TURGIS, Thomas (1623-1704), of London and Lower Gatton, Surr.

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

Constituency

Dates

1659
19 June 1660
1661
Mar. 1679
Oct. 1679
1681
1685
1689
1690
1695
1698
Feb. 1701
Dec. 1701

Family and Education

bap. 7 Oct. 1623, 1st surv. s. of Thomas Turgis, Grocer, of London by 1st w. Ebbot, da. of Thomas Urry of Gatcombe, I.o.W.  m. by 1655, Mary, da. of William Beake, Merchant Taylor, of London, 3s. d.v.p. suc. fa. 1651.1

Offices Held

Freeman, Grocers’ Co. 1648, asst. to 1687; commr. for assessment, Surr. Aug. 1660-80, London and Surr. 1689-90, militia Surr. Mar. 1660, sewers, Aug. 1660; alderman, London 1-23 July 1661; commr. for recusants, Surr. 1675, rebuilding of Southwark 1677.2

Biography

Turgis’s grandfather was mayor of Chichester, and his father made a fortune as a London Grocer. Presumably a parliamentary sympathizer, he acted as commissioner for the arrears of assessment in London in 1648. Turgis himself purchased Lower Gatton in 1654 and a number of other manors in Surrey, and soon became known as one of the wealthiest commoners in England. His control over one of Gatton’s parliamentary seats was virtually absolute, and he was returned for the borough in 1659 and the following 12 Parliaments.3

Turgis had to fight for his seat only at the general election of 1660, when three other candidates stood the poll, and two received the same number of votes as he did. Faced with a double return, the House declared the election void on 5 May, and Turgis was successful at the by-election held on 16 June. He was never an active Member, and in the Convention he was appointed to no committees and made no speeches. In the Cavalier Parliament he was named to 22 minor committees, including three appointments to the committee of elections and privileges. Despite his lack of activity in Parliament there was no doubt as to his allegiance; Lord Wharton listed him as a friend in 1661, and Shaftesbury considered him ‘thrice worthy’ in 1677. He was re-elected to the Exclusion Parliaments, and marked ‘old and worthy’ on Shaftesbury’s list. In 1679 he was named only to the elections committee but he duly voted for exclusion. He left no trace on the records of the second Exclusion Parliament, but was appointed to the elections committee at Oxford. One of the few Whigs to hold his seat in 1685, he was completely inactive in James II’s Parliament, so far as is known, and was removed as assistant of the Grocers’ Company in 1687. The King’s electoral agents correctly observed in September 1688 that Gatton ‘belongs to Sir John Thompson and Mr Turgis, who will be chosen’. In the Convention Turgis was named to the committee on 9 Apr. 1689 to prepare an address thanking the King for his declaration to maintain the Church of England and requesting the calling of Convocation. He signed the Association in 1696.4

Turgis died on 11 June 1704, and was buried at St. Dionis Backchurch, leaving ‘an estate of above £100,000’. Gatton was inherited by a kinsman, William Newland, who was returned for the borough as soon as he came of age, and sat for the rest of his life.5

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Authors: M. W. Helms / J. S. Crossette

Notes