PAGE, Francis (1726-1803), of Middle Aston, Oxon. and Acton Hall, Worcs.
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Family and Education
b. 1726, 1st s. of Richard Bourne of Ombersley, Worcs. by Isabella Smith, niece and h. of Sir Francis Page, j.KB 1727-41. educ. New Coll. Oxf. 29 Apr. 1743, aged 16; MA 1747, DCL 1749. unm. suc. gt.-uncle Sir Francis Page and took name of Page, 1741.
Sheriff, Oxon. 1752-3.
Page, who inherited, embellished and consolidated an Oxfordshire estate, represented his university for 33 years. By 1790 it was clear that he was secure in his seat for as long as he wished to hold it. It was equally clear that, apart from his attachment to Tory principles in church and state (he was a relic of the Jacobite squires), he was politically negligible. He had silently opposed Pitt in the Parliament of 1784 and may have joined Brooks’s Club in 1790, but he was listed an opponent of the repeal of the Test Act in Scotland in 1791, and no speech or minority vote by him is known between 1790 and his retirement in 1801, apart from his vote for the abolition of the slave trade, 15 Mar. 1796, of which his colleague Dolben was a fervent advocate.
Page was listed a Portland Whig in December 1792 and was one of those listed for invitation to Windham’s house, in February 1793, to secure a broad basis of support for administration. He seems to have been content to support them thereafter, but his health deteriorated. Early in 1793 he was so ill that there was a canvass for his seat, and on 10 Dec. 1795 he obtained two weeks’ leave of absence to recover his health. He decided in April 1796 to offer himself for re-election. His memorial tablet at Middle Aston states simply that ‘he had the honour of representing the university of Oxford in the 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th Parliaments of Great Britain and in the first of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland’, which last achievement he may well have regarded as a nunc dimittis.
He died 24 Aug. 1803 ‘in his 78th year’, leaving his estate to his nephew William Sturges* who took the additional name of Bourne and subsequently sold Middle Aston for £13,166. Page was remembered in the neighbourhood 80 years later only by William Durran whom, as a lazy errand boy, he had beaten with his stick.
Rev. C. C. Brookes, Steeple Aston and Middle Aston (1929), 134, 235-46; W. R. Ward. Georgian Oxford (1958), 227-8; Pellew, Sidmouth, i. 166; Gent. Mag.