FRANK, Robert (1660-1738), of Pontefract, Yorks.
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Family and Education
bap. 2 Feb. 1660, o. s. of John Frank of Pontefract by Mary, da. and coh. of William Harbred of Wistow, Yorks. educ. St. John’s, Camb. 1676; G. Inn 1678, called 1685, ancient 1704. m. 21 Feb. 1699 (with £2,000), Elizabeth (d. 1726), da. of Ralph Lowther (uncle of Sir John Lowther, 2nd Bt. I*) of Ackworth Park, Yorks., 1s. d.v.p. 3da. suc. fa. 1698.1
Recorder, Pontefract 1686–?98, 1703–d; commr. Aire and Calder navigation 1699.2
The Franks of Pontefract, a junior branch of the Franks of Campsall, were established by Frank’s grandfather in the early 17th century. The senior branch of the family had been leading members of the corporation since at least the mid-16th century and the cadet branch continued this tradition, with Frank’s father serving as an alderman from the Restoration until his death in March 1698. Having received a legal education, Frank was named recorder of Pontefract in 1686, an appointment confirmed when James II regulated the corporation in May 1688. In August the same year, however, Frank gave evasive replies to the questions concerning the repeal of the Test Act and Penal Laws, and a recommendation was made to the King that Frank be replaced as recorder. This suggestion was not acted upon, but in 1696, in the midst of prolonged political infighting in the corporation, Frank’s qualification as recorder was called into question. The then mayor claimed that Frank had failed to qualify himself by taking the necessary oaths when first appointed recorder in 1686, and that his taking of these oaths two years later was not sufficient to qualify Frank as the corporation had subsequently declared illegal James II’s regulation of 1688. These claims were accepted by Secretary Shrewsbury and in April 1696 Frank was deprived of his office and a new recorder elected. Frank continued to be active in borough politics, however, and as late as June 1698 he was still exercising the office while his allies refused to swear in Frank’s replacement. The case was brought before the Privy Council, which ordered the arrest and prosecution of Frank. This ended Frank’s resistance to his removal, but in 1703 he was reappointed borough recorder. He was to retain this post until his death, and in this period became one of the leading figures in Pontefract politics.3
At the 1710 election Frank, in alliance with his father’s stepson Sir John Bland, 4th Bt.*, gained one of the borough’s seats, and was classed in the ‘Hanover list’ as a Tory. This assessment was borne out by his inclusion in 1711 on the list of ‘Tory patriots’ who had opposed the continuation of the war, but he was to prove an inactive Member. On 16 Mar. 1711 he was granted a leave of absence on account of his poor health, and the following year, on 17 May, was granted a further month’s leave. On 18 June 1713 he voted against the French commerce bill. Successful at Pontefract at the 1713 election, he was granted a month’s leave of absence on 31 May 1714. The Worsley list and two further comparisons of the 1713 and 1715 Parliaments all listed him as a Tory. He retained his seat at the 1715 election, due in part to the 20 Pontefract burgages he was said to own at this time, but was unseated the following year upon petition. He died in 1738 and was buried within the ruins of Pontefract Castle on 6 Sept. Frank was succeeded in his estates by his three daughters, one of whom had married Richard Frank of Campsall who succeeded Frank as Pontefract’s recorder.4
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Authors: Eveline Cruickshanks / Richard Harrison
- 1. Dugdale’s Vis. Yorks. ed. Clay, iii. 175; Sheffield Archs. Bacon Frank mss BFM 599, marriage settlement, 17 Feb. 1698–9.
- 2. Pontefract Corp. Bk. ed. Holmes, 165, 209, 211, 252–3; PC 2/77, p. 186; HMC Lords, n.s. iii. 204.
- 3. Dugdale’s Vis. Yorks. 173–5; J. Foster, Peds. Yorks. Fams. i. (Frank); Pontefract Corp. Bk. 165, 171–3, 209–12, 216, 252; PC 2/77, pp. 186, 195.
- 4. Add. 70211, Bland to Robert Harley*, 14 Oct. 1710; Quinn thesis, 210.