HART, Percival (1666-1738), of Lullingstone, Kent
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Family and Education
bap. 7 May 1666, o. s. of Sir Percival Hart of Lullingstone and the Middle Temple by Anne. educ. ?Eton 1678; M. Temple 1682, called 1688. m. 28 Nov. 1689, Sarah (d. 1720), da. and coh. of Henry Dixon of Hilden, Tunbridge, Kent, 1da. suc. fa. 1688.1
Sheriff, Kent 1706–7.
Hart came from a long-established Kentish parliamentary family, his great-grandfather, Sir Percival, having sat as knight of the shire in the 1601 Parliament. He followed family tradition, being admitted to the Middle Temple, where he was called to the bar and took over his deceased father’s chambers in February 1688. Thereafter little is known of his career until his appointment in July 1700 to the commission of the peace. He joined the county lieutenancy in January 1703, and was pricked as sheriff in 1706–7.2
Serving in these local offices was often viewed as the ideal apprenticeship for an aspiring parliamentary candidate, and Hart was first suggested as a possible Member while serving as sheriff. Discussions among Tories in 1707 at Maidstone assizes revealed a body of opinion wishing to put Hart forward instead of Lord Villiers (William*). The advocates of such a change had their way in 1708, but Hart lost the election. Although it was reported in one newsletter that he would challenge David Polhill* in January 1710 for the vacancy left by the deceased Sir Samuel Lennard, 2nd Bt.*, Hart remained aloof from the contest, biding his time until the general election later that year, when he topped the poll. His politics were unequivocally Tory. He was classed as a Tory on the ‘Hanover list’ of the 1710 Parliament, and was noted as one of the ‘worthy patriots’ who in the first session of that Parliament helped detect the mismanagements of the previous administration. He was also a member of the October Club.3
Hart’s name appears on the canvassing list produced in about January 1712 by Lord Treasurer Oxford (Robert Harley*), probably in connexion with the attack in the Commons on the Duke of Marlborough (John Churchill†). He was concerned in several local legislative projects, being named on 15 Feb. to d