SCLATER (afterwards BACON), Thomas (c.1664-1736), of Catley, Cambs. and Gray's Inn

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1713 - 1715
27 Jan. - 27 May 1715
1722 - 23 Aug. 1736

Family and Education

b. c.1664, s. of Edward Sclater of Kingston-upon-Hull, Yorks by Frances, da. and coh. of Leonard Thompson, ld. mayor of York.  educ. St. Paul’s; Trinity, Camb. adm. 13 June 1682, aged 17; G. Inn 1694, called 1703, bencher 1724.  m. 22 May 1716, Elizabeth (d. 1726), ?da. of John Bacon, merchant, of Little Paxton, Hunts., whereupon he assumed name of Bacon, s.psuc. to estates of gt.-uncle Sir Thomas Sclater, 1st Bt., of Catley 1684.1

Offices Held

Freeman, Cambridge 1714.2

FRS 1721.


Sclater, whose own father had died young, acquired a stepfather in 1673 when his mother married Edward Thompson*. He subsequently became heir to the extensive Cambridgeshire estates of his great-uncle, Sir Thomas Sclater, and their relationship was no doubt assisted by Sclater’s residence at Cambridge University. Sclater duly inherited the estates in 1684, but, unusually, chose at a later stage to train and then practise at the bar. Robert Harley* was keen for him to contest the university at the general election of 1710, no doubt encouraged by Sclater’s acquaintance with many senior figures, but he was refused the support of Lord Anglesey (Hon. Arthur Annesley*) and desisted rather than split the Tory vote. Sclater then embarked on a campaign to gain the nomination for the next election. However, when a by-election took place in 1712 he did not stand (see CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY, Cambs.).3

Sclater had no connexion with Bodmin so his return for the borough in 1713 should perhaps be put down to the influence of his correspondent, Lord Oxford. Sclater was resident at Catley not far from Wimpole, where Oxford’s son (Edward, Lord Harley*) was to set up residence, and this fact, plus his withdrawal from Cambridge University, may explain why he was able to come in for a Cornish seat. That he felt some obligation to Oxford is clear from a letter of 10 Oct. 1713, which he wrote from Catley to the lord treasurer asking to be excused from coming up to London until the meeting of Parliament. He was classed as a Tory in the Worsley and other lists comparing the 1713 and 1715 Parliaments. He was nominated to two drafting committees, and was teller on a procedural matter on 23 June 1714, just after the passing of the schism bill.4

In 1716 Sclater made a favourable marriage to ‘Mrs Elizabeth Bacon’, who had been ‘under his charge’, presumably as a ward. She was a relative of a London merchant, John Bacon, who purchased land in Huntingdonshire. Sclater, who had adopted the surname of Bacon on his marriage, died on 23 Aug. 1736, ‘of a palsy, worth £200,000, and without a will’, although the report that he died intestate was incorrect. His will of 1724, made before the death of his wife, left his estate for life to a ‘kinswoman’, Sarah, the wife of his coachman, and the remainder to her two sons. His half-brothers from his mother’s second marriage, Leonard and Luke Thompson, were his ‘next of kin’ when the will was proved in 1736.5

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Authors: Eveline Cruickshanks / Stuart Handley


  • 1. Reg. St. Paul’s ed. McDonnell, 288; Fam. Min. Gent. (Harl. Soc. xxxviii), 532–3; info. from Dr D. F. Lemmings; IGI, Cambs.
  • 2. Cambs. RO (Cambridge), Cambridge bor. recs. common day bk. 1681–1722, p. 529.
  • 3. PCC 11 Cann; VCH Cambs. vi. 85; HMC Portland, iv. 605–6; v. 93–94.
  • 4. Add. 70206, Sclater to Oxford, 10 Oct. 1713.
  • 5. HMC Portland, vi. 148–9; VCH Hunts. ii. 333; VCH Cambs. 102; Gent. Mag. 1736, p. 488; PCC 194 Derby.