FREKE, Thomas II (1660-1721), of Hannington, Wilts.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
b. 17 Jan. 1660, 1st s. of Thomas Freke of Hinton St. Mary, Dorset by his 2nd w. Elizabeth, da. of Sir William Clarke of Ford Place, Wrotham, Kent. educ. Wadham, Oxf. 1675; M. Temple 1675. m. (1) 10 Oct. 1683, Elizabeth (d. 1714), da. and coh. of Thomas Pile of Baverstock, Wilts., s.p. and Thomas Freke I*; (2) Dec. 1718, Mary Corbett, s.p. suc. gt.-uncle at Hannington 1684.1
Freeman, Lyme Regis 1705.2
In 1684 Freke, a Whig, had inherited a Wiltshire estate worth £1,000 p.a. After two sharp contests at Cricklade in 1685 and 1689, he transferred to Weymouth in 1691, where he established an interest with the help of his kinsman and namesake, Thomas I. Although the two men differed politically, they appear to have been on excellent terms. Their parliamentary activity as recorded in the Journals cannot always be differentiated, although there is some evidence that Thomas II was the more active. On 12 Nov. 1691, ‘Mr Freke’ moved for leave to bring in a bill to reduce the rate of interest, presenting it two days later. ‘Mr Freke’ told on 8 Dec. against a clause in the excise bill to exempt the universities, and spoke on 19 Jan. 1692 in favour of levying a poll tax at four times the former rate. Luttrell has a ‘Mr Freke’ acting as a teller on 16 Feb. 1692, but the Journals ascribe this to Colonel Granville. On 3 Dec. 1692 ‘Thomas Freke’ opposed moves to continue proceedings on the poll bill instead of considering the army estimates, and on the 30th proposed that the landlord's valuation of his estate for the purposes of the land tax should be the upper limit for the rent he could charge. Luttrell refers to Freke ‘junior’ as teller on 23 Dec. 1692, but this time the Journals record a Mr Clark. Twice in January 1693, ‘Mr Freke jnr.’ acted as teller: on the 9th against excluding the universities from the land tax; and on the 26th against a procedural motion on a proposal to reduce the duty on brandy. On 23 Jan. a Socinian pamphlet published by Freke's brother William, was declared an infamous libel and ordered to be burnt by the common hangman; but Freke himself did not take part in the debate. In the debate on the triennial bill on 28 Jan. Freke ‘the younger’ equated the role of the Lords in initiating this bill, which did not ‘immediately concern them’, to that of the Commons in making the Lords ‘purge their House of popish recusants and such as would not take the Test, which you did in King Charles II's time’. A ‘Mr Freke’ acted as a teller on 2 Feb. on the bill to prevent the decay of trade in towns and cities, before being granted three weeks’ leave on both 3 and 4 Feb. In the 1693-4 session ‘Mr Freke’ was a teller on two occasions and received two grants of leave of absence for health reasons.3
Continuing to represent Weymouth in the next two Parliaments, Freke was forecast as a supporter of the Court in the division on 31 Jan. 1696 on the proposed council of trade. He signed the Association the following month, and voted for fixing the price of gunieas at 22s. in March, a ‘Mr Freke’ being granted leave on 5 Mar. 1696. He did not vote on the Fenwick attainder, and Freke ‘junior’ was granted leave of absence on 22 Dec. 1696 and 23 Dec. 1697. He was presumably the ‘Mr Freke’ also granted leave on 15 Feb. 1698 owing to his mother's illness. In September 1698 he was classed as a supporter of the Court in a comparative analysis of the old and new Parliaments. It was probably Thomas II, rather than his namesake, who brought in a Berkshire highways bill on 18 Mar. 1699, and told on 27 Mar. on a clause relating to the navy victualling board. A ‘Mr Freke’ was granted leave on 3 Apr. 1699. In an analysis of the House into interests in 1700 he was classified as a follower of Charles Montagu*. Freke declined to stand at the first 1701 election, as he explained to the Earl of Shaftesbury (Anthony Ashley*):
I am ... of opinion that an entire change is intended and that we are to be in the hands of those who formerly managed us very ill, nor do I believe they are by now less violent, insolent or mischievous in the their inclinations, as there are beasts and birds, so there are men of prey, and that race for a while must and will prevail.
Those that would oppose them have no cement, nor can they . . . create any sort of confidence among themselves . . . I judge nothing but many years and much suffering can reduce them to any temper.
For my own share . . . I know my ability to be no way correspondent to my inclinations to serve the public. This is one reason makes me resolved not to be concerned in this Parliament, which I think is called to make the friends of the Revolution accountable to those very men that were laid aside with King James. Another indispensable one is that my private affairs by means of these long and constant sessions of Parliament are so disordered that it requires time and application to set them right.
His financial situation improved considerably in November 1701, when his wife and her father inherited the estate of Thomas I. Shortly afterwards Freke took up residence at Shroton. He contemplated standing for Dorchester at a by-election in February 1702, but is not known to have stood a poll. Freke supported the unsuccessful attempt by the Dorset Whigs to persuade Thomas Erle* to contest Dorset at the general election of 1702, but was reluctant to involve himself in electioneering at Shaftesbury on behalf of Sir John Cropley, 2nd Bt.* His experience of the incessant demands of the 100 or so electors at his former constituency of Cricklade made him ‘very unwilling to have anything to ask from double the number so near as Shaftesbury’. He set his own sights on Weymouth, but a planned partnership with Anthony Henley* did not materialize. In 1705 he was returned for Lyme Regis, and was classed as a ‘Churchman’ in an analysis of the new House, also voting for the Court candidate for Speaker on 25 Oct. In January 1706, shortly after the return from the Continent of the Duke of Shrewsbury, it was reported that a ‘Mr Freke [possibly Thomas] entertained the company at the Grecian coffee-house . . . with ridiculing his duchess and her conversation, etc.’ This display was prompted by the ‘great umbrage’ felt by the Whigs at reports that Shrewsbury had only been persuaded to return by assurances of appointment to high office. Freke was listed as a Whig before and after the 1708 election, at which he was re-elected for Lyme Regis. The Earl of Sunderland (Charles, Lord Spencer*) classed him as a ‘gain’. He told in favour of recommitting a resolution on subsidies to the Allies on 12 Feb. 1709, and voted for the naturalization of the Palatines. The following year he voted for the impeachment of Dr Sacheverell. Freke retired at the dissolution and did not stand for Parliament again, dying in 1721. The Hannington estate passed to his brother, William.4
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Author: Paula Watson
- 1. The Ancestor, xi. 36–37; Hutchins, Dorset, iv. 333; PCC 195 Barnes, 129 Buckingham; C. B. Fry, Hannington, 44.
- 2. Dorset RO, Lyme Regis mss B6/11, p. 41.
- 3. Luttrell Diary, 14, 66, 142, 191, 287, 337, 341, 355, 388, 392, 396; Luttrell, Brief Relation, iii. 268, 304, 313, 315; Grey, x. 303; Fry, 42-43.
- 4. PRO 30/24/20/97–99; Univ. Kansas Spencer Research Lib. Simpson–Methuen corresp. C163, Sir William Simpson to [?John Methuen*], 7 Jan. 1706; PCC 129 Buckingham.