TOLSON, Richard (c.1622-89), of Bridekirk, Cumb. and Wath-upon-Dearne, Yorks.

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



31 Mar. 1646

Family and Education

b. c.1622, o.s. of Henry Tolson of Bridekirk by Margaret, da. and h. of Henry Savile of Wath. educ. Oriel, Oxf. matric. 17 Oct. 1639, aged 17; L. Inn 1641, called 1656; G. Inn 1646. m. c.1650, Anne, da. of Gilbert Gregory of Barnby-upon-Don, Yorks., 5s. (1 d.v.p.) 4da. suc. fa. 1663.2

Offices Held

Commr. for exclusion from sacrament 1646, scandalous offences 1648.

J.p. Yorks (W. Riding) 1652-61, Cumb. Mar. 1660-June 1688, Oct. 1688-d.; commr. for assessment, Cumb. Aug. 1660-79, militia, Cumb. and Westmld. Mar. 1660; steward, Ennerdale manor Aug. 1660-?72; sheriff, Cumb. 1666-7, commr. for recusants 1675.3


Tolson’s ancestor acquired the manor of Bridekirk, formerly held by Gisburne priory, at the Reformation. Tolson’s grandfather served as a j.p. until his death in 1650, and his father was a commissioner for the northern association and held local office throughout the Interregnum. Tolson himself became a lawyer, though he made slow progress in his profession. Probably a Presbyterian, he represented Cumberland as a recruiter until Pride’s Purge, though accused of royalist sympathies, and returned with the secluded Members.4

Tolson was returned for Cockermouth, two miles from his father’s home, at the top of the poll in the general election of 1660. An inactive Member of the Convention, he was named to only three committees, all in the first fortnight. They were the committee of elections and privileges, and those to consider the Declaration of Breda and the assessment ordinance. Presumably a court supporter, he petitioned the crown for the stewardship of two Cumbrian manors at the Restoration, though a local Cavalier objected that he had acted under the military regime in 1659. Lord Wharton reserved Tolson for his own management, with the assistance of Edmund Petty, but he left no trace on the records of the second session of the Convention, apart from the grant of leave to go into the country on 6 Dec., the day before a warrant was issued for his appointment as steward of Ennerdale. He made himself unpopular with his constituents by assisting ‘the excise men against the inhabitants’, and is unlikely to have stood again.5

Tolson apparently conformed to the Church, and as a Cumberland magistrate examined several Quaker suspects in 1662. In the following year he applied to Joseph Williamson, once his clerk, for a revenue post, and he acted as Williamson’s election agent at Morpeth in 1666. He settled his estates on his son in 1672, and probably moved to the Yorkshire property which he had inherited from his mother. In the next year his arrest was ordered for detaining crown rents. When, with several other Cumbrian justices, he failed to appear at Penrith in 1688 to answer the three questions on the repeal of the Test Act and Penal Laws, Lord Preston (Sir Richard Grahme) wrote that ‘he lives in the West Riding of Yorkshire, and I could not tell how to direct a letter to him; but he has neither fortune nor interest considerable in this county’. He was buried at Wath on 2 July 1689, the only member of the family to enter Parliament.6

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: M. W. Helms


  • 1. Did not sit after Pride’s Purge 6 Dec. 1648, readmitted 21 Feb. 1660.
  • 2. J. Hunter, S. Yorks. ii. 68.
  • 3. Cal. Treas. Bks. i. 99.
  • 4. Cumb. and Westmld. Antiq. and Arch. Soc. iv. 23; HMC Egmont, i. 443.
  • 5. CSP Dom. 1660-1, p. 216; Egremont mss, Curwen to Potter, 25 Feb. 1661.
  • 6. CSP Dom. 1661-2, p. 263; 1663-4, p. 113; 1666-7, p. 163; Nicolson and Burn, Westmld. and Cumb. ii. 101; Cal. Treas. Bks. iv. 394.