HERBERT, Francis (c.1667-1719), of Oakly Park, nr. Ludlow, Salop.
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Family and Education
b. c.1667, 1st s. of Richard Herbert of Oakly Park and Bromfield, Salop and Dolgeiog, Mont. by Florentia, da. of Richard Herbert†, 2nd Baron Herbert of Chirbury, sis. and coh. of Henry, 4th Baron Herbert. educ. at home; Christ Church, Oxf. matric. 26 Mar. 1683, aged 16; G. Inn 1687. m. 24 Feb. 1702 (with £24,000), Dorothy (d. 1717), da. and coh. of John Oldbury, merchant, of Broad Street, London, 6s. (4 d.v.p.) 7da. suc. fa. 1676, uncle 4th Baron Herbert in estates 1706.1
Freeman, Ludlow 1683, common councilman 1697; sheriff, Salop 1696–7, Mont. 1709–10.2
Herbert began his parliamentary career having already inherited from his father lands in Montgomeryshire and Shropshire, with in consequence some electoral interest at Ludlow, and having become heir presumptive to the still more considerable estates of Lord Herbert of Chirbury, his uncle and guardian. Lord Herbert, a strong Whig, took a close interest in his nephew’s upbringing, and Francis Herbert was returned at Ludlow in 1689 with the support of the Whig faction there. However, he voted with the Tories in the Convention. He did not stand for re-election at Ludlow the following year, and when it was suggested that he be put up instead at Montgomery Boroughs, where his uncle had influence, Lord Herbert would not nominate him, preferring to continue with the outgoing Member, his own cousin Charles Herbert.3
Lord Herbert died in 1691 and control over his estates passed immediately to his nephew, who at the next general election proposed to put up for Shropshire against the sitting Whig Member, Hon. Richard Newport I*. Herbert had quarrelled with his uncle’s widow, who was Newport’s sister, and this was said to have ‘stirred him up to oppose Lord Newport’s being made knight of the shire’. The two sides agreed to a ‘composition’, however, and Herbert withdrew. In 1698, however, he was returned at Ludlow, at the head of the poll, and he was subsequently listed as a supporter of the Country party and likely to oppose a standing army. It is clear Herbert was not an active Member, although his parliamentary activity is difficult to distinguish from that of James Herbert I*. He was certainly absent at the beginning of the 1699–1700 session, for Robert Harley* wrote to him on 7 Dec. 1699 to promise to assist him to avoid censure for non-attendance, adding, ‘your company was wanting extremely yesterday’. Having been defeated at Ludlow in January 1701 Herbert regained his seat at the election in December.4
In February 1702 he married an heiress (the daughter of a recently deceased London merchant) ‘said to be worth to him £60,000 sterling’. He was listed as supporting the motion vindicating the Commons’ proceedings in the impeachments of the Junto ministers on 26 Feb. 1702, was forecast in March 1704 as a supporter of the goverment’s actions in the Scotch Plot, and though forecast as a probable supporter of the Tack in October 1704, either voted against it or was absent on 28 Nov. Not a candidate himself at the 1705 election, he may well have voted for John Vaughan*, a Tory, against Charles Mason*, a Whig, in the contest at Montgomery; and in 1708, having again considered the possibility, he did not stand and voted for the Tory candidates Sir Thomas Powys* and Acton Baldwyn* in the poll at Ludlow.5
As sheriff of Montgomeryshire in 1710 Herbert played a small part in promoting the Sacheverellite agitation by taking it upon himself in March to appoint as preacher of the assize sermon at Welshpool Frederick Cornwall, vicar of Bromfield (a parish in which one of his own estates lay). The right of appointment properly belonged to the bishop of St. Asaph, and it was only after the bishop’s nominee had ‘yielded to the importunity’ of the would-be interloper that Cornwall was able to take his place in the pulpit. Once there, Cornwall delivered a harangue wherein, in the words of the Post Man,
he took occasion from the late proceedings against Dr Sacheverell to make divers false, seditious and scurrilous assertions and insinuations, highly reflecting upon the Queen, both Houses of Parliament, and her Majesty’s officers and ministers of state and others employed in her service.
Sir Joseph Jekyll*, chief justice of the circuit, reacted as if the sermon had been a personal as well as a political affront to himself. Having failed to obtain an indictment of the preacher by the grand jury, Jekyll pressed Lord Sunderland (Charles, Lord Spencer*) for action to be taken against Cornwall by the church authorities and personally revenged himself on Herbert, who was fined £200 by Jekyll on absenting himself from the ‘grand sessions’ of the county in the following September. In a petition presented afterwards to the Queen, Herbert alleged that
Sir Joseph Jekyll’s displeasure arose from a sermon preached before him, in which the power of the royal prerogative was advanced further than was agreeable to his sentiments; for, after the imposition of a fine, he (the judge) turned to a gentleman near him on the bench and said he would teach the petitioner to put up such a parson.
