HOLT, Richard (c.1635-1710), of Nurstead House, nr. Petersfield, Hants.

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



1685 - 1687
1689 - 1690
1690 - 1698

Family and Education

b. by 1639, 2nd but 1st surv. s. of John Holt of Portsmouth, Hants by Catherine, da. and h. of Anthony Brickett of Salisbury, Wilts.  educ. St. John’s, Oxf. 1652, BA 1655; M. Temple 1656.  m. by 1667, Margaret (d. 1685), da. of Richard Whithed† of West Tytherley, Hants, 2da. (1 d.v.p.).  suc. fa. 1670.1

Offices Held

Freeman, Portsmouth 1658, 1667, Lymington 1677, Winchester by 1695; commr. wastes and spoils, New Forest 1692.2

Capt. Col. Richard Norton’s* Ft. 1667.


Holt’s youth probably prevented him from taking much part in politics in the Civil War period, and during the Restoration he lived a quiet life in the country. His marriage connected him with some strong supporters of the Parliamentary regime: the Whitheds themselves, and through them, Hon. Nathaniel Fiennes† and Richard Norton. He supported the Revolution of 1688 and was rewarded with local appointments, being made a j.p and deputy-lieutenant for the county, and by 1693 was often referred to as ‘Colonel Holt’, a rank in the local militia which he did not in fact reach until after 1697. Returned for Petersfield in 1690, Holt was classed as a Whig in Lord Carmarthen’s (Sir Thomas Osborne†) list of the new Parliament. During the debate on 13 May on preserving the peace of the nation, he urged that the militia be settled and also said, ‘I hope this day will not prove as others have done. We find fault and do nothing. Great complaints are made abroad, and, I fear, jealousies. The papists say we dare do nothing. The nation can never be safe, nor at ease, till Ireland be reduced.’ In the summer of 1690 he subscribed £2,000 to a government loan and on 17 June received a letter from the Treasury complaining that the poll tax had been very much neglected in Hampshire and urging him to persuade the sheriffs and commissioners to do their duty. In keeping with his speech of 13 May, in the following parliamentary session he was added to the committee to draft a bill to regulate the militia (14 Oct. 1690). Robert Harley* classed him as a Court supporter in his list of April 1691. Holt spoke twice in favour of the East India Company, on 13 and 27 Nov. 1691, and he was added to the committee to draft a bill for the manufacture of saltpetre on 2 Dec. The next year, on 23 Jan., he spoke for a bill proposed by Sir Edward Hussey, 3rd Bt.*, to reduce interest. In the next session, on 16 Dec. 1692, he presented the petition of the London linen drapers against the bill for hawkers and pedlars, and on 31 Dec. he spoke against the bill to prevent the export of gold and silver, saying that

it would not do what was aimed at. It is true bullion before it is coined, is worth more than it is after, but the true cause thereof is the great want of money in Germany whither most of your bullion is sent and coined into a baser sort of money to pay their armies, which when that nation comes to be in peace they will find the load of. Bullion is a commodity and will go to such places where there is the best market. The best remedy I know of is to prohibit the exporting your home bullion, which you may by making the exporter take an oath that it is foreign coin or bullion, and hereby you will not want money here.

On 3 Feb. 1693 he was first-named to the drafting committee for a bill to sell Sir Robert Smith’s estate. Having been appointed to a commission inquiring into the management of the New Forest in 1692, on 8 Feb. 1693 Holt spoke against a bill for increasing and preserving timber in the forest, which was opposed by all the friends and followers of the 1st Duke of Bolton (Charles Powlett†), warden of the forest, and the next day he acted as a teller against the bill. On 11 Feb. he successfully tendered a clause regulating the pressing of carriages and waggons to be added to the bill against mutiny and desertion and on 21 Feb. he was given 21 days’ leave of absence to recover his health, thereby missing the remainder of the session. Grascome’s list of spring 1693 classed him as a Court supporter.3

That summer Holt made a voyage to Holland, accompanying his charge, Peter Bettesworth*, and Charles Mompesson*. In the next session Holt was given ten days’ leave on 4 Jan. 1694, but was back in the House on 24 Jan. when he was appointed to the committee of inquiry into the decay of trade. He acted as a teller on the Court side on 5 Apr. against a proviso to the poll bill. Holt’s sale in 1694 of the manor of Westbury in Hampshire for £4,000 may well have served to finance his subscription in the same year of between £2,000 and £3,000 to the Bank of England.4

Holt’s first notable action in the next Parliament was as a witness for John Gibson* in the disputed Portsmouth election, reported on 23 Jan. 1696. He was listed as a Court supporter in the forecast of a division on 31 Jan. 1696 on the proposed council of trade and signed the Association in February, but seems to have been absent from the divisions on the price of guineas and Sir John Fenwick’s† attainder. In this year he also subscribed some £3,000 to the new land bank. He was given leave of absence on 9 Mar. 1698 to recover his health, and no further significant parliamentary activity followed. A comparative analysis of the old and new Parliaments of about September 1698 again classed him as a Court supporter. Holt did not stand again but did turn out to vote in the 1705 Hampshire elections, not surprisingly, for the two Whig candidates. Listed in March 1710 as a stockholder (reduced to between £500 and £2,000) in the Bank of England, he was buried on 14 Apr. 1710 and his estate passed to his daughter, Catherine, and son-in-law, Henry Henley*.5

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Authors: Paula Watson / Sonya Wynne


  • 1. Wilts. Par. Reg. v. 43; PCC 154 Essex, 76 Penn; B. Whitehead, Hist. Whiteheads Families, 22; Vis. Hants (Harl. Soc. n.s. x), 125.
  • 2. R. East, Portsmouth Recs. 355, 359; E. King, Old Times Revisited, Lymington, 190; Hants RO, Winchester bor. recs. ordnance bk. 7, f. 128; Cal. Treas. Bks. ix. 1550.
  • 3. Whitehead, 18–21; Vis. Hants 47–48; Grey, x. 139; CSP. Dom. 1690–1, p. 31; Cal. Treas. Bks. ix. 709; Luttrell Diary, 16, 46, 150, 324, 344, 410, 418.
  • 4. CSP Dom. 1693, p. 236; VCH Hants iii. 69; DZA, Bonet despatch 6/16 Aug. 1694; Add. 42593, f. 40.
  • 5. NLS, Advocates’ mss, Bank of Eng. pprs. 31.1.7, f. 96; Hants Poll Bk. 56; Egerton 3359 (unfol.); Hants RO, Buriton par. reg; PCC admon. Mar. 1711.