ARCHER, Andrew (1659-1741), of Umberslade Hall, Tanworth, Warws.
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Family and Education
bap. 2 Aug. 1659, 1st s. of Thomas Archer† by Anne (d. 1685), da. of Richard Leigh of London. educ. Trinity, Oxf. 1678; I. Temple 1680. m. lic. 15 June 1693, Elizabeth (d. 1704), da. of Sir Samuel Dashwood*, 4s. (1 d.v.p.) 4da (1 d.v.p.). suc. fa. 1685.1
Commr. rebuilding Warwick 1695; freeman Bath 1696.2
Commr. inquiry into forces and garrisons in Spain, Portugal and Italy 1711–12.3
The son of a parliamentarian commander in the Civil War and MP during the short Parliaments of 1659 and 1660, Archer inherited a well-run estate consisting of five manors centred on Umberslade and an iron mill near Stratford-on-Avon, all of which he managed according to his father’s prudent economic maxims. In 1693, the year in which he married and began to plan the rebuilding of Umberslade, his income was £2,015. His match with Elizabeth Dashwood, the daughter of a wealthy City merchant, inevitably brought him into close proximity with the capital and its world of high finance, and in all probability awakened his own interest in the potential of investment. From at least 1708 until 1715 he had sizable stockholdings in the East India Company and in the Bank of England from which he supplemented his income. His marriage was equally advantageous in local terms since his wife’s aunt was married to the 5th Lord Brooke (Fulke Greville†), a prominent figure among Warwickshire’s Tory grandees.4
In 1690 he was returned for his county following a poll, but in the course of his first Parliament took no active part in proceedings. Lord Carmarthen (Sir Thomas Osborne†) was evidently under a misapprehension about his political colours, identifying him after the election as a Whig, though his partnership in the election with William Bromley II* and his subsequent behaviour clearly denote his Toryism. Carmarthen was on surer ground in noting him as a probable Court supporter, a promise Archer must have fulfilled for in December, towards the end of the second session, Carmarthen could class him as a likely supporter in connexion with the projected attack on him. The following April, Robert Harley* was inclined to view him as a Country supporter. He obtained a fortnight’s leave on 7 Feb. 1694. At Kensington on 6 Apr. 1695 he and his friend and fellow Member Bromley presented an address condoling with the King on the death of Queen Mary. He polled in first place in the 1695 contest in Warwickshire, and in the recorded divisions of 1696 appeared unequivocally as an opponent of the Court: he was listed in January as likely to oppose the Court over the council of trade, refused at first to subscribe the Association, voted in March against fixing the price of guineas, and voted on 25 Nov. against the attainder of Sir John Fenwick†. On 16 Jan. 1697 he initiated a bill empowering magistrates to order the widening of highways, which he subsequently introduced and managed through all its stages. In the surprise motion on 15 Feb. to engross the bill for examining and stating the public accounts, he told for the opposing majority, not as an enemy of the commission in principle, but as a critic of the manner in which in late sessions it had been overtaken and manned by ministerialists. In what remained of the 1695 Parliament he was involved in no further proceedings: on 15 Jan. 1698 he was allowed a fortnight’s leave to attend his pregnant wife.5
Archer’s withdrawal from Parliament in 1698 was dictated by his antipathy to the Association two years before, though he had been fortunate enough to retain his place on the county commission of the peace. A comparative analysis of the old and new Houses of Commons compiled soon after the election noted him as a Country supporter. He continued to visit the capital, not least on account of his wealthy in-laws, and sent back reports on political developments. In March 1699, for example, he was writing to Sir Richard Newdigate† from Devonshire Square about the ‘several long debates’ concerning mismanagements in naval administration and in particular about the accusations of peculation levelled at Admiral Lord Orford (Edward Russell*). His approval of Country measures is again evident in January 1702 when he wrote to Sir John Mordaunt, 5th Bt., one of the county’s Tory knights, expressing his pleasure at news that the House had ‘chose their old Speaker and have showed their esteem of a man of so much integrity and honour as Mr Harley’. He hoped too that the tenor of proceedings in the new Parliament would not differ ‘from what the last parliament did’, and that despite the ‘clamours’ against it the nation would come to appreciate ‘the truth of the matter of fact’. His circle of acquaintanceship among the Warwickshire gentry extended to Whigs as well as Tories, and, at least before he re-entered Parliament, he was on agreeable terms with Newdigate, who had stood against him in 1690 and 1695, and George Lucy, who in 1705 attempted unsuccessfully to breach the Tory monopoly over the county seats. Archer was much preoccupied during these years with the completion of a fine new country seat at Umberslade, which was finished in 1700. In the same year he was nominated to the lieutenancy by Lord Northampton, the county’s lord lieutenant.6
