WINNINGTON, Salwey (1666-1736), of Stanford Court, Stanford-on-Teme, Worcs.
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Family and Education
bap. 28 Aug. 1666, 1st s. of Sir Francis Winnington* by 2nd w.; bro. of Edward Winnington*. educ. M. Temple 1683. m. 24 July 1690 (with £8,000), Anne, da. of Thomas Foley I*, sis. of Edward*, Richard* and Thomas Foley III*, 3s. (2 d.v.p.) 5da. suc. fa. 1700; bro. Edward to Clifton-on-Teme 1725.1
Freeman, Bewdley 1694, Stafford 1694.2
Commr. taking subscriptions to land bank 1696, S. Sea Co. 1711.3
Commr. public accts. 1711–14.
Despite being the son of an eminent lawyer and receiving some legal education, Winnington was not marked out for a career at the bar. Indeed, his father seemed eager to convert the wealth garnered from his successful legal career into a landed estate for his eldest son: in 1686 he conveyed the manors of Rochford and Tenbury in Worcestershire to Salwey (perhaps as a precaution following James II’s accession to the throne). Little is known about his formative years, although in February 1690 Edward Harley* expressed the hope that he would be chosen at New Windsor. The main influences that shaped his political career were, first, his father’s record of opposition to the Court and consequent connexion with various Whig leaders, and, secondly, his own marriage which, via the Foleys, brought him into the orbit of Robert Harley*, the major figure in the realignment of political forces which saw Country views increasingly assimilated into Tory ideology during Winnington’s time in the Commons.4
Winnington’s opportunity to enter Parliament occurred at Bewdley, as a consequence of Henry Herbert’s elevation to the peerage in April 1694, and the absence of a Herbert candidate at the ensuing by-election. Winnington was given leave on 11 Feb. 1695 due to the illness of his wife. This was only granted after a division in which one of the tellers opposing his request was a Foley, possibly indicating that the current controversies over the excise and corruption were deemed more important than family convenience.5
Winnington was re-elected for Bewdley in 1695 without opposition. Based on his record as a teller, he appears as a keen debater on the issues of the day. In the first session of the new Parliament he acted as a teller on 23 Dec. 1695 in favour of receiving the report on the bill for regulating the silver coinage on the following Friday (27 Dec.), but this move was defeated when the House opted for the following day instead. He was forecast in January 1696 as a probable opponent of the Court on the proposed council of trade, an issue related to the extension of executive power, but he signed the Association in February. He also acted as a teller on one of the session’s most controversial pieces of legislation, the bill for encouraging plate to be brought into the Mint for recoining. The main point at issue was the clause setting the price of guineas: on 26 Mar. 24s. was rejected in a division, while 22s. was accepted, and the House then divided on the clause as a whole, with Winnington telling in its favour. Somewhat surprisingly, his name does not appear on the extant division list on the price of guineas which may mean that he was absent on 20 Mar., or that the tellers were not included on the 26th. In the following session he acted as a teller on two occasions: on 9 Oct. 1696 in favour of a motion for candles to allow the inquiry to continue into why the Toulon fleet was not intercepted going into Brest; and on 16 Feb. 1697 against a resolution for the establishment of a committee of the whole to consider further a supply for raising the £840,000 shortfall in the money granted the previous session. On the major issue before Parliament in this session, he voted on 25 Nov. against the attainder of Sir John Fenwick†. The 1697–8 session provided a clear demonstration of his Country principles. On 11 Feb. 1698, in concert with one of his Foley relatives, he was named to draft a bill for further securing the freedom of elections. His only tellership during the session was on 3 May, in favour of the passage of a supply bill placing a duty on coals.
