STAUNTON, Thomas (?1706-84), of Holbrook Hall, Suff.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
b. ?1706, o.s. of John Staunton of Galway by Bridget, da. of Edward Donnellan of Cloghan. educ. Trinity, Dublin, 15 July 1723, aged 17; called Irish bar 1729; I. Temple 1727; L. Inn 1740, called 1740. m. (1) Jane, da. of Gilbert Vane, 2nd Baron Barnard, sis. of Henry, 1st Earl of Darlington, 2s. d.v.p. 2da., (2) 1764,1 Catherine, da. of Thomas Thurston of Holbrook Hall, Suff., wid. of William Peck of Little Sampford, Essex.
M.P. [I] 1727-61.
In 1757 Staunton was returned unopposed for Ipswich with the support of the ‘Yellow’ interest. He is reported to have spoken several times during his first Parliament, generally on financial matters, and his attitude seems to have been independent. ‘He is a remarkable good speaker, as I am told, in the House of Commons here’, his cousin G. L. Staunton wrote from London, 6 May 1760.2 But after 1761 no speech by him is recorded during his remaining 23 years in Parliament.
Staunton was classed in Bute’s list as ‘Tory’. He voted with the Opposition over the peace preliminaries (1, 9, and 10 Dec. 1762); but on 6 Feb. 1763 his nephew, Lord Darlington, wrote to Bute that Staunton proposed ‘paying his respects to your Lordship ... he has been kind enough to say, my opinion in political affairs he shall always desire to have’.3 Jenkinson, in the autumn of 1763, classed him as ‘pro’, and though he voted with the Opposition on general warrants, 18 Feb. 1764, he was listed by Jenkinson as a friend. He was classed by Newcastle, 10 May 1764, as ‘doubtful’, but on 17 July 1765 he wrote from Ipswich to the Duke:
I cannot avoid troubling you with my humble and sincere congratulations on the happy change of affairs but particularly (for the sake of this country) your Grace’s resuming a share in them. The last Gazette has greatly revived the spirits of my Whig friends here ... [they] are all joy and gladness; and much elated, have insisted on my signifying to their former, and they hope present, patron, the Duke of Newcastle, my readiness to act with him on all occasions, and to express their wishes to his Grace that my colleague [Lord Orwell] ... should, if there is to be a general remove at the Board of Trade, be succeeded then by his brother Member ... However you shall dispose of me, be assured my Lord, you will always find me true to Whig principles, and to any trust in office that I may be thought fit for.
Staunton received no appointment, but Newcastle noted in a memorandum about pensions, 23 July 1765: ‘Speak to the Duke of Grafton about Mr. Staunton and Ipswich.’4 Rockingham, in July 1765 classed him as ‘pro’, but in November 1766 as a follower of Chatham; and he supported the Chatham Administration.
In 1768 Staunton was again returned on the ‘Yellow’ interest, after a hotly contested election which he fought jointly with William Wollaston. Both his subsequent elections were contested and apparently expensive: in 1780 he told his cousin that the expense had been ‘considerable, but economy must repair the breaches made in the conflict of a smartly-contested election’.5
Staunton supported Administration till 2 Feb. 1778, when he voted against them over America; and henceforth he adhered to the Opposition till the fall of North. According to Robinson’s list, he voted against Shelburne’s peace preliminaries, 18 Feb. 1783, and was classed by Robinson as ‘attached to Fox’. He supported the motion on parliamentary reform, 7 May 1783, and did not vote on Fox’s East India bill, 27 Nov. 1783. Ill-health may have kept him away from the House—he wrote to G. L. Staunton, 1 Jan. 1784, about being ‘gouty ... and confined to my house’, and referred to the ‘unexpected and unpropitious’ rejection of the East India bill by the Lords.6 Robinson, in his survey of December 1783, wrote that Staunton was ‘an uncertain man’ and classed him ‘doubtful’, and in January 1784 as ‘doubtful’; absent’. In Stockdale’s list, 19 Mar., he was classed as an opponent of Pitt. He did not stand again at the general election, and died 1 Oct. 1784.