EDWARDS FREEMAN, Thomas (?1726-1808), of Batsford, Glos.
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Family and Education
b. ?1726, 1st s. of Walter Edwards of St. Dunstan’s, London by Mary da. of Richard Freeman of Batsford, Glos., ld. chancellor [I] 1707-10. educ. Queen’s, Oxf. 3 Feb. 1744, aged 17. m. 23 July 1753, Elizabeth, da. of Henry Reveley of Newby Wisk, Yorks., 1s. suc. uncle Richard Freeman in Batsford estates March 1742 and assumed add. name of Freeman.
Director, South Sea Co. 1769.
Freeman was returned for Steyning on the interest of Sir John Honywood, 3rd Bt., to whom he was distantly related. He seems to have been completely independent, to the point of self-contradiction in his votes and speeches: he voted with Administration on Wilkes and the Middlesex election, 3 Feb. and 15 Apr. 1769; but the following year, 27 Jan. 1770, voted for the pointed Opposition motion that ‘in matters of elections the House is bound to judge according to the law of the land’. Two years later on the motion for leave to bring in a bill to secure the rights of the electors of Great Britain, 25 Feb. 1772, he said he considered himself a member of ‘a very respectable, and honourable body’ which had been ‘injured and traduced ... I think we have the authority of Parliament for what we did, agreeable to the law of the land and customs of Parliament’; and opposing the same motion, 26 Apr. 1773, he argued that ‘motions of this nature may tend to the renewal of unhappy divisions which distracted this whole country for a length of time’. In Robinson’s first survey on the royal marriage bill, March 1772, Freeman is classed as ‘doubtful, present’, and in the second, 8 Mar., as ‘pro, present’; but Cavendish reported, 16 Mar., that ‘Mr. Freeman’ thought the bill would not work, for it was ‘not founded in the law of this country’. Freeman in a later debate on the bill, 24 Mar., declared that ‘succession ... may depend upon the arbitrary will of a single [man]’, and concluded: ‘I dissent to the third reading and passing.’ He voted with the Opposition on Grenville’s Election Act, 25 Feb. 1774, but appears in the King’s list as a Government supporter. Robinson in his survey of 1774 classed him as ‘pro’.1
Freeman does not appear in the five minority lists, February 1775-February 1778, spoke in support of the Address, 26 Oct. 1775, but voted with Opposition on the conciliatory mission, 4 Dec. 1778, and was listed as ‘contra, present, friend’ on the contractors bill, 12 Feb. 1779. He voted with Opposition in four of the five divisions, February-April 1780; but supported Administration on the motion against prorogation, 24 Apr. Robinson wrote in his survey of July 1780: ‘Mr. Freeman is mostly with us’, and classed him as ‘pro’. Freeman did not stand again in 1780.
He died 15 Feb. 1808, aged 81.
Ref Volumes: 1754-1790
Author: Mary M. Drummond
- 1. Cavendish’s ‘Debates’, Egerton 234, p. 184; 237, p. 141; 239 pp. 139-40; 245, pp. 311-12.