CULLEN, Sir Rushout, 3rd Bt. (1661-1730), of Upton, Ratley, Warws. and Isleham, Cambs.

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



16 Dec. 1697 - 1710

Family and Education

b. 12 Aug. 1661, 3rd but 2nd surv. s. of Sir Abraham Cullen, 1st Bt.†, of East Sheen, Surr. and Upton by Abigail, da. of John Rushout, Fishmonger, of St. Dionis Backchurch, London and Maylords, Havering, Essex, and sis. of Sir James Rushout, 1st Bt.*  m. (1) 13 Apr. 1686, his cos. Mary (d. c.1694), da. and h. of Sir John Maynard of Tooting Graveney, Surr. and Isleham, wid. of Francis Buller of Shillingham, Cornw. and William Adams (d. by 1687) of Sprowston, Norf., 1da. d.v.p.; (2) 19 July 1696, Eleanor, da. of William Jarrett, merchant, of St. Dionis Backchurch, s.psuc. bro. John as 3rd Bt. 1677.1

Offices Held

Freeman, Cambridge 1689; asst. Banbury 1718.2


In three generations the Cullen family, descendants of an early 17th-century Flemish refugee, Bernard Van Cuelen, had transformed themselves from small traders and manufacturers in Norwich and London into wealthy squires with a baronetcy and estates in several counties. Sir Rushout completed the process of rustication on succeeding his brother in 1677, when he sold the Surrey property his father had acquired while in business in London. He did not, however, attempt a parliamentary seat until 1693, when he stood on the Whig interest at a by-election for Cambridgeshire, a county in which his first wife had inherited an estate and in which he had recently been appointed a deputy-lieutenant. His opponent was Lord Cutts (John*), a Whiggish army officer for once enjoying the support of local ‘Churchmen’, who scraped home by a mere seven votes and then survived a petition from Cullen despite losing the initial decision in the elections committee. At the 1695 general election Cullen tried to follow in his father’s footsteps, putting up at Evesham on the recommendation of his brother-in-law, Sir James Rushout, but encountered resistance because he was an ‘outsider’ to the borough, and was narrowly defeated. There was better fortune in Cambridgeshire at another by-election in 1697. This time he enjoyed Cutts’s support, expressed through the active assistance of Cutts’s father-in-law, Sir Henry Pickering, 2nd Bt.*, and, probably more important, the backing of the leading Whig magnate in the county, Lord Orford (Edward Russell*). Not only were the Whigs thus united; the Tories were weakened by the fact that their candidate, Granado Pigot*, had only a year before refused the Association. Cullen, recommended by Lord Orford as ‘a very fit person, well qualified, both in understanding and estate’, was returned after a contest.3

Cullen made little impact in his early days as a Member. Indeed on 8 Feb. 1698 he was granted leave of absence to attend the funeral of a ‘Mr Butler’. After he and Cutts had defeated Pigot and another Tory, Lord Alington, in the 1698 election, he was classified as a Court supporter in a comparative analysis of the old and new Parliaments, and in a list from early 1700 was put down as a follower of Lords Bedford and Orford. Returned unopposed at both general elections in 1701, he was listed with the Whigs by Robert Harley* in December. On 23 Feb. 1702 occurred the first of his tellerships, in favour of receiving a petition concerning the Irish forfeitures. In the 1702 election the two parties appear to have agreed to share the county representation, and Cullen was returned with Pigot, his candidacy having received support from, among others, the Tory Lord North and Grey. None the less, on 3 Dec. 1702 he told on the Whig side in favour of granting an early discharge to an agent of Sir Isaac Rebow*, committed to custody for breach of privilege as a result of malpractice at the Colchester poll, and on 13 Feb. he voted in favour of agreeing with the Lords’ amendments to the bill for enlarging the time for taking the oath of abjuration. Forecast as a likely opponent of the Tack, he duly voted against it or was absent at the crucial division on 28 Nov. 1704, and a week later retired into the country with leave of absence to recover his health. Obliged to fight the 1705 election against a strong Tory challenge, he topped the poll in a close contest. Classed as a ‘Churchman’ in an analysis of the new Parliament, he voted for the Court candidate, John Smith I*, in the division on the Speaker, 25 Oct. 1705, and on the Court side again on 18 Feb. 1706, over the ‘place clause’ of the regency bill. On 10 Dec. 1707 he told in a division on a local issue, against including John Brownell in the list of land tax commissioners for Cambridgeshire, at the report of the land tax bill. Listed twice as a Whig in 1708, he was chosen again, unopposed, in the general election of that year and had two tellerships in the first session: on 24 Nov., on the Whig side, against hearing the Bramber election case on a certain day; and on 7 Dec., against a motion to declare the commissioners of the navy disqualified from sitting in Parliament under the terms of the Regency Act, a preliminary to the opposition’s successful bid to exclude Anthony Hammond* from the House. Besides being a member of the Court party Hammond was also a Huntingdonshire man and former Member for Cambridge University, and may well have had some local connexion with Cullen. During the remainder of the Parliament Cullen continued to support the Whig ministry, voting in 1709 for the naturalization of the Palatines and the following year for the impeachment of Dr Sacheverell, but he suffered in the popular reaction to Sacheverell’s conviction, and did not venture to seek re-election when the Parliament was dissolved. He did not take part in county politics in the more favourable circumstances after the Hanoverian succession, but seems to have retired to his Warwickshire estates.4

Cullen died on 15 Oct. 1730, leaving as his heir his nephew Thomas Bedford of the Middle Temple. The estate, which had already been charged with some £7,000 for his widow and son-in-law, Sir John Dutton, 2nd Bt.†, was encumbered by further bequests amounting to almost £6,000. He was to be buried at Upton, ‘in a private and decent manner, without any pomp or show’. The baronetcy thereupon became extinct.5

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: D. W. Hayton


  • 1. Vis. Surr. (Harl. Soc. lx), 34; Mortlake Par. Reg. 23, 68; St. Dionis Backchurch (Harl. Soc. Reg. iii), 45, 111, 114, 264; IGI, Cambs.; London Mar. Lic. ed. Foster, 10, 213, 364, 753; Le Neve’s Knights (Harl. Soc. viii), 73; Vis. Norf. (Norf. Rec. Soc.), i. 1; PCC 72 Bond, 300 Auber.
  • 2. Diary of Samuel Newton (Camb. Antiq. Soc. xxiii), 104; A. Beesley, Hist. Banbury, 516.
  • 3. VCH Warws. v. 145; Bodl. Tanner 25, f. 339; Add. 28931, f. 100; C. H. Cooper, Annals of Cambridge, iv. 23, 39; Luttrell, Brief Relation, iii. 264; iv. 337; HMC Portland, iii. 572; CJ, xii. 84–85; Bull. IHR, xxxvii. 34.
  • 4. Bodl. North d.1, f. 35; Rawl. B.281, f. 199; Camb. Univ. Lib. Cholmondeley (Houghton) mss, corresp. 405, John Turner* to Robert Walpole II*, 19 Feb. 1704–5.
  • 5. PCC 300 Auber.