HERBERT, Philip (c.1665-1716), of Westminster

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



1705 - 18 Nov. 1707

Family and Education

b. c.1665, 4th but 3rd surv. s. of Hon. James Herbert† (yr. s. of Philip Herbert†, 4th Earl of Pembroke); bro. of James Herbert I* and uncle of James Herbert II*.  m. by 1694, Marianne (d. 1718), da. of William Finch, Visct. Maidstone (1st s. d.v.p. of Heneage Finch, 3rd Earl of Winchilsea), 3da.1

Offices Held

Capt. Sandgate Castle by 1700–d.; capt. of ft. Col. Wm. Delaune’s regt. 1708–10.

Commr. for sick and wounded and for exchange of prisoners 1702–15.2

Freeman, Southampton 1703, Rye 1705.3


Herbert was brought up on his father’s estate at Kinsey, near Thame, on the south-east border of Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire, inheriting on his father’s death in 1677 a modest source of income in the latter county. His career benefited much from the advantage of aristocratic connexions. The reversion granted him in 1678 of the office of collector of petty customs in London was probably an early sign of such influence. He had made sufficient mark in his locality by 1687 to be nominated by the corporation of Oxford as a freeman and bailiff, although it would appear that he never took the oaths of admission. His ambition to enter public service at a higher level was apparent in September 1696 when he canvassed, though unsuccessfully, for a parliamentary vacancy at Queenborough, in which his family had an interest and for which his father and elder brother had previously served. In July 1697 it was rumoured that he might stand at the by-election due at Dover.4

In June 1702 Herbert was appointed one of the five commissioners of sick and wounded seamen and for the exchange of prisoners. The board had been revived by the Admiralty to co-ordinate the navy’s medical services and to maintain prisoners of war taken at sea. There can be little doubt that his cousin the 8th Earl of Pembroke (Hon. Thomas Herbert†) was instrumental in the appointment, which carried a salary of £300. Pembroke, a Court Tory, had served briefly as lord high admiral until standing down in May 1702 in favour of the Queen’s consort Prince George. The Prince approved the appointment, probably as a gesture of gratitude to his predecessor. Herbert may also have been recommended for the commission by his brother-in-law the 4th Earl of Winchilsea, who had recently become deputy to the Prince in his capacity as lord warden of the Cinque Ports.5

In 1705 Herbert was returned for Rye, presumably with Admiralty assistance, though this was not enough to obviate stiff resistance from local candidates who afterwards disputed the return. He seems to have been a man of uncompromising Tory views. Lord Sunderland (Charles, Lord Spencer*), in his analysis of the election returns, deemed his election a ‘loss’ for the Whigs, while in another list classifying Members in gradations of attachment to the Church he was identified as a ‘Churchman’. The rigidity of his Toryism was ominously apparent to the ministry on his very first day in the House when he joined other mutinous Tory office-holders who refused to follow the Harleyite line in support of the Court’s Whig candidate for the Speakership. Although this was treated by the ministry as a punishable offence, Herbert was, as events proved, the only one of the rebels not to lose office, an indication that he gave no further trouble in the House. But it was probably owing mainly to his influential connexions, particularly with Pembroke, whose administrative acumen was valued by Whig as well as Tory ministries, that he kept his place. The dispute over the Rye election was belatedly decided in favour of Herbert and his partner Edward Southwell in January 1707. On 18 Nov., however, it was brought to MPs’ attention that Herbert and several other Members were disqualified from their seats under the terms of the 1706 Regency Act which barred all appointees to new offices. A fresh writ for Herbert’s seat was ordered. Although he showed no subsequent interest in re-entering the Commons, he continued to serve the Tory interest with vigour. In 1709, for instance, complaints were made against him for victimizing one of his subordinates at Southampton who had refused to support the Tories in recent elections.6

While commissioners came and went from the sick and wounded office, Herbert remained, an experienced and seemingly indispensable asset to the Admiralty. In February 1713, when peacetime economy demanded a reduction in the board’s staff, he and another long-serving colleague, Dr Richard Adams, were retained as sole commissioners. The board was finally disbanded in May 1715, his services rewarded the following August with the grant of a £200 pension back-dated to June 1714. These latter years had been overshadowed by bitterness between him and some of his wife’s Finch relatives, including Lord Nottingham (Daniel Finch†) and his family, over their respective claims to an estate in Sussex, which had belonged to the late Lord Winchilsea, to whom Herbert’s wife was heir-at-law. The Herberts’ claim was found to be imperfect, however, and was dismissed in the Lords in April 1714. Herbert died on 12 Mar. 1716, aged 51, and was interred in Westminster Abbey. He left to his daughters an estate comprising chiefly the manor of Rumney in Monmouthshire and other lands in Glamorgan which he had inherited from an elder brother.7

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: Andrew A. Hanham


  • 1. F. G. Lee, Church of Thame, 570; Westminster Abbey Reg. (Harl. Soc. x), 286, 291, 293, 307; PCC 49 Hale, 72 Fox.
  • 2. Watson thesis, 316.
  • 3. E. Suss. RO, Rye assembly bk. RYE 1/17, p. 282; Southampton RO, Southampton bor. recs. SC3/1, f. 252.
  • 4. Add. 61496, f. 100; PCC 49 Hale; Cal. Treas. Bks. v. 1187; Oxford Council Acts (Oxford Hist. Soc. n.s. ii), 189; BL, Althorp mss, Halifax pprs. box 3, Robert Crawford* to Ld. Halifax (William Savile*, Ld. Eland), 19 Sept. 1696.
  • 5. CSP Dom. 1702–3, p. 117; Watson thesis, 184–259; Add. 22616, f. 269.
  • 6. BL, Trumbull Alphab. mss 53, John Bridges to Sir William Trumbull*, 26 Oct. 1705; Bull. IHR, xxxvii. 30; Luttrell, Brief Relation, vi. 127, 131; Boyer, Anne Annals, vi. 259; Add. 61496, f. 100.
  • 7. Add. 22616, ff. 141, 143; Cal. Treas. Bks. xxvii. 145, xxix. 675; Watson thesis, 398; HMC Lords, n.s. x. 232; Westminster Abbey Reg. 286; PCC 72 Fox.