AISLABIE, John (1670-1742), of Studley Royal, nr. Ripon, Yorks. and Red Lion Square, London

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1695 - 1702
1702 - 1705
1705 - 8 Mar. 1721

Family and Education

b. 4 Dec. 1670, 3rd s. of George Aislabie (d. 1675), registrar to abp. of York, by Mary, da. and h. of Sir John Mallory of Studley Royal.  educ. York (Mr Tomlinson); St. John’s, Camb. 1687; Trinity Hall, Camb. 1692, LL.B. 1692.  m. (1) 2 June 1694 (with £5,000), Anne (d. 1700), da. of Sir William Rawlinson of Hendon, Mdx., 1s. 3da. (1 d.v.p.); (2) lic. 25 Apr. 1713, Judith, da. of Sir Thomas Vernon*, wid. of Dr. Stephen Waller of Hall Barn, Beaconsfield, Bucks. s.psuc. bro. George 1693.1

Offices Held

?Registrar to abp. York ?c.1675; asst. Ripon Nov. 1698, alderman Dec. 1698, mayor 1702–3.2

Commr. Aire and Calder navigation 1699, building 50 new churches 1712–27.3

Ld. of Admiralty Oct. 1710–Apr. 1714; treasurer of navy Oct. 1714–18; PC 12 July 1716–21; chancellor of Exchequer, 1718–21.4


Originally Baltic merchants, the Aislabies were well established in York by the end of the 17th century. Aislabie’s father very much enhanced their fortunes and status by marrying into one of the oldest landed families in the county, although in 1675 his marriage ‘above himself’ was to lead indirectly to his death in a duel with (Sir) Jonathan Jennings*, who had insulted Aislabie, calling him ‘the scum of the county’. In 1693 John Aislabie inherited the estate of Studley Royal from his elder brother. The proximity of this estate to Ripon gave Aislabie a considerable interest in the borough, though in the 1690s he still relied upon the support of his wife’s uncle, Archbishop Sharp, who had much influence in Ripon, to secure his return to Parliament. Prior to the 1695 election the Duke of Leeds (Sir Thomas Osborne†) informed the archbishop that he could do good at Ripon if he used his interest there to influence the election result: ‘As Mr [Jonathan] Jennings* . . . will be sure of the first with a little of your Grace’s countenance, so with your Grace’s help Mr Aislabie may be the other member.’ Although opposed to the idea of endeavouring to influence elections in general, the archbishop agreed to interpose at Ripon, and secured Aislabie’s return. His ensuing political career was governed by voting patterns and party allegiances that ‘defy classification’, though he ‘was taken by his contemporaries for a Tory’.5

Aislabie was the first member of his family to enter Parliament. His early career was relatively quiet, although from the outset a pattern of association with trade and revenue matters became apparent. In a probable forecast for the divisions of 31 Jan. 1696 on the proposed council of trade he was listed as likely to oppose the Court. He signed the Association promptly, though he was not recorded as voting in the division on the price of guineas in March. On the 28th he told against a motion for receiving an amendment from the Lords to the bill for encouraging the recruitment of seamen. In the 1696–7 session he voted on 25 Nov. for the attainder of Sir John Fenwick†. On 14 Jan. 1697 he was appointed to the drafting committee for a clause, or clauses, for better explaining the recoinage acts, the first of many pieces of legislation with which he was to be associated. In the 1697–8 session, following the presentation of a petition from the corporation and inhabitants of Ripon, Aislabie was appointed on 26 Jan. 1698 to the drafting committee for a bill for the more effectual prevention of the export of wool. Returned again for Ripon in the 1698 election, he was classed as a Court supporter in an analysis of the election results compiled in about September. However, he was included also on a forecast of those likely to oppose a standing army, and has been identified, from his absence from the Court side in the division on the disbanding bill on 18 Jan. 1699, as a Country Whig. Aislabie’s affiliation with the Whigs during the last years of William III’s reign appears to have been a temporary relationship. The following session, in 1699–1700, proved to be a distressing time for Aislabie. On 11 Dec. 1699 he was ordered into the custody of the serjeant-at-arms for being absent from a call of the House. Having been discharged on the 14th, personal tragedy struck when his wife and a daughter died in a fire at his house in Red Lion Square in January 1700. His son was only saved by being carried out of an upper window. The fire was said to have been started deliberately by a servant to conceal the theft of a casket of jewels.6

