SACHEVERELL, William (c.1638-91), of Barton, Notts. and Morley, Derbys.
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Family and Education
b. c.1638, 2nd but o. surv. s. of Henry Sacheverell of Barton by Joyce, da. and h. of Francis Mandfield of Hugglescote Grange, Leics. educ. G. Inn 30 Dec. 1667, called ex gratia 12 Nov. 1679. m. (1) bef. 1662, Mary (d. 1674), da. of William Staunton of Staunton, Notts., 5s. (4 d.v.p.) 4da. (2 d.v.p.); (2) 18 Dec. 1676, Jane, da. of Sir John Newton, 2nd Bt., of Culverthorpe, Haydor, Lincs. and Barrscourt, Glos., 3s. (2 d.v.p.) 3da. suc. fa. 1662.1
Commr. for recusants, Derbys. 1675, for inquiry into recusancy fines, Notts., Derbys. and Lincs.2
Ld. of Admiralty Mar. 1689–Jan. 1690.
By 1690 Sacheverell was a parliamentary veteran having been one of the Court’s most effective critics in Charles II’s reign and a leading exponent of Exclusion. Despite a period of collaboration with James II, he was given office by William III as a lord of the Admiralty. However, he rarely attended the board (and never drew his salary), exhibited an increasing sense of disillusionment with the King’s employment of Tory admirals, and was eventually replaced in January 1690. Moreover, he retained his political independence of the Court. In March 1690 he was returned unopposed for Nottinghamshire (a seat designated for him by James II’s agents in 1688) and was classed as a Whig by his old adversary Lord Carmarthen (Sir Thomas Osborne†).3
In the opening session of the Parliament, Sacheverell continued to speak his mind on many of the themes which had made his reputation in the Cavalier Parliament, particularly a concern that the revenue given to the crown be granted and administered properly. On 22 Mar. 1690, in a debate on settling the revenue, he expressed concern over the certain loss of customs revenue in time of war. There is a possibility that this intervention in fact occurred on 27 Mar. for Morrice noted that Sacheverell had attended the session that day for the first time and objected to the motion for settling a revenue on the King, upon which Morrice observed that ‘they could not fall into debate about money the same day it was proposed’. On 28 Mar. he was concerned to ensure that the revenue settled on the King ‘may not be alienated from the crown’, noting, in a telling parallel, that Spanish decline could be attributed to the success of its grandees in securing grants from the monarchy. Later in the same debate he put forward the view that a fund of credit was necessary to encourage people to lend to the government. On 2 Apr. he was appointed to the committee to consider and draft legislation concerning the East Indies trade. Not surprisingly, given his mistrust of governments entrusted with large revenues, he was appointed on 14 Apr. to the committee to prepare the bill for establishing a commission of accounts. On 15 Apr. he was given leave by the House to bring in a clause to repeal the settlement of tonnage and poundage and the excise on James II for life, an undertaking very much in keeping with his mistrust of the executive. In a debate on 17 Apr. on whether the sheriffs of London might be admitted to present a petition, he spoke against the motion, attacking those who had failed to defend the City against quo warranto proceedings (as he had done in Nottingham), but also arguing that to reverse the judgments would ‘put them in a worse state than before their charters’. Sacheverell’s last recorded act of the session was a strong appeal to the Commons, in a speech on 15 May, not to allow the Lords to amend the bill for a poll tax by nominating their own commissioners, saying that
was the money bill of ten times greater consequence than it is, I would never give this up upon a point no way justifiable. It seems the Lords grudge the King the money that the Commons have given him. I would adhere and let the King know who has given the money from him.4
Testimony to Sacheverell’s influence in the Commons at this time survives in a suggestion from Lord Sydney (Hon. Henry Sidney†) and Thomas Coningsby* to the Earl of Portland that he should be approached to manage the Whigs in the forthcoming session and thus ensure their support for the ministry. Their reservation was that they felt Sacheverell to be ‘so full of himself that we believe it may be a matter difficult enough to secure him’. In local politics, his support for the acquisition of a new charter by the borough of Nottingham can be deduced from a list of townsmen to be made members of the new corporation which was sent to him some time in 1691. In the event, Sacheverell did not attend the 1690–1 session, probably due to ill-health. He was classed as a Country supporter by Robert Harley* in April 1691. He died on 9 Oct. 1691 and was buried at Morley. His tomb bore witness to a man ‘who served his King and country with great honour and fidelity in several Parliaments’. He was succeeded by his son Robert*.5