BORLASE, Humphrey (c.1634-1709), of Truthan, St. Erme, Cornw.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer



12 Feb. 1673

Family and Education

b. c.1634, 1st s. of Nicholas Borlase of Treludra, East Newlyn by Catherine, da. of Humphrey Berry of Berrynarbor, Devon. educ. G. Inn 1652. m. settlement 3 June 1663, Anne, da. of Sir John Winter of Lydney, Glos., maid of honour to Queen Henrietta Maria, 2s. d.v.p. suc. fa. 1677.1

Offices Held

Commr. for assessment, Cornw. 1664-80, recusants 1675; stannator, Penwith and Kerrier 1686; j.p. and dep. lt. Cornw. 1687-9, sheriff 1687-8.2


Borlase came from a Cornish family seated by the 13th century on the property from which they took their name. One of them represented Truro in 1395 and another Helston in 1433. The Treludra branch, which owned considerable property in the adjoining borough of Mitchell, was strongly inclined to Catholicism, though Borlase’s father, vice-warden of the stannaries in 1629, took the Protestation in 1641. But he raised a troop of horse for Charles I during the Civil War and served under Sir Ralph Hopton in the west country. He claimed the benefit of the Truro articles, but as ‘a Papist delinquent in arms’ he was unable to compound until 1653, when his fine of £320 was remitted on the grounds that he had lost £527 under sequestration since 1646.3

Borlase was involved in double returns at Mitchell in 1660 and 1661 and classed as a friend by Lord Wharton, but on neither occasion did he take his seat. Successful at last at a by-election in 1673, he was moderately active in the Cavalier Parliament, in which he was appointed to 13 committees. He was put down on the working lists as to be approached through Lord Bath, the Government’s manager for the Cornish boroughs, but he was one of the group of Cornish Members of whom Sir Richard Wiseman expected ‘little good’ in 1676, and Shaftesbury classed him as ‘doubly worthy’ in 1677. On 12 June 1678 he was appointed to the committee for excluding Papists from either House of Parliament, and three days later he acted as teller against supply. On 17 Dec. following he was absent on a call of the House and ordered to be taken into custody. He stood unsuccessfully for Mitchell for the Exclusion Parliaments, twice petitioning without result.4

Borlase had begun to run through his large estate and was heavily in debt. In 1686 alone he borrowed £8,000. He was one of the group of Roman Catholics or dissenters placed on the county commissions under James II, and as sheriff consented ‘fully’ to the King’s questions on the repeal of the Test and Penal Laws. He undertook ‘to choose who the King pleases’ for Mitchell, and was himself recommended by Lord Bath for ‘some town in Devon’ in the proposed new Parliament. At the Revolution, he accompanied James into exile, but returned and is said to have received a Jacobite peerage as ‘Baron Mitchell’. By February 1696 he had returned to England; Sir William Trumbull issued a warrant to arrest him ‘for publishing and dispersing seditious and treasonable papers and libels, exciting to treason and rebellion’. He wrote to Trumbull on 12 May following

having received the King’s protection since his accession, I thought it my duty to assure you that I shall continue to live peaceably under the same, paying such taxes as shall be given for the support of the Government. After this assurance I hope no malicious information will prevail with you to continue me in durance, especially when you consider my innocence, which was sufficiently demonstrated by my surrendering myself upon the first notice of being suspected. I therefore humbly move you that I may be enlarged, my age and infirmity making confinement very anxious.

He was released. In August 1697 he was sheltering from his creditors in the Inner Temple, when the students successfully drove off the bailiffs trying to arrest him in defence of their ancient right of sanctuary. In the following year he received the Government’s permission to remain in England. He died a debtor in the Fleet prison and was buried on 1 Dec. 1709 at Newlyn. His estates, sold under a decree in Chancery, were purchased by Sir William Scawen.5

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: Eveline Cruickshanks


  • 1. Vivian, Vis. Devon, 75; Add. 34547, f. 42; Gilbert, Paroch Hist. Cornw. iii. 414.
  • 2. J. Tregoning, Laws of the Stannaries, 57.
  • 3. Gilbert, iv. 3; Cornw. Protestation Returns ed. Stoate, 81; The Gen. (n.s.), ii. 131-3; iii. 61-62; v. 2, 30-34; Cal. Comm. Comp. 2001-6; HMC 6th Rep. 150.
  • 4. CJ, viii, 92, 251; ix. 638, 707; Cornw. RO, WH23M/SE2/2/6.
  • 5. Add. 38480, f. 389; Gilbert, iii. 414-15; CSP Dom. 1696, pp. 34, 143, 174; 1698, p. 45; HMC 5th Rep. 386; Cal. I. Temple Recs. iii. 336, 451.