The death of his wife and daughter may have accounted in part for Aislabie’s lack of political activity over the next few years. However, an analysis of the House into interests compiled in early 1700, while listing Aislabie under the interest of Archbishop Sharp, noted that this classification was ‘doubtful’. This may have been due to Aislabie’s successful endeavours to improve his personal interest in Ripon through the purchase of burgages, thereby releasing him from a dependence upon the archbishop. Aislabie was returned once again for Ripon in January 1701, and in February was listed as likely to support the Court in agreeing with the resolutions of the committee of supply to continue the ‘Great Mortgage’. However, his absence from the House was noted on 6 June, when Thomas Frewen*, executor to the late Archbishop Frewen of York, presented a petition which required Aislabie’s presence. Three days later Aislabie was in attendance at the House, when the petition was heard. He was returned again for Ripon in November in a contested election, and in keeping with his fluid party allegiances, was classed by Robert Harley* with the Tories in December. His parliamentary activity seems to have been hampered in 1702 by his election as mayor of Ripon, even though the corporation passed a resolution allowing him to dispense with the requirement to be resident in the borough during his term of office on account of his being an MP. His time as mayor, which may have excluded him from contesting the Ripon election, may also explain the accommodation reached between him and the Whig Sir William Hustler* for the 1702 election. Aislabie was returned for Northallerton, Hustler’s normal constituency, while Hustler was returned in Aislabie’s place at Ripon. The success of this arrangement suggests that Aislabie’s interest in Ripon was already strong, though he improved it further when mayor, paying for the reconstruction of the market cross at a cost of about £500, restoring ‘the wakeman’s horn’, and, ‘besides other presents’ to the corporation, presenting his fellow aldermen with a handsome silver cup for the use of future mayors. However, Aislabie did attend the House on occasion, and on 11 Feb. 1703, while dining at Archbishop Sharp’s in the company of Bishop Nicolson, he informed the company of ‘the long remonstrance of the Commons (this day) against the ministry in the last reign’.7

From 1704 onwards Aislabie became more active in Parliament and politics in general. Having had a quiet time during the 1703–4 session, in which he acted as a teller on 10 Jan. 1704 in favour of a motion for a second reading of the wine duties bill, Aislabie’s Country Tory affiliations began to come to the fore during the 1704–5 session. In October 1704 he was forecast by Harley as a probable opponent of the Tack, and he did not vote for it on 28 Nov. On 7 Dec. he acted as a teller against committing the bill to regulate button-making, while on 13 Jan. 1705 he was appointed to the drafting committee for a bill to exclude those placemen from the House who held offices created since 1685. Aislabie’s continuing interest in economic matters was signalled by his telling. On 23 Feb. he acted as a teller against an amendment to the bill prohibiting trade with France, which was designed to legitimize the importation of French wines through a friendly country, where such trade agreements were already contracted. In February and March he took an active part on behalf of the Commons in the Aylesbury case, serving on committees of inquiry and for managing a conference over the writs of error. On 13 Mar. he was named as a manager for a conference over the Lords’ refusal of the Tory-inspired amendment to a naturalization bill, which aimed at denying voting rights to property-holding naturalized foreigners. However, even in this instance Aislabie has been identified as one of three managers ‘of doubtful political leanings’.8

