GERY, Thomas (c.1663-1727), of Ealing, Mdx.
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Family and Education
b. c.1663, o. s. of Thomas Gery of Spon Street, Coventry, bellmonger and alderman of Coventry, by his w. Anne. educ. M. Temple 1680, called 1687. m. (1) lic. 27 Feb. 1693, aged 30, Mary, da. of William Richardson of Christchurch, London, s.p.; (2) 5 Jan. 1710, Elizabeth (d. 1734), da. of James Wittewrong of Rothamstead House, Herts., wid. of Thomas Bennet, publisher, of the Golden Lion, Fleet Street, London. 3da. suc. fa. c.1674; kntd. 7 July 1712.1
Master in Chancery 1700–19.
Gery was probably descended from a Bedfordshire family of that name, a secondary branch of which had subsequently settled in the Coventry area. His father, a Dissenter, became a sheriff of the city in 1661, but in the following year he and several others were removed from their civic offices by the commissioners for corporations for failing to take the oaths as required under the new Corporation Act. Thomas snr. did, however, serve a mayoral term in 1666. After qualifying as a barrister, Gery himself maintained chambers at the Middle Temple and probably continued to spend most of his time in the capital. It may have been frequent non-residence at Coventry which counted against him when he stood for the city in 1690, a failure that allegedly cost him more than £500. However, in the years preceding his unopposed election in 1695 he must have cultivated a personal following among the corporation and the city’s voters. During his three periods of parliamentary service Gery was unwaveringly Tory, and, in spite of his Dissenting background, a loyal Churchman. In January 1696 he was forecast as likely to oppose the Court over the proposed council of trade. On 31 Jan. he reported on a private bill and after its third reading was ordered to deliver it to the Lords, this being the first of a series of mainly private bills which he managed during the 1695 Parliament, and which may have arisen from his legal practice. Towards the end of February 1696 he signed the Association, and on either 20 or 26 Mar. voted against fixing the price of guineas at 22s. On the 25th he reported on another private bill, for selling land in Somerset, which he returned to the Lords the next day; and on 15 Apr. was teller in favour of adjourning consideration of a bill confirming a grant of land in the Bedford Levels to the Earl of Torrington (Arthur Herbert†). In November of the next session he spoke and voted against the attainder of Sir John Fenwick†. He appears to have become particularly engrossed in the work of a committee set up on 1 Dec. to investigate individual cases of arrears of pay claimed by officers and men who had served in Ireland, reporting on various cases on 6 Feb., 18 Mar. and on 15 Apr. 1697. In the next session, on 14 Feb. 1698, he told against a motion for candles during discussion on the bill of pains and penalties against Charles Duncombe*. Between January and June he was heavily preoccupied in supervising five separate bills through the House. Four were of a private nature, while a fifth was for easing the predicament of merchants and businessmen whose debtors had escaped from prison. The last measure originated with a committee appointed on 21 Jan., to which Gery had been named. Though he himself did not introduce the resultant bill, he did assume responsibility for it later, reporting twice from its committee, on 9 and 28 May, and after its third reading on 3 June he conveyed it to the Lords.2
At the 1698 election Gery was defeated. In an analysis compiled in about September he was classed as a Country supporter in the preceding Parliament. In 1700 he purchased a mastership in Chancery, taking his place on the bench for the first time on 20 July. It was perhaps owing to this considerable expenditure that he did not stand at Coventry in the first election of 1701. When he did take to the hustings at the second election that year, it was only to come bottom of a vigorously contested poll. In 1702, however, he was returned unchallenged. He was noticeably less active in the sessions that followed and his previous interest in private bills was no longer apparent, his energies having almost certainly been overtaken by the demands of his Chancery office. On 10 Nov. he presented a petition from the inhabitants of St. Andrew’s, Holborn, urging the implementation of an earlier proposal for a new church and for the area to have parochial status. However, Gery’s intended bill on this matter never materialized. On 21 Nov. he told for adjourning