CHASE, James (c.1650-1721), of Westhorpe House, Little Marlow, Bucks.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Constituency

Dates

1690 - 1710

Family and Education

b. c.1650, 1st s. of John Chase of Littlebrook, Kent by Elizabeth, da. of Dr Thomas Soane, canon of Windsor.  educ. Christ Church, Oxf. matric. 15 Dec. 1665, aged 15.  m. 17 Nov. 1677, Elizabeth, da. of Sir Ralph Box of Cheapside, London, s.psuc. fa. 1690.1

Offices Held

Master, Apothecaries’ Co. June 1688–Sept. 1689; apothecary to William III, Anne and George I 1690–d.; commr. sick and wounded June 1706–May 1707.2

Biography

Chase’s grandfather (d. 1665) was court apothecary to Charles I and, after the Restoration, to Charles II. In 1666, Chase’s father succeeded him, his patent granting the reversion of the office to Chase himself. Despite holding court office, John Chase gave negative replies to King James’s ‘three questions’ on the repeal of the Test Act and Penal Laws. Chase himself had the honour to serve as master of the Apothecaries’ Company both before and after the cancellation of the surrender of the company’s old charter in November 1688. He then succeeded his father in the post of court apothecary in June 1690, at a salary of £115 p.a., plus an allowance of £127 p.a. and lodgings in Whitehall.3

Chase acquired his estate in Little Marlow in 1684 and built Westhorpe House there during Anne’s reign. He appears to have played a part in the election of 1685 at Great Marlow, but was not returned there until 1690. Following his election he was classed as a Whig and Court supporter by the Marquess of Carmarthen (Sir Thomas Osborne†) and as likely to support Carmarthen in December 1690 in the event of an attack on him in the Commons. Chase was also frequently classed as a placeman in lists of this Parliament, including an analysis by Grascome which described him as a placeman but not a supporter of the Court. After nomination on 31 Oct. 1691 to a drafting committee on a bill to regulate abuses in elections, Chase was named on 22 Feb. 1692 to the committee to take the evidence of William Fuller, the informer, in the King’s Bench Prison. While there, Chase gave Fuller a medical examination and pronounced him to be ‘in a dangerous condition’. In the next session Chase was given leave on 17 Nov. 1692 to attend King’s bench to give evidence at Fuller’s trial. In the last session of this Parliament he served as a teller on 28 Nov. 1694 against the committal of a place bill. He was also among those listed as ‘friends’ by Henry Guy*, presumably in relation to parliamentary inquiries into Guy’s activities.4

The 1695 election marked the beginning of the domination of the parliamentary representation of Great Marlow by Chase and Sir James Etheridge*. In the 1695–6 session Chase was forecast as likely to support the Court in the division on 31 Jan. 1696 over the proposed council of trade. He also signed the Association in February and voted in March for fixing the price of guineas at 22s. In the following session he voted on 25 Nov. 1696 for the attainder of Sir John Fenwick†. The Buckinghamshire by-election of 1696 saw one local commentator regard Chase as a useful person to approach, testimony to his influence in the Marlow area. Returned again in 1698 Chase was classed as a supporter of the Court in an analysis of about September. Although forecast as a likely opponent of the standing army, he voted against the disbanding bill on 18 Jan. 1699. On 20 Feb. he acted as teller against the expulsion of Richard Wollaston for holding an office incompatible with membership of the Commons and on 27 Apr. told for an amendment to the bill suppressing lotteries, extending that for the disposal of Sir Charles Bickerstaffe’s estate. In the next session, on 8 Jan. 1700, he was a teller against excusing Ralph Freman II from a call of the House. On 13 Feb., in a debate on a motion aimed at Lord Chancellor Somers (Sir John*), which sought to condemn ministers who procured grants from the crown when they were themselves involved in the passing of such grants, he intervened to support James Vernon I’s contention that a minister might have a grant which he well deserved. A list of MPs analysed according to interest compiled between January and May 1700 merely noted that Chase was a placeman.5

Returned again unopposed at the January 1701 election, Chase was listed as likely to support the Court in February over the ‘Great Mortgage’. His main activity in this session was to chair the committee of the whole House on 20 May on a bill from the Lords to confirm the dissolution of the marriage of his brother-in-law, Ralph Box. Re-elected in December 1701, he was classed as a Whig by Robert Harley*. Although he may have been responsible for a contest in 1702, there was no break in the Chase–Etheridge partnership at Great Marlow. In the new Parliament he voted on 13 Feb. 1703 against agreeing with the Lords’ amendments to the bill for enlarging the time for taking the oaths of abjuration. He was forecast in the 1704–5 session as likely to oppose the Tack and did not vote for it on 28 Nov. 1704.6

A ballad urging support for Tackers at the 1705 election asserted that ‘resentment and want of place’ had made Chase talk for the Church and after his return in May he was listed as a ‘Churchman’. He was also listed as a placeman and voted on 25 Oct. for the Court candidate in the division over the Speaker. In the debate on the regency bill on 15 Jan. 1706 he declared that it was essential to continue the existing Parliament in the event of the death of the Queen and in the divisions on the place clause of the bill on 18 Feb. he again supported the Court. In June 1706 he was appointed a commissioner for sick and wounded, but resigned the following May. On two lists dating from early 1708 (one after the election) he was classed as a Whig. Returned again in 1708, he voted for the naturalization of the Palatines early in 1709. In the following session he was given leave of absence for ten days on 9 Dec. 1709, but later returned to vote for the impeachment of Dr Sacheverell.7

At the general election of 1710, Chase and George Bruere* tied for the second seat and a double return ensued with both men petitioning for the right to sit. Given the Tory majority in the new House, Chase waived his right of election on 8 Dec. 1710, although not before he had been classed as a Whig on the ‘Hanover list’. He seems to have remained active in local politics, but never stood again. Chase died on 23 June 1721, the main beneficiaries of his will being his widow and Dr Stephen Chase, the eldest son of his cousin, also Stephen.8

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Authors: Eveline Cruickshanks / Stuart Handley

Notes

  • 1. Vis. Kent (Harl. Soc. liv), 34; Westminster Abbey Reg. (Harl. Soc. x), 15; Cal. Treas. Bks. xii. 184.
  • 2. C. R. B. Barrett, Hist. Soc. Apothecaries, 108; Cal. Treas. Bks. xii. 184; xxi. 30; Luttrell, Brief Relation, vi. 54.
  • 3. HMC Pepys, 256; N. and Q. ser. 12, ii. 318–19; CSP Dom. 1665–6, p. 227; Westminster Abbey Reg. 15; Duckett, Penal Laws and Test Act (1883), 144; Cal. Treas. Bks. ix. 1953, 1959; xii. 184; Barrett, 108.
  • 4. VCH Bucks. iii. 78, 82; Luttrell Diary, 199, 201.