GARDINER, Francis (c.1634-c.1714), of Norwich and Loddon, Norf.
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Family and Education
b. c.1634, s. of Dr Francis Gardiner, vicar of Kendal, Westmld. 1627–40. m. (1) Euphrosyne (d. 1662), s.p.s.; (2) Pleasance, da. of William Stebbing of Framsden, Suff., s.p.s.; (3) 1663, Cecily (d. 1681), da. of Stephen Baxter of Mendham, Suff., 3s. 1da.; (4) lic. 3 July 1684, Anne, wid. of George Bagnall, fishmonger, of St. Lawrence Jewry, London, s.p.1
Freeman, Norwich 1661, alderman by 1678–Mar. 1688, Oct. 1688–d., sheriff 1680–1, mayor 1685–6.2
Dep. master, Norwich mint by 1696–bef.1699.3
A successful linen draper, Gardiner took a leading part in Norwich politics in the 1680s. Although a Tory, he sought at first to make peace between the parties, and, while eventually supporting the surrender of the charter in 1683, steered throughout a moderate course. This led the more extreme Tories in the city to ‘nickname’ him privately as a Whig, which he deeply resented, protesting to the Earl of Yarmouth (Robert Paston†), ‘it is well known I was born loyal, and that my friends and fortune were sacrificed in defence of King Charles the blessed!’. In 1687 he gave negative answers to King James’s ‘three questions’ and was subsequently removed both from Norwich corporation and from the commission of the peace.4
Gardiner was returned for Norwich without opposition in 1695. Probably on account of his position at the Norwich mint he was consulted by the Privy Council over the coinage crisis: he favoured devaluation. On 12 Dec. he was appointed to the drafting committee for a bill to regulate the coinage. He was forecast as a likely opponent of the Court in the divisions of 31 Jan. 1696 on the proposed council of trade. He signed the Association in February, and voted against fixing the price of guineas at 22s. in March. On 8 Apr. he was given an unspecified leave of absence, and was again granted leave on 5 Feb. 1697, this time for six days. He wrote to the chancellor of the Exchequer, Charles Montagu*, in November asking for permission to remain in Norwich ‘for the clearing of the mint’ should Parliament be called before the end of the year, and also taking pains to express suitably loyal sentiments:
The malcontents have lived in greater freedom under this king’s reign than in the two former reigns; the double taxes were overbalanced by exemption from bearing offices . . . he had known the King since he was 16 or 17 years of age, and had hopes of his being the greatest prince in Europe . . . the King’s warlike temper made every brave man love and his sneaking enemies fear him; the imposition of the Association upon all, from 16 to 60, would prevent any of the latter remaining; whoever should set up the title of King James, or the pretended Prince of Wales, should be punished as an enemy, and none should hold office until they had taken the oath of allegiance and subscribed the Association.
But he also ventured some critical advice:
The present thoughts about reducing guineas created jealousy and confusions among the people, who were disturbed with burials, births, marriages and the window duty, and unless there was some consideration the peace could hardly be preserved.
He was granted another leave of absence on 7 May 1698, and in July was listed as a placeman.5
Gardiner did not stand in the 1698 election, nor thereafter, though he remained a prominent local Tory. He was described in 1701 as one ‘who has neither spared his time nor his money to collect curious books’. His will, the codicil to which was dated 17 Sept. 1713, was proved on 4 Feb. 1714. His eldest son, Stephen, held the recordership of Norwich from 1703 to 1727, and unsuccessfully contested the parliamentary seat, as a Whig, in 1710.