RANDYLL, Morgan (1649-aft.1735), of Chilworth, Surr.
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Family and Education
bap. 7 Oct. 1649, 1st s. of Vincent Randyll, of Chilworth, Surr. by Dorothy, da. of John Duncombe of Weston, Surr. educ. Wadham, Oxf. matric. 1666, BA 1670; M. Temple 1670, called 1677. m. lic. 5 Feb. 1678, Anne, da. and coh. of Sir Thomas Gould, Draper, of Aldermanbury, London, alderman of London 1676–83, 2 da. suc. fa. 1673.
Freeman, Guildford 1679; sheriff, Surr. 1686–7.1
Randyll’s interest at Guildford arose from the proximity of the town to his family’s seat at Chilworth, which lay less than three miles away. His grandfather Sir John Morgan had originally acquired the manor and its powder mills in the early 17th century, and Randyll’s father (Vincent) had developed it into a considerable estate by the time of his death. Vincent Randyll’s steady adherence to the Royalist cause had earned him a nomination for the abortive Order of the Royal Oak, but his son was to pursue a far more idiosyncratic political career which saw his allegiance fluctuate between Whig and Tory camps. On first gaining entrance to Westminster, he was regarded as a Whig, thereby following the example of his father-in-law rather than that of his father. However, such support contributed greatly to his defeat at the election of 1685, a setback which may have influenced his decision to undertake local office under James II. Such political inconsistency was punished by his failure to gain election to the Convention, a defeat which was compounded by the Commons’ rejection of his petition against John Weston* on 24 Apr. 1689.
At the election of March 1690 Randyll gained his revenge over Weston, and for the next 15 years he appeared content to share the Guildford seats with the powerful Onslow interest. Such repeated success, however, was not gained by any consistent political stance on his part, for politicians at Westminster gave conflicting impressions of his allegiance. At the outset of the 1690–5 Parliament, Lord Carmarthen (Sir Thomas Osborne†) classed him as a Whig, but by April 1691 he had been described as a Country supporter by Robert Harley*, a verdict which the latter subsequently amended to ‘doubtful’. Such confusion was also represented in the calculations of Samuel Grascome, who, while classifying him as a pensioner or placeman (for some unknown reason) after the spring of 1693, concluded that he was not a Court supporter. However, on 1 Mar. 1693 he appeared in the Whig camp when acting as a teller in opposition to a bill to satisfy the debts which the London corporation owed to the orphans under its care. Partially explaining these uncertainties about his politics is the fact that Randyll remained an inactive Member throughout his career.
Although Randyll’s political outlook was still unclear early in the next Parliament, his antipathy towards the Court became much more evident as the 1695–8 Parliament progressed. In January 1696 he was initially described as doubtful on the issue of the proposed council of trade but was then forecast as one of the Court’s likely opponents on the issue. More worryingly for him, even though the Association did not present him with any crisis of allegiance on 27 Feb., his name featured in the course of the subsequent investigations into the Assassination Plot. On 12 June one of the interrogated suspects, Peter Cook, testified that Randyll had furnished him with written accounts of parliamentary proceedings. Cook informed the inquiry that Randyll’s good friend, the late Sir Thomas Clarges*, had also provided him with similar reports, but both of them were cleared of any involvement in the Jacobite plot. When the fate of Sir John Fenwick† was debated in Parliament in November, Randyll voted against the attainder, and for the rest of that Parliament showed himself much more openly opposed to the Court. In August 1698 he was forecast as a likely opponent of the maintenance of a standing army, and a month later, in the wake of his victory in the contested Guildford election, another parliamentary observer classed him as a Country supporter.
However, once the disbanding issue had been resolved, Randyll again returned to the political fringes, a move indicated by the failure to identify him with any particular parliamentary interest in 1700. His position on the back benches was in little doubt, although he acted as a teller in favour of a private bill involving his sister-in-law’s husband, Sir Walter Clarges, 1st Bt.* However, after Robert Harley had identified him as a Tory in December 1701, his political allegiance became much more predictable. On 26 Feb. 1702 he voted to vindicate the Commons’ proceedings in the impeachment of the Junto ministers the previous session, and maintained these apparent Tory sympathies under the new monarch on 13 Feb. 1703 when dividing against the Lords’ proposal for an extension of the period permitted for taking the abjuration oath. He was then forecast on 30 Oct. 1704 as one of the Members likely to support the Tack, although in the crucial division of 28 Nov. he either voted against the measure or was absent from the House.
