HARDRES, Sir William, 4th Bt. (1686-1736), of Hardres Court, Upper Hardres, nr. Canterbury, Kent

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



13 June 1711 - 1713
1713 - 1715
1727 - 11 Apr. 1735

Family and Education

b. 25 July 1686, o. s. of Sir Thomas Hardres, 3rd Bt., by Ursula, da. of Sir William Rooke of Horton, Kent, sis. of Sir George Rooke*.  m. lic. 26 Mar. 1712, Elizabeth, da. of Richard Thomas of Lamberhurst, Kent, wid. of William Disher, merchant, of London, 2s. (1 d.v.p.) 2da. (1 d.v.p.).  suc. fa. as 4th Bt. 1688.1

Offices Held

Freeman, Canterbury 1711.2


Hardres was a distant relation of John Hardres*. Little is known of his life before 1711, when he was elected to Parliament as knight of the shire for Kent. Coming from an ancient family in the county, he obviously possessed the necessary social prestige to fill the gap caused by the untimely demise of Sir Cholmley Dering, 4th Bt.* It appears that Hardres was not the first choice of the Tory gentry to fill the vacancy. However, he was clearly seen as a man of great potential, being described as ‘a young gentleman of great wit, good principles, a very ancient baronet family in Kent’. He was also in comfortable circumstances: ‘a single gentleman . . . a £1,000 p.a. estate, several thousand pounds in his pocket and wood on his estate that needs to be felled worth some thousands more.’ Furthermore, ‘he is a person of great and ready wit and capable of such a jest as you have been told is a formidable thing in the House of Commons’. The Post Boy announced Hardres’ candidature with praise of his ‘unblemished character, known to be truly affected to her Majesty, the established Church and the Protestant succession in the illustrious house of Hanover’. Despite rumours of a Whig challenge, Hardres was returned unopposed. His rise to such an exalted position was meteoric since he had only been advanced to the bench in February 1711 and received the freedom of Canterbury the same year.3

Hardres was one of three Kentish Members ordered on 15 Feb. 1712 to prepare a bill to facilitate the completion of a chapel of ease at Deal through the imposition of a small duty on coal. He presented the bill on 3 Mar., but the proceedings, including chairing the committee of the whole, were taken over by the vastly more experienced Henry Lee*, quite possibly on account of Hardres’ preparations for his marriage. Hardres is not listed as voting in the following session on the French commerce bill, and at the 1713 election he vacated the county seat, removing to Dover, where he defeated Admiral Matthew Aylmer*. Meanwhile, William Pittis confirmed the perceived view of Hardres as a bright prospect in Tory ranks by dedicating to him his History of the Third Session of the Last Parliament.4

Hardres’ new colleague at Dover, Philip Papillon*, wrote in January 1714 that ‘the gentleman that is chose with me . . . lives about ten miles from me at Acrise and nephew to Sir George Rooke, he is a stranger to me’. Hardres remained a Tory, being described as such on the Worsley list. Although the Journals give scant indication of his activities, it is clear from Papillon’s correspondence that whenever matters appertaining to Dover or the Cinque Ports arose, Hardres was consulted. On 22 Mar. 1714, Hardres and Papillon wrote a joint letter to Dover concerning the presentation of a petition for a bill to protect the port’s fishing grounds, although because of ill-health Hardres did not speak when the petition was presented.5

Hardres retired from Dover at the 1715 election but he was still a young man and continued as a j.p., being active in 1719. His name appears in 1721 on a list of potential supporters sent to the Pretender. He was defeated at Canterbury in 1722, but triumphed in 1727, and then continued as Member until 1735, when he resigned the seat ‘on account of gout’. He died on 7 July 1736, his surviving son William succeeding as 5th baronet.6

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: Stuart Handley


  • 1. Add. 33920, f. 56; Mar. Lic. Fac. Off. (Brit. Rec. Soc. xxxiii), 269.
  • 2. Canterbury Freemen Roll ed. Cowper, 318.
  • 3. Bodl. Ballard 15, f. 103; 30, ff. 56, 59; Post Boy, 31 May–2 June 1713; info. from Prof. N. Landau.
  • 4. W. Pittis, Hist. Third Session of Last Parl.
  • 5. Centre Kentish Stud. Papillon mss U1015/C45, pp. 185, 219, 233–4.
  • 6. N. Landau, JPs, 233; P. S. Fritz, Ministers and Jacobitism, 1715–45, p. 150; Gent. Mag. 1736, p. 423.