CHRISTIE, Thomas (1622-97), of Bedford

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



1685 - 1687
1689 - 1690
12 Apr. 1690 - 1695

Family and Education

bap. 30 Jan. 1622, 1st s. of Thomas Christie of Bedford by Jane, da. of William Faldo of Bedford.  m. (1) aft. June 1646, Alice (d. 1666), da. and h. of John Poole, Brewer, of London, wid. of Charles Bainbrigge, Brewer, of Clerkenwell, Mdx., 1s. 2da. d.v.p.; (2) 15 Oct. 1667, Anne (d. 1709), da. of Oliver Luke of Woodend, Cople, Beds., s.p.1

Offices Held

Dep. steward, honor of Ampthill by 1662–?d.; burgess, Bedford 1673.2


A local attorney, Christie had played a prominent part in the political life of Bedford since the mid-1670s, always as an exponent of the High Church cause and more particularly as an agent for the Bruce family, earls of Ailesbury, in whose service he appears to have enlisted as early as 1646. But he possessed enough influence of his own to secure his return to Parliament even when his patrons were beset with difficulties, as was the case in the years after the Revolution. Moreover, unlike Lord Ailesbury (Thomas Bruce†) he seems to have been able to reconcile himself to the new regime fairly speedily: by 1690 he was lending money (some £500) to the crown. In 1690 Christie was seated by the House after a double return for Bedford, Lord Carmarthen (Sir Thomas Osborne†) listing him as a supporter of the Court in an analysis of the new Parliament, and despite his age Christie was soon as busy in the House as he had ever been. In the 1690 session he was named to four drafting committees, presenting a bill on 8 May for the easier recovery of small tithes and to facilitate the repairing of churches. He was also a teller twice: on 12 May, on the Tory side on an adjournment motion, and the following day against an amendment to a rider to the bill for confirming the privileges of the Hudson’s Bay Company. In the 1690–1 session, Christie was particularly busy on legislative matters, being named to seven drafting committees and presenting two bills, including a revived measure dealing with the recovery of small tithes. He was also active in managing bills originating from other Members, reporting from seven second-reading committees as well as an inquiry committee into abuses in the collection of the aulnage duty. In addition, when Lord Ailesbury sought to pass a private estate bill in December 1690, Christie was naturally included on the committee that discussed the measure and seems to have diligently discharged this obligation. Also in December Lord Carmarthen listed Christie as a probable supporter in the event of a Commons attack on his ministerial position. Following the end of the session his name appears on Robert Harley’s* list of April 1691, classed as ‘d[oubtful]’.3

The session of 1691–2 was Christie’s busiest. He was active in the promotion of legislation, especially private bills. He reported from 14 second-reading committees (no less than ten relating to estate bills, including one on behalf of Lord Ailesbury). On general legislation, he finally managed to get through the House a bill for the easier recovery of small tithes, and following his report from a committee on a petition from the Feltmakers’ Company (2 Feb. 1692), introduced a bill to amend the Hudson’s Bay Company Act (5th). He also reported from the committee on the bill to confirm the charters of Cambridge University (13 Feb.), in favour of which he spoke on 19 Feb. His only other recorded speech occurred earlier in the session, on 6 Nov. 1691, when he successfully moved for the revival of all committees. Christie was less active in the 1692–3 session, but in November turned his attention again to the affairs of the Hudson’s Bay Company. On 30 Nov. he brought in a further petition ‘from the feltmakers’, and three days later presented a bill to prevent fraudulent sales by the Company and to curtail the exporting of rabbit and hare fur. He presented one further bill, on 7 Jan. 1693, to prevent profanity on the sabbath, and also in January reported two private bills from committee. Towards the end of this session he and his parliamentary colleague Thomas Hillersden were thanked officially by Bedford corporation for their ‘readiness’ to be of service ‘by their votes in Parliament in point of trade’. That he was now firmly settled in the ‘Country’ camp was demonstrated by his speech on 22 Dec. 1692 in favour of the place bill, arguing ‘that this would settle the government on the English foundation and preserve the fountain in this House clear’. Ironically, Grascome’s list in the spring of 1693 marked him as a placeman, though noting at the same time that he was not a Court supporter. In fact, other than his local office as deputy steward of the honor of Ampthill, he does not appear to have had any connexion with government.4

In the 1693–4 session, Christie was named to draft five bills, presenting the legislation against hawkers and pedlars on 29 Nov. 1693. He was involved in the management of five other bills, only one of which was a general measure, the bill to facilitate the recovery of bankrupts’ estates. He acted as a teller on three occasions: on 8 Mar. 1694 against a clause proposed to be added to the bill for the relief of the London orphans, and the remaining two on the Country side in divisions on supply legislation (5, 14 Apr.). Later, however, Christie became a substantial stockholder in the Bank, and he was not involved in Country party schemes for an alternative land bank.5

In the following session Christie again had numerous committee appointments. He was named to five drafting committees, including another bill to suppress profanity, but his subsequent involvement in the resultant legislation was limited to reporting from committee the bill for the better recovery of debts from heirs who were minors. However, he was involved in the management of seven other bills, most of them relating to private estates. His single tellership during the session, on 7 Feb., was in favour of a rider offered to the land tax bill exempting empty houses.

Christie retired from parliamentary service at the 1695 election, receiving an official expression of Bedford corporation’s gratitude to him in the form of a resolution of the common council. He died in July 1697 and was buried in St. Paul’s church, Bedford, on 9 July. By his will he returned to the vicar of St. Paul’s the great tithes of the parish, charged only with a rent to be paid to some almshouses he had built in the town. There was also a bequest to provide a weekly gift of bread to the poor in two Bedford parishes.6

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: D. W. Hayton


  • 1. Beds. Par. Reg. xxv. 9; PCC 93 Lee, 97 Twisse; St. James Clerkenwell (Harl. Soc. reg. xvii), 291; F. A. Blaydes, Genealogia Bedfordiensis, 345, 352, 368, 376; Beds. N. and Q. iii. 110–11.
  • 2. Add. 33590, f. 158; Beds. Hist. Rec. Soc. lix. 12.
  • 3. Beds. Hist. Rec. Soc. 12–13; VCH Beds. iii. 58; HMC 6th Rep. 129; Cal. Treas. Bks. ix. 645; Wilts. RO, Ailesbury mss 1300/856/A2, cttee. list.
  • 4. Luttrell Diary, 5, 194, 271, 336; Ailesbury mss 1300/856/A4, cttee. list; N. Beds. Bor. Council, Bedford bor. recs. B2/3, corp. act. bk. 1688–1718, f. 29.
  • 5. Add. 42593, f. 40.
  • 6. Bedford bor. recs. B2/3, f. 45; VCH Beds. 29, 32–33; C. F. Farrar, Old Bedford, 230.