BRODRICK, Thomas (1654-1730), of Wandsworth, Surr. and Ballyannan, Midleton, co. Cork
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Family and Education
b. 4 Aug. 1654, 1st s. of Sir St. John Brodrick of Ballyannan, by Alice, da. of Laurence Clayton of Mallow, co. Cork; bro. of Alan Brodrick†, 1st Baron Brodrick [I] and Visct. Midleton [I]. educ. Trinity Hall, Camb. 1670, LLB 1677; M. Temple 1670. m. Anne, da. of Alexander Pigott of Innishannon, co. Cork, 1s. suc. uncle Sir Allen Brodrick† 1680; bro. St. John at Reigate 1707; fa. 1712.1
MP [I] 1692–1713, 1715–27.
PC [I] 1695–1711, 1714; comptroller of the salt 1706; jt. comptroller of army accts. 1708–11.2
Brodrick’s family had been seated at Wandsworth in Surrey since the early 17th century, but their fortunes had really been made by his father, an officer in the parliamentary army during the Civil War, who received a large grant of lands in county Cork. Brodrick succeeded his uncle to the family seat at Wandsworth in 1680, and on his marriage his father settled on him some of the Irish estates. After the Revolution he spent most of his time in England – in London or indulging his passion for horse-racing at Newmarket; he came back to Ireland only to attend sessions of the Irish parliament. In the first parliament held there under William and Mary, in 1692, he and his younger brother, Alan, quickly emerged as leaders of the ‘Country’ opposition. In 1694–5 they established good relations with the new lord deputy, Lord Capell (Hon. Sir Henry Capel*), and were appointed to office, Alan as solicitor-general and Thomas to the Irish privy council. In the session of the Irish parliament held during the autumn of 1695 they acted as ‘managers’ for the lord deputy and, with his tacit consent, led an attack on the Tory lord chancellor, Sir Charles Porter*. Rumours that this might lead to their dismissal brought an anxious letter from Capell to the Duke of Shrewsbury, in which the lord deputy praised the brothers’ ‘credit . . . affection and abilities to serve his Majesty’. They stayed in office, and in 1697, when new lords justices were appointed, continued to manage affairs for Dublin Castle in the Irish house of commons. Thomas acted as agent for Lord Albemarle and Lady Orkney in respect of forfeited lands which the King had granted them in Ireland, and in 1699 narrowly escaped being censured by the English Commons for his activities in this connexion.3
After Anne’s accession and the appointment of Ormond as lord lieutenant, Brodrick, although still an Irish privy councillor, went into active opposition in Ireland, both in the Irish parliament and in the council itself, and with his brother was one of the leaders of the Whig faction in the Irish house of commons. In England he became friendly with several important Whig politicians, including Lord Wharton (Hon. Thomas*), connexions which brought him office first as comptroller of the salt and later as joint comptroller of army accounts. He was renowned for his anticlerical views: Swift, in a pamphlet published in 1709, wrote of him:
an honest bellwether [Brodrick] of your house (you have him now in England, I wish you would keep him there) had the impudence, some years ago, in parliament-time, to shake my lord bishop of Killaloe by his lawn sleeve, and tell him in a threatening manner that he hoped to live to see the day, when there should not be one of his order in the kingdom.
When his brother Alan heard this story, however, he refused to believe it.4
Dismissed both from his office of joint comptroller of army accounts and from the Irish privy council in 1711 by the Tory administration, Brodrick did not stand for re-election to the new Irish parliament in 1713, being returned instead to the British Parliament for Stockbridge with Richard Steele*, an election which caused Swift to write, as if addressing the bailiff of the borough, notorious for its venality: ‘never was borough more happy in suitable representatives than you are in Mr Steele and his colleague, nor were ever representatives more happy in a suitable borough’. Predictably, Brodrick voted on 18 Mar. 1714 against the expulsion of Steele. He spoke on 15 Apr. against a motion that the succession was not in danger, and on 29 June told against upholding the Tory interpretation of the Southwark franchise. Classed as a Whig in the Worsley list, and in a further comparison of the 1713 and 1715 Parliaments, Brodrick continued to sit as a Whig after 1715, but although restored to the Irish privy council in 1714 he received no further marks of official favour. He died at Wandsworth on 3 Oct. 1730 and was buried there.5
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Author: D. W. Hayton
Unless otherwise stated, this biography is based on the Midleton mss in the Surr. RO (Guildford).
- 1. Misc. Gen. et Her. ser. 1, ii. 364–5; Manning and Bray, Surr. ii. 32–33.
- 2. CSP Dom. 1694–5, p. 469; 1702–3, pp. 143–4; Folger Shakespeare Lib. Newdigate newsletter 25 May 1706; Cal. Treas. Bks. xxii. 416; Boyer, Pol. State, i–ii. 452.
- 3. CSP Dom. 1694–5, p. 500; HMC Buccleuch, ii. 233, 248, 256, 257, 259–63, 271, 272–4, 279, 298–9, 521; Surr. RO (Kingston), Somers mss 371/14/F13, Capell to Shrewsbury, 7 Oct. 1695; Nottingham Univ. Lib. Portland (Bentinck) mss PwA 252, Capell to Portland, 6 Nov. 1695.
- 4. CSP Dom. 1703–4, pp. 159, 186, 501; Addison Letters, 144; Swift Works ed. Davis, ii. 117.
- 5. Swift Works, viii. 12; Douglas diary (Hist. of Parl. trans.), 18 Mar. 1714; Reg. Wandsworth, 361.