SACKVILLE, Thomas (1622-93), of Sedlescombe, Suss.
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Family and Education
bap. 30 June 1622, 2nd s. of Sir Thomas Sackville (d.1639) of Sedlescombe by 1st w. Elizabeth, da. of Samuel Boys of Hawkhurst, Kent. educ. Christ Church, Oxf. 1637. m. by 1662, Margaret, da. of Sir Henry Compton of Brambletye, Suss., wid. of Anthony Roper of Eltham, Kent, s.p. suc. bro. John 1645.1
Capt. of ft. (royalist) 1642-3.2
Commr. of array, Suss. 1642; j.p. Suss. 1642-3, July 1660-d., Westminster 1689-d., militia officer, Suss. Aug. 1660, col. of ft. by 1672-?d.; commr. for assessment, Suss. Aug. 1660-80, 1689-90, Westminster 1689, loyal and indigent officers, Suss. 1662, dep. lt. 1670-?d.3
Yeoman of the removing wardrobe 1689-d.4
As a younger son of a cadet branch of the family, Sackville became a soldier of fortune on leaving Oxford. He volunteered for service in Ireland three times in 1641, but he was not given a commission, and joined the King at York. He served with the Cavaliers for about a year, withdrawing, as he afterwards pointed out, when the King’s cause was at its most flourishing. On inheriting the Sedlescombe estate early in 1645, he went to France and lived privately at Rouen. But, considering that ‘he had an interest in this kingdom, which he would not have to be within an arbitrary power’, he returned in October and petitioned to compound. He was fined £400 on an income of £240 p.a., two-thirds of which was in the hands of his father’s trustees to pay debts and legacies. The next 40 years of his life are almost a blank. He was recommended as a militia officer at the Restoration, and became colonel of the East Sussex regiment when his cousin, the 5th Earl of Dorset, was appointed lord lieutenant. His wife’s father had sat for East Grinstead in seven Parliaments between 1601 and 1640, but she was probably a Roman Catholic, and on the outbreak of the Popish Plot he took her abroad. But they had returned by 1688, when he replied to the lord lieutenant’s questions:
He is for liberty of conscience, and therefore for taking away all Penal Laws and Tests that are contrary to it. ... He is for choosing such Members of Parliament as shall be for promoting liberty of conscience.
He was retained on the commission of the peace, but supported the Revolution, and was elected to Parliament for the first time at the age of 66. He was returned unopposed in a contested election at East Grinstead on the interest of the 6th Earl of Dorset. His cousin’s position as lord chamberlain carried immense patronage, and Sackville rather unrealistically hoped for the post of chancellor of the duchy. Cursitor baron of the Exchequer was nearer his level, but in the end he had to be satisfied with a Household office as yeoman of the wardrobe. A moderately active Member of the Convention, he was appointed to 14 committees, including that to examine charges of malversation against William Harbord. As chairman of the committee for the improvement of silk and woollen manufactures, he introduced bills to prohibit the making of cane chairs and to enforce the wearing of wool during certain months of the year, which on 13 Aug. 1689 he carried to the Lords. Three days later, as a Westminster j.p., he informed the House that the silk-weavers had rioted against the measure, and was appointed to the committee of inquiry. He was one of those ordered to bring in a militia bill after the autumn recess. He remained in favour of the widest possible degree of toleration, telling the House on 23 Nov. that
we could not be saved unless all that were able and willing might be made capable of helping the Government ... Our disease was desperate, our cure easy and obvious, but we would make no use of it.
Three days later he opened a debate in committee on the state of the nation. ‘We have raised a great deal of money,’ he said; ‘if we take no care to dispose of it, we encourage our enemies instead of defending ourselves.’ Although presumably a Whig, he was not listed as a supporter of the disabling clause in the bill to restore corporations. He was re-elected in 1690 and voted in the Offcers’ Parliament as a placeman, but died on 3 Jan. 1693. He was buried in Sedlescombe church, which his widow repaired, in accordance with his deathbed desire, at the cost of £48. The estate passed, no doubt under settlement, to the senior branch of the family.5
Ref Volumes: 1660-1690
Author: B. M. Crook
- 1. Add. 5697, f. 116v; Vis. Suss. (Harl. Soc. lxxxix), 95-96; SP23/115/465.
- 2. SP23/115/465.
- 3. Kent AO, U265/C42/2; Mdx. RO, WJP/CP3.
- 4. Cal. Treas. Bks. ix. 1065; LS13/231/15.
- 5. Cal. Comm. Comp. 940; CSP Dom. 1678, p. 621; B. Harris, Charles Sackville, 6th Earl of Dorset, 137; R. Morrice, Entering Bk. 3, p. 5; Grey, ix. 448; CJ, x. 296, 298; Add. 5697, f. 115; VCH Suss. ix. 278.