the debate on a supply resolution to continue the duties on coal. He voted on 13 Feb. 1703 against agreeing with the Lords’ amendments to the bill for extending the time in which the oath of abjuration could be taken, and in mid-March 1704 Lord Nottingham (Daniel Finch†) listed him as a likely supporter in the event of an attack over Nottingham’s handling of the Scotch Plot. He was one of two Members authorized on 22 Jan. 1704 to bring in a bill (later aborted) for continuing the commission of public accounts. In October he was forecast as a ‘probable supporter’ of the Tack, and voted accordingly on 28 Nov. On 22 Dec. he moved for a bill enabling Lord James Russell* to sell property in Hampshire, which he introduced on 17 Jan. 1705.3
In 1705 Gery stood successfully for re-election at Coventry. The poll was a particularly violent affair, and a few days afterwards both he and his partner, Sir Christopher Hales, 2nd Bt.*, were accused by the mayor and corporation in a letter to Secretary Harley (Robert*) of conducting themselves in total disregard of a royal proclamation posted about the city for the maintenance of peace and order. It was alleged that Gery himself had incited a riot on the eve of the election, but though the borough’s Whig freemen petitioned, the elections committee issued no report on the case. Gery’s support for the Tack was reflected in his being identified as ‘True Church’ in an analysis of the new Parliament, and on the first day of the session he voted against the Court candidate for the Speakership. He intervened in the debate on 19 Dec. regarding Charles Caesar’s accusations of crypto-Jacobitism against Lord Treasurer Godolphin (Sidney†), pointing out that it was impossible to substantiate the charge against Caesar for uttering dishonourable words against the government since he had not actually specified a time during William III’s reign when Godolphin’s treasons were supposed to have been committed. On 11 Jan. 1706 he introduced a private naturalization bill. The complaints of the Coventry corporation were renewed at the start of the next session and this time the elections committee proceeded upon them. Hearing the report on 5 Feb. 1707, the House concurred that the election, having been conducted in unruly and intimidating circumstances, was void. At the subsequent by-election, later the same month, the Tory pair failed to recapture their seats, Gery coming bottom of the poll.4
As the election of 1708 drew near, Edward Hopkins*, one of the outgoing Whig Members for Coventry, believed Gery was certain to oppose him, but in fact Gery’s intentions appear to have been quite otherwise. The prospect of another contest biting into his fortune so soon after the last probably deterred him. However, in 1710 he readily availed himself of the favourable chances afforded by the heady pro-Tory atmosphere, and was returned in a contested, though ‘sure’, election. He appeared as a Tory in the ‘Hanover list’, and in the first session of the new Parliament was noted as one of the ‘worthy patriots’ who detected the mismanagements of the late administration. Except for one recorded instance, his contribution to proceedings at this time was negligible: during consideration of the Honiton election on 3 Feb. 1711 he was teller in favour of the Tory petitioner, James Sheppard*. Knighted in July 1712, Gery stood down from Parliament in 1713. He sold his Chancery mastership in October 1719 and retired to his estate at Ealing. His active participation in Coventry on behalf of the Tories during the 1722 election led to allegations that he had instigated a riot, for which he was ordered into custody by the House on 20 Nov.: he was discharged on 15 Dec. By the time he made his will in November 1726 he appears to have disposed of the property he had possessed in Warwickshire. He died on 15 Aug. 1727 and was buried in the churchyard at Great Ealing.5
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Author: Andrew A. Hanham
- 1. Misc. Gen. et Her. ser. 4, ii. 113; Foster, London Mar. Lic. 539.
- 2. Nichols, Leics. iii. 1041; VCH Warws. viii. 266; M.T. Recs. iii. 1441; Harl. 7017, f. 293; J. Oldmixon, Hist. Eng. (1735), p. 152.
- 3. Luttrell, Brief Relation, iv. 669; vi. 135; Add. 29568, f. 104.
- 4. Add. 70264, mayor and aldermen of Coventry to Harley, 27 May 1705; Cam. Misc. xxiii. 53.
- 5. Hopkins mss (Hist. of Parl. trans.), Edward to Thomas Hopkins, 24 Apr. 1708; Add. 70421, Dyer’s newsletter 7 Oct. 1710; CJ, xx. 453; Knatchbull Diary (Cam. Soc. ser. 3, xciv), 7, 9; PCC 185 Farrant; Misc. Gen. et Her. 113.