The 1698 election saw Winnington’s father stand down as a Member and his own unopposed return for Bewdley. His father’s retirement made little discernible impact on his political behaviour, which was confirmed by the appearance of his name on two parliamentary lists: the first, compiled about September 1698, classed him as a Country supporter, while the second noted him as likely to oppose a standing army. He acted as a teller on three occasions during the session: on 18 Feb. 1699, in favour of an amendment to a supply resolution which tightened the definition of the 15,000 seamen provided, so as to include only those ‘according to the ancient usage of the navy’; on 8 Mar. in favour of engrossing the place bill; and on 26 Apr. against an amendment to the bill placing a duty on paper. Although most of this evidence places him firmly among the opponents of the Court, there was a limit to his opposition as there was to that of the Harley–Foley group in general. It was noted on one occasion by James Vernon I* after a debate on the bill for the disbandment of the army on 28 Mar., when ‘some joined with us today from whom it was hardly to be expected, as Mr Foley and young Winnington. Mr Harley withdrew before the question.’ Here was opposition tempered by restraint. He acted as a teller on two occasions in the next session: on 2 Mar. 1700 against a motion that James Sloane was capable of serving for Thetford; and on 26 Mar. against proceeding on the report of the bill for the repair of Dover harbour.6
Winnington was deeply interested in the workings of both Parliament and government generally. Many documents relating to public affairs and dating from this period were owned by the family, but were lost when Stanford Court burnt down in 1894. Still extant, however, are notes in his hand of debates in the Commons during the 1697–8 and 1698–9 sessions. Furthermore, these proclivities were not secret but attracted comment from contemporaries. Walter Moyle* in February 1699 remarked that though Roman history was an agreeable amusement it was not ‘so profitable as what Salwey Winnington is embarked in, which may qualify him upon the next vacancy to be a lord of the Treasury’. Ambition apart, it seems that he was engaged in some kind of financial study. Likewise, in December 1701, the pamphleteer, Charles Davenant*, pressed Harley to ‘send to Mr Winnington for his papers for I am at a full stand without them’.7
With Lord Herbert’s manoeuvres over Bewdley charter checked, albeit temporarily, Winnington was returned unopposed at the January 1701 election. In the new Parliament he was very active. He was noted in February as willing to support the Court on the continuation of the ‘Great Mortgage’. His attitude to the two major issues of the session seems clear enough. He supported the impeachment of the King’s Whig ministers, being added to the committee appointed to draw up articles against the Earl of Portland on 15 Apr. 1701, a committee then charged with the like task in relation to the other impeached peers. On the same day he acted as a teller for a motion to address the King to remove one of them, Lord Somers (Sir John*), from his Council and his presence forever. He also opposed the preparations for war with France and was later blacklisted because of it.
The 1701 Parliament seems to have been crucial in determining a realignment of political forces in Bewdley. Winnington’s attitude to the war and the impeachments put his seat in jeopardy, more particularly because the recorder of Bewdley refused to support any candidate favourable to the latter. However, an apparent breach between the recorder and Lord Herbert prevented Winnington’s opponents from coalescing behind a rival candidate, thus facilitating his re-election in November 1701. Evidence from 1702 suggests that in the November county election, Winnington had committed himself fully behind the outspoken Tory, Sir John Pakington, 4th Bt.*, whereas in January he had voted for William Walsh*, a Whig close to Somers. Two other parliamentary lists add further weight to the contention that he was becoming increasingly associated with the Tories at a national level. In Harley’s analysis of the Parliament which met in December 1701 he was grouped with the Tories, and on 26 Feb. 1702 voted for the motion vindicating the Commons’ proceedings over the impeachments of the King’s Whig ministers. His main interest in the 1701–2 session appears to have been to prevent any statutory exceptions to the Act of 1700 for the resumption of the forfeited estates in Ireland. On 28 Feb. and 18 Apr. 1702 he acted as a teller against motions for leave to bring in bills for the relief of purchasers of the forfeited estates in Ireland.8
Following his return at the 1702 election, Winnington wrote to Harley on 3 Oct., three weeks before the start of the new Parliament:
neither the campaign of hop pullers nor conversion of my neighbours hath kept me at home. The first was very short, and as unprofitable to me as the campaigns in Flanders have been to England; the second is done to my hands, the great success of this summer which is principally owing to your counsel in the winter hath more effectually converted the county than arguments or powerful ale could ever do.
