TRAVERS, Samuel (c.1655-1725), of the Middle Temple and Hitcham, nr. Windsor, Berks.
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Family and Education
b. c.1655, 2nd s. of Rev. Thomas Travers, rector of St. Columb Major, Cornw. by Elizabeth, da. of William Rous† of Halton, Cornw. educ. Exeter, Oxf. matric. 17 June 1674, aged 19, BA 1674; M. Temple 1679, called 1683, associate bencher 1693. unm. suc. cos. Giles Travers at Waltham Place, Surr. 1706.1
Surveyor-gen. of crown lands 1693–1710; surveyor-gen. of Blenheim 1705–16; auditor-gen. to duchy of Cornwall 2 Jan. 1715–d.2
Commr. inquiry into New Forest 1693, Greenwich Hospital 1695; dep.-gov. Royal Fishery Co. 1694.3
The son and grandson of Puritan divines, Travers’ father gained a Cornish living in the 1650s but was ejected in 1662. Travers’ brother followed the family tradition to become minister to an Independent congregation in Dublin, but Travers himself trained for the law. In 1690 he was elected for Bossiney on the interest of his second cousin the 2nd Earl of Radnor (Charles Bodvile Robartes†), and in March he was classed by Lord Carmarthen (Sir Thomas Osborne†) as a Whig. The accuracy of this assessment is indicated by his acting as teller against an attempt to broaden the Aldborough franchise in order to assist Tory petitioners (17 May). Travers’ concern for the security of the new regime was suggested early in the following session by his nomination to draft the bill to attaint rebels and to confiscate their estates (22 Oct.), and by his appointment to prepare a clause to this bill reserving a proportion of the forfeited estates to the crown (6 Dec.). Travers also told on two occasions during this session: for engrossing the bill to reverse the judgment of scandalum magnatum against John Arnold* (1 Dec.), and against an amendment to the clandestine marriages bill (3 Dec.). Also in December he reported and carried to the Lords an estate bill. This modest, though not insignificant, contribution to Commons business continued in the 1691–2 session. On 31 Oct. 1691, for example, he told against granting leave to introduce an estate bill, and on 25 Nov. was nominated to draft a bill to encourage the English manufacture of saltpetre. In the new year Travers told for the second reading of the bill to establish a new East India company (22 Jan.), and in addition to assisting in the management of two estate bills he told on two further occasions: against reserving a third of Irish forfeited estates for those who had served in the army in Ireland (12 Feb.), and against passing an estate bill (16 Feb.). His only recorded speech was made on 18 Feb. during the third reading of the bill to ascertain judicial salaries and commissions, when Travers successfully proposed a clause to restrict judges and other officers at assizes to receiving only ‘ancient legal fees’, and that such fees should be tabulated.4
In December 1691 Travers had been one of two petitioners who had requested a grant of the Irish post office, offering to pay £1,000 p.a. for such a lease, but in March 1692 the Treasury decided that this was ‘not to be done at this time’. He was suggested in the spring of 1692 as a possible addition to the Irish revenue commission, one report noting that it was ‘generally believed’ such an appointment was imminent, but Travers was passed over. Though rebuffed in his pretensions to government favour, he appears by this stage to have become a figure of some prominence in the Commons, being third-named to the privileges and elections committee on 4 Nov. 1692. On 29 Dec. Travers presented to the House a petition from the London cheesemongers, and in January he twice told against clauses offered to the land tax bill (9, 10 Jan. 1693). His main preoccupation in this session was his management of the bill to allow the duchy of Cornwall to make leases, which he reported and carried to the Lords, and was subsequently involved in stating the Commons’ reasons for disagreeing with the Lords’ amendments to this measure. His aspirations to government office were finally satisfied shortly after the end of this session when in April he was appointed surveyor-general of the crown lands, a post which carried a salary of £200 p.a. He was consequently listed by Samuel Grascome as a Court supporter and placeman, and appeared on a number of lists of placemen during the later sessions of the 1690 Parliament. In the 1693–4 session he guided through the Commons a further bill to enable the crown to grant leases in the duchy of Cornwall, and demonstrated his party loyalties on 2 Feb. 1694 by telling on the Whig side in the Clitheroe election case. He also involved himself in two further pieces of legislation, reporting the bills to revive the Act preventing the export of wool (1 Mar.), and for the registration of fishermen for the navy (26 Mar.), and twice told on the Court side in divisions upon supply measures (13 Mar., 14 Apr.). During the 1694–5 session his Court and Whig sympathies were in evidence. On 22 Nov. 1694 he told in favour of John Lunt giving evidence to the House on the Lancashire Plot, and during the consideration of the triennial bill on 13 Dec. Travers told against limiting the life of the current Parliament to five years. In the new year he told, on 26 Jan., against engrossing the place bill and, on 6 Feb., in favour of the motion declaring that there had been ‘a dangerous plot [in Lancashire] carried on against the King and government’. During this session Travers was also listed as a ‘friend’ of Henry Guy*, probably in connexion with the Commons’ attack upon Guy.5