Archer might never have re-entered Parliament but for the sudden death of Sir Charles Shuckburgh, 2nd Bt.*, in September 1705, shortly after having been re-elected for the county. In the haste to find a suitable Tory replacement, Archer, with his previous parliamentary experience, was an ideal choice, and willingly accepted the invitation to stand. Lord Digby (William*) reported to an acquaintance that at a meeting of gentlemen in October Archer had been agreed on ‘unanimously’. Accordingly, he was returned unopposed at the by-election held at the end of November. In February and March 1707 he assisted in the promotion of Lord Digby’s bill for providing Birmingham with a new church: he took charge of it in the House from the report stage, but the bill failed to emerge from the Lords. Early in 1708 he was classed as a Tory. On 19 Feb., at the report on the bribery bill, he told for the minority wanting to see a clause inserted for defining the ‘inhabitant’ franchise as in persons who had resided in, or whose family or household inhabited a borough for a given length of time. Re-elected in 1708, and classed once more as a Tory in a list of the returns, he continued to be active over the next two sessions. In a dispute on 24 Nov. over who should chair the supply committee, he told for the minority against the Whig favourite, William Farrer*; and on 3 Mar. 1709, when the merits of the Coventry election were reviewed, was teller against the Whig candidate, Sir Orlando Bridgman, 2nd Bt.* During February and March 1709 he steered fresh legislation for building the new church at Birmingham, and this time saw it pass both Houses. In the 1709–10 session he was teller on three occasions: on 25 Jan. 1710 for the minority against a Whig complaint that the town clerk of Beaumaris was in contempt of the elections committee for his failure to produce the town records; on 22 Mar., in the closing stages of the trial of Dr Sacheverell, for the minority opposing the motion demanding the Lords pass judgment against him; and two days later, to omit an adverse reflection on Sacheverell from a proposed address asking the Queen for a day of ‘public fasting and humiliation’. He was also noted as having voted against the impeachment proceedings. On 24 Jan. he obtained leave to introduce another measure for improving highway maintenance which he subsequently introduced and saw through the House, only to see it fail once more in the Lords.7
Archer was in the Low Countries in August 1710 when he sent word of his intention not to stand in the forthcoming election. Bromley was immediately perturbed that Archer had chosen first to inform his steward, rather than his fellow Member Sir John Mordaunt, or himself, though regarding it as typical since ‘he is no formalist’. When Archer did notify Bromley, it was to stress his resolve to remain out of England until after the election so that he could not be ‘solicited’ to change his mind. His reasons for standing down, however, are not apparent. His friend, the Amsterdam financier John Drummond, described him to Harley as ‘a very hearty and staunch honest gentleman, and knows a great many good and useful things which I was ignorant of . . . He is still for the place bill, but that is a dispute betwixt him and me.’ Archer’s taste for foreign travel was given fresh rein in the summer of 1711 when he was named one of the three commissioners for inspecting ‘the affairs of the armies’ in Italy, Spain and Portugal, with a stipend of £5 a day, the main purpose of which was to inspect the accounting of provisions in the principal theatres of war and report on abuses. It is quite possible that his friend Bromley, now Speaker, had some part in the appointment, although Archer’s mastery of Spanish was probably also a key consideration. At the end of June, Drummond informed the lord treasurer that Archer had written ‘for some very useful instruction in the affair he is going about; . . . he is a real honest man for aught I could ever find, and scandalous abuses have been committed’. Embarking for Holland in November, Archer spent the next year or so ‘in a continual fatigue of travelling and of business’. While touring through Holland and Germany at the beginning of 1712, on the way to Italy, he noted the general disposition against the peace, ‘for they have more advantage by the war than we have’. He was particularly eager for news about how Whig placemen were voting at home upon the peace issue. From Genoa in April, at the end of a tour of inspection in Lombardy, he wrote optimistically to Mordaunt: ‘as to the examination of accounts I believe we shall be able to do a great deal of service and I am very well pleased with my commission’. When the commissioners moved on to Spain and Portugal they uncovered a great many fraudulent practices, including monopolies operated by the governors of Gibraltar and Port Mahon. In December, as he and his two associates voyaged homewards, there was an unsubstantiated report that they had been captured by a Moroccan man-of-war. Archer seems to have been confident that his detailed findings would be recognized and rewarded by the ministry, and was chagrined when his ex-colleagues, Edward Stowell and Sir Henry Belasyse*, received preferment and was himself ignored. In the summer of 1713 he sought an interview with Lord Oxford and when his requests achieved nothing, wrote to him at length on 24 July, beginning:
I have long been under apprehensions of having been misrepresented to your lordship and for that reason it was that I formally desired leave to wait on you. The general vogue of the town since the preferment of my colleagues gives me greater reason to fear that I am not well in your lordship’s favour. Therefore in justice to myself I humbly beg leave to inform you of some of the services that have been done by me alone.
