BERKELEY, Sir Maurice, 1st Bt. (1628-90), of Bruton, Som. and Pall Mall, Westminster.
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Family and Education
bap. 15 June 1628, 1st s. of Sir Charles Berkeley I, and bro. of Sir Charles Berkeley II and John Berkeley, 4th Visct. Fitzhardinge. m. 1 Jan. 1649, Anne, da. of Sir Henry Lee, 1st Bt., of Quarrendon, Bucks., 2da.; 2s. illegit. by Mary Rutley. cr. Bt. 2 July 1660; suc. fa. as 3rd Visct. Fitzhardinge of Berehaven [I] 12 June 1668.1
MP [I] 1665-6.
Commr. for assessment, Som. 1657, Jan. 1660-80, 1689-d., Wells 1673-9, Bath 1690, militia, Som. Mar. 1660; j.p. Mar. 1660-Feb. 1688, Oct. 1688-d., capt. of militia horse Apr. 1660; commr. for oyer and terminer, Western circuit July 1660, sewers, Som. Dec. 1660, loyal and indigent officers, Bristol 1662, dep. lt. Som. 1662-87; v.-pres. Connaught 1662-6; col. of militia ft. Som. 1667-bef. 1679, custos rot. 1675-d.; freeman, Bath 1679, high steward 1685-Aug. 1688, Oct. 1688-d.; ld. lt. Som. 1689-d.2
Servant to the Duke of Gloucester May-Sept. 1660; gent. of privy chamber (extraordinary) June 1660, (ordinary) 1668-85; treas. of Dunkirk Dec. 1660-1; jt. agent for wine licences 1661-2; PC [I] 1663-?d.; commr. for customs and excise accounts [I] 1666-7.3
Capt. indep. tp. 1667, 1685, Life Gd. [I] 1676-85.4
Unlike his father, uncle and younger brother, Berkeley took no part in the Civil War or royalist conspiracy. His wife was the stepdaughter of the 2nd Earl of Warwick, the parliamentary admiral, and he was appointed to local office under the Protectorate. He does not appear to have stood in 1660, but on 17 Apr. he was given a pass beyond seas and brought to the exiled Court the news that George Monck and the Council of State had declared in favour of a Restoration. He was rewarded with a baronetcy, a position in the Duke of Gloucester’s household (which lapsed on his master’s premature death), and two revenue posts, which were also of short duration.5
Berkeley was returned for Wells at the general election of 1661, together with Ormonde’s son, Lord Richard Butler. Although he spent much time in Ireland, where he seems to have attached himself rather to Ormonde than to his own uncle, Lord Berkeley of Stratton, he was moderately active in the Cavalier Parliament. He was appointed to 72 committees, including those on the bills of pains and penalties and for the execution of those under attainder in 1661, but he took no part in the Clarendon Code. Listed as a court dependant in 1664, he was one of the four Members sent on the outbreak of the second Dutch war to thank the King for his constant grace, care and favour. ‘A great patron of mechanics’, he became a fellow of the Royal Society in 1667. He took the chair in committee in 1668 for the Lords bill to enable Sir Kingsmill Lucy to settle a jointure on his wife, who was a Berkeley. Later in the same year he succeeded to the Irish viscountcy of Fitzhardinge and an estate of £1,500 p.a. He was on both lists of the court party in 1669-71 as one who had usually voted for supply. But on 17 Mar. 1673 he was one of several Irish Privy Councillors who told the House of the dangerous state of Ireland, much to the King’s displeasure. After testifying that many Papists were justices of the peace there, and that he had sat on the bench with them, and two had been given troops of horse, he was appointed to the committee to draw up an address. He was included in the Paston list, added to the committee for the impeachment of Arlington on 26 Jan. 1674, and twice appointed to committees for preventing the growth of Popery. His name appears among the officials in the House in 1675, on the working lists, and in Wiseman’s account. In a debate on Ireland on 16 Mar. 1677 he claimed that Ormonde had done everything possible to prevent recruitment there for the French army. He was marked ‘doubly vile’ by Shaftesbury, and included on both lists of the court party in 1678, although it was noted that he was ‘in the country’ during the spring session.6
As one of the ‘unanimous club’ of court supporters, Fitzhardinge was twice defeated at the polls in 1679, first for Somerset and then in August for Bath. But he claimed to have turned the tide against petitioning, and was successful at Bath in 1681. Though he played no known part in the Oxford Parliament, perhaps because of accommodation problems, he retained the seat against all the endeavours of the Presbyterian faction for the rest of his life. As high steward of Bath under the new charter, he was returned to James II’s Parliament unopposed, and included among the Opposition. His only committee was on a naturalization bill, and on the news of Monmouth’s landing he left Westminster to take command of the Somerset militia, which he led at Sedgemoor. He originally assented to the repeal of the Penal Laws and the Test, ‘provided that the Church of England be by any way secured of being maintained’; but in an angry scene with the sheriff, a leading Whig collaborator, at the Bruton assizes in January 1688, he said that ‘he would not assist or contribute anything towards it, unless the laws were first secured, [and] that could not be done, unless his Majesty would hang up eleven judges’. He was summoned to appear before the Privy Council, and lost the high stewardship of Bath to the Roman Catholic Lord Waldegrave. He joined William of Orange during his advance through the west country, and gave him hospitality at Bruton.7
Fitzhardinge was re-elected in 1689 on an exceptionally low poll. A court Tory, he did not vote against the transfer of the crown and was rewarded with the lord lieutenancy of the county. He was not active in the Convention, being appointed to 14 committees, many of which concerned the relief of the Protestant refugees from Ireland. He was reelected in 1690, but died on 13 June and was buried at Bruton. His brother, the 4th viscount, sat as a Tory for Hindon from 1691 to 1695 and for Windsor from 1695 to his death.8
Ref Volumes: 1660-1690
Author: Irene Cassidy
- 1. Cal. Treas. Bks. viii. 601; PCC 213 Dyke.
- 2. Q. Sess. Recs. (Som. Rec. Soc. xxxiv), p. ix; Merc. Pub. 26 Apr. 1660; Cal. Cl. SP, v. 281; CSP Dom. 1667, p. 272; Bath council bk. 2, p. 750; 3, p. 69; HMC Finch, ii. 303.
- 3. SP29/20/55; LC3/2; Carlisle, Privy Chamber, 179; CSP Dom. 1660-1, p. 431; 1661-2, pp. 69, 132, 377; HMC Ormonde, ii. 378; CSP Ire. 1663-5, p. 52; 1666-9, pp. 114, 349.
- 4. CSP Dom. 1667, p. 182; 1676-7, p. 287; 1685, p. 209; HMC Ormonde, ii. 306, 308.
- 5. CSP Dom. 1659-60, p. 573; Hatton Corresp. (Cam. Soc. n.s. xxii), 21; Cal. Cl. SP, v. 41, 247.
- 6. CSP Ire. 1663-5, pp. 656, 690; CJ, viii. 600; ix. 90, 270; Grey, ii. 118; iv. 256; CSP Dom. 1673, pp. 100-1.
- 7. Som. RO, Sanford mss, Clarke to Sanford, 11 Feb. 1679; Bath council bk. 2, pp. 771, 812; 3, pp. 6; Add. 28052, f. 90; CSP Dom. Jan.-June 1683, p. 60; 1687-9, p. 134, SP44/335/371; HMC 3rd Rep. 97; HMC Sackville, i. 15; HMC 5th Rep. 198; E. Green, March of Wm. of Orange through Som. 57-58.
- 8. Bath council bk. 3, p. 86.