GOTT, Peter (1653-1712), of Stanmer, Suss. and Hatton Garden, 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

Constituency

Dates

1690 - 1695
1698 - Nov. 1701
1708 - 1710
1710 - Apr. 1712

Family and Education

bap. 22 May 1653, 1st s. of Samuel Gott† of Battle, Suss. by Joan, da. and coh. of Peter Farnden of Sedlescombe, Suss.  educ. G. Inn 1670.  m. lic. 16 July 1677, his cos. Martha (d. 1732), da. of Thomas Western of St. Dunstan-in-the-East, London and Rivenhall, Essex, Citizen and ironmonger, sis. of Samuel Western*, 5s. 4da.  suc. fa. 1671.1

Offices Held

Sheriff, Suss. 1688–9, freeman, Hastings by 1695; commr. repairing Sussex roads, 1709–?d.2

Dir. New E. I. Co. 1698–?1699, Bank of Eng. 1698–1700.3

Biography

Gott’s father, a Presbyterian MP during the Interregnum and in the 1660 Convention, was a successful lawyer and ironmaster who had settled in Sussex shortly after his marriage and established extensive ironworks in the county. The Gotts were connected by marriage and the iron business to the Western family of Sussex, links no doubt enhanced by the fact that Samuel Western, Gott’s cousin and brother-in-law, was his exact contemporary and a fellow pupil at Gray’s Inn. It is not clear to what extent Gott himself maintained the family iron interests in the 1670s and 1680s, but with the resumption of war in 1690 he became one of the major suppliers of iron ordnance to the government. In 1685, as a baron of the Cinque Ports, Gott had helped carry the canopy over the Queen at the coronation but is not heard of again until he unsuccessfully contested Rye and Hastings in 1689. He was finally returned for Hastings in 1690. Never an active Member, Gott’s political sympathies were obscure for some time. He was classed as ‘doubtful’ in Lord Carmarthen’s (Sir Thomas Osborne†) list of the new Parliament and in the next session, in a list of 16–22 Dec., Carmarthen classed him as a probable supporter in case of an attack against him in the Commons. Robert Harley* described Gott in a list of April the following year as a Country supporter, and in 1693 he was listed by Grascome, apparently in error, as a placeman. He was granted leave of absence five times during this Parliament: twice for public service (23 Dec. 1691, 21 Dec. 1693), once for his health (30 Mar. 1694) and twice for unspecified reasons (3 Jan. 1693, 5 Feb. 1695).4

Gott did not stand for Hastings in 1695, but was successful again in 1698, when his allegiance had become clearer and he was classified as a Court supporter in a comparative analysis of the old and new Parliaments. A petition against him by the defeated candidates was rejected. That same year he had been elected a director of both the Whig-dominated Bank of England and New East India Company, and an analysis of the House of January–May 1700 classed him as in both the Junto and New East India Company interests. He was again given leave of absence on 16 Mar. 1700. He continued to sit for Hastings in the first Parliament of 1701, but was, as usual, inactive, and his name did not appear on any parliamentary list. Outside Parliament, there is an indication of sympathy towards Dissent in his attendance at a local Quaker wedding.5

Gott was defeated in the December 1701 election at Winchelsea, and his petition against the return of John Hayes, referred to committee on 12 Jan. 1702, was never reported. In 1705 he voted for the eastern candidates (a Whig and a Tory) in the Sussex election, local politics apparently overriding party considerations, but he himself did not stand again until 1708. In the meantime he had purchased the manor of Stanmer for £8,000 and made it his principal seat. This, together with his property in Rye and elsewhere in Sussex, gave him sufficient standing to contest the county in 1708, although as a precautionary measure he also stood at Lewes. Successful in both constituencies, he chose to sit for the county and handed over the Lewes seat to his eldest son Samuel. Classed as a Whig in a list of early 1708, he was classed as a ‘gain’ for the Whigs by Lord Sunderland (Charles, Lord Spencer*). He was named as a commissioner in the Act of 1709 enabling the repair of local Sussex roads. In support of the administration he voted for the naturalization of the Palatines in 1709, and for the impeachment of Dr Sacheverell in 1710, but his son’s presence in this Parliament makes it difficult to distinguish their respective activities. In February 1709 a Gott was named as one of those Whigs who objected to their party’s overtly partisan decisions on election disputes and deliberately absented himself from votes on such cases, although he had not previously been ‘thought likely to boggle at such practices’. Gott’s identification by one modern historian as a ‘Country Whig’ on the basis of this evidence cannot be sustained in the face of his otherwise pro-Court record. His interest in the Bank of England would appear to have ended by 1710 as he does not appear as one of the stockholders in a list of 25 Mar. Gott’s loyalty to the Whigs was rewarded when a younger son, Peter, was appointed receiver-general of the land tax for Sussex in January 1710.6

Taking Samuel’s place at Lewes in 1710, Gott snr. was classed as a Whig in the ‘Hanover list’ of the 1710 Parliament, and on 7 Dec. 1711 voted for the motion of ‘No Peace without Spain’. On 2 Apr. 1712 he was one of the petitioners to the Lords for an act to settle the estate of Samuel Western, but not long afterwards he w