KINGDON, Lemuel (c.1654-86), of Whitehall and Great Russell Street, Bloomsbury, Mdx.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
b. c.1654, o.s. of Richard Kingdon of Cornhill, London and Hackney, Mdx. by w. Jane. m. lic. 20 June 1677, aged 23, Theodosia, da. and h. of Thomas Carpenter of Upper Chilston, Herefs. and Lincoln’s Inn, 1s. 4da. suc. fa. 1675.1
Dep. paymaster of the forces 1676-9; jt. farmer of hearth-tax surplus 1681-d.; commr. for revenue [I] 1682-d.; PC [I] 1682-d.2
Commr. for assessment, Hull and Herefs. 1679-80; keeper of New Park, New Forest 1681-d.3
Kingdon’s father, who was probably of Cornish origin, was described as a ‘precious, good man’ and ‘a very faithful servant’ of the Protectorate, under which he held numerous offices, including those of commissioner of claims in Ireland and comptroller of prizes during the war with Spain. At the Restoration he sued out his pardon and passed easily into the service of the Stuarts as auditor of army accounts, returning to the prize office during the second Dutch war. He joined the syndicate formed by Lord Ranelagh (Richard Jones) to farm the Irish revenues, and also served on the excise commission in England. With two of his colleagues on the board, Sir John James and Major Richard Huntington, he helped Danby to undermine the virtual monopoly of government credit exercised by (Sir) Stephen Fox, though he died before Fox’s dismissal in 1676. Thereupon Kingdon himself was nominated by his father’s surviving partners to take charge of the Pay Office as deputy to Sir Henry Puckering, whose functions were almost entirely social. He seems to have envisaged himself as an intermediary with Shaftesbury, and was also in touch with the Duke of Buckingham and John Wildman I. In 1677 he married a 16-year-old heiress, giving her age as 18 on the licence and claiming the consent of her mother, who had long been dead.4
Kingdon’s duties had brought him into close contact with the Duke of Monmouth, especially during the Flanders campaign, and at the first general election of 1679 Monmouth, as high steward of Hull, recommended him to the corporation and freemen, who would have appreciated his puritan background. He was duly returned, and classed as ‘base’ on Shaftesbury’s list. On 1 Apr. he presented the disbandment accounts to the House, and was named to the committee to inspect them, a curious arrangement since he was inevitably the principal witness. Sir Richard Cust reported that he had assured the committee that the whole of the £200,000 voted for paying off the newly raised forces had been properly disbursed. Yet because payment had not been made
strictly pursuant to the letter of the Act, many would have reflected upon others, particularly Mr Kingdon, the paymaster (as a Member of the House), who found out an expedient to stop their mouths who were opened widest against him by offering to advance £3,000 on the security of the second payment of this new Act, which would be enough to pay off all the common soldiers what is allowed them to carry them home, being ten a man, this not going either to pay for their clothes or quarters. Thus a little water well applied served to quench as fierce a flame as hath yet been kindled, to the great disappointment of those who designed to improve it further.