Returned once again for Ripon in 1705, and having been recorded by Bishop Nicolson in his diary as part of a ‘throng’ of MPs he met at Doncaster who were rushing to the new Parliament for the vote on the Speaker, Aislabie demonstrated his flexible allegiances by supporting the Court candidate in the division on 25 Oct. On 12 Nov. he was the first-named to the drafting committee for a bill for the ease of sheriffs in their office and in passing their accounts, which he saw through all its stages in the Commons. In a contribution to the debate on the Tories’ ‘Hanover motion’ on 4 Dec. he again demonstrated his tendency to act independently, when he appeared to oppose the proposed address to bring over the Princess Sophia, observing that those who had previously been for an address were now against it. His Country credentials also came to the fore on the 13th when he was one of four Members appointed to prepare a bill for limiting the number of placemen in the House, while on the 19th, when the Tory Charles Caesar accused ‘a great lord’ [Lord Treasurer Godolphin (Sidney†)] of corresponding with St. Germain in the previous reign, Aislabie favoured showing ‘compassion’ to Caesar and advocated a reprimand rather than confinement in the Tower. In January 1706 Aislabie figured prominently among those who favoured the insertion of a place clause in the regency bill. Aislabie’s contributions to the debates on this ‘Whimsical clause’ demonstrated his Country instincts. On 12 Jan. he argued that, without some such provision, ‘all officers then in being may sit’ in the Parliament which would convene at the Queen’s death. He spoke again on the 15th, and on the 21st argued that the clause would ‘perfect’ the regency bill. On the 24th he told in favour of an amendment to the clause, which imposed a specific penalty on placemen who sat in Parliament, by making them ineligible to sit for ten years and fining them £500, instead of the non-specific reference to the punitive clauses of an act of Charles II’s reign for excluding Catholics from Parliament. In keeping with his early speeches, he did not support the Court in the division on the place clause on 18 Feb. It was reported the next day that ‘Aislabie is allowed by all, even the Whig Lords who heard the debate, to have spoke as well in it as ever anybody did in any’.9

In the summer of 1706 Aislabie was in contact with Secretary Harley, in relation to matters of an official nature. However, this contact also may have been the beginning of an endeavour on Aislabie’s part to attach himself to a particular interest for the purposes of attaining government office. On 19 June he forwarded to Harley information received from the mayor of Ripon about a local lawyer who had allegedly declared that ‘all who frequented any public worship where the Queen was prayed for were rebels and traitors’, while on 15 July he sent him a loyal address from Ripon corporation for presentation to the Queen. The 1706–7 session saw Aislabie’s involvement in a miscellany of legislative initiatives. First-named on 17 Dec. to the drafting committee for a bill for the sale of part of the Yorkshire estates of the late Christopher Lister* for the payment of debts, he presented this bill on 22 Jan. 1707. The following day he acted as a teller against a motion that the Whig Daniel Harvey* had been duly elected for Clitheroe. On 4 Feb. he was appointed to draft a Yorkshire estate bill. In the summer Aislabie was in contact with Harley once more, writing on 4 June to request some preferment in the navy for his kinsman Edward Blackett. On 11 Dec. he was first-named to the drafting committee for a bill concerning Irish forfeited estates, which he later presented to the House. He was also nominated on the 11th to the drafting committee for the bill to complete the Union, and on 21 Feb. he reported from the committee of inquiry into the representation of the commissioners for the Equivalent. Accordingly, on the 23rd, he was first-named to the body ordered to draft the bill for further directing payment of the Equivalent. The need for clarification of laws affected by the Union led to his appointment on the 27th to the drafting committee for the ease of Scottish Quakers. He also told on two occasions in March: on the 9th, when he told in favour of an amendment to Bishop Nicolson’s cathedral bill, for allowing appeals from a bishop’s local visitation, and on the 23rd, when he told against agreeing with a Lords’ amendment to the East Riding land registry bill. The next day he was appointed to the drafting committee for a Yorkshire estate bill.10

