STONEHOUSE, Francis (1653-1738), of Stock House, Great Bedwyn, Wilts.

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



Mar. 1679 - Jan. 1681
19 Nov. 1694 - 1705

Family and Education

b. 19 Oct. 1653, 1st s. of Duke Stonehouse† of Stock House by Sarah, da. of Francis Goddard of Standen.  educ. Wadham, Oxf. 1671, BA (Oriel) 1674, MA 1677; M. Temple 1673.  m. c.1704 (with £5,000), Frances (?d. 1745), da. of Anthony Ashley Cooper†, 2nd Earl of Shaftesbury, sis. of Anthony, Ld. Ashley*, 2s. 2da. (1 d.v.p.).  suc. fa. 1663.1

Offices Held


At first glance a picture of inconstancy in his politics, Stonehouse was probably a Whig at bottom, his apparent shifts between the parties and between Court and Country to be explained by his concern for his own financial interests or ties of friendship. Originally sympathetic to Exclusion, he had later participated in the commission for the lands forfeited by Monmouth’s rebels, and in 1690 was asked by Sir Edward Seymour, 4th Bt.*, to stand again at Bedwyn. He did not put up on that occasion, but may have helped the two Tories who were returned, one of whom, Lord Falkland (Anthony Carey), he replaced at a by-election in 1694. Following his re-election in 1695, he was much less active. Forecast as likely to support the Court in the divisions of 31 Jan. 1696 on the proposed council of trade, he signed the Association but in the next session voted on 25 Nov. 1696 against Sir John Fenwick’s† attainder. In June 1697 a Francis Stonehouse was given a pass to travel to Holland. After being granted a fortnight’s leave of absence on 25 Mar. 1698 he told on 30 Apr. on the Court side, in favour of engrossing the coal duty bill, but was nevertheless classed as a member of the Country party in a comparative analysis of the old and new Parliaments in September 1698, and was then forecast as likely to oppose a standing army. In early 1700, however, he was listed as being in the Junto interest. His only important act was as a teller on 22 Mar. 1700 in favour of a clause to be added to the Irish forfeitures resumption (land tax) bill, to preserve the grant to Sir Charles Porter’s* children. In the first Parliament of 1701 he told twice, on the Whig side: on 19 Feb. against the motion that Sir Henry Furnese* was guilty of breaching the place Act and on 14 Apr. against finding Lord Halifax (Charles Montagu*) guilty of high crimes and misdemeanours. Included with the Whigs in Robert Harley’s* list of the December 1701 Parliament, he was teller on 21 May 1702 against adding a rider to a bill concerning Irish forfeitures, which would have facilitated the introduction of a writ of error to reverse the outlawry of the Jacobite Charles Trant. Re-elected again in 1702, he was less active, recording only one tellership in this Parliament, against debating the Queen’s Speech.2

Marriage to Lord Shaftesbury’s sister, who had some ‘fortune’ of her own, signalled Stonehouse’s retirement from Parliament, although the new connexion had no discernible effect on his party allegiance. Shaftesbury had indeed opposed the match to begin with as in his words ‘against my opinion and against my judgment’, and the Earl’s correspondence suggests that he felt Stonehouse had somehow ‘ill used’ his sister and made an ‘ill return’ of previous friendship. Although he did not vote for the Tack on 28 Nov. 1704, if anything Stonehouse seems to have turned away from Whiggery at this point, supporting and counselling the Bruce interest in Bedwyn in 1705–8, and actively and even keenly assisting members of the family in their preparation and presentation of election petitions. In this, however, he may have been influenced primarily by his position as a tenant of Lord Ailesbury (Thomas Bruce†). His behaviour after the Hanoverian succession bears the stamp of a shifty opportunism, assurances to Lord Bruce being accompanied by reports that he intended to recommend the Whig William Sloper† to the Bedwyn electorate, or even to ‘set up’ Richard Steele*. Stonehouse subsequently moved away from Bedwyn, first to Standen and eventually to Hungerford in Berkshire, where he was buried on 8 June 1738.3

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: D. W. Hayton


  • 1. Wilts. Arch. Mag. vi. 303; Coll. Top. et Gen. v. 35, 361; B. Rand, Life of Shaftesbury, 320–2; Wilts. RO, Penruddocke mss 332/266, ‘Ld. Shaftesbury’s Instructions’.
  • 2. Bath mss at Longleat House, Thynne pprs. 12, f. 95; HMC Portland, viii. 28–29; CSP Dom. 1697, p. 201.
  • 3. Rand, 320–2; HMC 15th Rep. VII, 189, 199, 217–18, 220; Wilts. RO, Ailesbury mss 9/3514, Stonehouse to Ld. Bruce (Charles*), 10 Nov. 1705; 1300/998, 1320, 1323–4, 1329–30, 1332, 1334, 1338A, 1339, 1428, Ld. Bruce to Ailesbury, 30 Jan. 1705, Charles Becher to Ld. Bruce, 10 Oct. 1705, 9 Dec. 1707, 25 Apr. 1708, Apr. [1708], same to Hon. Robert Bruce*, 27, 29 Oct., 10, 13, 17, 22 Nov. 1705, John Fowler to Ld. Bruce, n.d.; Wilts. Arch. Mag. 303; Coll. Top. et Gen. 361.