MOYSEY, Abel (1743-1831), of Hinton Charterhouse, Som.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1754-1790, ed. L. Namier, J. Brooke., 1964
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1774 - 1790

Family and Education

b. 23 Aug. 1743, o.s. of Abel Moysey, a distinguished Bath physician, by Elizabeth, da. of Rev. John Fortrie, vicar of Washington, Suss.  educ. Westminster 1756; Ch. Ch. Oxf. 1760; L. Inn 1758, called 1767, bencher 1802, treasurer 1810.  m. 26 Dec. 1774, Charlotte da. of Sir Richard Warwick Bampfylde, 4th Bt., 6s. 1da.  suc. fa. 1780.

Offices Held

Commr. of bankruptcy 1771-4; second justice of Brecon circuit Nov. 1777-July 1819 (the longest period on record among Welsh judges); deputy to King’s remembrancer in the Exchequer 1795-1813; one of the four registrars of deeds in Mdx. 1796-1813.

Mayor of Bath 1792, 1810.


Moysey was returned for Bath on the interest of his father and friends in the corporation, and at first acted with the Opposition: on 22 Feb. 1775 he voted for Wilkes’s motion for expunging from the journals the resolutions on the Middlesex election, and on Feb. spoke in favour of Sawbridge’s motion to shorten the duration of Parliaments; similarly he spoke on the Opposition side in the debates on the militia, 22 Nov. 1775, on the employment of foreign troops, 24 Nov. 1775, and on the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, 13 Feb. 1777. But on 5 Feb. 1778 he was with the Government over the legality of subscriptions for regiments of volunteers, and henceforth counted as a Government supporter. Opposition writers ascribed this change to interested motives. Thus the English Chronicle wrote in 1781:

He was a friend to Opposition previous to his late appointment to the dignity of a Welsh judge; but since that period there has been a rapid metamorphosis in all his political sentiments, and he now votes faithfully and constantly with the minister.

The occasion for imputing interested motives was only too obvious; but how far the imputation was justified remains an open question. Moysey’s later conduct was not that of a careerist and time-server.

When before the general election of 1780 Camden put up his son’s candidature at Bath, Robinson still hoped that the two sitting Members would be returned. Camden in a letter to his son-in-law Robert Stewart complained about a ball which had to be given at Bath: ‘Moysey set the example to atone for his father’s parsimony and your brother[-in-law] is under a necessity of pursuing the same plan.’1 Sir John Sebright withdrew because of ill health, and the return of Moysey and Pratt was unopposed. Moysey’s interventions in debate now became rare and concerned mainly legal points, but he voted on the Government side—with one exception: on the motions of censure against the Admiralty, 20 and 22 Feb. 1782, he voted with Opposition. In the summer of 1782 Robinson wrote in a survey of the House for Lord Shelburne:

Mr. Moysey is well inclined to support Administration; owed his office to Lord North, and may, it is thought, be classed hopeful.

He was classed the same way in Shelburne’s list drawn up in November or December 1782. But in fact he voted against Shelburne’s peace preliminaries, 18 Feb. 1783, and for Fox’s East India bill, and although Robinson in his survey compiled in December 1783 in preparation for the general election again marked him as ‘hopeful’, he was classed as an opponent of Pitt in Stockdale’s list of March 1784.2

In 1784 a local opposition was apparently rising against Moysey at Bath: William Pitt was pressed to stand, the strongest candidate that could be found, and although he declined, 12 out of 30 members of the corporation voted for him, against 17 for Moysey. In the ensuing Parliament Moysey steadily voted against Administration. He did not stand again in 1790.

Moysey died 3 July 1831.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: Sir Lewis Namier


  • 1. Camden mss, n.d.
  • 2. Laprade, 45, 75; Lansdowne mss.