LISTER, Thomas I (c.1658-1718), of Coleby, Lincs.
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Family and Education
b. c.1658, 1st s. of William Lister of Coleby by Frances, da. of Sir John Franklyn† of Willesden, Mdx. educ. Sidney Sussex, Camb. adm. 7 Apr. 1675, aged 16; G. Inn 1678. m. 5 June 1683, Jane, da. of John Hawtrey of Ruislip, Mdx., 1s. d.v.p. 6da. suc. fa. 1687.1
Sheriff, Lincs. 1695–6; freeman, Appleby 1704.2
Commr. army, navy and transport debts 1700–5, public accts. 1711–14.
Lister was a descendant of a family settled at Wakefield, Yorkshire in the 15th century. His great-grandfather had established himself at Coleby, six miles from Lincoln, and became sheriff of his adopted county, while his great-uncle Thomas Lister represented the town in the Long Parliament. Lister himself gained the shrievalty of Lincolnshire in December 1695, but analysis of his public career in the capital is hampered by the prominence of several namesakes. In particular, Thomas Lister (d. 1711), of Whitfield, Northamptonshire, an equerry under Queen Anne, is more likely to have been carver to Queen Mary and gentleman usher to the Duke of Gloucester from 1698 to 1700. However, in April 1700 the future Member was positively identified by James Vernon I* as one of the newly elected commissioners for army, navy and transport debts. Such promotion may well have been aided by his influential political contacts, most notably Sir Christopher Musgrave, 4th Bt.*, who had married Lister’s aunt, and Ralph Hawtrey*, his wife’s uncle. The commission gave him an annual salary of £400, and involved him with investigations into the monies unaccounted for in the hands of John Parkhurst*, as well as the charges against Lord Ranelagh (Richard Jones*) as paymaster. Given his connexion with Musgrave, he was probably the ‘honest Mr Lister’ who during Anne’s reign frequently dined at Bishop Nicolson’s in the company of Christopher Musgrave*, Jonathan Jennings* and Thomas Harrison*.3
Returned unopposed for Lincoln in 1705 on his own interest, Lister was listed as a ‘Churchman’, and also regarded as a loss for the Whigs by Lord Sunderland (Charles, Lord Spencer*). On 25 Oct. he duly voted against the Court candidate as Speaker, and, in common with other Tories, on 30 Jan. 1706 highly commended the sermon preached in the House by Dr Kennett. In his first session he was named to the drafting committee for a bill to improve navigation to Boston, but was inactive thereafter. Listed as a Tory in 1707–8, he encountered no opposition at the Lincoln election of May 1708. His only action of note in the ensuing Parliament came on 20 Apr. 1709 when he told against a motion to agree with the Lords’ amendments to the bill for preventing arson. The following year he opposed the impeachment of Dr Sacheverell. After a narrow victory at Lincoln in 1710, he was classed as a Tory in the ‘Hanover list’. In March 1711 he came sixth in the ballot for commissioners of accounts, and was thus involved in the inquiries into allegations of malpractice against the Duke of Marlborough (John Churchill†) and Robert Walpole II*. He was subsequently identified as one of the ‘worthy patriots’ who in the first session detected the mismanagements of the previous administration and as a ‘Tory patriot’ who opposed the continuation of the war in 1711. He was also noted as a member of the October Club. Given such interests and commitments, he may well have been the Lister who on 9 Mar. 1712 discussed current affairs at Christopher Musgrave’s with such ‘high gentlemen’ as Lord Downe (Hon. Henry Dawnay*) and James Grahme*. The following summer he presented to the Queen Lincoln’s address of thanks for communicating peace terms. The arrival at Westminster of his namesake (and probable distant relation) Thomas Lister II obscures his activity after April 1713, although his seniority argues for his identification as the more active Member. Remaining loyal to the ministry, he voted on 18 June for the French commerce bill.4
Lister topped the poll for Lincoln at the general election of September 1713, and the following June took first position in the ballot for the commission of accounts. He evidently enjoyed broad-based political support, for his was the only name to appear in the rival lists put forward by the October Club and by the Speaker, Sir Thomas Hanmer, 4th Bt. He left London at the end of the session, but returned after the death of Queen Anne, that ‘melancholy surprise’ as he called it. He did not stand at the general election of 1715, but was classed as a Tory in the Worsley list. He died on 8 Feb. 1718, leaving considerable property in Lincolnshire and London to be divided among his six daughters. His grandson Thomas Scrope represented Aylesbury and Lincoln under George III.5