LAWLEY, Sir Francis, 2nd Bt. (c.1626-96), of Spoonhill, Salop and Canwell Priory, Staffs.
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Family and Education
b. c.1626, 1sts. of Sir Thomas Lawley, 1st Bt.†, of Spoonhill, and Twickenham, Mdx. by Anne, da. of John Manning of London, and coh. to her bro. John Manning of Cralle Place, Warbleton, Suss. m. by 1650, Anne, da. of Sir Thomas Whitmore, 1st Bt., of Apley Park, Salop, 3s. 6da. suc. fa. 19 Oct. 1646.1
Commr. for militia, Salop Mar. 1660; j.p. Salop Mar. 1660-June 1688, Nov. 1688-d., Staffs. and Warws. July 1660-89, dep.-lt. Salop c. Aug. 1660-June 1688, Staffs. 1677-Feb. 1688; commr. for assessment, Salop and Staffs. Sept. 1660-80, 1689-90, Warws. Sept. 1660-1, Essex, Warws. and Mont. 1677-80, Mont. 1689; capt. vol. horse, Salop 1661, commr. for corporations 1662-3, loyal and indigent officers 1662, recusants 1675.2
Gent. of the privy chamber by June 1660-d.; member, Society of Mineral and Battery Works 1674, dep. gov. 1677-81, asst. 1687-Dec. 1688; commr. for customs 1677-9; member, Society of Mines Royal by 1685, dep. gov. 1689; master of the jewel house 1690-d.3
One of Lawley’s family sat in the Commons for Bridgnorth in 1429. But their principal interest, fortified by the purchase of Wenlock Priory during the Reformation, lay in Wenlock, which Lawley’s father represented in the first three Parliaments of Charles I. He was created a baronet in 1641, but lived quietly at Twickenham during the Civil War. He was assessed at £800 by the committee for the advance of money, but this was reduced to £200 in view of his ‘being much in debt, and one-third of his lands under power of the King’s army, and his service and good affection to the state’. Although Lawley’s step-father was no less a person than John Glynne, he remained inactive during the Interregnum, and his younger brother was apparently a Royalist. He was returned for Wenlock in 1659 and 1660, but was totally inactive in the Convention, being mentioned only as a claimant of privilege on 6 Dec. 1660.4
At the general election of 1661 Lawley was chosen with Sir Richard Ottley as, in Lord Newport’s judgment, ‘the two most fittest to be knights of the shire for Shopshire’. He seems to have taken part in the coronation festivities, but he was an inactive Member of the Cavalier Parliament, in which he was named to only 43 committees. In a survey of Staffordshire gentlemen in 1663, when he was 37 years of age, he was described as ‘loyal and orthodox’ and ‘of reasonable good parts’, with an estate of about £8,000 p.a. He was apparently hostile to Clarendon, serving on the committee for the impeachment of Lord Mordaunt, but in 1669 Sir Thomas Osborne listed him among the Members to be engaged by the Duke of Buckingham, and as long as Osborne was lord treasurer, Lawley was a dependable supporter of the Court. He received the government whip in 1675, and made two speeches on 26 Oct. against an opposition attempt to receive money appropriated for naval supply in the chamber of London. He was described as one ‘of my lord treasurer’s creatures’ in 1676, was contemptuously dismissed in A Seasonable Argument as ‘a pensioner, one of the horses in Madame Fontelet’s coach’, perhaps a reference to the Duchess of Portsmouth, and was naturally considered ‘thrice vile’ by Shaftesbury in 1677. In that year he was named to the committees on the bills to prevent the growth of Popery and to provide for the Protestant education of the children of the royal family. He was included in 1678 in both court and opposition lists as a member of the court party.5
With the fall of Danby Lawley was dismissed from his position with the customs, carrying an annual salary of £1,000. As one of the ‘unanimous club’ he was defeated at Wenlock in both elections of 1679. When he stood in 1681 for Lichfield, about eight miles from his Staffordshire property, a Tory thought he had as good a chance as any, but the Whigs were confident that he ‘can do us no hurt’, and he did not go to the poll. He remained in touch with the Government, and in 1683 intervened to prevent the re-grant of a charter to Walsall, ‘the most factious place in the county’. He procured loyal addresses from Staffordshire and Shropshire on the accession of James II, reporting to Sunderland that he found ‘all persons very forward to serve his Majesty’. Trusting in government support at Lichfield, and in ‘the assurances and invitation of the greatest part of the town’, he spread his electoral activities widely in the two counties, securing his son’s return at Wenlock, and appearing only occasionally in his own constituency. On 4 Apr. 1685, returning to Lichfield from the election of ‘two very loyal persons’ for Shropshire, he found that he was in danger of losing the election unless the King ordered Thomas Orme to desist. To his dismay, Sunderland replied that ‘his Majesty thinks it too late to interpose in the matter of your election as you desire’. At the poll he was ‘very ill dealt with, and many of his votes rejected’; but his petition was unsuccessful, though his old patron listed him among the parliamentary Opposition.6
Lawley was absent for the questions on the Penal Laws and Test Act in both Staffordshire and Shropshire in 1688. He accepted the Revolution, was appointed master of the jewel house, and continued as a gentleman of the privy chamber. He died on 25 Oct. 1696, leaving land in Berkshire, Kent, Lincolnshire and Sussex in addition to Shropshire.7
Ref Volumes: 1660-1690
Authors: M. W. Helms / J. S. Crossette
- 1. Trans. Salop Arch. Soc. (ser. 3), ii. 331; Vis. Salop (Harl. Soc. xxix), 314; Shaw, Staffs. ii. 21; Cal. Cl. SP, ii. 244.
- 2. SP29/41/85; Bodl. Ch. Salop 146.
- 3. Carlisle, Privy Chamber, 166, 172, 197, 204; Trans. Salop Arch. Soc. (ser. 4), i. 296; BL Loan 16; CSP Dom. 1677-8, p. 86; 1689-90, p. 552; Cal. Treas. Bks. v. 769; vi. 12.
- 4. Cal. Cl. SP, ii. 244.
- 5. HMC 5th Rep. 150; Gentry of Staffs. (Staffs. Rec. Soc. ser. 4, ii), 21; Evelyn Diary, iii. 280; Hatton Corresp. (Cam. Soc. n.s. xxii), 122; Grey, iii. 357; CSP Dom. 1666-7, p. 507.
- 6. Cal. Treas. Bks. v. 1219; HMC Finch, ii. 53; HMC Dartmouth, i. 56; CSP Dom. 1682, p. 166; Jan.-June 1683, pp. 31, 95, 143, 203; 1685, pp. 103, 108, 121, 123; Bath mss, Thynne pprs. 21, f. 171; Trans. R. Hist. Soc. (ser. 4), xix. 180-3; Staffs. Rec. Soc. lxxi. 218-25.
- 7. PCC 131 Bond.