HELE, Richard (1679-1709), of Flete House, Holbeton, Devon

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



Dec. 1701 - 1702
Dec. 1702 - 28 Jan. 1703
28 Jan. 1703 - 1705

Family and Education

bap. 27 Mar. 1679, o. s. of Richard Hele of Flete House, rector of Helland, Cornw., by Judith, da. of Dr George Cary of Clovelly, Devon, dean of Exeter.  educ. New Coll. Oxf. 1697.  m. one Deane, 1s.  suc. fa. 1682.1

Offices Held


Hele came from a long-established Devon family which had first represented Plympton Erle in the 14th century. This began a long tradition of parliamentary service, and Hele’s great-uncle Sir Thomas Hele, 1st Bt., sat for Plympton Erle in the early 17th century and for Okehampton in the Cavalier Parliament. Hele’s father was the nephew of the first baronet, and as the son of a younger son entered the ministry. The deaths of Sir Thomas Hele and both his sons in the 1670s, however, led to Hele’s father inheriting the family estate at Flete in 1679, and though he had no legal claim to the title of baronet he styled himself as such until his death. Hele succeeded to the family estates in 1682, though unlike his father he made no pretension to the baronetcy. He entered Oxford in 1697, and four years later, shortly after he came of age, was promoted by Bishop Trelawny of Exeter (who had married Hele’s second cousin once removed) as a candidate for Ashburton at the December 1701 election. Contemporaries appear to have already identified Hele as a Tory, as at this time one observer noted that Hele ‘is more ways than one a son of the Church’. Rather than pursue his candidacy at Ashburton, however, Hele was returned unopposed at Plympton Erle, his election being classed by Lord Spencer (Charles*) as a ‘loss’ and was listed with the Tories by Robert Harley*. The veracity of such judgments is clear from Hele’s appearance upon the white list of those who favoured the motion of 26 Feb. 1702 vindicating the Commons’ proceedings in the impeachments of the Whig ministers during the previous session, and by his telling in favour of motions that Hon. John Granville* take the chair of the supply committee (13 Mar.) and that the Commons address the Queen to employ only native military officers (2 May). At the 1702 election Hele was defeated at Plympton Erle and petitioned against this reverse. In early December he was returned at the West Looe by-election, presumably with the support of the Trelawny interest, but continued to prosecute his petition concerning Plympton Erle. On 28 Jan. 1703 the Commons resolved the case in Hele’s favour and, after voting on 13 Feb. against agreeing with the Lords’ amendments to the bill extending the time for taking the Abjuration, opted to sit for Plympton. In the following session, on 22 Nov., Hele was absent at a call of the House and was ordered to attend within three weeks. He presumably did so, and on 15 Feb. 1704 he reported a naturalization bill. Despite his previous demonstrations of Tory sympathy, Hele did not vote for the Tack on 28 Nov. 1704. He did not stand for election again, and in October 1709 he was reported to be in a ‘raving’ state at Bath. He died the following December, and was succeeded in his estates by his only son. At his son’s death in 1716 Flete passed into the possession of Hele’s close friend James Bulteel*.2

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Authors: Eveline Cruickshanks / Richard Harrison


  • 1. IGI, Devon; Vivian, Vis. Devon, 466.
  • 2. Som. RO, Sanford mss DD/SF 3068, Elizabeth Duke to Elizabeth Clarke, [c. Dec. 1701]; Bank of Eng., Morice mss. Nicholas† to Humphry Morice*, 7 Oct. 1709; Vivian, 466; PCC 30 Barnes.