THOMAS, Sir Edmund, 3rd Bt. (1712-67), of Wenvoe Castle, Glam.
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Family and Education
bap. 9 Apr. 1712, 1st s. of Sir Edmund Thomas, 2nd Bt., by Mary, da. of John Howe, M.P., of Stowell, Glos. educ. Westminster 1725; M. Temple 1728; Queen’s, Oxf. 1730. m. May 1740, Abigail, da. of Sir Thomas Webster, 1st Bt., of Battle Abbey, Suss., wid. of William Northey, M.P., and mother of William Northey, 3s. suc. fa. as 3rd Bt. 1723.
Groom of the bedchamber to Prince of Wales 1742-51; clerk of the Household to Princess Dowager 1756-7; jt. treasurer to the Princess 1757-61; ld. of Trade Mar. 1761-Apr. 1763; surveyor-gen. of woods north and south of Trent 1763- d.
Thomas belonged to the court of Frederick, Prince of Wales, and after his death to that of the Princess Dowager. Politically he followed the lead of Leicester House. ‘You will agree with me’, he wrote to his friend, Sir John Cust, 20 July 1760, ‘in wishing us well out of this war for every reason’; and on 20 Sept.:1
As to reasoning further about all politics, at present it is all vain, all that matter is so out of the common track there is no saying anything, but the temper of the people I find begins to be in earnest for peace. I wish to God it may be a good one as I am sure there is much to be answered for.
He did not stand for Parliament in 1754, but in 1759 began a canvass of Glamorgan, where his principal estates lay and where he had the support of Lord Talbot, formerly M.P. for that county. At the general election of 1761 he was returned unopposed.
In the new reign Thomas was appointed by Bute to the Board of Trade. On Pitt’s resignation he wrote to Cust:2 ‘I lament the spirit of delusion, to say no worse, that seems stirring up, though I hope it will subside soon by not meeting with encouragement from cool and well meaning men, who have the true prosperity of this country at heart.’ In the re-arrangements consequent on Bute’s resignation in April 1763 Thomas’s place was required for Bamber Gascoyne, and Thomas was compensated by the office of surveyor-general of woods north and south of Trent. Alarmed at the prospect of having to present himself for re-election, he wrote to Bute on 13 Apr.:3
The suddenness of this communication and the shortness of the time exposes me to extreme great embarrassments beyond what I can express ... Lord Talbot ... foresees very great inconvenience in regard to myself for the re-election, and though not apprehensive of a failure of success yet seems to think it certain from the frenzy of the times and knowledge of some individuals there, that an opposition will certainly be raised ... From the knowledge of your Lordship’s generous and humane sentiments I do venture to address myself without disguise to your private as well as your public feelings.
Egmont also wrote to Bute, 25 Apr., to say that Thomas believed ‘the personal appearance of Lord Talbot to be essentially requisite to blast the intended opposition at the county meeting’, and to solicit Bute ‘to prevail on Lord Talbot to give that attendance’.4 Two days later George III told Bute that he had ‘seen Talbot and insisted on his instantly going to Glamorganshire. He tried to get off but I would not let him.’ In the event Thomas was reelected without opposition.
His name does not appear in any division list after 1763, and there is no record after 1761 of his having spoken in the House. He died 10 Oct. 1767. In 1769 Lord Verulam wrote about a visit to Wenvoe:5
Wenvoe ... is not at all worth seeing; the grounds about it being laid out in the modern taste are rather pleasing, and show the genius of the father of the present possessor, who, fired with the zeal of electioneering and improving his place, spent here more than the income of his estate would allow; the ill consequences of which the son now experiences in such a manner that he is obliged to pay off the debts his father contracted by parting with his inheritance.