LANE, Sir Richard (c.1667-1756), of Worcester.
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Family and Education
b. c.1667, 1st s. of Richard Lane of St. Augustine’s, Bristol, sugar baker, merchant and mayor of that city, by his w. Susanna. m. (lic. Chester 3 Jan. ?1692) Sarah Davie of Salford, Lancs., 4s. 5da. suc. fa. 1705.1 Kntd. 21 Oct. 1714.
Mayor, Worcester 1709-10; sheriff, Worcs. 1714-15.
Richard Lane, who came of an old Bristol family of merchants, moved to Worcester, where he was established as a merchant and sugar baker by 1699,2 later becoming a prominent figure in the salt trade. According to his own account he,
being in July 1710 mayor of the city of Worcester, put a stop to the insolent progress of Dr. Sacheverel and his deluded followers, who came here with ensigns of war, inciting the Queen’s subjects to sedition and rebellion against her and legal successors in the Protestant line in favour of an abjured Popish pretender; and in the first year of King George the First (being then sheriff of the county of Worcester) raised the posse comitatus and (thro’ God’s blessing) defeated great numbers who came in tumults there with arms, to the same illegal purpose.3
In 1721 at a by-election for Minehead, he
took the writ from the person ordered to convey it to the returning officer, and kept it in his pocket till the very day of the election; and yet he escaped unpunished, though the messenger directed to carry the writ was taken into custody of the serjeant-at-arms.4
He was later unseated on petition. In 1725,
being informed by some persons concerned in the salt works of Cheshire that the strongest brine there lay lower than the pits in Droitwich were commonly sunk [he] ordered the talc which was at the bottom of the pits to be sunk through. Upon this the strong brine broke out with such violence, and in such abundance, that two men who were at work in the pit were thrown to the surface and killed. Soon after everyone sunk his pit through the talc and obtained such a profusion of strong brine that not one tenth part of it has ever been used; but ran to waste. From henceforth the old pit became of no value at all, which some years before was worth near £5,000 p.a. and esteemed the surest property a man could enjoy.5
Returned for Worcester after a contest in 1727, he consistently supported the Administration. He was rewarded with the receiver generalship of the land tax for Worcestershire for his eldest son, while his second son was appointed a commissioner for licensing hawkers and pedlars. In March 1732 he is reported as speaking in favour of the free export of wool and yarn from Ireland, ‘for Ireland having more than it can consume will still find ways to get rid of it’.6 As a salt exporter — during these years he was engaged in a protracted lawsuit with the salt commissioners on a claim for nearly £23,000 in respect of allowances on shipments of salt to Ireland over a period of six months — he protested against the export of rock salt to Ireland because, as there was no restriction on refining it there, it would undercut his own salt.7 In the course of a speech in February 1733, opposing a reduction of the army, he made a facetious allusion to Walpole, saying
It was the case of the prophet Daniel who because he was premier minister had many that envied his place, who pushed him even into the den of lions, but he came off with honour, and continued in the favour of Nebuchadnezzar and his successor.
On the excise bill, after an opposition Member had made ‘a bantering speech against the bill’, Lane ‘answered him the same way, which though it diverted the House was by serious gentlemen disapproved’.8 He did not stand in 1741. In 1747 he printed a leaflet outlining a scheme for paying off the national debt.9 He died, aged 89, 29 Mar. 1756.
Ref Volumes: 1715-1754
Author: R. S. Lea
- 1. PCC 119 Gee.
- 2. Bristol & Glos. Arch. Soc. Trans. lxxvi, ped. opp. 132; Nash, Worcs. i. p. xxx; ii. p. cxx; Westm. Abbey Reg. (Harl. Soc. x), 389.
- 3. Address to Honourable Commons of Great Britain in Parliament assembled (1747).
- 4. A complete History of the late Septennial Parliament (1722) p. 77.
- 5. Nash, i. 299.
- 6. HMC Egmont Diary, i. 239.
- 7. E. Hughes, Studies in Admin. and Finance, 244, 397 and n.; HMC Egmont Diary, i. 240.
- 8. HMC Egmont Diary, i. 317, 350.
- 9. Address.