DANBY, Sir Abstrupus (1655-1727), of Masham, nr. Ripon, Yorks.
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Family and Education
b. 27 Dec. 1655, 1st s. of Christopher Danby, of Farnley, Yorks. by Anne, da. of John Colepeper. m. bef. 1679, Judith, da. of Abraham Moone of Great St. Helen’s, Bishopsgate, London, wid. of William Davies of Old Jewry, London, 1s. 2da. suc. fa. 1689; kntd. 30 Aug. 1691.1
Commr. Aire and Calder navigation 1699.2
Described as ‘courteous’, ‘very obliging’ and of an ‘ancient’ family, Danby was the grandson of Sir Thomas Danby, who owned ten manors and over 2,000 acres as well as coal mines in Yorkshire, and sat as a Royalist in the Long Parliament until being disabled in 1642. Danby himself was well provided for in Yorkshire: in 1685 the rental on his estate stood at £2,714 p.a. In 1687 his kinsman, Thomas, 2nd Lord Colepeper, informed him that he was being considered for inclusion in the county commission of the peace, though this appointment does not appear to have been made. The following year, however, he was listed as one of the justices for the North Riding. It appears that Danby first expressed his political ambitions in 1691, when, following the death of Sir Edmund Jennings, he considered contesting the ensuing by-election at Ripon, where he had an electoral interest. In the end he decided against it, explaining to Lord Carmarthen (Sir Thomas Osborne†), that he had ‘waived the thoughts of standing . . . so that Mr [Jonathan] Jennings* enjoys the fruits of your lordship’s favours, none opposing my lord archbishop’s [of York] letter’. However, in 1698 Danby was successful at Aldborough, where he had the support of the Wentworth family, who were lords of the manor. However, the election had been keenly contested, and cost Danby a great deal of time and money, as well as presents of free coal for the electors. A satirical poem relating to the election referred to him as ‘the weathercock Sir Scrupulous Danby’, and admonished the electors for selling their votes ‘for ale and smoke’:
What can you gain if you elect a knight
who built a house yet ne’er did workmen right.
Perhaps he courts because he stands in dread
’tis sometimes payment privilege to plead
Or like his neighbours he’ll your freehold take
And make you slaves and vassals for his sake
Pull down your houses and enclose your bound
Alter your bridges till his neighbours drowned
Such kindnesses as these he keeps in store
not to relieve but to destroy the poor.
On 12 Dec. Danby’s opponents, Christopher Tancred* and Cyril Arthington*, petitioned unsuccessfully against his return, alleging that Danby and his agents had resorted to bribery. In late 1698 Danby was forecast as likely to oppose a standing army, but he was not active in Parliament. In an analysis of the House into interests in January–May 1700 he was noted as doubtful or of the opposition.3
During 1700 it began to become apparent that Danby’s interest at Aldborough was not secure. The Wentworths were rumoured to be withdrawing their support and looking to sell the manor of Aldborough. Danby failed to secure the purchase of the manor late in that year, for which reason he appears to have decided against contesting the first 1701 election in the borough. Prior to the second 1701 election, he turned his attention back to Ripon, where he had the support of Sir Jonathan Jennings*. However, with John Aislabie* almost certain of winning one seat, Danby had to fight a campaign against John Sharp*, son of the archbishop of York. Although the archbishop was normally opposed to interfering in Yorkshire elections, he made an exception for Ripon. In October one of Danby’s agents tried to come to an accommodation with Aislabie and Sharp, but to no avail. Canvassing became more intense following the dissolution of Parliament. However, Danby’s efforts proved to be in vain, for on the day of the poll he came a poor third.4
Despite his defeat in 1701, Danby continued to take an active interest in Yorkshire politics, being asked to use his interest in 1713 for Lord Downe [I] (Hon. Henry Dawnay*) and Sir Arthur Kaye, 3rd Bt.*, in the county election, and considering putting himself or his son up at a by-election at Ripon in 1719. He also took a very active role in the management of his estate, noting at one point that ‘I never have any money beforehand, and as we have managed thus far, cannot keep out of debt’. However, he must have had a substantial turnover of capital because in 1707 he secured a chancery decree against one Mr Palmes, who owed Danby ‘near £20,000’. Thomas Hearne reported that in about 1708 Danby spent some time in Oxford, gaining admission to the Bodleian Library and looking over
Mr Dodsworth’s manuscript collections with great diligence, purely, I suppose, for things concerning his own estate and family, and he and his servant with him extracted many things. He was then a very old, but brisk, regular man and used to rise very early in a morning.
Danby also continued to figure as a prominent character in Yorkshire. In 1715 Lord Burlington, the lord lieutenant of the East and West Ridings, desired that Danby meet him at Leeds with as many men as possible for the defence of the county against the Jacobite rising. Danby died on 27 Dec. 1727. By his will his principal heir was his son, Abstrupus, though he made financial provisions, ranging from £10 to £50, for various relatives.5
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Authors: Eveline Cruickshanks / Ivar McGrath
- 1. Thoresby, Ducatus Leodiensis, 202; Thoresby Soc. xxxvii. 2; J. Fisher, Hist. Masham, 244; J. R. Woodhead, Rulers of London (London and Mdx. Arch. Soc.), 116–17.
- 2. HMC Lords, n.s. iii. 204.
- 3. Thoresby Diary, i. 352; ii. 220; Keeler, Long Parl. 152–3; N.Yorks. RO, Swinton mss, Danby pprs. ZS, estate rental, 28 Jan. 1685, Ld. Colepeper to Danby, 2 July 1687, Danby to Carmarthen, 2 Nov. 1691, same to Lady Wentworth, 5 Aug. 1698, ‘Ten rhymes for nine reasons’, [n.d.]; Duckett, Penal Laws and Test Act (1883), 292; Luttrell, Brief Relation, iv. 610, 619.
- 4. Swinton mss, Danby pprs. ZS, Edward Morris to Danby, 5 May, 26 July 1700, same to Thomas Johnson, 2 Sept. 1700, Lady Wentworth to Danby, 7, 17, 21 Sept., 10 Oct. 1700, Danby to Morris, 17 Sept. 1700, Jennings to Danby, 28 Sept. 1701, John Wastwell to same, 16 Oct. 1701, Robert Bayne to same, 14 Nov. 1701, ‘persons to be elected at Ripon’, 24 Nov. 1701.
- 5. Swinton mss, Danby pprs. ZS, Danby to Thomas Johnson, 26 Jan. 1692, 28 Sept., 3 Oct. 1700, 5 July 1707, Aislabie to Danby, 18 Oct. 1713, Burlington to same, 7 Nov. 1715, Danby to Aislabie, 28 June 1719; Hearne Colls. ix. 391–2; Borthwick Inst. York, wills, prerog. court, Oct. 1729.