ERNLE, Sir Edward, 3rd Bt. (c.1673-1729), of Winterbourne Maddington, Wilts.
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Family and Education
b. c.1673, 2nd s. of Edward Ernle of Ashlington, Wilts. (1st s. d.v.p. of Sir Walter Ernle, 1st Bt.†) by Anne, da. of Edward Ashe† of Heytesbury, Wilts. m. Frances, da. and h. of Thomas Erle*, 2da. suc. bro. as 3rd Bt. 1690.1
Although his principal seat lay in southern Wiltshire, Ernle successfully contested Devizes on his own interest in 1695 on the strength of his inherited property near the borough, where his cousins, established at Brimslade Park, Wiltshire, also held a number of tenements. His grandfather had also represented the borough. Ernle was forecast as likely to oppose the Court on 31 Jan. 1696 in the division over the proposed council of trade. He signed the Association, and in March voted against fixing the price of guineas at 22s. In the following session, he voted on 25 Nov. against the attainder of Sir John Fenwick†. On 4 Mar. 1697 he was sent to the Lords to desire a conference regarding their amendments to the bill preventing the sale of Indian silks, which he reported on the following day. In the next session he was asked by Devizes corporation to deliver their address to the King in respect of the damage the war had done to its cloth industry and the benefits they hoped to gain from the peace. On 11 May 1698, he was granted leave of absence.2
By the time of the 1698 election his marriage to the daughter of General Thomas Erle had transformed Ernle into a Whig. At first he intended to stand for re-election at Devizes, but finding his interest in abeyance he challenged successfully for the county seat. He was classed as a Court supporter in a comparative analysis of the old and new Parliaments, but left no mark in the Journals. On a classification of the House into ‘interests’ in early 1700 he was included under those headed by Henry Boyle*. He did not stand in the first general election of 1701, but when Erle left his own borough at Wareham to sit for Portsmouth Ernle replaced him at the ensuing by-election. At the next election Ernle was returned for Heytesbury, another constituency close to his properties. Classed as a Whig by Robert Harley* in December 1701, he acted as a teller on four occasions in the 1701–2 Parliament. Twice he told on bills relating to Irish forfeited estates, once on proceeding to a choice of public accounts commissioners and once on an election dispute. He failed to find a seat in 1702 and had to wait for Erle to bring him in at a by-election for Wareham in February 1704. He did not vote for the Tack in the following November and acted as a teller on three occasions: on 11 Jan. 1705 in favour of allowing Protestant freeholders in the six northern counties to carry arms; on 21 Feb. against adding a clause to a bill prohibiting trade with France; and on 2 Mar. against clauses to a mutiny bill.
In the 1705 election Ernle unsuccessfully contested Wiltshire, but on this occasion his father-in-law could not provide him with a seat at Wareham. He was invited to contest Marlborough in 1708 by the Duke of Somerset, but was dropped before the poll. At the by-election caused by the Earl of Hertford’s (Algernon Seymour*) decision to sit for Northumberland the Duke put him up again and this time he succeeded. In the Commons he acted as a teller on 12 Feb. 1709 in favour of the Whig candidate for Hindon, and voted for naturalizing the Palatines. In the following session, he received leave for three weeks on 22 Dec. 1709, but returned to vote for the impeachment of Dr Sacheverell. Perhaps as a consequence, he seemed to have difficulty finding a seat in 1710 and was eventually brought in at a by-election for Wareham later in the year. He does not seem to have been as active in this Parliament. He received leave for a month on 10 May 1712. On 2 May 1713 he was a teller against suspending for two months the duties on imported French wines, and four days later voted against the French wines duty bill. He did not stand in 1713 but he returned to Parliament after the accession of George I and in 1715 was classified as a Whig in a comparison of the two Parliaments.3
On Erle’s death in 1720 Ernle inherited the electoral interest at Wareham, for which borough he returned himself in 1722. However, some animosity had evidently developed between the two men, for in his will Erle had stipulated that his estates in Dorset and Devon were to be held by trustees for his daughter, Frances, and that Ernle should ‘not intermeddle, have challenge, receive or take any benefit, property or advantage thereby, but shall be wholly excluded therefrom’. Ernle could only acquire the profits of the estates on the condition that his wife predeceased him and that he paid both his daughters £15,000 for their advancement. Ernle’s will, made on 10 May 1727, testifies to his growing financial difficulties, for his estates were subject to several jointures with his wife and mother, and most of the profits were siphoned off to pay the £10,000 dowry for his daughter’s marriage to his nephew Henry Drax. His wife was left the household goods of the Charlborough and Maddington residences and was asked to ensure that the daughter’s dowry was successfully settled. Ernle died on 31 Jan. 1729, the baronetcy being inherited by his cousin, Sir Walter Ernle.4
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Author: Paula Watson
- 1. Wilts. Arch. Mag. xi. 192; Prob. 6/105, f. 276.
- 2. Wilts. RO, Devizes bor. recs. G20/1/19, min. bk.
- 3. Wilts. RO, Ailesbury mss 1300/1348, Charles Becher to Ld. Bruce, 1708; Walpole mss at Wolterton, Somerset to Robert Walpole II*, 5, 9 Dec. 1708; Churchill Coll. Camb. Erle mss 2/19, same to Erle, 9 May 1708; PCC 71 Abbott.
- 4. PCC 252 Shaller, 71 Abbott.