MONSON, William (c.1653-1727), of Broxbourne, Herts.
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Family and Education
b. c.1653, 2nd s. of Sir John Monson†, KB, of Burton, Lincs. by Judith, da. of Sir Thomas Pelham, 2nd Bt.†, of Halland, Laughton, Suss. m. 18 July 1688, Laetitia (d. 1734), da. of John†, 3rd Baron Poulett, s.p. suc. bro. as 4th Bt. 6 Apr. 1718.1
Freeman, Hertford 1681; commr. charitable uses, Hertford 1708.2
Asst. co. for digging and working mines 1692; member, co. of copper miners of Wales 1693.3
Monson’s family had been settled in Lincolnshire since the mid-15th century and his ancestors had frequently represented the county and the city of Lincoln since 1563. Their principal seat was at Burton, near Lincoln, but as a younger son Monson established himself at Broxbourne, acquired by his grandfather through marriage. In an effort to make his own fortune, he was involved in the early 1690s in two mining enterprises, and a scheme to establish a company of London glassmakers. His political prospects were brighter, since his father and his brother, Sir Henry Monson, 3rd Bt., had held one of the Lincoln seats almost continuously since 1660. However, in May 1689 the latter was discharged from the House for refusing to take the oaths to William and Mary. Rather than follow his non-juring example, Monson himself maintained Whiggish principles, displaying ‘a fervent zeal for the Protestant cause in general, [and] a strict observance of the discipline of the Church of England in particular’.4
Although Hertfordshire-based, Monson was able to use his family interest to prevail at the Lincoln election of 1695. He was forecast as a probable supporter of the Court in the division of 31 Jan. 1696 over the proposed council of trade, signed the Association and in March backed the ministry on fixing the price of guineas at 22s. In common with his cousin Thomas Pelham I*, he voted on 25 Nov. against the attainder of Sir John Fenwick†. In the third session he told on 23 June 1698 against adding a clause to the bill incorporating the New East India Company, which would have maintained parliamentary supervision of the trade and excluded from it anyone not covered by the terms of the bill. He did not stand in 1698, but a comparative analysis drawn up in around September classed him as a Court supporter. Although out of the House, he was active at Westminster in protecting his commercial investments, a petition from him and several others being presented to the Commons on 9 Jan. 1700, complaining that Sir Thomas Grosvenor, 2nd Bt., was using his parliamentary privilege to obstruct their claim to the lease of lead mines in North Wales.
In 1701 Monson made three unsuccessful attempts to be returned for Hertford, failing at both general elections and at a by-election held in February. Probably chastened by this treble defeat, in 1702 he turned his attentions to Heytesbury, where he was returned on the interest of the borough’s Whig patron, William Ashe I*. Displaying party solidarity, on 28 Jan. 1703 he told against the question that the Tory Richard Hele* had been duly elected for Plympton Erle, and on 13 Feb. voted for agreeing with the Lords’ amendments to the bill for enlarging the time for taking the Abjuration. In the next session he was a teller on 11 Mar. 1704 against the motion that the former treasurer of the navy, the Earl of Orford (Edward Russell*), had been negligent in passing his accounts, and seven days later told in favour of reading the report of the trustees for the sale of the Irish forfeitures. In the third session he was listed as a probable opponent of the Tack and did not vote for it on 28 Nov. On 25 Nov. he had told in favour of excusing the Whig Arthur Owen upon his absence at the call of the House. In December he was named to drafting committees on a bill enforcing the Ancholme Level Drainage Act, and a private estate bill in favour of Hon. James Russell*, another Whig. On 18 Jan. 1705 he reported from an inquiry committee into deficiencies in local tax returns.
Continuing to represent Heytesbury in 1705, Monson was classed as ‘Low Church’, and voted on 25 Oct. for the Court candidate as Speaker. Doubtless happy with the tone of the Dr Willis’ sermon to the Commons on the Whig anniversary of 5 Nov., the next day he was charged with conveying the House’s thanks to the preacher. In February 1706 he maintained support for the Court over the ‘place clause’ in the regency bill. In addition, he managed a private estate bill, and on 18 Mar. acted as a teller to amend the wording of a bill for legal reform. In the next session he told on 6 Dec. 1706 in favour of committing to the whole House the bill for regulating the night watch. He also displayed concern for his adopted county, being nominated to draft a bill to continue the Hertfordshire Highways Act. Thereafter, he was closely involved with two private estate bills. In the 1707–8 session he told on 9 Feb. to adjourn debate on a bill to relieve Francis Annesley*. At the 1708 election he at last found success at Hertford, and his return was classed as a gain for the Whigs by Lord Sunderland (Charles, Lord Spencer*). In this Parliament he twice acted as a teller: on 15 Jan. 1709, to uphold the victory of Sir Cleave More, 2nd Bt., at Bramber; and on 14 Apr., against the wording of a bill to preserve the rights of advowson-holders. He voted for naturalizing the Palatines, and the impeachment of Dr Sacheverell in 1710.
In July 1710 Monson presented a virulently Whig address to the Queen on behalf of the freemen and inhabitants of Hertford. However, his local support was insufficient to secure his return for that borough at the ensuing general election. Tory opponents also ensured that he was removed from the Hertfordshire commission of the peace in 1713. Later that year he made interest to be returned for Aldborough, receiving the backing of his kinsman and ward Lord Pelham, who commended Monson for having ‘always stuck firm to the true interest of his country’. Another observer, valuing Monson at ‘£1,200 or £1,500 p.a.’, described him as ‘very well beloved by all who know him’, but he withdrew shortly before the contest, having suffered ‘a fit of the gout’. He did not return to Parliament until April 1715, when Pelham (now Duke of Newcastle) brought him in for Aldborough at a by-election. He remained in Whig ranks, but was prepared on occasion to oppose the administration of James Stanhope* and Lord Sunderland. During the 1715 Parliament he succeeded to his brother’s baronetcy and estates, but did not seek to use this considerable interest to gain a seat in Lincolnshire in 1722. He died on 7 Mar. 1727, aged 73, and was succeeded by his nephew John†.5
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Authors: Paula Watson / Perry Gauci
- 1. Clutterbuck, Herts. ii. 69; Lincs. AO, Monson