ELWES, Sir Hervey, 2nd Bt. (1683-1763), of Stoke College, Stoke by Clare, Suff.

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. 1706 - 1710
1713 - 1722

Family and Education

bap. July 1683, 1st s. of Gervase Elwes† of Stoke College (d.v.p. s. of Sir Gervase Elwes, 1st Bt.*) by Isabella, da. of Sir Thomas Hervey† of Ickworth, Suff., sis. of John Hervey*.  educ. Queens’, Camb. 1702. unmsuc. gdfa. as 2nd Bt. 11 Apr. 1706.1

Offices Held

Freeman, Sudbury 1706.2


Elwes succeeded to his grandfather’s parliamentary seat at Sudbury, but in other respects his inheritance was a disappointment. Although he was ‘nominally possessed of some thousands a year’, the family property proved so heavily encumbered that at first it yielded only £100. He is said to have vowed on his arrival at Stoke that ‘never would he leave it till he had entirely cleared the paternal estate’. His uncle Lord Hervey, who took a close interest in his welfare, advised him either to sell up or seek a rich wife. He did neither, but eventually restored his fortunes by practising extreme parsimony. He was said to be

formed of the very materials to make perfect the character of a miser. In his youth he had been given over for consumption so that he had but a poor constitution and no passions; he was timid, shy and diffident in the extreme; of a thin spare habit of body, and without a friend upon earth. As he had no acquaintance, no books, and no turn for reading, the hoarding up, and the counting of his money, was his greatest joy. The next to that was partridge setting.

Despite the failure of Hervey’s attempts in 1707 to secure for him a grant of his grandfather’s office under the duchy of Lancaster, Elwes seems to have remained a loyal Whig in the family tradition. He was classed as a Whig in two lists from 1708, being re-elected at the general election of that year, and was recorded as having voted for Dr Sacheverell’s impeachment in 1710. He was defeated at Sudbury in the 1710 election, and though Hervey was anxious to bring him in at a likely by-election for Bury St. Edmunds in 1712, the anticipated vacancy did not arise. Regaining his seat in 1713, he voted on 18 Mar. 1714 against the expulsion of Richard Steele, and was classed as a Whig in the Worsley list and in two lists of the Members re-elected in 1715. Much of the remainder of his life he spent in solitude at Stoke, ‘perhaps the most perfect picture of human penury that ever existed’.3

Elwes died on 22 Oct. 1763, said to be worth at least £250,000, and was succeeded by a nephew, John Meggott†, who took the name Elwes and became as celebrated a miser.4

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: D. W. Hayton


  • 1. VCH Northants. Fams. 68.
  • 2. Suff. RO (Bury St Edmunds), Sudbury bor. recs. EE501/4/1.
  • 3. E. Topham, Life of the Late John Elwes (1790), 3–7; Hervey Letter Bks. i. 226–8, 304–5, 327; Hervey Diary, 45, 51.
  • 4. VCH Northants. Fams. 68; Topham, 6, 9–36.