WYNDHAM, Thomas (c.1686-1752), of Clearwell Court, Glos., Dunraven Castle, Glam. and Cromer, Norf.
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Family and Education
b. c.1686, 2nd s. of Francis Wyndham of Cromer, Norf. by Sarah, da. of Sir Thomas Darell. educ. Eton 1699; King’s, Camb. 1705, fellow 1707; L. Inn 1706, called 1716. m. (1) cos. Jane (d.1723), da. and h. of William Wyndham of Dunraven Castle Glam., niece and h. of Francis Wyndham of Clearwell Court, Glos., 2s.; (2) Anne, da. of Samuel Edwin of Llanmihangel Plâs, Glam., sis. and h. to Charles Edwin, 3s. suc. e. bro. to Cromer 1745.
Sec. to chancellor of duchy of Lancaster 1716 for life; auditor to south part of duchy of Lancaster 1716-31; recorder, Gloucester 1727-34.
The 1st Lord Egmont writes of Thomas Wyndham:
When a younger brother he obtained two places in the Duchy of Lancaster by the interest of Sir Robert Walpole, his neighbour in the country, and was brought into the House by his means when he had barely a qualification, notwithstanding which he turned against him and voted with the opposite party to the Court.1
In his first Parliament he supported the Government, seconding a motion for examining one of the Atterbury conspirators in the Tower in 1723, and seconding the Address in 1726, when he was described as a ‘favourite of Walpole’s’. In the next Parliament he went into opposition, because Walpole had not made him a lord of the Admiralty, speaking against the Government in the civil list arrears debate, 24 Apr. 1729.2 According to Speaker Onslow, Walpole, ‘to get him out of the House of Commons’, offered him a commissionership of customs, which he accepted; ‘but when he afterwards found it was in Scotland he refused to accept it’, though he had actually kissed hands for it.3 Thenceforth he voted against the Government in all recorded divisions, becoming one of the most frequent opposition speakers. In the debate on the Address in January 1730 he
desired the Ministry would say whether our address bound us down to assist the King in defence of his Hanover dominions in case the Emperor or King of Prussia should attack them; if they would allow the sense of the House to be that we do not intend to engage the kingdom in any expense on that account, he would vote for the address, otherwise he must oppose it, but no reply was made to him.
On 4 Feb. he
distinguished himself by the sharpness and freedom with which he spoke against the Hessians and the Ministry. He said, as an Englishman, he could not vote for them, nor could show his zeal for his Majesty better than by appearing warm in this affair. That his Majesty held his Crown by the Act of Succession, and this was an infringement of it, and consequently of his title.
After inveighing against standing armies
he concluded that he had been misled by the opinion he had of men, but found such incapacity and insincerity in them, that he would for the future judge for himself, as every honest man must for the future do, if he will discharge his duty to those he represents, and preserve his country from slavery ...
In 1731 he spoke third for the Opposition on a bill for excluding pensioners from Parliament, observing that
if the casting an imputation on the House be a reason for opposing the bill now, it will always be a reason in future times, and we must give up the hopes of ever preventing corruption.
Next session he seconded an opposition motion for an inquiry into the qualifications of Members, saying
we should consider with ourselves how much the Crown had gained on the subject of late years, and that a poor mercenary House of Commons was capable of corruption.
He also served on the inquiry into the frauds in the Charitable Corporation, carrying a motion for the committal of Sir Archibald Grant to the custody of the serjeant at arms. In 1733 he supported a motion that Sir Robert Sutton was guilty of fraud and breach of trust,4 also speaking on the molasses bill, the qualification of Members bill, the sinking fund, and the excise bill. In the last session of the Parliament he spoke against the army and for a place bill.
Wyndham did not stand again but retired for the rest of his life to the considerable estates in Gloucestershire and Glamorgan which he had acquired through his first marriage. According to Horace Walpole, who states that he was ‘known for his blunt humour’, ‘he always spoke with esteem of Sir Robert Walpole’.5 He died 12 Dec. 1752.
Ref Volumes: 1715-1754
Author: Eveline Cruickshanks
- 1. HMC Egmont Diary, i. 245.
- 2. Knatchbull Diary, 15 Jan. 1723, 20 Jan. 1726, and pp. 141-2; Stuart mss 132/159; Horace Walpole’s notes on his article in Old England, 22 Aug. 1727, with W. S. Lewis.
- 3. J. Hatsell, Precedents and Proceedings, ii. 394.
- 4. HMC Egmont Diary, i. 5, 29-30, 135, 242, 245, 368.
- 5. Horace Walpole’s notes ut sup.