FERRIER, Richard (c.1671-1728), of Great Yarmouth and Hemsby, Norf.

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



1708 - 1715

Family and Education

bap. 24 May 1671, o. s. of Richard Ferrier of Great Yarmouth and Hemsby by Judith, da. and coh. of Thomas Wilde of Lowestoft, Suff.  educ. Great Yarmouth; Sidney Sussex, Camb. 1685; travelled abroad (France) 1687.  m. 1695, Ellen, da. and h. of Robert Long of Reymerston, Norf., 1s. 5da.  suc. fa. 1695.1

Offices Held

Freeman, Great Yarmouth by 1690, common council 1690, alderman 1694–d.; bailiff 1696–7; mayor 1706–7, 1720–1.2


Ferrier, whose family had been among the leading merchants of Yarmouth since settling there two generations before, stood as a Tory candidate in 1708 and was returned at the top of the poll. ‘A very sensible, understanding merchant’ was how Thomas Tanner described him. He was quite active in Parliament, principally on questions of trade and commerce, and especially where the interests of the borough were concerned. He was added to the drafting committees on bills to encourage the fishery (18 Dec.) and on export allowances on Scottish fish cured with foreign salt (23 Feb. 1709). He was granted leave of absence on 17 Dec. 1709 for a month. On 9 Feb. 1710 he was appointed to the drafting committee on the bill for repairing Eddystone lighthouse. He voted against the impeachment of Dr Sacheverell. In the 1710 election he and his relation by marriage, George England II*, were successful on the Tory interest, and he was classed as a Tory in the ‘Hanover list’. From February to April 1711 he managed through the Commons a bill on the assize of fuel, also assisting with the management of a bill to encourage the coal trade. He told on 28 Feb., with his fellow Norfolk MP Horatio Walpole I and opposite two other Tories, against an additional clause proposed to the supply bill; and again on 10 Mar. against a bill permitting the importation of French wines. Listed in April 1711 among the ‘Tory patriots’ who opposed the continuation of the war, he was also included among the ‘worthy patriots’ who had exposed the mismanagements of the previous ministry. He was one of the merchants who provided ships for the expedition to Canada. On 11 Dec. 1711 he presented the Great Yarmouth causeway bill, and managed it through subsequent stages in the House. Three days later he was nominated to the drafting committee on the Norwich workhouse bill, eventually carrying it up to the Lords, for the second time, on 3 Apr. On 26 Feb. 1712 he had taken the chair of the committee on the African trade, acting in this capacity until 27 Mar. 1712, when he was unable to attend because of illness and a deputy was appointed. The committee resuming in April 1713, he took his place once again in the chair, and thereafter managed the bill, ordered following his report on 2 May, to end the Royal Africa Company’s monopoly over the African trade and facilitate the participation of all merchants. Twice he was a teller in divisions on this bill: on 2 June 1713 in favour of an additional clause, and on 8 June that the bill pass. No sooner had it been despatched to the Upper House than he introduced and subsequently managed another for the more local purpose of uniting two parishes in the diocese of Norwich. He voted on 18 June for the French commerce bill. In the same month his son Richard was appointed as a Queen’s waiter in the port of London.3

Ferrier acted as teller on 31 Mar. 1714 on the Tory side in the disputed election for Colchester. He had been one of the foremost supporters of a scheme in Great Yarmouth to build a new church at the southern end of the town, and on 6 Mar. he was at last able to bring in a bill for this purpose, which he saw through the House. On 22 Apr. he presented another bill, also in the interests of his constituents, to allow a drawback on salt exported for use in curing fish. He chaired committees of the whole House on this bill and on a bill for the relief of wine merchants. He told on 7 May against the bill preventing the covert importation of aliens’ goods.4

Ferrier, who stood down from his seat in 1715, was marked as a Tory in the Worsley list. The following year, upon hearing that various applications had been made for his son’s post (despite the fact that the patent had been confirmed by King George), he wrote to Robert Walpole II* at the Treasury to declare that nobody had ‘a truer zeal for his Majesty’s service’ than his son.

And if I have had the misfortune formerly to incur your displeasure, I would hope that my late conduct and influence in this town and neighbourhood (by which not only the public peace was eminently preserved, but by which also, had it pleased God to have suffered the rebellion to spread, we should have appeared an example of loyalty to the best of his Majesty’s towns) will in some measure atone for me.

Nevertheless the patent was revoked soon afterwards.5

Ferrier appeared in the 1721 list of the ‘loyal gentlemen of Norfolk’, compiled by the Jacobite Christopher Layer, with £600 a year. He died on 4 Dec. 1728 and was buried ‘with great pomp and splendour’ in Yarmouth parish church. It was said that ‘by his profuseness’ the family property had been ‘greatly injured’. His political enemies circulated a satirical mock-translation of his Latin epitaph, including the lines:

          For his politic skill
          We refer to his votes
          On the French commerce bill,
          The posts he enjoyed
          Though quite varied in kind,
          Could not be more varied
          Than was his own mind.6

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: D. W. Hayton


  • 1. IGI, Norf.; Cam. Misc. ix. 3–12, 15–39.
  • 2. Norf. RO, Gt. Yarmouth bor. recs. assembly bk. 1680–1701; Cam. Misc. ix. 6.
  • 3. Bodl. Ballard 4, f. 90; Cal. Treas. Bks. xxvi. 255; xxvii. 244.
  • 4. C. J. Palmer, Hist. Gt. Yarmouth, 179–80.
  • 5. J. H. Plumb, Walpole, i. 210–11; Cal. Treas. Bks. xxx. 215.
  • 6. P .S. Fritz, Ministers and Jacobitism 1715–45, p. 145; H. Swinden, Hist. Gt. Yarmouth, 860–1; C. J. Palmer, Perlustration Gt. Yarmouth, i. 237–8; Cam. Misc. ix. 11.