HERNE, Nathaniel (1668-1722), of St. Michael Bassishaw, London

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



Jan. 1701 - 1713

Family and Education

b. 5 Mar. 1668, 2nd s. of Sir Nathaniel Herne†, and bro. of Frederick* and Thomas Herne*.  m. lic. 13 Feb. 1691, Anne, da. and coh. of Sir Arthur Ingram, merchant, of St. Botolph Bishopsgate, London, 2s. (1 d.v.p.) 8da. (3 d.v.p.).1

Offices Held

Asst. Merchant Adventurers to N.W. America 1691, Glassmakers’ Co. 1691, R. African Co. 1701–2; cttee. Old E. I. Co. 1699–1702; manager, united trade 1702–7; dir. united E. I. Co. 1710–18.2

Commr. for taking subscriptions to land bank 1696.3

Gov. St. Thomas’ Hosp. by 1719.4


Herne began a prominent career in his family’s highly successful mercantile-financial business almost as soon as he came of age. Marrying into another wealthy merchant dynasty prominent in the Spanish trade, he was a minor stockholder in the East India Company by December 1691, during the governorship of his uncle Sir Joseph Herne*, and was listed at that time among the ‘adventurers’ whose names were notified to the Commons as willing to pledge security for the company’s stock. Earlier in the year he had been included as one of a group of merchants in his uncle’s projects for a company of traders to North America and for another for glassmaking. In July 1694 he was a founder-subscriber to the Bank of England. During the bribery inquiries in the spring of 1695 Herne testified to having contributed £50 towards the 2,000 guineas agreed to be given to Speaker Trevor in order to hasten passage of the London orphans’ bill early in 1693. He was nominated a commissioner for taking subscriptions to the projects for a land bank in 1694 and in 1696, and on the latter occasion was involved in the abortive negotiations with the Treasury begun in May but which foundered the following month. In the spring of 1699 he somewhat belatedly joined his elder brother Frederick on the board of the Old East India Company. Frederick’s attempt to return him in December that year for the family borough of Dartmouth in place of their deceased uncle Sir Joseph failed, in a double return which the House, following Herne’s petition, declared void in February 1700. He was successful, however, at the general election a year later and with his brother was returned for Dartmouth unopposed in the next five elections.5

During the early days of the 1701 session, Herne was listed as likely to support the Court in agreeing with the supply committee’s resolution to continue the ‘Great Mortgage’. He none the less joined other Tories in opposing the question of preparations for war with France, for which he was afterwards blacklisted. In December he was classed by Robert Harley* as a Tory, and on 26 Feb. 1702 he voted for the resolution vindicating the Commons’ proceedings in the impeachments of the King’s Whig ministers. In the early years of Queen Anne’s reign he and his brother acted together as one of a select number of leading financiers regularly invited by Lord Treasurer Godolphin (Sidney†) to submit proposals for remittance contracts. In Parliament, however, their respective contributions to the business of the House cannot usually be ascertained since the Journal clerks did not identify them by first name. In October 1704 he was forecast as a probable supporter of the Tack, duly voting for it on 28 Nov., and on 25 Oct. 1705 voted against the Court candidate for Speaker. In January and February 1707 he supervised the passage of a private bill concerning a parcel of property in London. On 6 Dec. he and his brother and several other back-bench Tories surprised the government with an unexpected display of restraint over the question of Admiralty ineptitude in the provision of convoys for mercantile shipping.6

Herne was classed as a Tory in 1708, voted against the impeachment of Dr Sacheverell and appeared again as a Tory in the ‘Hanover list’ of the 1710 Parliament. He was later cited as one of the ‘worthy patriots’ who in the first session of the new Parliament took part in detecting the mismanagements of the previous administration, and in another ‘white list’ as a Tory patriot who during 1711 opposed the continuance of war. Herne, whose East India stock stood at £5,200 in 1704, appeared with his brother in April 1711 on the ‘Whig’ or ‘establishment’ slate in the elections to the company’s board in opposition to those on the ‘ministerial’ list, and was duly re-elected. Within this first session, however, his attitude to Harley’s government appears to have taken on a somewhat critical edge. Significantly, on 25 May, he cast his vote with the Whigs against an amendment to the South Sea Company bill that vested in the crown the right to appoint the company’s first directorate. By the spring of 1713 he was certainly one of the ‘whimsicals’ out of sympathy with the ministry’s commercial policies, as was apparent on 6 May when he voted against the bill for lowering duties on French wine, anxious, no doubt, about the effects on his own borough’s trade in wine with the Iberian Peninsula, in which his family had long been involved. He was certainly very concerned about the embargo on East India goods exported from England to France which had been in place since Charles II’s reign and in February 1713 had urged the Board of Trade to seek removal of these restrictions in the forthcoming negotiations for a treaty of commerce. He was not appeased, however, and on 18 June he voted against the French commerce bill and was classed as a Whig, an obvious reflection of the extent of his recent opposition to the ministry. His endeavours to defend his borough’s chief trading interests were not enough to prevent its electorate from inviting a High Tory to stand at the approaching election, however, and as a result Herne chose not to stand. A bid to recapture his seat in 1715 ended in defeat. He died on 1 June 1722, leaving the bulk of his estate to his surviving son Nathaniel, a merchant at Cadiz.7

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: Andrew A. Hanham


  • 1. St. Olave, Hart Street (Harl. Soc. Reg. xlvi), 75; Le Neve’s Knights (Harl. Soc. viii) 292; London Mar. Lic. ed. Foster, 671; J. R. Woodhead, Rulers of London (London and Mdx. Arch. Soc.), 95–96; St. Michael Bassishaw (Harl. Soc. Reg. lxxiii), 36, 39–43; PCC 118 Marlbro’.
  • 2. CSP Dom. 1690–1, pp. 527, 540; K. G. Davies, R. African Co. 382.
  • 3. CJ, xii. 509.
  • 4. J. Aubrey, Surr. (1719), 314.
  • 5. CJ, x. 602; CSP Dom. 1690–1, pp. 527, 540; DZA, Bonet despatch 6/16 July 1694; Debates and Procs. 1694–5, pp. 16–17; NLS, Advocates’ mss, Bank of Eng. pprs. 31.1.7, f. 146; Add. 70155 (unfol.).
  • 6. Cal. Treas. Bks. xvii. 20; xix. 316, 538; Vernon–Shrewsbury Letters, iii. 287
  • 7. Bodl. Rawl. A.303, f. 57; Boyer, Pol. State, i–ii. 263; Jnl. Commrs. for Trade and Plantations 1708–1715, p. 408; Hist. Reg. Chron. 1722, p. 29; PCC 118 Marlbro’.