ARTHINGTON, Cyril (c.1665-by 1724), of Arthington, Yorks. and Westminster

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



Feb. 1701 - 1702

Family and Education

b. c.1665, 1st s. of Cyril Arthington of Milnthorpe, Yorks. by Anne, da. of Maj. Jonas Binns of Horbury, nr. Wakefield, Yorks.  educ. Wakefield g.s.; Sidney Sussex, Camb. 29 June 1683, aged 17. unmsuc. 2nd cos. Henry Arthington† at Arthington 1682.1

Offices Held

FRS 1701.


The representative of a cadet branch of an old-established family of West Riding gentry, Arthington was brought in to inherit the ancestral manor on the failure of the direct male line. His own upbringing must have been comfortable, for he and his younger brother Sandford, a physician, were both given a university education, and when he succeeded his cousin at Arthington it was to property valued at some £2,200 p.a., which gave him a place among the greater gentry of the county, and enabled Sandford to be provided for with their father’s estate. Arthington first confessed to parliamentary ambitions in January 1695, but though he considered entering the lists at the projected Aldborough by-election of 1697 he did not stand for Parliament until 1698, when he finally stood at Aldborough. In a bitterly contested election, during which Arthington was offered the support of the local vicar, tempers rose so sharply that he fought a duel with a rival candidate, Christopher Tancred*. Neither was wounded. Defeated at the poll, Arthington petitioned against another opponent, Sir Abstrupus Danby*, but without result. In the January 1701 election, however, he was unopposed. His cousin’s political background and preferences had been Presbyterian and Whig, but he himself seems to have been a Tory. He may well have been influenced by his close friend and frequent companion Sir Godfrey Copley, 2nd Bt.*, whose interest at Aldborough had gone a long way towards procuring his return. Listed among those thought likely to support the Court in February 1701 in agreeing to continue the ‘Great Mortgage’, he told with Sir John Bolles, 4th Bt., on 10 June, for an amendment to the bill for appointing commissioners of accounts, designed to preserve powers granted under previous Acts to examine army and navy debts. Re-elected to the next Parliament in December, he was classified as a Tory by Robert Harley* and was listed as having favoured the motion of 26 Feb. 1702 vindicating the proceedings of the Commons in the impeachments of the Whig lords.2

Losing his seat at Aldborough in 1702, once the Duke of Newcastle (John Holles†) had secured complete control of the borough, he devoted much of his time thereafter to the study of antiquities and inventions, and to the activities of the Royal Society, at whose meetings he and Copley were regular attenders. They were in the habit of dining together ‘every Wednesday at Pontack’s and from thence go to Gresham College’. At home he developed his estate, building a canal to link his corn mill with the River Wharfe and to enable him to travel by water as far as Doncaster. He erected ‘a noble hall’ at Arthington, and ‘furnished it with water conveyed in pipes of lead from an engine he has contrived at his mill . . . being an ingenious gentleman and well seen in hydrostatics’. Ralph Thoresby called him ‘that observing gentleman’. Although Arthington did not stand for Parliament again until 1715, he attended the county elections of 1702 and 1708, and in January 1709 assisted West Riding woollen interests to lobby Parliament over ‘the cloth bill’. In 1715 he put up as a Tory on the Slingsby interest at Knaresborough, was beaten into fourth place at the poll and petitioned unsuccessfully.3

Arthington adopted as his heir his brother’s eldest son, who had been named Cyril in his honour and in expectation of this arrangement. It was anticipated in Sandford’s will in 1705, which made no provision for the younger Cyril, and was formally confirmed in Arthington’s own will in 1716. After a quarrel between uncle and nephew in 1720 had resulted in a temporary revocation of ‘all bequests’ in the nephew’s favour, a second codicil on 2 Nov. 1723 recognized a reconciliation by restoring the status quo. The will was proved on 18 Dec. 1724.4

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Authors: Eveline Cruickshanks / D. W. Hayton


  • 1. R. Thoresby, Ducatus Leodiensis (1816), 7–8; Nichols, Lit. Hist. iv. 76; K. S. Bartlett, Will of Horbury, i. 42.
  • 2. Thoresby Diary, i. 382, 411; Stowe 747, ff. 44, 70; T. Lawson-Tancred, Recs. of a Yorks. Manor, 220; HMC Portland, iii. 598; Huntington Lib. Stowe mss 26(1), Hon. James Brydges’* diary, 20 Dec. 1698; Yorks. Arch. Soc. Copley mss, Robert Molesworth* to Sir Godfrey Copley, 19 Feb., 29 Mar. 1701; info. from Mr L. Fry.
  • 3. Thoresby Diary, i. 143, 369, 373; ii. 6, 20; Letters to Ralph Thoresby (Thoresby Soc. xxi), 99; Stowe 748, f. 79; Nichols, 74–75; Thoresby, 7–8; App. 156.
  • 4. Borthwick Inst. York, wills, Pont, Dec. 1705; Ainsty, Dec. 1724.