Kingdon’s bluff may have saved the Government, but with the pay of the remaining forces now ten months in arrears, his own position was desperate, and he and his partners were facing ruin. He was absent from the division on the exclusion bill, and on 28 May the paymastership was restored to Fox, who passed it on to his son. Nevertheless Kingdon offered himself for re-election; but, finding that the Hull corporation ‘were not so well satisfied with me as I was in good hopes I had deserved’, he availed himself of the interest of his neighbour Sir Robert Holmes, who had ‘fallen into a great intrigue with his wife’ and returned him for Newtown. Much to Holmes’s annoyance, Kingdon was obliged to quit his official residence in Whitehall, and on 26 Jan. 1680 the London Gazette announced that tallies in his hands could not be assigned until his accounts had been cleared. In the second Exclusion Parliament he was not appointed to any committees, but he twice intervened in the debate of 25 Nov. to defend Ranelagh’s crony, Edward Seymour, denying that the newly raised forces had been kept in being, either by Seymour’s advances or his own payments, after their disbandment had been voted. In 1681 he was returned for Yarmouth, another Isle of Wight borough under Holmes’s control. Undaunted by the collapse of the ‘undertaking’, he launched into a new speculation with his wife’s kinsman William Bridges and a third partner named Trant. Aware, presumably, that he was out of favour with the Treasury board, on which Fox was now sitting, he made use of a certain John Genew, who leased the farm of the hearth-tax surplus on 12 Mar., and nine days later made it over to Kingdon’s syndicate. On the same day Kingdon was named to the committee of elections and privileges at Oxford, and he was also among those ordered to find a more convenient place for the Commons to meet.5
Holmes’s interest in the Kingdon family was by no means at an end, and in September 1681 he conveyed New Park in the New Forest to Kingdon, with life reversions to his wife and Bridges. In 1682 he was appointed to the Irish revenue commission, with a salary of £1,000 p.a. and left to take up his post, borrowing £6,157 from his mother, presumably to secure a departure unimpeded by clamorous creditors. He dominated the board with his ‘imperious, governing temper’; but he was a great success socially, winning the confidence of Lord Arran (Lord Richard Butler), who asked his father Ormonde to show Kingdon ‘all the favour you justly can, for I think he deserves it’. In the closing weeks of Charles II’s reign the disposal of the hearth-tax surplus came under scrutiny, and it was reported that Kingdon and his partners had been dismissed and required to refund several thousand pounds of which they had cheated the crown. The King’s death failed to interrupt the inquiry, and Kingdon must have considered that a seat in Parliament would be a valuable safeguard. At the general election of 1685 he was returned for Bedwyn as a placeman, on the interest of Thomas Bruce, Lord Bruce. A moderately active Member of James II’s Parliament, he was named to eight committees, of which the most important was again to inspect the disbandment accounts. On 11 July his farm of the hearth-tax surplus was extended for five years on payment of £30,000 Presumably he voted with the Court in the stormy second session, for when Charles Fox was dismissed it was reported that Kingdon might return to the Pay Office as deputy to Ranelagh, the new paymaster. But by January 1686 he was ill beyond hope of recovery, and on 19 Feb. he was buried at St. Giles in the Fields. He left his affairs in great confusion, and legacies of £6,000 could not be paid in full. The 2nd Earl of Clarendon (Henry Hyde) wrote: ‘I am not surprised at any ill thing which is discovered of Kingdon, because I never had a good opinion of the man, knowing so much of his father and of his own beginning’. With notable impartiality, he left his children to the joint guardianship of the Tory Seymour and the Whig John Hawles, if his widow should remarry. He was the only member of the family to sit in Parliament.6
Ref Volumes: 1660-1690
Author: Paula Watson
- 1. F. B. Kingdon, Kingdon Fam. 33, 47, 49; London Mar. Lic. ed. Foster, 798; L. Inn Adm. Reg. i. 254; C. J. Robinson, Mansions and Manors of Herefs. 192.
- 2. Cal. Treas. Bks. v. 128; vi. 70; viii. 596-7; CSP Dom. 1682, pp. 500, 515.
- 3. Kingdon, 56.
- 4. Ibid. 35-47; C. Clay, Pub. Finance and Private Wealth, 94-95, 103; HMC 11th Rep. VII, 12; Kingdon, 67.
- 5. CSP Dom. 1676-7, p. 505; 1677-8, p. 242; 1679-80, pp. 53, 378; HMC Ormonde, n.s.v. 76; CJ, ix. 610; Bodl. Carte 39, f. 65; Clay, 121, 124; Hull corp. letters, 955; Grey, viii. 81-82, 85; Cal. Treas. Bks. viii. 596-7.
- 6. Kingdon, 56, 66; Clarendon Corresp. i. 319, 328; HMC Ormonde, n.s. vii. 152; Luttrell, i. 326; HMC Egmont, ii. 145-6, 172; Cal. Treas. Bks. viii. 4, 261, 396-7; N. and Q. ser. 10, xii. 408; Ellis Corresp. i. 12, 39, 45, 50; PCC 5 Exton.