In keeping with Aislabie’s fluid political allegiances he was classed as a Tory in a parliamentary list of early 1708 and as a Whig in a later list of 1708. Returned again at Ripon in 1708, in the first session of the new Parliament he was noted for opposing certain expedients suggested by the Court party in the debates, following the Queen’s Speech, on proposals for completing the Union. His occasional incarnation as a Tory was signalled on 15 Jan. 1709, when he told against the Whig Sir Cleave More, 2nd Bt.*, being declared duly elected for Bramber, and on 8 Mar. when he acted as a teller in favour of the Country Tory Robert Orme* being declared duly elected for Midhurst. However, despite his apparent affiliation with the Tory party, his continued adherence to Country principles was reported by John Pringle* in March when he included Aislabie among a group of Country Whigs who made occasional, although unsuccessful, attacks upon the ministry. Aislabie’s role in the preparation of various economic and financial measures continued with his appointment to prepare a bill for the more effectual prohibition of imports of French wine and other goods (9 Mar.). His involvement in Scottish affairs included telling, on 8 Apr., for an amendment to the provisions for treason trials in Scotland in the bill for improving the Union, which represented a success on the part of his Country Whig associates. He also acted as a teller on the 18th against an amendment to the same bill. His Country principles were again visible in the 1709–10 session, when, on 25 Jan. 1710, he was one of the Members ordered to prepare a place bill. On 10 Feb. a complaint was made of a breach of privilege committed against Aislabie by a sheriff’s bailiff, John Farrington, though by the 20th Aislabie was able to inform the House that Farrington ‘had given him satisfaction’, and the matter was dropped. On the 16th he was first-nominated to the drafting committee for a bill for the better security of rents and to prevent frauds by tenants, seeing the bill through all stages in the House. During the trial of Dr Sacheverell Aislabie displayed a dry sense of humour on 27 Feb. when the clerk was calling Members in alphabetical order of counties for proceeding to Westminster Hall. Several Scottish MPs objected to being relegated to the end, even after Wales, but Aislabie ‘laughed off their protests that Aberdeenshire should have been called first by assuring them that when one of their own countrymen was impeached, they should have the precedency with pleasure’. Whether in keeping with his Country Tory affiliations or his independent nature, he voted against Sacheverell’s impeachment.11

Following the fall of the Godolphin administration Aislabie again turned his attention to Harley, writing on 20 Aug. ‘to congratulate you upon the happy turn of affairs, and to praise you the author of so great a revolution. I am not capable of advancing the public service except in respect of such elections as shall serve you.’ It would appear Aislabie’s intention was to procure a place in government through Harley’s patronage, and by 21 Sept. rumours were spreading that Aislabie was to succeed Robert Walpole II* as treasurer of the navy. However, on the 24th, Lord Orrery (Hon. Charles Boyle II*) confirmed that no decision had been made, when he informed Harley that

I find by Mr Aislabie that he would take it well if you would either say something to him yourself or commission me to say something to him before he goes into the country [for the elections], which I believe he designs to do in a few days. The town has given him a place which I perceive would not be so agreeable to him as another employment in the hands of the same gentleman whom it is reported he is to succeed, and as that employment would be more pleasing to him, so in my poor judgment he would be more fit for that than the other.

Despite Aislabie’s interest in the office of treasurer of the navy, over the following days the rumours changed, with the prospective office now being that of a lord of the Admiralty. On the 29th Orrery again wrote to Harley requesting that he ‘would endeavour to speak to Mr Aislabie as soon as possible, and make him some civil compliment of your inclination to him’. By the beginning of October it was confirmed that Aislabie was to be an Admiralty lord, which in view of his interest in the office of treasurer of the navy, appears to have been a disappointment to him. On 8 Oct. Sir Edward Blackett, 2nd Bt.*, wrote that

Mr Aislabie is now with me and [I] perceive by him that he does not design to continue the Admiralty, and though he should, he tells me it does not lie in his way to give any manner of preferment to any one that is worth accepting. I believe in a very little time he will have another employment.

