GRESHAM, Sir Edward, 2nd Bt. (1649-1709), of Titsey, Surr.
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Family and Education
b. 30 Jan. 1649, 2nd but 1st surv. s. of (Sir) Marmaduke Gresham, 1st Bt.†, by Alice, da. of Richard Corbet, bp. of Norwich 1632–5. educ. I. Temple 1664. m. 23 Feb. 1672, Martha (d. 1712), da. of Sir John Maynard* 1s. d.v.p. 1 da. suc. fa. as 2nd Bt. 14 Apr. 1696.
Gent. privy chamber 1690–1702.
Although born on one of the more significant days in English history, Gresham proved a modest actor on the political stage. His family’s influence in south-east Surrey had been secured by the purchase of the manors of Titsey and Limpsfield in the reign of Henry VIII, and its proprietorial interests even extended across the county border into the Kentish parish of Westerham. A less celebrated branch of an ancient Norfolk dynasty, the Greshams of Surrey had been active in county politics for many years, Gresham’s great-grandfather, Sir Thomas†, having sat for Gatton and Bletchingley in the early Stuart period. Gresham’s father, an active adherent of the Whig cause, had bucked national trends by gaining a seat at Bletchingley in 1685. Gresham’s own appointment as a gentleman of the privy chamber in May 1690 suggests that he shared his father’s political sympathies, but there is no evidence of his having stood for election before Sir Marmaduke’s death in 1696.1
Gresham’s eventual entry into Parliament was no doubt engineered by Sir Robert Clayton*, even though the Bletchingley poll of January 1701 actually suggests that Gresham had to defeat Clayton to take the seat. Gresham’s status as an established local landowner was evidently his chief recommendation for a seat, particularly as he could compensate for the anonymity of Clayton’s other candidate, John Ward II*, a City merchant with no local ties. Although Gresham did not make any significant appearances in the Journals during either of the Parliaments in which he sat, Robert Harley* confirmed his Whiggish loyalties in December 1701. However, by the time of the election of 1702, Clayton’s main local rivals, the Evelyns of Godstone, had recovered from the loss of their elder statesman, George Evelyn I*, and Gresham relinquished his seat without a struggle.
Even though out of Parliament, Gresham continued to serve his locality, successfully obtaining the grant of a market and a fair for his Westerham estates in August 1702. However, he was less fortunate in personal matters, for his only son John died in infancy. Gresham himself died intestate on 14 Apr. 1709. The Titsey mansion, described in Aubrey’s account as ‘a large, fair old seat’, and the rest of Gresham’s estate therefore passed to his younger brother Charles, an unsuccessful candidate at Bletchingley in 1713. Gresham’s affairs were undoubtedly in some disorder at his death, for his successor was subsequently forced to obtain an Act in July 1713 to sell part of the Westerham property to provide for several family members, including Gresham’s only daughter, Elizabeth.2