Though Travers transferred from Bossiney to Lostwithiel at the 1695 election it was again the interest of his cousin Lord Radnor which secured his return. His contribution to the business of the House markedly declined in the 1695–6 session, but he consistently supported the Court. He was forecast as likely to support the Court in the divisions of 31 Jan. 1696 over the council of trade and, having signed the Association, he voted in March for fixing the price of guineas at 22s. In the 1696–7 session he voted, on 25 Nov., for the attainder of Sir John Fenwick†. The following month the Commons was informed that Travers had become, in May 1696, a trustee for a grant to the Duke of Leeds (formerly Carmarthen), but otherwise his contribution to this session was slight. During the 1697–8 session, however, Travers was more conspicuous. In January and February 1698 he guided the estate bill of Sir William Godolphin† through the House, and he also took an interest in moral reform, being appointed on 9 Feb. to draw up an address calling upon the King to suppress profaneness and immorality and telling on 21 Mar. against an amendment to the resulting bill. During this session Travers also told in favour of amendments to the salt duty and Two Million Fund bills (18, 22 June). Included in the summer of 1698 on a list of placemen, Travers retained his seat at the election that autumn, and in about September a comparison of the old and new Commons classed him as a Court supporter. On 18 Jan. 1699 he voted against the third reading of the disbanding bill. He was otherwise inactive in this Parliament, though on 31 Jan. 1700 he presented to the House papers relating to royal grants. In early 1700 he was listed as attached to the interest of the Earl of Radnor.
Travers does not appear to have stood at either of the 1701 elections or that of 1702. On 25 Jan. 1704 he was one of those who petitioned the Commons to ask that the grant to the Duke of Leeds, for which he was a trustee, be exempted from the grants resumption bill. The following year Travers was appointed surveyor-general responsible for the building of Blenheim Palace, which led to his canvassing New Woodstock in the interest of the Duke of Marlborough (John Churchill†) at the 1705 and 1708 elections. In 1708 Travers regained a seat at Bossiney with the support of William Hooker* in an arrangement which led later that year to a grant being made to Travers of the nearby Tintagel Castle (see BOSSINEY, Cornw. and HOOKER, William). Shortly after his election he was classed by the Earl of Sunderland (Charles, Lord Spencer*) as a ‘gain’, and in early 1709 supported the naturalization of the Palatines. In March he was appointed to draft the bill for the fortification of the harbours of Portsmouth, Chatham and Harwich. On 14 Apr. he told in favour of going into a committee of the whole on this bill, subsequently chaired the committee, reported, and carried the measure to the Lords. In the following session he voted for the impeachment of Dr Sacheverell.6
Following the ministerial revolution of 1710 Travers was removed from his post of surveyor-general of the crown lands, and did not stand at the election later that year. In the spring of 1711 he lobbied Robert Harley* for payment of arrears which had accumulated in his former post, and though, as he himself admitted to Harley, ‘my dependence and expectation[s] have been another way for the greatest part of the time since I had the honour of being known to you’, his request was granted in September 1711. Travers did, however, retain his post as surveyor-general of Blenheim, and after the Hanoverian succession obtained further office and returned to the Commons. He died on 17 Sept. 1725.7
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Author: Eveline Cruickshanks
- 1. D. Lemmings, Gent. and Barristers, 53-54; Her. and Gen. iv. 109–12; info. from Dr D. F. Lemmings.
- 2. Cal. Treas. Bks. x. 152; xvii. 38; xxiv. 84, 465, 473; Townshend mss at Raynham Hall, box ‘State Pprs. 1716–21’.
- 3. Cal. Treas. Bks. x. 759; Add. 10120, f. 3; Luttrell Diary, 506.
- 4. Calamy Revised ed. Matthew, 490; S. S. Travers, Travers Fam. 58, 66–75; Luttrell Diary, 192.
- 5. Cal. Treas. Bks. ix. 1425; x. 152; Cal. Treas. Pprs. 1557–1696, p. 223; CSP Dom. 1691–2, p. 245; PRO NI, De Ros mss D638/13/132, John Pulteney* to Ld. Coningsby (Thomas*), 9 Apr. 1692; Luttrell Diary, 339, 427, 453.
- 6. Cal. Treas. Bks. xv. 400; xvii. 370; xix. 189; xxii. 264, 283–4, 316; Marlborough–Godolphin Corresp. 417; Add. 61353, ff. 5, 36.
- 7. Add. 70278, Travers to [Harley], 7, 13, Mar. 1710–1.