ROLLE, Henry (1708-50), of Stevenstone, nr. Barnstaple, Devon.
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Family and Education
b. 7 Nov. 1708, 1st s. of John Rolle. educ.Winchester 1723; New Coll. Oxf. 1725. unm. suc. fa. 1730; cr. Lord Rolle, Baron of Stevenstone 8 Jan. 1748.
Henry Rolle succeeded his father as a Tory knight of the shire in 1730. In his first Parliament he three times, in successive sessions, 1732-4, introduced a bill for obliging Members after their election to swear in the House to their qualifications, each time being defeated. On 2 Feb. 1733 he spoke against the army estimates, declaring the Pretender to be ‘no more than a raw head and bloody bones, but of excellent use’ to the ministry as a pretext for ‘raising taxes and armies’. Later in the same session he spoke in favour of a ‘violent motion’ for the outright rejection of the excise bill after Walpole had withdrawn it. He voted against the Government in all recorded divisions.
In the next Parliament Rolle’s only reported speech was against the repeal of the Test Act in March 1739.1 Abstaining from the divisions on the Spanish convention that year and the place bill of 1740, he voted against the motion for Walpole’s removal in February 1741. At the general election of 1741 he went over to the Government, writing to Newcastle in February 1742 as ‘one who has lost so great an interest by espousing that of the Court’, an allusion to his loss of the county seat. Returned unopposed on his own interest for Barnstaple, he voted consistently with the Administration, being put down to Pelham in the Cockpit list of October 1742. While absent from Parliament owing to ill health in March 1743, he wrote to Newcastle referring to ‘that Government which is subsisting and for which I have the most inviolable respect, and will spend both my life and fortune to support’. Classed as an ‘Old Whig’ in 1746, he was raised to the peerage shortly after the general election of 1747, at which he had been re-elected unopposed. In 1748 he came into collision with the lord lieutenant of Devonshire, the 2nd Earl of Orford, over local ecclesiastical patronage, Both appealed to Newcastle, Rolle invoking ‘an expense of seven thousand pounds for supporting the government interest at Barnstaple’, while Orford asserted that ‘since being made a peer Rolle has only once voted and then against the Government’.2
Rolle died 17 Aug. 1750.