However, Aislabie did not display his dissatisfaction to Harley, and instead made the most of his involvement in the Yorkshire elections, not only securing his own return at Ripon, but also claiming in a letter to Harley on 27 Oct. that ‘I have made use of the liberty you gave me to come down and have carried the county election triumphantly [for the Tory Sir Arthur Kaye, 3rd Bt.]: so there is an end of a Parliament bully [Sir William Strickland, 3rd Bt.]; no more lopping of heads and scandalous minorities’. He also requested that Harley ‘take this county into your protection, and not suffer us to be governed by an old-fashioned interest; it is an easy matter to model it to your service and to make it yours’. In the 1710–11 session of the new Parliament, Aislabie partook in the Tory attacks on the Whigs on 19 Dec. over the 1708 charter for Bewdley. Lord Cowper (William*) noted in his diary that while certain Members had behaved well towards him when he attended the House in relation to the case, Henry St. John II and Aislabie had been ‘particularly rude, both without any provocation’. However, Aislabie’s Country instincts remained stronger than his official ties to the Tory ministry, as was noted by Kaye on 29 Jan. 1711, who recorded that ‘the place bill was read the 3rd time and passed after long debate, by a majority of 235 to 143. All who have had, or now have, or are in hopes to have places, dividing against it, except for Sir William Drake, Mr [Robert] Benson, and Mr Aislabie’. Despite voting for the place bill, Aislabie remained in favour, and was made a justice for Westminster and Middlesex in February. On 31 Jan. he delivered information from the Admiralty on naval orders relating to the Palatines. At this time he was listed as a ‘Tory patriot’ who opposed the continuance of the war, and among the ‘worthy patriots’ who were said to have been responsible for detecting the mismanagements of the previous administration. He was also listed as one of the principal members of the newly founded High Church Tory October Club. These associations and activities kept him in favour with the ministry, St. John commending Aislabie to Harley on 19 Apr. for his behaviour towards the Queen.12

However, it was not long before Aislabie’s independent nature asserted itself again. In the 1711–12 session he was to the fore among those Members who were dissatisfied with the government’s attitude and policies, and who were to become known as the ‘whimsicals’, and later as the Hanoverian Tories. However, Aislabie was one of a few independent Tories who seem to have co-operated more openly with the Whigs than with any ‘whimsical’ group. He was also one of the first of these groups to express his concern, on 7 Dec. 1711, in the division over the ‘No Peace without Spain’ motion. According to the Dutch envoy, Aislabie was one of the proposers of the amendment to the Address. Thomas Smith II* noted that the clause was supported ‘by all the considerable speakers of the Whigs . . . and by Mr Aislabie, who used to be on the other side’. It was also reported that Aislabie was one of several Tories who spoke against the peace negotiations during the debate. The peace issue also affected the October Club, with Aislabie being one of the first dissidents within it. However, Aislabie’s dissidence did not interfere with his commitments of office in Parliament, and on 22 Dec. 1711 he presented the estimates of the navy debt, with an account of what part of the debt had been, and would be, satisfied by the South Sea stock. The lengthy debate on the barrier treaty on 14 Feb. 1712 kept him from dinner with Bishop Nicolson. He again distanced himself from the Tories on 25 Feb., when he successfully opposed a motion by Henry Campion which constituted part of the attack on the Duke of Marlborough (John Churchill†), wherein Campion proposed that a bill be prepared for forcing Marlborough to repay the 2.5 per cent deductions taken from the pay of foreign troops. Aislabie, along with Sir William Drake, countered this by saying that since the House had already put this affair before the Queen, it would not be very decent to take it out of her hands. Aislabie’s involvement in financial matters continued during the session. He managed through all its stages in the House a bill for collecting and recovering the duties granted for the support of Greenwich Hospital, and on 24 May told in favour of implementing a resolution relating to marine pay arrears.13

Despite his tendency to oppose the ministry, Aislabie still seemed to remain in favour with Harley. He informed James Grahme* on 21 Oct. that ‘I have not yet seen the Coll. [Harley], Captain [St. John], or Lieutenant [Robert Benson] but design to pay my homage tomorrow’. He also assured Grahme that he would ‘do my endeavour’, presumably at the Admiralty, to get arrears of pay for Grahme’s friends. It was reported on 30 Dec. that Aislabie, in his capacity as an Admiralty Lord, was endeavouring to facilitate the Duchess of Marlborough’s request for a yacht to take her to join her husband abroad. In the 1713 session Aislabie continued to fulfil his Admiralty role, presenting the ordinary naval estimates on 17 Apr., the estimates for sea officer half-pay on 20 May, and, on the 22nd, the estimates of naval officer half-pay. However, it was not long before his independent instincts came to the fore again, over the French commercial treaty. In the debate on the 8th and 9th articles of the new treaty on 18 June ‘Sir Thomas Hanmer [4th Bt.], Mr Aislabie of the Admiralty . . . and divers others went with the Whigs against the Court’, both Hanmer and Aislabie speaking and voting against the treaty. Aislabie was classified as a ‘whimsical’ in a list relating to the division. On 24 June a motion was made for an address, requesting an estimate of the half-pay for the marine regiments that were to be disbanded. Boyer attributes this motion to Aislabie.14