Herbert, who claimed that he had stayed away from the sessions ‘for fear of the smallpox’, asked for a remission of the fine. By September 1711 it had been decided that his petition should be granted and in February 1712 a warrant was issued discharging him of the debt ‘in compassion to his family which is represented . . . to be very numerous’.6
Although he had been spoken of as a candidate at Ludlow at an early stage in the election of 1710, Herbert did not in fact stand again until 1713, writing on that occasion to Lord Oxford (Robert Harley) to say that he had been prepared to put his interest at Ludlow at the disposal of Oxford’s son Lord Harley (Edward*), but that as the latter had not declared his candidature he considered it necessary to stand himself, in order to oppose the pretensions of Sir Thomas Powys to be able to control the representation of the borough. Were Oxford even then to ask him to withdraw, he added,
I will acquiesce, and easily lay down my small pretence of an interest in that corporation. And will only thus far presume to assure your Lordship that I am so ready to observe your commands, that were I sure of being elected, you might order me to desist upon the election day.
No such request was forthcoming, and Herbert consequently maintained his candidature. In a contest with two other Tories, Acton Baldwyn and Humphrey Walcot*, he was defeated. The following February he again petitioned the Treasury, on this occasion for payment of an arrear of £1,125 which, he claimed, was owing to his uncle, Lord Herbert, at the time of the latter’s death.7
At the 1715 election he stood on his own interest, both at Ludlow, where he was again faced with a contest against Baldwyn and Walcot, and at Montgomery Boroughs, where he had another Tory opponent, John Pugh*. Herbert was successful at Ludlow but beaten at Montgomery, petitioning against Pugh’s return only to let the petition drop before it was heard. He was listed as a Whig in a comparative analysis of the 1713 and 1715 Parliaments.8
Herbert is not known to have suffered financial hardship: indeed he was reported to have left an estate of £8,000 a year to his eldest son. However, his wife’s will, dated 27 Sept. 1717, mentioned that he had not paid her the £200 a year ‘pin money’ contracted for in their marriage settlement, nor repaid any part of either the principal or the interest on a loan of £700 which she had made him ‘some time’ previously. His own will, dated 20 Oct. 1718, included a bequest of gloves and mourning rings to ‘all the gentlemen of the chamber of Ludlow’. He died on 27 Feb. 1719 and was succeeded by his eldest son, Henry Arthur Herbert†, later created Lord Herbert of Chirbury and subsequently Earl of Powis.9
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Author: D. W. Hayton
- 1. Trans. Salop Arch. Soc. ser. 2, vii. 35–36; PRO 30/53/8/2, 101; Post Boy, 24–26 Feb. 1702; Glos. RO, D2700/100/5/2; PCC 95 Browning; Salop Par. Reg. Soc. Hereford dioc. v. Bromfield, 76–80, 82, 84, 86–87, 89.
- 2. Salop RO, Ludlow bor. recs. adm. of freemen; min. bk. 1690–1712.
- 3. VCH Salop, iii. 257; Add. 29578, ff. 529, 531; PRO 30/53/8/98.
- 4. PCC 66 Bence; Herbert Corresp. ed. W. J. Smith (Univ. of Wales Bd. of Celtic Studies, Hist. and Law ser. xxi), 314–15, 354; Mont. Colls. xx. 53; Bull. Bd. of Celtic Studies, xx. 293–8.
- 5. Post Boy, 24–26 Feb. 1702; CJ, xv. 94; PRO 30/53/8/107; Staffs. RO, Aqualate mss, Ludlow poll 1708.
- 6. G. Holmes, Trial of Sacheverell, 237; Lansd. 1024, f. 210; HMC Portland, iv. 539; SP 34/12, f. 1; Cal. Treas. Pprs. 1708–14, pp. 340–1; Cal. Treas. Bks. xxv. 467; xxvi. 168.
- 7. Add. 70263, Salwey Winnington* to Robert Harley, 25 Sept. 1710; 70031, Herbert to Ld. Oxford, 31 July 1713; Cal. Treas. Pprs. 1708–14, p. 556.
- 8. Bull. Bd. of Celtic Studies, 299.
- 9. Worcester Post-Man, 13 Mar. 1719; PCC 95 Browning, 215 Tenison.