DOCMINIQUE, Paul (1643-1735), of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, London and Chipstead, Surr.
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Family and Education
bap. 15 Jan. 1643, 1st s. of Paul Docminique of Lille, France and Stepney, Mdx. by Marie Tordereaux of Valenciennes, France. m. (1) 22 Dec. 1674, Alice, da. and coh. of William Edwards, Clothworker, of London and Newbury, Berks. s.p.; (2) by ?1686, Margaret (d. 1734), da. of Rev. Robert Edwards of Kibworth Beauchamp, Leics., cos. of his 1st w. 3s. (1 d.v.p.) 1 da. d.v.p. suc. fa. aft. 1667.
Dir. Co. of Scotland 1695–6; commr. taking subscriptions to land bank 1696; gov. White Paper Makers’ Co. 1697; pres. Soc. of New Jersey proprietors 1711–12.
Ld. of Trade 1714–d.1
Docminique was raised in the French Huguenot community in London, his family having established itself in the capital a good while before their naturalization in 1662. His father, a merchant of some means, had served as a deacon in the Threadneedle Street congregation, but Docminique more readily integrated himself with his native country, twice marrying into the same English family. Soon after the Revolution he had become sufficiently wealthy to loan the Exchequer over £9,000, and he provided further financial aid to the government in 1691 by acting as the agent for supplying a troop of horse guards for Ireland. It was thus no surprise that he first came to the attention of Parliament on 29 Dec. 1691 as a surety for the stock of the East India Company, pledging for £5,000.2
Docminique’s next appearance in the Commons Journals, however, was of a far more contentious nature, for his contacts with the East India Company led to his implication in the scandal surrounding Sir Thomas Cooke*. On 24 Apr. 1695 it was reported that Docminique had received £350 from Cooke ‘for soliciting the Company’s affairs to prevent a new company’ and had also sold Cooke over £1,200 stock at a tidy profit. Two days later Richard Acton deposed that he had given £500 to Docminique in the belief that he ‘had interest with Members’ and could help the Company’s cause. Before the year was out Docminique’s name had been cited in another controversy on account of his recent appointment to a directorship of the fledgling Company of Scotland trading to Africa and the East Indies. Having invested £20,000 in the scheme, in November 1696 Docminique was one of the six English merchants elected by the company in an attempt to make the venture more acceptable to its English rivals. However, on 9 Dec. he found himself before the Upper House, testifying alongside several other directors that prior interest in Scottish trade had led them to join the company. The Commons was outraged by the manner in which the Scottish parliament had authorized the foundation of the new company, and, having been also grilled by a Commons committee on this matter, on 21 Jan. 1696 Docminique was impeached alongside his fellow directors for their ‘high crimes and misdemeanours’. The charges were dropped after the Commons’ chief witness absconded, but Docminique’s recent experiences no doubt impressed upon him the need to invest more circumspectly.3
Docminique’s commercial contacts gained him further recognition in 1696 when he was appointed a commissioner to take subscriptions to the land bank. In March 1697 he petitioned the House on behalf of the Company of White Paper Makers against an amendment to a bill to levy duties on parchment and vellum, but was unable to overcome the opposition of the Stationers’ Company. He gained further publicity by representing the proprietors of both East and West New Jersey when they surrendered their governing powers to the crown in early 1702, although the links which he forged with William Penn in the course of his colonial dealings were less likely to win him allies at court. His actual entrance into Parliament came as a direct result of the wealth he had amassed from commerce, since it was achieved by his purchase of the mansion of Upper Gatton from Lord Haversham (Sir John Thompson, 1st Bt.*) in 1704, one of several landed investments which he made in Surrey at that time.
When he took up his seat at the election the following year, Lord Sunderland (Charles, Lord Spencer*) regarded it as a Whig loss, a view endorsed by another parliamentary observer who described Docminique as a ‘Churchman’. This attachment to the Church belied his Huguenot upbringing, and can probably be attributed to the influence of such City contacts as his father-in-law, William Edwards. At the outset of his first parliamentary session he voted against the Court candidate for the Speakership, and subsequently showed his political colours in dramatic fashion, nearly fighting a duel with Lord William Powlett* in December 1705. Although he twice contributed to the stormy debate on the second reading of the regency bill on 19 Dec., he proved an inactive Member in his first Parliament, his only other appearance of note coming on 24 Feb. 1708 when he acted as a teller to engross a private bill. His politics must have been more in evidence, since two parliamentary lists bracketed him with the Tories in early 1708. In the Parliament of 1708–10 he was only slightly more active, although in the first session he confined himself to two tellerships: on 11 Dec. 1708 to uphold the election of fellow Tory Anthony Blagrave* for Reading, and on 24 Feb. 1709 to carry a motion to adjourn the House. Another tellership followed in the second session when he acted on 25 Jan. 1710 in support of a motion to recommit the report of the election committee which had condemned the obstructive behaviour of the Tory town clerk of Beaumaris. He was also a predictable nominee for the drafting committee on a Surrey land registry bill. The trial of Dr Sacheverell gave him a further opportunity to publicize his support for the Church, and he was accordingly classed with the Tories in the ‘Hanover list’ of the 1710 Parliament.4
The Tory triumphs at the general election of 1710 seem to have galvanized Docminique into activity in the House. In the first session he featured as a teller in two more divisions: on 16 Dec. to return the Tory Sir Francis Child* as the duly elected Member for Devizes, and on 13 Mar. 1711 against a motion to disable persons from simultaneously holding directorships of the East India Company and the Bank. He was lauded as one of the ‘worthy patriots’ who had prosecuted the mismanagements of the preceding ministry in that session, and was cited as a ‘Tory patriot’ for voting to put an end to the war. However, given his status as a leading Tory financier, it is particularly surprising that he showed no apparent interest in the South Sea Company, a reticence which contrasted sharply with his prominence in the second session of the 1710 Parliament. In 1712 Docminique featured as a teller in four divisions, all of which saw success for his cause. On 22 May he supported the resolution of the committee of ways and means to place an extra duty on hides and vellum, and the next day backed a motion for the House to go into committee on a bill to reach agreement between the Royal African Company and its creditors. He was then instrumental on 3 June in defeating a bill to regulate the African Company at its engrossment stage. Four days later he helped to ensure the addition of a clause to a bill to facilitate the recovery of small gifts for charitable purposes.
