STRINGER, Thomas (1660-1706), of Gray’s Inn, Mdx.
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Family and Education
b. 9 Nov. 1660, 2nd s. of Sir Thomas Stringer†, j. Kb 1688–9, of Enfield, Mdx. by his 2nd w. Rebecca, da. of William Nelson, cursitor in Chancery; bro. of William Stringer*. educ. Christ Church, Oxf. 1675; G. Inn 1676, called 1683, ancient 1688. unm.1
Capt. Earl of Danby’s (Peregrine Osborne†) Drag. 1690; capt. 1 Marine regt. 1691–4, Sir Richard Atkins’* (2nd Bt.) Ft. 1694–6, maj. 1696–9, Sir Matthew Brydges’ Ft. 1699–1700; capt. and lt.-col. 1 Ft. Gds. 1700–2; brevet col. 1702; col. ft. regt. 1702–d.; capt. 4 Ft. 1703.
Filazer of Yorks. and Hull 1691–d.2
Commr. waste lands Cheshire and Flints. 1691.3
The son and brother of practising lawyers, Stringer trained for the law but by the time he was appointed in 1691 to the post of filazer of Yorkshire and Hull he had already embarked upon a military career. In July 1690 he obtained a commission as captain, and saw active service in every one of William III’s campaigns. He left Danby’s regiment in 1691, a departure which was either due to, or the cause of, enmity between the two men as on 31 Dec. 1693 they fought a duel during which Stringer was wounded in the thigh. The quarrel flared up again in April 1694 when a fresh challenge was made, but though the King intervened to prevent a further duel, the two men came to blows again in February 1695, both men being slightly hurt. Stringer’s father had purchased a number of burgages at Clitheroe in the 1670s, and had sat for the borough from 1675 to 1681. On his death in 1689 Stringer snr. left these burgages to his son-in-law Anthony Parker* in trust for Stringer jnr. Parker died in 1693, and in 1695 Stringer contested Clitheroe, despite being reported to be in Ireland, with his sister, Parker’s widow, managing his interest for him. Though unsuccessful both at the poll and in his petition Stringer was returned for Clitheroe in 1698.4
In September 1698 a comparison of the old and new Commons listed Stringer as a Court supporter. In view of this classification, and his military career, Stringer’s inclusion in October upon a forecast of opposition to the standing army is somewhat surprising, but on 18 Jan. 1699 he voted against the third reading of the disbanding bill. Stringer’s military experience explains his first recorded speech, on 3 Feb., when the committee of supply considered the number of men to be voted for the navy. As a former captain of marines he was provoked by Robert Harley’s* declaration that the marines had proved to be useless, Stringer informing him that he knew ‘his men behaved themselves in engagements as well as anyone’. During the 1698–9 session Stringer was involved in two bills. He was appointed on 14 Jan. to draft a bill to hinder ‘papists’ disinheriting Protestant heirs, being ordered to take a message to the Lords on 25 Apr. to remind them of this bill, and in April he guided through the Commons a bill to enable two ships to trade as English-built vessels. The session also saw him tell, on 2 May, for a clause to the bill for a duty upon sweets. That Stringer was identified as a Whig and with the Court at this time is indicated by the support given to him by the 2nd Earl of Macclesfield (Charles Gerard*) and James Vernon I* concerning a request (possibly for promotion) directed shortly after the end of this session to the secretary at war William Blathwayt*. Several exchanges in the Commons during the 1699–1700 session confirmed Stringer’s partisan loyalties. On 13 Feb. 1700, for example, he quarrelled with John Grobham Howe when the latter launched a blistering attack on the Whig ministers for accepting crown grants. Stringer replied by citing grants made by Charles II and James II to Tory ministers, telling the House
that he had copies of grants in his hand worth their notice. Grants of lands in most parts of England to one Mr [Charles] Bertie* in trust for some great men, as he supposed that some men were not content with small demands, but that they had begged vast things for small value that would be lords of Soho; and then, when they were disappointed, like the snake in the fable they fled in their masters’ faces and would have bit them too.