He strongly suspected that the other two commissioners had claimed credit for the report, which he believed would never have occurred if the ministry had urged Parliament to pay closer attention to the abuses uncovered. There is no trace of a response from the lord treasurer, and Archer was given no subsequent reward for his services. The reasons are not clear but it may be supposed that, as the allies proceeded towards a peace, Archer’s eagerness to expose instances of fraud and abuse was considered ill-timed and tactless. At the general election held in September 1713 he accepted an invitation from the Warwickshire gentry to represent them again, and was returned unchallenged. He was apparently still determined to gain some advantage by his exertions in Spain, for at the beginning of October he was boldly asserting to such acquaintances as Thomas Carte in Oxford that when Parliament met there would be an exposé of the ‘great number of intolerable abuses and cheats’ he had helped to unearth, and that he would use ‘his truest endeavours’ to see that those concerned were punished. When Parliament did eventually reassemble, however, there was little inclination to pursue such matters. The Worsley list of the 1713 Parliament identified him as a Tory sometimes prone to vote with the Whigs, while the compilers of two similar lists labelled him simply as a Tory. His moderation is attested by the comment of a senior Whig, James Craggs I*, that ‘Mr Archer and Mr [William] Colemore [II] . . . are with us in most of the questions’. He was teller in three divisions: on 31 Mar. 1714 against hearing the allegations made by the Whig disputant, Henry Grey*, in the Wallingford election case; on 20 May, at the report on the army bill, supporting the addition of a clause empowering j.p.s to inquire into ‘fictitious names’ in musters; and on 24 May in favour of outlawing the sale of reversions of ecclesiastical livings in a bill proposed for improving subsistence to curates. In June he was appropriately included on the ‘Speaker’s list’ of moderate Tories canvassed for the new accounts commission, and in the ballot declared on the 18th he obtained 75 votes but was not elected.8
Archer was returned again in 1715, serving as a Tory member of the opposition until he stood down in 1722. In these later years he was burdened with increasing indebtedness. His finances never recovered from his purchase of another manor in 1716 for which he had to borrow, but which had been intended to improve the overall profitability of his estates. Away from public duties he seems to have devoted himself to his library, his will specifically bequeathing his collections of books and manuscripts to his eldest son Thomas. He lived to see both Thomas and his younger son Henry returned together on petition for Warwick against the Tory candidates in February 1735, and died at an advanced age on 31 Dec. 1741 at Umberslade. He asked in his will to be buried privately ‘with my ancestors’ at Tamworth church, and expressed regret that his legacies of £6,000 and £5,700 to his daughters could not be larger. Thomas Archer was elevated to the Lords as a baron in 1747.9
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Author: Andrew A. Hanham
- 1. J. Burman, Story of Tanworth-in-Arden, 51; Add. 27971, f. 12; Dugdale, Warws. 778, 781; Mar. Lic. Vicar-Gen. (Harl. Soc. xxxi), 260–1; J. R. Woodhead, Rulers of London (London and Mdx. Arch. Soc.), 56–57.
- 2. Great Fire of Warwick (Dugdale Soc. xxxvi), 121; Bath AO, Bath council bk. 3, p. 220.
- 3. Cal. Treas. Bks. xxv. 495.
- 4. Univ. Birmingham Hist. Jnl. ix. 130–43.
- 5. Warws. Recs. ix. p. xiv; H. Horwitz, Parl. and Pol. Wm. III, 191; Add. 27971, f. 12.
- 6. Warws. Recs. p. xxi; Warws. RO, Newdigate mss CR136/B/9, Archer to Newdigate, 16 Mar. 1698–9; Mordaunt of Walton mss CR1386/iii/53, same to Mordaunt, 5 Jan. 1701[–2]; Compton mss at Castle Ashby, 1090/49, Ld. Northampton to PC, 20 Apr. 1700; CSP Dom. 1700–2, p. 252.
- 7. Egerton 2540, f. 136.
- 8. Mordaunt mss CR1386/iii/12, 13, 55, 56, William Bromley to Sir John Mordaunt, 4, 8 Sept. 1710, Andrew Archer to same, 11 Jan., 16 Apr. 1712 N. S.; HMC Portland, iv. 583, v. 24, 460; Cal. Treas. Bks. xxv. 454, 495; Post Boy, 30 Oct.–1 Nov., 22–24 Nov. 1711; Folger Shakespeare Lib. Newdigate newsletter 25 Dec. 1712; Add. 70209, Archer to Ld. Oxford, 24 July 1713; Bodl. Ballard 18, f. 51; Fitzwilliam Mus. Lib. Camb. Perceval mss A21, Craggs to Anne Newsam, 22 Apr. 1714; NLS, Advocates’ mss, Wodrow pprs. letters Quarto 8, f. 138.
- 9. Univ. Birmingham Hist. Jnl. 137, 139; PCC 108 Trenley.