Despite siding against the ministry, Aislabie was continued in office following the 1713 session, Harley deciding against any purge of government. On Lord Chancellor Harcourt’s (Simon I*) advice, Harley argued that it was ‘best that Aislabie should be spared, and keep the rod over him’. He was included in the new Admiralty commission in January 1714, and, having been returned for Ripon once again, was still in office when the new Parliament met in February. On 18 Mar. he delivered information on the navy’s strength and finances. He was not listed among those Members who voted against the expulsion of Richard Steele on that day. On the 24th he delivered information on naval expenditure and the sale of old ships and stores. However rumours of his pending removal from the Admiralty were confirmed in early April, after which he aligned himself squarely with the Whigs in opposition to the Tory ministry, as was evident from his inclusion as a Whig in the Worsley list. He was one of the chief speakers against the Court in the debate of 15 Apr. on whether the succession was in danger, his contribution being recorded thus:

On any attempts of Pretender he hoped messenger to Hanover would not be so long or mistake his way as of late. Well being of England now depends on mediation of France to all the courts of Europe. Such troops as these are only for this ministry. We are to procure amnesty to the Catalans and a better commerce for ourselves by prayers and fears. The first year of peace well worth six million and the 2nd year to cost us seven million. Did they mean the inability of the [kingdom] or of themselves to carry on the war? I won’t say they forgot our trade to Portugal or Holland. The fondness of the Dutch in pressing so much to have but the half or that asiento which our South Sea Company would not take. I won’t say our ministry gave up a Town in Flanders or a port in the South Sea for it.

He attacked the Court again on the 17th, over an address sent from the Lords relating to the treaties with France and Spain. He was reported to have said that

I hope it is not expected we should swallow down an address that has been cooked up above by the Lords and the ministry, 12 new-made peers and 16 Scotch pensioners, which would reduce us to a parlement of Paris. But rather that we should examine this peace step by step, for this is the only time for every honest man to speak, for as soon as this is got over we may expect to see five or six of the new garbled companies of the guards come and tell us ‘this is your King’.

Consideration of the address was postponed until the 22nd, when Lord Downe (Hon. Henry Dawnay) and William Gore proposed the motion to fill up the blank in the address with the words ‘and Commons’. In the following debate Aislabie supported (Sir) Peter King and other Whigs, speaking ‘with great vehemence against the ministers, for having made so precarious a peace’. He was satirical and witty at first, insinuating that Downe and Gore would get peerages for their efforts, and that the address, like money supplies, was to be given as ‘Plaister for [the] ministry’s qualms, every sessions as long as they are in pain’. He also focused on the asiento, which he declared ‘some took for a great country, others for the Golden Fleece, others for a bear skin . . . if we are to thank the ministry we hope we shall do it especially for the asiento’. He then became serious, turning to the plight of the Catalans:

A people, that the Queen had said she thought herself obliged in honour and conscience to see they had their just rights and privileges, scandalously abandoned, but a Reverend Divine [Jonathan Swift] that was intimate with the ministry had let them into the secret, how it happened; for in his spirit of the Whigs, he treats them as a parcel of rebels, and as such not fit to be trusted with the privilege of giving money, which was very apt to put republican principle in them. If this doctrine prevailed it might in time be applied to them of that House. He concluded if the ministry could not sleep without such continual healing votes, to save the dignity of the House he would come into giving them an act of indemnity, but he dreaded a ministry that was too proud to ask one.