He ended the letter by informing Harley of his intention to be in London the day before the session began, no doubt in readiness to vote for Harley as Speaker. Winnington was clearly not an advocate of a continental war, but of equal importance, perhaps, was his respect for Harley as a politician. Nevertheless, even the apparent contradiction of close support for one of the Court’s leading managers in the Commons (as Harley increasingly became), along with an instinctive lack of sympathy with the main policy pursued, may not be a sufficient explanation for the marked decline in his parliamentary role as measured by the frequency with which he acted as a teller. On 10 Dec. 1702, he told against proceeding upon a petition from the Merchant Taylors’ Company. This was the last occasion on which he served as a teller for over five years. The most obvious explanation is that though he remained a follower of Harley, he left the burden of the argument to the ministry’s more committed supporters. This interpretation is consistent with his position on the most controversial issue of the Parliament, the Tack. From the very first he was against it, being forecast in October 1704 as an opponent of the measure. His name also appears on Harley’s canvassing list with a marginal note that he was to be approached by one of his Foley relatives. He voted against the Tack, or was absent, on 28 Nov.9
There is, however, another possible reason for Winnington’s lack of activity, at least in the 1705 Parliament; this was the distraction caused by Lord Herbert’s renewed attempts to gain control of Bewdley. At the 1705 election, Winnington was faced by Hon. Henry Herbert* and was only returned after some dubious manoeuvres by the deputy-recorder. Lord Herbert then spent the next two years harrying Winnington’s supporters in Bewdley with lawsuits and an application for a new charter, a challenge to which Winnington responded with vigorous measures in defence of his position. Although Charles Davenant, for one, regarded Winnington’s continued presence in the Commons as a victory for the Tories, it would be wrong to portray him as an opponent of the Court. One analysis of the new Parliament noted him as a ‘Churchman’, but he was absent from the division on the Speakership on 25 Oct. 1705. Furthermore, he acknowledged Harley’s help in fending off Herbert’s election petition and had felt no compunction about approaching the Treasury on behalf of one Richard Thornton for a post in the revenue service in May 1705. Winnington’s return to activity as a teller on 5 Feb. 1708, at the very height of Harley’s battle for power at court and with his own cause at Bewdley looking increasingly precarious, is very instructive. He acted as a teller in favour of adding a clause at the report stage of the bill for the sale of annuities. This was probably the last clause in the Act which declared null and void all subscriptions to the fund obtained before the bill received the Royal Assent. Here were Winnington’s Country prejudices writ large: mistrust of deficit financing and particularly of those men, mainly Whigs and well connected with the ministry, who sought to profit from the war. Somewhat untypically, he was ordered to prepare a naturalization bill on 24 Feb. 1708, which he presented the following day but which then seems to have lapsed. He was classed as a Tory on two analyses of 1708.10
Just before the 1708 election, Lord Herbert finally secured a new charter for Bewdley. At the ensuing election Winnington stood on the rights of the old charter, but the high sheriff accepted the return of Hon. Henry Herbert elected under the new one. Winnington petitioned against the return, where, despite being defeated, he managed to turn the affair into a cause célèbre for the Tories (see BEWDLEY, Worcs.). He did not contest the by-election caused by Herbert’s succeeding to his father’s peerage which took place in March 1709. The election of 1710 saw a repeat of events in 1708. Anthony Lechmere* was returned on the new charter interest, with Winnington petitioning as the champion of the old. However, the outcome was different, with the upshot that Winnington’s case was viewed favourably by the new Tory-dominated Commons and he was seated on 19 Dec. 1710. He was classed as a Tory on the ‘Hanover list’ of the new Parliament. This association became closer with his re-entry into a chamber dominated by Tories and a ministry headed by Harley in which many of his relatives held places. Winnington himself eschewed office (although his brother did not) which may owe something