Orange. A moderately active Member of the Convention, he was named to the committee of elections and privileges and to fourteen others. As an Irish peer, he was naturally concerned with distressed Irish Protestants and their future security, the delays in raising the siege of Londonderry, the relief of the Irish nobility and gentry, and the attainder of the Jacobites in Ireland. He was also appointed to the committee for reversing the quo warranto against London and added to that inquiring into war expenses. He supported the disabling clause in the bill to restore corporations. He died on 15 Jan. 1700, and was buried at Stapleford. His son sat for Leicestershire and Rutland as a Whig, and was given an English peerage at the coronation of George I.4