Another report described the opposition to the address as being part of the ‘strugglings of the indefatigable party’, but it was hoped that the debate had ‘given a decisive period to their attempts’, seeing as those ‘against it’ (Robert Walpole II, Aislabie and others) did not ‘think fit to divide upon the question’. Aislabie continued to act in opposition, and in early May, when the House was considering doubling the taxes on soap and starch, he seconded Walpole’s motion that the sum required be made up by the fourth part of the asiento which was reserved for the Queen.15

Aislabie’s failure to toe the line within the Tory ministry had ultimately cost him his office, but his increasing identification with the Whigs was to prove beneficial following the Hanoverian succession. Whether his opposition to the Court during 1711–14 had been due to his disappointment over his place in 1710, or to his natural independent or Country instincts, his actions had ‘ingratiated him very much with the Whigs’, and resulted in his promotion in October 1714 as treasurer of the navy, which was the office he had originally desired. Unsurprisingly, Aislabie was classed as a Whig on two lists which compared the 1715 Parliament with its predecessor. However, his promotion under the Whigs and his previous actions gave some credence to the view expressed by Speaker Onslow (Arthur†), who wrote that Aislabie was regarded as a ‘dark’, ‘cunning’ man, ‘suspected and low in all men’s opinion’, though he also acknowledged that Aislabie was a man of ‘good understanding, no ill-speaker in Parliament, and very capable of business’. Aislabie’s public career flourished under George I, when he rose to be chancellor of the Exchequer and Lord Sunderland’s (Charles, Lord Spencer*) right-hand man in the South Sea affair. When the bubble burst in 1720, his deep involvement in the affair put an end to the rumours that he was to receive a peerage, and led to his resignation from office in January 1721 and expulsion from the Commons and temporary incarceration in the Tower in March. Subsequently, he was debarred from standing again. Still a wealthy man, Aislabie spent much of the remainder of his life developing Studley Royal and Fountains Abbey, which had come into his possession in 1716, with lavish buildings and landscaped gardens. His personal estate was such that he was able to give one daughter a portion of £13,000 in 1724. He continued to control the elections in Ripon until his death on 18 June 1742. By his will his son, William Aislabie†, inherited everything.16

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Authors: Eveline Cruickshanks / Ivar McGrath