to his mistrust of executive power. As late as 1709 Peter Wentworth could delineate the difference between Winnington and the new Lord Herbert by referring to the former as ‘what they call an old Whig’ and the latter as a ‘Lord Treasurer’s Whig’. Indeed, his espousal of ‘Country’ principles may have made him exceptionally useful to Harley. During the first session of the 1710 Parliament he was listed as a ‘worthy patriot’ who had detected the mismanagements of the previous administration and as a member of the October Club. According to Ralph Bridges, Winnington was ‘one of the heads’ of the club, although his presence may have been prompted by Harley’s need for information about their activities. Certainly Winnington’s ‘Country’ reputation was such that he could be relied upon to attack popular Tory measures. His two tellerships during the 1710–11 session are very illustrative of his attitude. On 25 Jan. 1711 he told against a resolution on the Stafford election petition which allowed that the sons of burgesses and those having completed a seven-year apprenticeship had a right to be burgesses. As a freeman of Stafford, Winnington had an obvious interest in the case; more interestingly, he was supporting the view taken by the Whig candidate, Walter Chetwynd II*, a man of more malleable principles, well suited to Harley’s ‘moderate’ scheme, than his Tory opponent Henry Vernon I*. Furthermore, the Chetwynds were the traditional challengers to his Foley relatives in the seat. On 17 Apr. he was a teller against the passage of a bill for preventing bribery in elections, a prime example of an unwelcome measure being killed off by the Court. In the ballot for commissioners of accounts on 19 Mar., he was elected in third place.11
The pattern of Winnington’s involvement in the House continued along similar lines in the 1711–12 session. In the censure debate on 24 Jan. 1712 over the Duke of Marlborough’s (John Churchill†) conduct, he told against a Whig attempt to water down a resolution condemning his actions in taking money from army contractors as ‘unwarrantable and illegal’ through the insertion of a phrase that the money constituted customary payments to the commander-in-chief. His other activity concerned the compilation and presentation of reports from the commission of accounts and his appointment to count the ballot for commissioners to inquire into crown grants. In the 1713 session, as Harley (now Earl of Oxford) came under increasing pressure, Winnington’s support for the ministry became more noticeable, particularly with regard to the French commercial treaty which was under attack from both Whigs and dissident Tories. On 4 June 1713, he told in favour of committing the bill confirming the 8th and 9th articles of the treaty. Two days later he acted as a teller against an unsuccessful motion in favour of an address for an account of the rule mentioned in the 9th article which provided for the payment of duties in the provinces not contained in the tariff of 1664. Not surprisingly, he voted for the bill on 18 June 1713.
Winnington was returned at the 1713 election despite the fact that the 1708 charter was still in force. On the Worsley list he was classed as a Tory and he continued to support the Oxford ministry in the 1714 session. His main activities included the presentation of the reports of the accounts commission (for which he did not stand in 1714). He was appointed to accompany Thomas Harley* on a special embassy to Hanover in April 1714. If he did go, he was back in the Commons by 7 May (Harley remained in Hanover until 14 May). On 12 May in the committee of the whole on supply he opposed a subsidy backed by other members of the Court, prompting Lord Johnston (James*) to talk of a new split in Tory ranks. He acted as a teller on two occasions, both relating to supply: on 12 June against the recommittal of a resolution aimed at encouraging the leather industry by allowing a drawback of the whole duty of 1½d. per pound on all tanned leather made into goods and exported; and on 22 June in favour of a resolution to place additional duties on a whole range of commodities from coal exports to transfers of stocks.12
With the Whig charter still in place in 1715, and Tory optimism blunted by the Whigs’ return to power, Winnington was defeated at the 1715 election and did not stand again. Defeat may indeed have been welcome in terms of financial relief from having to maintain an interest at Bewdley. Little is known about his political activities during retirement, but his reputation as a parliamentary expert lived on: