CAMPION, Henry (c.1680-1761), of Combwell, Goudhurst, Kent

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



1708 - 1710
2 Dec. 1710 - 1713
1713 - 1715

Family and Education

b. c.1680, 2nd but 1st surv. s. of William Campion*.  educ. Trinity Coll. Camb. adm. 2 Dec. 1697, aged 17; L. Inn 1698.  m. 8 June 1702 (with £5,000), Barbara (d. 1755), da. and h. of Peter Courthorpe of Danny Park, Suss., 4s. (3 d.v.p.) 4da. (3 d.v.p.).  suc. fa. 1702.1

Offices Held

Commr. public accts. 1711–13.2


Campion proved to have quite different political sympathies from those of his father. Successful for East Grinstead in 1708, he was classed as a Tory in a list of the returns and soon confirmed this analysis by his actions in the House. On 4 Feb. 1709 he urged that if the bill to naturalize foreign Protestants was passed, a clause should be added insisting that naturalization be made conditional on the immigrant becoming a communicating Anglican, and on 7 Mar. acted as a teller in favour of such an amendment. He acted as a teller twice more: against passing a bill concerning Smithfield market (29 Jan.), and in support of William Thompson III*’s election for Orford (22 Feb.).3

In the next session Campion told on 10 Dec. 1709, in favour of the Tory, Charles Coxe*, in the Cirencester election, and again on 8 Feb. 1710, for an address that the convocation of tinners not sit until after the end of the session. He was named to two drafting committees, one for a bill to regulate button manufacture (21 Jan.) and the other to bring in a bill to prevent bribery at elections (14 Feb.). He voted against the impeachment of Dr Sacheverell, and told on 21 Mar. against giving the thanks of the House to the managers of the trial.

In 1710 Campion did not stand at East Grinstead, but came in at a by-election for Bossiney, when Hon. Francis Robartes chose to sit for Bodmin. His election probably had the support of Robartes and George Granville*. As the session developed he, who previously ‘n’a guère été connu hors de sa province’, emerged as a spokesman for those Tories disillusioned with Robert Harley’s* ‘moderation’ and duly became one of the leading members of the October Club. One of his first actions was against the Palatines, when he was first-named on 15 Jan. 1711 to the drafting committee for a bill to repeal the General Naturalization Act. He managed the resulting bill through the Commons in January, only for it to fail in the Lords. He was later appointed to the committee for drafting a qualifying bill for justices of the peace (6 Mar.). Campion was involved in the confrontation between the Court and the October Club over the disputed election at Carlisle, in which the Octobrists were trying to unseat the Whig, (Sir) James Montagu I, against the wishes of the ministry. On 20 Feb. he told in favour of resuming consideration of the case in three weeks, thus allowing time for the collection of evidence, and on 14 Mar. for the motion condemning Bishop Nicolson’s intervention in the election. Campion also continued to pursue awkward questions concerning the Godolphin ministry, being chosen a commissioner of accounts on 9 Apr., and not surprisingly, he was classed as one of the ‘worthy patriots’ who had detected the mismanagements of the previous administration. On 5 Apr. he told on the Tory side in favour of an amendment to the bill for preventing bribery at elections, and on 10 Apr. he again told for the Tories against an amendment to a motion allowing the place-holder Sir John Anstruther to continue to sit in the House. He was also involved in two private bills, dealing with estates in Kent and Sussex, and managed one of them through the Commons.4

