SLANNING, Sir Nicholas, 1st Bt. (1643-91), of Maristow, Tamerton Foliot, Devon.
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Family and Education
b. June 1643, 2nd but o. surv. s. of Sir Nicholas Slanning† of Maristow by Gertrude, da. of Sir James Bagge of Saltram, Plympton, Devon; half-bro. of John Arundell. m. (1) 4 Nov. 1662, Anne (d.1668), da. of Sir George Carteret, 1st Bt., of St. Ouen, Jersey, 1da.; (2) 22 June 1670, Mary, da. and coh. of James Jenkyn of Trekenning, St. Columb Major, Cornw., s.p.; (3) 4 Dec. 1673 (with £5,000), Mary, da. of Sir Andrew Henley, 1st Bt., of Bramshill, Hants, 1s.; (4) 16 Nov. 1679, Amy, da. of Edmund Parker of Boringdon, Plympton, Devon, wid. of Walter Hele of South Pool, Devon, and of Sir John Davie, 2nd Bt., of Creedy, Devon, s.p. suc. fa. 1643; KB 23 Apr. 1661; cr. Bt. 19 Jan. 1663.1
Commr. for assessment, Cornw. 1661-78, Devon 1661-2, 1665-80, Cornw. and Devon 1689-90; stannator of Blackmore 1663; commr. for recusants, Cornw. and Devon 1675; forester, Dartmoor 1675-d.; j.p. Cornw. by 1680-5, Devon by 1680-July 1688, Oct. 1688-d.; freeman, Saltash 1683, Plymouth 1684, Plympton 1685; commr. for rebels’ estates, Devon 1686, v.-warden of the stannaries by 1686-?d.2
Cup-bearer to Queen Catherine of Braganza 1663-?d.; standard-bearer of gent. pensioners 1676-84.3
Lt.-col. Earl of Bath’s Regt. (later 10 Ft.) 1685-7; lt.-gov. of Plymouth 1687-d.4
The fortunes of the Slanning family were made by a steward of the Inner Temple who acquired much ex-monastic property under the Tudors. One of them sat for Plymouth in 1558. Slanning’s father was returned for Plympton, seven miles from Maristow, at both elections in 1640, though in the Long Parliament he chose to sit for Penryn. As governor of Pendennis and vice-admiral, he raised one of the famous Cornish infantry regiments in the Civil War, and was mortally wounded at the storming of Bristol in 1643, when Slanning was only three months old. The estate was sequestrated when his mother married another Cavalier, her husband’s friend Richard Arundell, and in 1650 he compounded for £1,197 13s.11d.5
Slanning was made a knight of the Bath at the coronation, doubtless through the Earl of Bath, son of another Cornish hero of the Civil War. His first marriage, to a pious and good-humoured lady, connected him with one of the most powerful figures in the Clarendon administration, and earned him a baronetcy, a minor post at Court, and the grant of the governorship of Pendennis in reversion to his step-father. He inherited from his father a taste for chemistry, becoming a fellow of the Royal Society, and producing ‘a cheaper and more excellent way of melting, forging, and refining iron and other metals with turf and peat, to the great preservation of wood and timber’. He first stood for Plympton with Bath’s support at a by-election on 4 Oct. 1666, but was defeated by the country candidate, Sir Edmund Fortescue. However, the mayor was induced, with the connivance of the sheriff and under-sheriff, to send up another return in Slanning’s favour, which the House condemned as ‘absurd and unusual’. They were held in custody until Slanning’s petition was rejected. Fortescue died before the year was out, and, though Joseph Williamson had his eye on the seat, he is unlikely to have opposed Slanning’s natural interest. A moderately active Member of the Cavalier Parliament, he was appointed to 69 committees. Together with Sir Robert Carr he brought in on 3 Apr. 1668 a complaint against the conduct of (Sir) Thomas Tyrrell on the bench, but he was not named to the committee which was instructed to pursue the matter by drafting a resolution against the fining and imprisonment of jurymen. He was, however, among those ordered to consider the bills to prevent election abuses (8 Dec. 1669) and to suppress conventicles (2 Mar. 1670). Although he was named to the committee of elections and privileges in seven sessions, and figured on both lists of the court party in 1669-71 among those Members who usually voted for supply, his attendance seems to have been spasmodic. On 21 Feb. 1671 he defaulted on a call of the House, and, though he was listed among the court dependants in 1675, and appointed to the committee on the bill to prevent the growth of Popery (27 May), Sir Richard Wiseman complained that ‘he was absent for the most part, if not all’ of the autumn session. On the working lists he was assigned to the management of his step-father, now Lord Arundell of Trerice, who was to be ‘sure to take care of him’, and during the long recess he was appointed standar-bearer of the gentlemen pensioners. He certainly attended the next session, for Thomas Neale reported him as one of the tellers for the corn bounty on 10 Apr. 1677, though according to the Journals this was his half-brother. Shaftesbury marked him ‘doubly vile’, and in A Seasonable Argument he was described erroneously as carver to the King, and credited with £2,000 in boons and the grant in reversion of Pendennis. But the only favours that can be traced are a short patent for his smelting invention and the grant of the manorial profits of Dartmoor, described by Sir Charles Harbord as ‘very mean’. In the closing sessions of the Cavalier Parliament he was included in both lists of the court party, and appointed to the committee of inquiry into the Popish Plot (21 Oct. 1678).6
Listed in the ‘unanimous club’, Slanning never sat for Plympton again. For the second general election of 1679 he migrated successfully to his father’s other constituency, Penryn, no doubt with the assistance of his step-father. His only committee in the second Exclusion Parliament was to bring in bills for security against arbitrary power, but he doubtless remained a court supporter. Re-elected in 1681 and 1685, he took no known part in the Oxford Parliament, though he joined the Cornish syndicate for the Tangier victualling contract. In James II’s Parliament he was appointed only to a committee for a naturalization bill (22 June 1685). Two days earlier, however, he had been commissioned second-in-command of the regiment raised by Lord Bath to crush the Monmouth rebellion, and he was given leave by the House to go into the country. He resigned his commission when he was made lieutenant-governor of Plymouth in 1687, presumably as compensation for his disappointment over Pendennis. To the questions on the repeal of the Test Act and Penal Laws in 1688 he returned the same negative answers as Sir Edward Seymour; but Bath recommended him as court candidate for Penryn, and suggested that he should be ‘treated with’ for his interest. He supported the Revolution, and remained lieutenant-governor under Bath, but he does not seem to have stood again. He died at his post in April 1691, the last of his family to sit in Parliament.