BEST, Thomas (?1713-95), of Chilston Park, Kent
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Family and Education
b. ?1713, 1st s. of Mawdistly Best by his w. Elizabeth Fearne. educ. Univ. Coll. Oxf. 8 June 1732, aged 18. m. 3 Jan. 1743, Caroline, da. of George Scot of Scot’s Hall, Kent, s.p. suc. fa. 1744.
Lt. gov. Dover and dep. warden of Cinque Ports 1762-95.
Best, ‘a man of fortune’1 connected with many of the leading families in Kent, sought re-election for Canterbury at the general election of 1754, but withdrew before the poll. He told his uncle, Admiral Vernon, 24 May 1754, that he would not have had to withdraw if his friends had ‘declared themselves as much before the election as they have done since, however, I have the satisfaction to think I have saved my money’.2 In 1761 he stood on a joint interest with Richard Milles in opposition to Newcastle’s candidate, James Creed, and to William Mayne, who was backed by Bute. On 16 Mar. 1761, ten days before the poll, the archbishop of Canterbury wrote to Newcastle:3
Mr. Best ... made me a visit this morning; and without asking for my interest, which he appeared sensible ought to be given the other side, earnestly desired me to assure your Grace in his name, that if he was chosen he would not enter into opposition, or put himself on a party footing, but concur with the Administration in everything, as far as he honestly could.
Best was returned second on the poll. In Bute’s list of December 1761 he was classed as ‘Tory’ and ‘Bute’ with the note: ‘Brother-in-law to Mr. Scot of the Princess’s family’,4 and he appears in Henry Fox’s list (December 1762) of Members favourable to the peace preliminaries. He was classed as ‘doubtful’ by Jenkinson in the autumn of 1763, and by Rockingham in his lists of July 1765 and November 1766. Best appears in two out of the three lists on the land tax, 27 Feb. 1767, as voting with Opposition, but does not appear in a third list; he was counted by Newcastle in March 1767 as ‘Tory’, and voted with Administration on nullum tempus, 17 Feb. 1768. He is not known to have spoken during this Parliament.
Before the general election of 1768 Charles Yorke feared that Best would stand against Sir Joseph Yorke at Dover,5 but he once more contested Canterbury and was defeated. Best was included by North among a few ‘very pressing’ people still without seats on 5 Oct. 1774, and was put down as one of several possible candidates at Tregony; this was to have cost him £2,000,6 but in the end he did not stand, and seems to have made no further attempt to re-enter Parliament.
He died 26 Mar. 1795.