KAYE, Sir Arthur, 3rd Bt. (c.1670-1726), of Woodsome, Yorks.

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



1710 - 10 July 1726

Family and Education

b. c.1670, 3rd but 1st surv. s. of Sir John Kaye, 2nd Bt.*  educ. Christ Church, Oxf. matric. 2 Mar. 1686, aged 15.  m. lic. 22 July 1690, Anne da. and coh. of Sir Samuel Marrow, 1st Bt., of Berkswell, Warws., 1da.  suc. fa. as 3rd Bt., 8 Aug. 1706.1

Offices Held


Little is known of Kaye’s early life save for his entry to Oxford, it being uncertain whether the ‘Mr Arthur Key’ who appeared upon subscription lists of the mid-1690s for both the Bank of England and the land bank was the future Member. Though his marriage brought him lands in Warwickshire, it was in Yorkshire, where his father was a considerable landowner, that Kaye pursued his political ambitions, his desire to enter Parliament being first demonstrated when he was defeated at the Aldborough by-election of 1696. Kaye’s supporters petitioned the Commons against the return, but though the election of Kaye’s opponent was voided on grounds of bribery a subsequent motion that Kaye had been duly returned was defeated. He confounded expectations by declining to stand at the consequent by-election, a decision perhaps influenced by the lengthy delay in issuing the new writ. Kaye’s aspiration to a seat in the Commons did not surface again for over a decade, though in 1706 he petitioned the House for an estate bill to settle the debts of his recently deceased brother Thomas and those of Christopher Lister*, the former having inherited the latter’s estates after changing his name from Kaye to Lister. The following year the passage of the bill for a new parish in Birmingham led to Kaye’s consent to the measure being sought and given. Defeated at the Yorkshire election of 1708, Kaye finally entered the Commons in 1710, swept in upon a tide of High Church fervour and despite allegations, which Kaye strenuously denied, that his support for the Toleration Act was less than wholehearted. Given this it is not surprising that the ‘Hanover list’ classed him as a Tory, and that shortly before the session one of the Commons’ leading Churchmen, William Bromley II*, wrote to him to express the hope that ‘new friends’ would take care to ensure their attendance at the beginning of the session.2

Kaye’s High Tory beliefs were consistently confirmed by his behaviour in the Commons, examination of which is greatly aided by the survival of a number of his speeches and of a diary begun at the start of the 1710–11 session, written ‘to supply the defect of an ill memory’. This material, and Kaye’s few surviving letters, demonstrates the expectation of a High Tory back-bencher that the revival of Tory fortunes would lead to the rigorous implementation of partisan policies, and it quickly became clear that Kaye expected the fruits of political dominance to be placed at the disposal of the Tories. In December 1710 he initiated what was to be a lengthy campaign to gain minor government office for an impecunious Yorkshire friend, writing of his hope ‘that things will not be disposed of by the same standard of deserving . . . that . . . has so long been the rule and step to preferments, but that gentlemen of family and merit will now be advanced, and the appearances of virtue which they [the ministry] affect will become real’. This did not, however, prevent Kaye supporting the place legislation dear to the hearts of Country Tories. A speech in his papers, probably delivered in the debate of 21 Dec. upon the committal of the place bill, argued that though the ‘happy change of administration’ was to be welcomed, the need for such a bill had not diminished:

I cannot forget the ill effects of too many placemen within these walls were once thought to have upon the public. And though you are now in hands which we believe will not follow ill examples or make an ill use of their power, yet the affairs of England have seldom been so steady but that in a few years there have still been changes in the ministry, and ’tis against such changes that I think we ought in a good Parliament to provide against the ill consequences of a bad one.

However, as early as the Christmas recess Kaye’s confidence in the virtue of the ministry was seeping away. In a letter to a friend he questioned

whether this Parliament will either answer those just expectations people have from it; whether they will come into any effectual enquiries to lay open the late mismanagements; or give us that security to the Church we have wanted and thought necessary, and now expected. And consequently [I doubt] whether we shall keep that regular good correspondence which at this time is absolutely necessary to establish their new power . . . I can’t but fear of some things I have already observed. Yet I am pretty confident that, if none will suffer themselves to be drawn off, ’tis entirely in their power by keeping firmly and closely united to make the ministry in great measure come into us, instead of our depending upon them.