In the 1711–12 session Campion was one of a trio of MPs appointed to bring in a second bill to repeal the General Naturalization Act (22 Dec). Joining in the attack on the Duke of Marlborough (John Churchill†), on 25 Feb. he urged that the 2.5 per cent deductions taken by the Duke on money issued for foreign troops should be repaid. During the spring of 1712 the October Club was split by the defection of a number of Hanoverian Tories to form the March Club. The remainder, some of whom were appointed to office, formed an uneasy alliance with the Court, and, although Campion himself was not given a place, he was transformed from a strong critic of the administration into one of its defenders. On 2 Apr. 1712 he acted as a teller in favour of a motion to declare a petition against Arthur Moore frivolous and vexatious, and he successfully moved on 8 Apr. that the Daily Courant’s printing of the Dutch envoy’s reply to parliamentary censures was a scandalous and malicious libel, being first-named to the resulting committee of inquiry into its publication. He also acted as a teller on 21 Apr. in favour of committing the bill to appoint commissioners of inquiry into crown grants, a measure dear to the hearts of the October Club, and was named to the committee to scrutinize the ballot of commissioners (13 May). Campion was a teller for the Tories in the Steyning election dispute on 8 May, and, in an apparent division within the October Club over tactics, on 17 May he and another Club member, Thomas Paske, told in opposition to fellow Octobrists John Hynde Cotton and John Carnegie for adjourning a debate on supply. Campion was shocked at Lord Treasurer Oxford’s (Robert Harley) failure to get the bill inquiring into crown grants through the Lords, and when news of the defeat reached the Commons on 20 May, he

stood up and in a very disorderly manner took notice of the speech of Lord Nottingham [Daniel Finch†], and almost repeated it, adding that he hoped the House would have in their immediate thoughts the resumption itself and think no more of inquiries: especially since that noble lord had declared he would be as much for the resumption as any person and only disliked the last bill, because it left room for partiality and favour. But all this was no more than an empty sally, and went off without being seconded.

Despite this disappointment, on 22 May he supported a Court motion to put off a call of the House and took the opportunity to cast aspersions on those who he claimed were obstructing a peace treaty. On 28 May he defended the ministry when the Whigs attacked the Duke of Ormond’s refusal to engage the French, telling against an address to express concern at his restraint. When A Letter from the States General to the Queen of Great Britain was published, criticizing the peace negotiations, he moved a motion on 13 June condemning it as a scandalous libel. By this stage he was described by L’Hermitage as ‘fort dévoué au parti de la cour’. On 17 June he was a teller against a Whig resolution that the Protestant succession should be guaranteed in the peace treaty. His other activities in this session included a drafting committee to help erect a chapel of ease in Deal (15 Feb.), and the management through the Commons in May of a bill from the Lords covering an estate in Kent and Sussex.5

In the last session of this Parliament, in June and July 1713, Campion managed through the House the bill for raising the militia, reporting it from the committee of the whole on 1 July. However, most of his activity was devoted to helping the ministry secure the passage of the French commerce bill. As a precursor, on 2 May he was a teller in favour of bringing in a bill to suspend the duties on French wines; on 30 May he told against a Whig attempt to delay the first reading of the bill confirming the 8th and 9th articles; and on 18 June he both spoke and voted in the bill’s favour. In other business, he presented information to the House from the commission of accounts (16 May).6