Stringer informed the House that he was prepared to justify his accusations ‘without doors’, and when the Tory Thomas Coke complained of Stringer’s comments ‘Stringer vindicated himself’. ‘This’, reported Sir Richard Cocks, 2nd Bt., ‘put us in a warmth. They said merrily in the House that I had planted my great gun opposite to Jack Howe and discharged it full at him. Indeed Stringer did lay about him with hand and tongue.’ His concern to defuse Tory attacks on the grants received by Whig ministers was again evident when following a Commons resolution on 8 Apr. that ‘it was a high crime and misdemeanour’ for a Privy Councillor to pass a grant for their own use, Stringer joined with Sir William Cowper, 2nd Bt., in adding a proviso that this should apply to grants made ‘in any reign’. Stringer pursued this issue two days later, responding to attempts to condemn Privy Councillors who had accepted crown grants by raising the issue of the grants and pension granted to the Duke of Leeds (Sir Thomas Osborne†), a ploy which proved successful in diverting the intended attack upon the Whig ministers. Shortly after this attack on Leeds, Stringer obtained a new commission in the foot guards, which may have been an attempt by the new Tory ministers to silence his opposition in the House. However, in an analysis of the House compiled during this session, he was classified as being in the interest of Hon. Henry Boyle*, which identifies Stringer with the declining Whig interest in the ministry. On 30 Nov. 1699 he featured among the nominees to prepare another bill to stop Catholics disinheriting Protestant heirs.5
In February 1701 Stringer successfully contested Bramber and Clitheroe. On 1 Mar. he was the first-named Member of the committee inquiring into allegations of bribery at Bramber and reported from this committee on the 4th, despite not declaring his intention to sit for Clitheroe until the 6th. He reported from this committee again on the 12th, and the following day delivered evidence on the Bramber election to the clerk’s table. Despite his recent military appointment, Stringer’s loyalties remained defiantly Whig. On 15 Apr. Cocks recorded that he was one of the few Whigs still in place who opposed the impeachment of the Junto Lords. When the following day Stringer’s motion that a condemnation of ‘the unjust union of France and Spain’ be added to an address of support for the King was seconded by the Tory Sir Bartholomew Shower, ‘Stringer not liking his second waived the motion’, which ‘made the House merry’. On 13 May he urged the Commons to overturn the resolution of the elections committee that the Tory George Walcot* had been properly elected for Bishop’s Castle, but his own allegations of ‘notorious ill practices and bribery’ against Walcot were ignored and the committee’s decision was confirmed. Later the same month he clashed again with Howe when, on 27 May, the latter moved a clause to reduce the salaries of office-holders. Cocks attacked the measure, Stringer seconding his motion that pensions should also be abated, saying ‘that he knew one lord that had £3–£4,000 p.a. out of the Post Office’. These comments were aimed at Leeds, and Howe responded by implying that Stringer was acting out of spite against the Duke.6
At the second election of 1701 Stringer was returned unchallenged at Clitheroe. On 6 Jan. 1702 he was appointed to draft a bill for the provision and better employment of the poor. He spoke against the Tory candidate in the disputed Maidstone election on 7 Feb.; was teller on the 27th for a motion to adjourn all committees; and on 10 Mar. was appointed to draft a bill for the relief of a widow and her daughter. In February Stringer obtained the colonelcy of a newly raised regiment and resumed active service, which may account for the three-week leave of absence he was granted on 9 Apr. His return to active service did not prevent him from contesting Clitheroe successfully in 1702, but it seems likely that his new responsibilities may have been the cause of the decline in his parliamentary activity during the 1702 Parliament. On 20 Jan. 1703 he was among those named to draft a bill to apportion the cost of transporting poor felons to gaol, a measure which may have been intended to relieve Clitheroe from the cost of transporting prisoners to Lancaster. On 18 Feb. 1703 he told against bringing up a clause to the bill to advance the sale of Irish forfeitures. He did not vote for the Tack on 28 Nov. 1704, or was absent from the division. Having been returned for Clitheroe in 1705, Stringer was classed as a ‘Churchman’ in an analysis of the new Parliament. He was absent, possibly on active service, from the divisions on the Speaker on 25 Oct. and on the ‘place clause’ of the regency bill on 18 Feb. 1706, but had returned to the House by 18 Mar. 1706 when he acted as a teller. He died in Flanders on 17 Sept. 1706, leaving his heavily mortgaged lands in Clitheroe, Hertfordshire, Middlesex and Sussex to two friends, who sold them to pay off his considerable debts.7
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Authors: Paula Watson / Richard Harrison
- 1. IGI, Mdx.; Le Neve’s Knights (Harl. Soc. viii), 228.
- 2. Luttrell, Brief Relation, vi. 88.
- 3. Cal. Treas. Bks. ix. 1336.
- 4. Luttrell, iii. 3, 445; Portledge Pprs. 196; CSP Dom. 1694–5, p. 98; PCC 36 Coker; John Rylands Univ. Lib. Manchester, Legh of Lyme mss corresp. Roger Kenyon* to Peter Legh†, 19 Oct. 1695.
- 5. Cam. Misc. xxix. 394; Yale Univ. Beinecke Lib. Osborn coll. Blathwayt mss box 19, Vernon to Blathwayt, 27 June 1699; Cocks Diary, 49–50, 95; Vernon–Shrewsbury Letters, iii. 14, 23.
- 6. Cocks Diary, 99–100, 124, 151–2.
- 7. Ibid. 203; Cal. Treas. Bks. xvi. 22; Luttrell, vi. 88; PCC 201 Eedes.