BULL, Henry (1630-92), of Shapwick, Som.
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Family and Education
bap. 8 Oct. 1630, 3rd but 1st surv. s. of William Bull, barrister, of the Middle Temple and Shapwick by Jane, da. and coh. of Henry Southworth, Mercer, of London and Wells. educ. I. Temple 1651, called 1658. m. 14 Apr. 1658, Elizabeth, da. of Robert Hunt of Compton Pauncefoot, Som., 3s. d.v.p. 2da. suc. fa. 1676.1
Commr. for sewers, Som. Aug., Dec. 1660, j.p. 1676-Feb. 1688, Oct. 1688-d., capt. of militia ft. by 1679-?87, commr. for assessment, Som. 1679-80, 1689-90, Bridgwater 1690; sheriff, Som. 1683-4, dep. lt. 1689-d.2
Bull’s grandfather had been a linen draper in Wells, and the family still owned property in the city. His father had settled down on the rectory manor at Shapwick as a country gentleman before the Civil War, though he was rejected as ‘unfit’ for sheriff in 1639. The family was strongly royalist; two of his uncles were in arms, and his father was fined £900 for serving on the commission of array. Bull was returned for Wells at the general election of 1660, though his eligibility under the last ordinance of the Long Parliament must have been dubious. However, his family interest, combined with the corporation interest of his brother-in-law and colleague, Thomas White, seem to have deterred all opposition. Doubtless a court supporter, he took no known part in the Convention except to apply for leave on 7 July 1660, or in politics until after his father’s death 16 years later.3
Bull was active in suppressing conventicles as a magistrate, and it was doubtless as a court supporter, that he was chosen by his brother-in-law John Hunt to share with him the representation of Milborne Port in the second and third Exclusion Parliaments, in which he was again appointed to no committees and made no speeches. Re-elected in 1685, he was moderately active in James II’s Parliament. His four committees included those to prevent the export of wool and to encourage woollen manufactures. To the lord lieutenant’s questions in 1688 Bull replied that:
He believes he shall give his vote that the Penal Laws and the Test shall be taken away, but desires not to be engaged before he hears the debates. ... He will endeavour the electing of the fittest men he can.
But the King’s electoral agents described Bull and his brother-in-law John Hunt as ‘very ill men [who] have made interest to be chosen on promise that they will oppose the taking away of the Test’. His interest at Milborne Port was said to depend on his position as a j.p., and he was omitted from the new commission. However, at the next general election he was returned for Bridgwater, seven miles from Shapwick, as a Tory. According to Ailesbury’s list he voted to agree with the Lords that the throne was not vacant. An inactive Member of the Convention, he was appointed to nine committees, of which the most important was for the toleration bill. On 4 Nov. 1689 he complained that his servant had been arrested by officers ‘who used contemptuous words both against this House and the said Bull’. He was also named to the committees for the second mutiny bill and the general oath of allegiance.4
Bull was re-elected in 1690, but died suddenly on 28 Jan. 1692 and was buried at Shapwick, the only member of his family to sit in Parliament. His daughter brought both his estate and his interest to her husband, George Dodington, three times Member for Bridgwater.5