  • 1. Yorks. Arch. Jnl. xxxvii. 263–4; W. Yorks. Archs. Vyner mss, 544–86, 5836, 5556, 5933 (ex. inf. Mr William Barber); Fountains Abbey (Surtees Soc. lxvii), 235–41.
  • 2. Yorks. Arch. Jnl. 263, 267; Ripon Millenary ed. Harrison, 81, 83.
  • 3. HMC Lords, n.s. iii. 204; E. G. W. Bill, Q. Anne Churches, pp. xxiii–xxiv.
  • 4. Cobbett, Parlty. Hist. vi. 912; Add. 17677 DDD, f. 606; 42181, ff. 29–30; Cal. Treas. Bks. xxix. 20, 700; xxxii. 27–28; HMC Var. viii. 297, 299.
  • 5. Yorks. Arch. Jnl. 263–7; Ripon Millenary, 67; W. A. Speck, Tory and Whig, 53; Glos. RO, Sharp mss 4/K27, Leeds to abp. of York, 10 Sept. 1695; Speck thesis, 97–98.
  • 6. Party and Management ed. C. Jones, 76; Yorks. Arch. Jnl. 267; Bull. IHR. sp. supp. 7, p. 50; Luttrell, Brief Relation, iv. 605; Fountains Abbey, 240; Yorks. Diaries (Surtees Soc. lxv), 340.
  • 7. Vyner mss, 231–4180, 5067–78, 5637, 5743–4, 5782 (ex inf. Mr William Barber); N. Yorks. RO, Swinton mss, Danby pprs. persons to be elected at Ripon, 24 Nov. 1701; Fountains Abbey, 238; Ripon Millenary, 83–86; HMC Portland, vi. 138; Nicolson Diaries ed. Jones and Holmes, 202.
  • 8. Bull. IHR. xl. 157.
  • 9. Nicolson Diaries, 282; Bull. IHR. xxxvii. 34; Cam. Misc. xxiii. 42, 54, 56, 63, 67, 79, 81; G. Holmes, Pol. in Age of Anne, 117; Centre Kentish Stud. Stanhope mss U1590/C9/31, Sir John Cropley, 2nd Bt.*, to James Stanhope*, 19 Feb. 1706; Party and Management, 80.
  • 10. HMC Portland, iv. 313, 317, 417; Yorks. Arch. Jnl. 267–8.
  • 11. Speck thesis, 97–98; Cunningham, Hist. GB, ii. 137; SRO, Ogilvy of Inverquharity mss GD205/34/4, Pringle to William Bennet*, 1 Mar. 1709; G. Holmes, Trial of Sacheverell, 124.
  • 12. HMC Portland, iv. 570, 600, 604, 617, 676; J. Carswell, S. Sea Bubble, 50; Huntington Lib. Stowe mss 57(4) pp. 151, 161, 166; Churchill Coll. Camb. Erle mss 2/12, James Craggs I* to Thomas Erle*, 23 Sept. 1710; Addison Letters, 241; Add. 31143, f. 571; Northumb. RO, Blackett mss ZBL 189, Newby letter bk. Blackett to Edward Denniston, 8 Oct. [1710], same to John ?, 14 [Oct. 1710]; Yorks. Arch. Jnl. 268–70; Cowper, Diary, 50–51; Cam. Misc. xxxi. 329; Boyer, Pol. State, i–ii. 160, 117; Tindal, ii. 235.
  • 13. Holmes, Pol. in Age of Anne, 280, 283; NSA, Kreienberg’s despatches 7 Dec. 1711, 29 Feb. 1712; NLS, Advocates’ mss, Wodrow pprs. letters Quarto 6, f. 45; Add. 47026, f. 103; Bull. IHR. xxxiii. 226–8; D. Szechi, Jacobitism and Tory Pol. 97–98; Boyer, Anne Annals, x. 298; Nicolson Diaries, 587.
  • 14. Bagot mss at Levens Hall, Aislabie to Grahme, 12 Oct. 1712; Add. 22226, f. 257; 31144, f. 381; 17677 GGG, f. 230; Boyer, Pol. State, v. 233, 388–9, 393; vi. 103; Chandler, v. 1, 40–41; SRO, Cromartie mss GD305 addit./bdle. 15, [–] to [Earl of Cromarty], 20 June 1713; Cobbett, vi. 1223; Tindal, 320; Yorks. Arch. Jnl. 273–4.
  • 15. Bull. IHR. xxxiii. 331; Add. 70382, Harley to Lord Harley (Edward*), 24 Oct. 1713; 31139, ff. 78, 91; 17677 HHH, f. 41; Boyer, Pol. State, vii. 56, 410; Stowe mss 57(10) p. 47; Szechi, 154; Wodrow pprs. letters Quarto 8, ff. 95–96; Douglas Diary (Hist. of Parl. trans.), 15, 22 Apr. 1714; Herts. RO, Panshanger mss, D/EP F35, p. 79; Cobbett, vi. 1348; Tindal, 355; Wentworth Pprs. 377–8; BL, Trumbull Alphab. mss 52, Thomas Bateman to Sir William Trumbull*, 23 Apr. 1714; Bodl. Ballard 25, f. 113; Glos. RO, Ducie mss, D340a/c20/9, [–] to Matthew Ducie Moreton*, [?1]9 May 1714.
  • 16. HMC 14th Rep. IX. 510–11; Wentworth Pprs. 427, 430; HMC Portland, v. 597, 606; vi. 137–8; Carswell, 70–71, 228–9, 242, 250, 259, 262–3, 268; Vyner mss, 6068, parcel T.30/2, indenture for repayments by Aislabie, 19 Mar. 1723; Clerk Mems. 148–9; Fountains Abbey (Surtees Soc. xli), 221; Yorks. Diaries, 254, 470; HMC Hastings, iii. 2; Yorks. Arch. Jnl. xxvii. 325; Fountains Abbey (Surtees Soc. lxvii), 239–41; Ripon Millenary, 85.