Successful for Sussex in 1713, Campion continued to play his part in defence of the ministry. He spoke on 18 Mar. 1714 in favour of Richard Steele withdrawing from the House before the charge against him was made and for his expulsion (for which Campion duly voted). He also spoke on 15 Apr. for the Court motion that the Protestant succession was not in danger, and on 22 Apr. in support of an address of thanks for the peace. However, as the split within the Tory ministry developed, Campion supported Bolingbroke (Henry St John II*), which became clear in a committee of supply on 19 Apr., when he led the October Club in strongly opposing a ministerial motion to order payment of arrears to the Hanoverian troops. Furthermore, early in June he moved that a supply to clear the army’s debts should exclude Hanoverian arrears. Then, when Bolingbroke encouraged the introduction of a schism bill, Campion warmly supported it. On 12 May he moved that Sir William Wyndham, 3rd Bt., have leave to make a motion, the latter then proposed the schism bill and Campion was named to the committee to draft it. In the debate of 18 June he replied to Robert Walpole II’s suggestion that, as the bill was to extend to the Dissenters in Ireland, another measure should be brought in to enable them to enjoy toleration: his riposte was that if leave were to be given for such a bill it should be accompanied by one to incapacitate Dissenters from voting in parliamentary elections. Campion was a teller on 14 May for a duty to be imposed on coal coming into London to pay for maintenance of the Thames waterway, and on 21 May for a motion to debate the African slave trade. On 22 May he was named to the drafting committee for a bill to vest Scottish episcopal revenues in the crown, another measure promoted by Bolingbroke. On 24 June, Campion opposed the address of thanks to the Queen for publishing a reward for the capture of the Pretender and when the Earl of Hertford (Algernon Seymour) suggested the reward be raised from £5,000 to £100,000, ‘Mr Campion very seriously said it would seem a downright affront to her Majesty to vote £100,000 reward after she had thought fit to propose but £5,000’. He told against addressing the Queen for an account of the army’s debts on 8 July. His other activities included drafting committees to prepare heads for a bill to curb wool smuggling (9 Mar.), a matter of considerable local interest, and then to prepare the bill itself (15th); two tellerships on the Tory side in the disputed elections of Wigan (6 Apr.) and Southwark (3 July); and membership of the committee for counting the ballot for commissioners of accounts (17 June). Given this record the compiler of the Worsley list had no difficulty in classing him as a Tory.7

At the end of June 1714 rumours of Oxford’s dismissal were accompanied by reports that in the resultant reshuffle Campion would be appointed chancellor of the Exchequer in a Bolingbroke-led administration. These rumours continued until the end of July, but Queen Anne’s death ended all such speculation and effectively put an end to his parliamentary career. On 15 Aug. Campion opposed another attempt to introduce a £100,000 reward for the capture of the Pretender.8

After 1715 Campion was an active Jacobite, acting as a messenger and helping to organize the intended rising in the West in 1715. Although never arrested, he spent much of the next few years abroad, returning to England by 1720 and continuing to correspond with the Jacobite court. In 1725 he came into possession of Danny Park, Sussex, where he lived until his death on 17 Apr. 1761.9

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Authors: Paula Watson / Sonya Wynne


  • 1. Misc. Gen. et Her. ser. 4, ii. 264; Danny Archives ed. J. A. Wooldridge, 13.
  • 2. Cal. Treas. Bks. xxv. 360.
  • 3. Cobbett, Parlty. Hist. vi. 780.
  • 4. NSA, Kreienberg despatch 16 Jan. 1711; Huntington Lib. Q. xxxiii. 159.
  • 5. D. Szechi, Jacobitism and Tory Pol. 108, 114; Huntington Lib. Q. 169–70; Kreienberg despatches 8 Apr., 23, 30 May, 13 Jun. 1712; SRO, Leven and Melville mss GD/26/13/149/2, acct. of proceedings, 22 May 1712; Add. 17677 FFF, f. 243.
  • 6. Chandler, v. 41.
  • 7. Douglas diary (Hist. of Parl. trans.), 18 Mar., 15 Apr. 1714; Cobbett, 1347, 1348, 1356; Boyer, Pol. State, vii. 461, 532; Holmes, Pol. in Age of Anne, 270; NLS, Wodrow papers, letters Quarto 8, ff. 118, 120–1, 131, 139; Wentworth Pprs. 392; DZA, Bonet despatch 28 June/1 July 1714.
  • 8. Wentworth Pprs. 391; Wodrow papers, letters Quarto 8, f. 138; NLS, ms 6409/70, James to John Macfarlane, 29 July 1714; Boyer, viii. 156.
  • 9. HMC Stuart, i. 395; vii. 444; RA, Stuart mss 46/129, ‘James III’ to Ormond, 12 May 1720; 55/110, Campion to ‘James III’, 13 Nov. 1721; Wooldridge, p. xvi; Misc. Gen. et Her. 264.