POLHILL, David (1674-1754), of Chipstead, Kent.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1715-1754, ed. R. Sedgwick, 1970
Available from Boydell and Brewer



11 Jan. - 21 Sept. 1710
18 Feb. 1723 - 1727
1727 - 1741
22 Feb. 1742 - 15 Jan. 1754

Family and Education

b. 1674, 2nd but 1st surv. s. of Thomas Polhill of Chipstead, Kent, and Clapham, Surr. by Elizabeth da. of Henry Ireton of Attenborough, Notts. m. (1) 3 Sept. 1702, Elizabeth (d. 4 June 1708), da. of John Trevor of Glynde, Suss., s.p.; (2) 20 Aug. 1713, Gertrude (d.1714), da. of Thomas Pelham, M.P., 1st Baron Pelham, sis. of Thomas Pelham Holles, 1st Duke of Newcastle, s.p.; (3) Elizabeth, da. of John Borrett of Shoreham, Kent, 4s. 1da. suc. fa. 1683.

Offices Held

Sheriff, Kent 1714-15; keeper of the records in the Tower of London 1731-d.


A fervent Whig, who stood 11 times for Parliament, Polhill was first returned for his county at a by-election shortly before the dissolution of 1710, only to be defeated at the general election on the ‘cry of Sacheverell and the danger of the Church’. In 1715, his son writes,

my father’s interest in the county was at that time so great, that Lord Westmorland was apprehensive he might be a dangerous rival to his brother Col. John Fane who I think, was either a candidate, or chosen knight of the shire that year, and, it being the first year of the accession of the house of Hanover to this throne, wanting a man of courage, temper, and a friend to that illustrious family for high sheriff, they pitched upon David Polhill ...
In 1722 he was again a candidate for the county with Sir George Oxenden, and they would have been chosen, but for the jealousy of some great men (my father’s pretended friends). The nobility, with the Duke of Dorset at their head, could not bear to see so much popularity, attended with so much real merit in a plebeian and Col. Fane setting up on the same (the Whig) interest they broke that interest.

When in 1731 the Duke of Dorset’s son, Lord Middlesex, stood for Kent, Polhill supported him, which

occasioned a memorable conversation between the Duke of Dorset and my father.— How is this’, said the Duke, ‘Mr. Polhill, I opposed you in favour of Col. Fane ten years ago. He now opposes my son and you support him.’ ‘It is, my Lord (replied my father) because your son is a Whig, and no private resentments shall ever induce me to act against my principles.’

Meanwhile Polhill, after sitting for Bramber, had been brought in by the Administration for Rochester, presumably through the influence of his brother-in-law, the Duke of Newcastle. He also obtained a post in the Tower worth £500 a year to himself, and a commissionership of excise, worth £800 a year, for his brother. With one brief interruption in 1741, when he lost his seat to the popular hero, Admiral Vernon, he continued to sit for Rochester, voting with the Government, till his death 15 Jan. 1754, in his eightieth year.1

Ref Volumes: 1715-1754

Author: Romney R. Sedgwick


  • 1. Based on a note by Polhill’s son, Charles, 10 Nov. 1770, Polhill mss, Sevenoaks pub. lib. Kent.