WREY, Sir Bourchier, 5th Bt. (c.1683-1726), of Trebeigh, Cornw. and Tawstock, Devon
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Family and Education
b. c.1683, 1st s. of Sir Bourchier Wrey, 4th Bt.* educ. Eton; privately; Christ Church, Oxf. matric. 12 July 1700, aged 17. m. 28 Feb. 1708, his 1st cos. Diana, da. of John Rolle of Stevenstone, Devon, sis. of John I* and Robert Rolle*, wid. of John Spark*, 5s. 4da. suc. fa. as 5th Bt. 28 July 1696.1
Wrey succeeded to his father’s title and to estates in Devon and Cornwall while still a minor, but he was unable to comply with the wish expressed in his father’s will that he be educated at Eton. Though Wrey entered the school he described it to his mother as ‘this loathed place’ and quickly withdrew, afterwards receiving his education from a private tutor. Only months after his father’s death Wrey gained a life interest in the estates of his father’s friend Sir William Williams, 6th Bt.*, at Vaynol, Caernarvonshire, valued at approximately £2,500 p.a. This inheritance led to a dispute with Arthur Owen II*, who was determined to press his own claim to these estates. Wrey’s guardians were thus forced to initiate legal proceedings to secure possession of the Williams estate, and in 1697 and 1698 they successfully petitioned the Commons to prevent Owen using his parliamentary privilege to obstruct their legal actions (see OOWEN, Arthur II). In 1699 the court of Exchequer confirmed Wrey’s right to the Vaynol estates, but appeals and counter-appeals prolonged the dispute for many years. The long drawn-out case provided the occasion for what became a well-known story: when one of Wrey’s lawyers recommended him to the lord chancellor as ‘a pillar of the Church’, the retort was that ‘he may be one of the buttresses, but certainly not one of the pillars, for he is never seen inside its walls’.2
Returned for Camelford at a by-election in 1712, probably with the support of Lord Lansdown (George Granville*), Wrey was included on most, though not all, of the published lists of the division of 18 June 1713 as voting for the French commerce bill. The only other matter of note concerning Wrey in this Parliament was the passage of a private bill to allow him to sell part of his estates to pay his wife’s jointure and to raise money owed to his brother. Wrey retained his seat at the 1713 election but made no significant contribution to this Parliament, the Worsley list classifying him as a Tory. His parliamentary career ended with the death of Queen Anne, although his being commissioned in August 1714 as a deputy-lieutenant for Cornwall suggests that he was not at this time thought hostile to the Hanoverian succession. By the 1720s, however, his opinions seem to have changed, as in 1723 the parliamentary inquiry into the Atterbury Plot named him as an active Jacobite in the west. Wrey was buried on 12 Nov 1726., and was succeeded by his eldest son and namesake, who sat for Barnstaple in George II’s reign.3
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Author: Eveline Cruickshanks
- 1. Vivian, Vis. Cornw. 564–5; Huntington Lib. Ellesmere mss EL 9083, Earl of Bridgwater (John Egerton†) to Lady Wrey, 26 Mar. 1700.
- 2. Ellesmere mss EL 9083, Wrey to Lady Wrey, n.d.; Vernon–Shrewsbury Letters, i. 152; Luttrell, Brief Relation, iv. 351, 531; L. Inn Lib. MP100/205, The Case of Sir Bourchier Wray; N. and Q. ser. 5, viii. 273.
- 3. Remarks upon a Scandalous Libel (1713); Buccleuch mss at Drumlanrig Castle, commission, 20 Aug. 1714; Rep. Cttees. House of Commons (1803), i. app. F, 11.