GALE, Roger (1672-1744), of Scruton, Yorks. and Bedford Row, London

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



3 Dec. 1705 - 1713

Family and Education

b. 1672, 1st s. of Thomas Gale, of Scruton, high master of St. Paul’s 1672–97 and dean of York 1697–d., by Barbara, da. of Roger Pepys of Impington, Camb.  educ. St. Paul’s; Trinity Coll. Camb. 1691, BA 1695, fellow 1697, MA 1698; incorp. Oxf. 1699.  m. Henrietta (d. 1721), da. of Henry Roper of Cowling, Kent, 1s. 1da. d.v.psuc. fa. 1702.1

Offices Held

Commr. stamp duties 1714–15, excise 1715–35.2

FRS 1717, treasurer 1728–36; vice-pres. Soc. of Antiquaries 1717–18.3


Gale’s family had been settled in Yorkshire since 1523, and had acquired Scruton by the early 17th century. Gale himself was educated at St. Paul’s school, where his father was headmaster, and then at Cambridge, after which he became a distinguished antiquary. Ralph Thoresby, a close friend of Gale’s, described him as a ‘learned and ingenious gentleman’. Having been successful in a contested by-election for Northallerton in December 1705, Gale was inactive during his early years in Parliament. On 17 Mar. 1708 he was teller for a bill to encourage trade with America, while three days later he carried up a bill for allowing two Russian-built ships to trade with Russia. He was re-elected unopposed for Northallerton in 1708, in which year he was classed as a Whig in two separate analyses of Parliament before and after the election. He acted as a teller on 2 Dec. for a motion which favoured the Whig candidate in the disputed Reading election. In February 1709 he told against recommitting a resolution in relation to supply, while in March he told against recommitting the report relating to the breach of privilege against George Duckett* and for an amendment to the mutiny bill. During this session he supported the naturalization of the Palatines. In the 1709–10 session he acted as a teller on 31 Jan. 1710 against receiving the report on the place bill the next day, while in March he reported on and carried up the bill for regulating servants’ wages. In keeping with his Whig affiliations, he voted for the impeachment of Dr Sacheverell.4

Successful once more for Northallerton in a contested election in 1710, Gale sent Thoresby an account of the early days of the new Parliament:

Hitherto we have gone on pretty quietly and unanimously in Parliament, having had little more before us than common forms of business and the land tax, which we shall get finished before Christmas. I believe our proceedings will hardly be so quiet after the holidays, when impeachments, particularly of my Lord Wharton [Hon. Thomas*], are much talked of. By the petitions, and several gentlemen I have discoursed with, I find the like violences in elections have been used all over the nation, and that our county was one of the calmest in the kingdom: in short, the House has undergone this great change, purely by the false suggestions of the hot-brained C[hurchmen], and outrageous proceedings of the unthinkable mob; but the quo warrantos were such a rock in King James’s time, that I can not think the present ministry will venture splitting upon it again.

Gale was classed erroneously as a Tory in the ‘Hanover list’, probably in mistake for Leonard Gale, the Tory Member for East Grinstead. The parliamentary activity of the two Gales is difficult to distinguish, although it was probably Roger who told on 27 Jan. 1711 against a motion that the Tory John Boteler* was duly elected for Hythe. Other activity, including leave of absence granted on 21 Feb. 1711 and 10 May 1712, cannot be attributed with certainty to either Member. It was probably Roger, however, who, in the 1713 session reported on and carried up a bill relating to an estate in Yorkshire. On 18 June he voted against the French commerce bill, on which occasion he was classed as a Whig.5

Gale did not stand for election in 1713, writing to Thomas Hearne, on 25 June, ‘after the Parliament is dissolved you must not direct to me any more as a Member, being resolved for the future to decline that troublesome post, and give myself the satisfaction of a life far more agreeable to my inclination’. For the remainder of his life he devoted himself to antiquarian pursuits, publishing a number of learned works and becoming a founder member and first vice-president of the Society of Antiquaries. He numbered among his friends Browne Willis*, William Stukeley and Hearne, who described him in 1712 as ‘my good and kind friend’, but modified this opinion by 1725 to write, ‘’tis very well known that he is a very great Whig, a man of a very stingy temper, notwithstanding he be very rich and is in a wealthy post’. Gale died on 25 June 1744, and was buried at Scruton. He left his manuscripts to Trinity College, Cambridge, and his collection of Roman coins to the university library.6

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Authors: Paula Watson / Ivar McGrath


  • 1. Nichols, Lit. Anecs. iv. 536–50.
  • 2. Cal. Treas. Bks. xxix. 194, 835; Cal. Treas. Pprs. 1735–8, p. 154.
  • 3. Recs. R. Soc. 341, 394; Nichols, 543–4.
  • 4. Nichols, 536–48; Thoresby Diary, ii. 51, et seq.; Boyer, Pol. State, vii. 290.
  • 5. Thoresby Letters, ii. 288–9; Speck thesis, 84.
  • 6. Hearne Colls. ii. 203; iii. 467; iv. 205; viii. 112; ix. 25; Nichols, 536–7, 548.