In the course of the second session Docminique was identified as one of the few merchants within the ranks of the October Club. There was little cause for his colleagues to doubt his politics in the early part of the third session, since he served as a teller on 7 May 1713 to block a motion for adjournment when the House sought to censure the past conduct of the Whig William Churchill*, a former commissioner for sick and wounded. However, after showing consistency in his opposition to the African Company by acting as a teller on 12 May to block the committal of a bill to establish that trade, he then distanced himself from High Church hard-liners on 28 May when telling to reject an instruction that Quakers could not qualify for the franchise by making a solemn affirmation instead of taking an oath. An open breach with the ministry came when debate turned to the French commerce bill. In the key debate of 18 June he denounced the ministry for misunderstanding and intransigence, and, having confessed that he ‘would never gratify a rising party for sinking the trade of the nation’, voted against the bill later in the day. This opposition resulted in his being identified as one of the ‘whimsical’ Tories of the March Club.5
Uncertainties surrounding Docminique’s political allegiance were underlined in the succeeding Parliament when his fears for the succession and for trade drove him ever further from the administration. On 16 Mar. 1714 he actually spoke in defence of the Whig pamphleteer Richard Steele*, arguing that there was a real threat to the Protestant line, and declaring that he would soon reveal ‘some great transactions’ to prove it. Two days later he featured as one of the few Tories to vote against Steele’s expulsion from the Commons. If any further proof of his disaffection from the ministry were needed, on 15 Apr. he launched a bitter attack on its preparations for repulsing the Pretender, mockingly suggesting that ‘the Highlanders and Jacobites would join to protect us’. Docminique was subsequently one of the MPs chosen on 5 Aug. to offer condolence on the death of Queen Anne and to congratulate George I on his accession, confirming a shift to the Whigs which was further endorsed by three parliamentary lists at the beginning of the new reign. Before the end of the year, his loyalty to the Hanoverians had been rewarded with the post of commissioner of trade and plantations, an appointment recommended by his active participation in the government of New Jersey.6
Docminique remained a steady supporter of the administration for the rest of his parliamentary career. He also proved a most loyal servant of the Board of Trade, attending his final meeting only days before his death on 17 Mar. 1735. His longevity was evidently more celebrated than his public profile, for one obituarist reported that Docminique could recall watching the procession of Oliver Cromwell† en route to Parliament. He was succeeded in both fortune and parliamentary seat by his son Charles†, and having channelled much of his wealth into Surrey properties in the course of his life, was buried at Chipstead.7
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Author: Perry Gauci
- 1. PCC 96 Ducie; IGI, London; London Mar. Lic. ed. Foster, 727; Blore, Rutland, 182; CSP Col. 1711–12, pp. 2, 282.
- 2. CSP Dom. 1661–2, p. 286; Publns. Huguenot Soc. liv. 92; Cal. Treas. Bks. ix. 621, 1698; xvii. 309.
- 3. Debates and Procs. 1694–5, pp. 25, 27, 38; J. Prebble, Darien Disaster, 20, 38; HMC Lords, n.s. ii. 5.
- 4. HMC Lords, n.s. ii. 517; New Jersey Archives ii. 459–60; I. K. Steele, Pol. of Colonial Policy, 151–2; Manning and Bray, Surr. ii. 237, 243, 245; Cam. Misc. xxiii. 55–56; Luttrell, Brief Relation, v. 623.
- 5. Huntington Lib. Q. xxxiii. 158; SRO, Cromartie mss GD 305 addit./bdle. xv, acct. of debate, 18 June 1713; Boyer, Pol. State, v. 389; D. Szechi, Jacobitism and Tory Pol. 137.
- 6. NSA, Kreienberg despatch 16 Mar. 1714; NLS, Advocates’ mss, Wodrow pprs. letters Quarto 8, f. 64; Douglas diary (Hist. of Parl. trans.), 15 Apr. 1714; Cal. Treas. Bks. xxii. 395.
- 7. Jnl. Commrs. Trade and Plantations, 1735–41, p. 10; London Mag. 1735, p. 160; Manning and Bray, 441–2.