Unfortunately for Randyll, the surest indication of his identification with the Tories was his electoral defeat at the hands of Robert Wroth* in May 1705. Lord Halifax delighted in Wroth’s victory over ‘a bosom friend of Lord Guernsey (Hon. Heneage Finch I*)’, and the result signalled the demise of Randyll’s electoral partnership with the Onslows. At the subsequent county election such antagonism was revealed by Randyll’s decision to plump for their rival Edward Harvey*, and a series of contested elections at Guildford was the most direct consequence of this local split. Even though he had lost his seat, Randyll’s involvement in parliamentary affairs was not completely abated, for in February 1707 he lent his support to a petition to introduce a private estate bill involving Surrey properties. Before the year was out his eagerness to return to Westminster was revealed by rumours of his possible candidacy for Ludgershall. Only a month before the election of May 1708, it was reported that he ‘does design to stand’ for the Wiltshire constituency on the interest of his sister-in-law Lady Clarges, but he withdrew from the contest after he had gained electoral success at Guildford.2
Randyll’s comfortable victory over Wroth was regarded by the Earl of Sunderland (Charles, Lord Spencer*) as a setback for the Whigs, a view which merely endorsed the verdict of another parliamentary list compiled earlier in the year. His opposition to the impeachment of Sacheverell was his only activity of any note in that Parliament, but his support for the Church’s champion did not secure him an easy victory at the ensuing general election. Despite the Tory tide which swept both county and country in 1710, his rival Wroth was returned ahead of Randyll by a margin of just three votes. Within days of the poll Randyll was reported to be resolved to petition, ‘thinking the right to be very plainly on his side’, a confidence which was eventually vindicated on 3 Feb. 1711 when the Commons ruled in his favour. By way of repayment to his Tory allies, he was later cited as one of the ‘worthy patriots’ who in the course of the first session of that Parliament took part in exposing the mismanagements of the previous administration, and was also identified by Boyer as a member of the October Club in February 1712. His attention to other aspects of parliamentary business was unremarkable, although he did act as a teller on 10 Mar. 1711 in favour of hearing the city of Exeter’s petition against the bill to repeal the ban on French wine imports. Furthermore, the following month he was ordered to carry up to the Lords a bill to discharge a debt to the crown, and later reported on a bill to maintain the Equivalent for the corporation of London.
Despite his recent support for High Tory initiatives, Randyll’s independent spirit was once again highlighted in the course of the third session of the 1710 Parliament, and on 18 June 1713 he voted against the French commerce bill. On account of his behaviour in this division he was bracketed with the ‘whimsical’ Tories, and for the rest of Anne’s reign his allegiance was regarded as volatile. The grant of an 11-year lease in August 1713 to raise wrecks in the West country and America may well have been designed by the ministry as a means of securing his support, the value of which was attested a month later by the ease with which he was returned at Guildford. Crucial to that victory was his rapprochement with the Onslows, a development which paralleled his strengthening ties with the Whigs at Westminster. Three parliamentary observers, including the compiler of the Worsley list, cited him as a Whig soon after the Hanoverian succession, and although his subsequent opposition to the Whig ministries casts doubt on his adherence to the party line, he evidently had little difficulty in accommodating himself to the new regime.
The ease of his victory at the Guildford election of 1715 suggested that Randyll’s local influence was unaffected by the change of dynasty, but his fortunes were to decline rapidly as the cost of frequent campaigning over the space of 40 years finally took its toll. In 1720 he was forced to sell his Chilworth estate to a director of the South Sea Company for £29,335, a desperate move which robbed him of an annual income of some £1,000. Unrepentant, he contested Guildford for the last time in 1722, only to be defeated by the increasingly powerful Onslow interest. He then fell into complete political obscurity and the last mention of him came from his grandson Henry Vane† who was involved in making arrangements for Randyll’s maintenance in the Fleet prison in July 1735. The marriage of his daughter Mary to Gilbert Vane, 2nd Lord Barnard, may have served as an indication of Randyll’s influence 30 years before, but it was probably a pauper’s death that he suffered at a date as yet undetermined.3