This partisan zeal was again evident in the new year in debates touching upon religious matters, though Kaye’s views upon Dissenters should be delineated with care. His sensitivity to claims that the Tories aimed at ending the indulgence afforded by the Toleration Act is evident in his account of the debate on 10 Jan. 1711 upon whether the committee considering the bill to prevent bribery and corruption in elections should be empowered to receive a clause maintaining Quakers’ rights of affirmation. Kaye recorded that the Tories supported this motion ‘to take off the jealousy of designing anything against the Toleration which the faction [Whigs] would have insinuated, and leaving [it] to the Parliament to let it fall or still prolong it upon its expiring’. A speech prepared for the debate of the following day upon the East Retford election case suggests that Kaye joined Tory attacks upon the creation of freemen by that borough’s Whig interest, and he laid particular emphasis upon allegations that many of those made ‘honorary freemen’ by the Whigs had been educated in Yorkshire at ‘a Dissenting seminary, a public nursery of schism and sedition, where youth is educated in a notorious disaffection to Church and state’, further claiming that the Dissenting academy was ‘illegal in itself’ and expressing the hope that Parliament would ‘take a proper time to take further notice’ of the activities of such academies. Kaye’s attitude to Nonconformity therefore seemed to be the conjunction of a desire to prevent the perpetuation of Protestant schism by acting against Dissenting academies with a willingness to accept the necessity of the Toleration Act for those with tender consciences. His more parochial concerns were evident later the same month in the committee of the whole of the 26th upon the imposition of a duty on inland coal, a speech of Kaye’s probably delivered on this date arguing that such a levy would place an unreasonable burden upon the already ‘poor people’ of Yorkshire involved in the wool industry and who relied upon coal, thereby increasing greatly the poor rates of parishes containing those ‘thousands’ of individuals forced into penury by the duty. Kaye’s continuing support for the place bill was evident at its third reading on 29 Jan., the Court’s unsuccessful opposition prompting Kaye to comment upon Harley’s ‘mortification to see what the Country gentlemen’s interest may do, if they don’t suffer themselves to be tricked out of that union they ought to preserve unviolable’. His opinion of the Court fell further on 3 Feb. when consideration of the Tavistock election case revealed that the bribery and corruption which led to the unseating of the Tory Henry Manaton had been conclusively proved against the other sitting Member the Whig Sir John Cope. Kaye regarded the refusal of the House to investigate the evidence against Cope as the consequence of the Court’s ambivalence towards the issue of electoral corruption. Kaye did not, however, entirely despair of the possibility that the ministry could be brought to embrace other back-bench Tory policies such as a more comprehensive sweep of Whig placeholders from office, as in February he wrote that ‘I do really believe [that] there will be several removes toward the end of the session’. His determination to ensure that the ministry paid heed to the concerns of back-bench Tories was demonstrated the following month, when Kaye showed a typical Tory suspicion of new taxes on 26 Mar. by opposing the leather duty proposed by the ministry due to ‘the heaviness of the duty and the vexation I feared in the collecting [of] it’. His diary suggests that Kaye was one of those Tories who withstood the blandishments of Henry St. John II* to stand by this opposition when the duty was reintroduced under a different name the following day. On 7 Apr. Kaye told on the Tory side in a division on the Cockermouth election case, but he was not an unthinking advocate of Country Tory measures, however, since he noted the defeat on 17 Apr. of the bill to prevent bribery in elections with the considered opinion that ‘though there were many good things in’ the measure, it nevertheless needed further amendment ‘and I believed we were not in such haste [as to have] to take it with its faults in the first session, when a better bill might be prepared the succeeding meeting’, while the Lords’ rejection of the grants resumption bill caused Kaye little concern. The zealous Toryism demonstrated by Kaye throughout the session saw him included on both the list of ‘Tory patriots’ who had opposed the continuation of the war and the list of ‘worthy patriots’ who had helped detect the mismanagements of the previous administration, and given his determination to press the ministry to enact Tory measures it is not surprising that this latter list also described Kaye as a member of the October Club.3

Though records of Kaye’s speeches are less plentiful for the remainder of the Parliament, it is clear that he remained a staunch Tory. As much was demonstrated during the passage of the occasional conformity bill in December 1711. Kaye welcomed the measure while noting in his diary that the surprisingly rapid passage of the bill ‘remains a mystery to me on the part of the Whigs’. In a speech probably delivered in one of the meetings of the committee of the whole on the measure, he repeated his concern at the growth of Dissenting academies, expressing the belief that ‘every gentleman here will agree with me that those seminaries are in no wise comprehended in that Act of Indulgence granted to those scrupulous consciences so unhappy [as] to differ from us . . . which I believe was never the intention of the makers of that law to encourage, much less to perpetuate’. The 1711–12 session saw Kaye take a more prominent role in the legislative activities of the House. His most notable committee nominations were to draft bills to revive the Jury Acts (18 Jan.), continue expiring laws (15 Feb.), and prevent fraud in parliamentary elections (18 Feb.). He also told in favour of imposing a duty on imported black latten (24 Apr.), and against an amendment to the bill to recover small gifts and legacies for charitable uses which would have exempted wills from stamp duty (7 June). Though evidence of Kaye’s political opinions in this session is scarce, it is significant that in April 1712 he joined Richard Shuttleworth* and Sir Edmund Bacon, 6th Bt.*, two Tories who later allied themselves with the Hanoverian wing of the party, in writing a letter to the Earl of Oxford (as Harley had become) recommending a mutual acquaintance for a place. In July Kaye presented to the Queen an address from Leeds corporation, but the 1713 session demonstrated that his disillusionment with the ministry, first evident at the end of 1710, had developed apace. His continuing concern for the Established Church was clearly evident in the early part of the session with his appointment on 23 Apr. to draft a bill to allow the enclosure of common land in the West Riding and apply the revenue therefrom towards endowing poor parishes; having told on 5 May for the bill’s committal, he guided the measure through the Commons. Back-bench Tory concerns were also evident in Kaye’s appointment on 12 May to draft a bill to explain the clause in the previous session’s Act against electoral corruption relating to the ‘multiplying of votes’ in county elections. It was, however, the passage of the French commerce bill that demonstrated his disillusionment with the ministry. On 9 June he told against hearing a report of the ways and means committee which listed the alterations of duties made necessary by the commercial treaty, and on the 18th spoke and told against engrossing the bill. Naturally he was included on the printed division list as voting against the measure.4

Returned unopposed at the Yorkshire election later that year, Kaye informed the Commons on 16 Feb. 1714 of the Queen’s instruction to choose a Speaker. Having recited the personal qualities required, Kaye stated that the Speaker ‘ought to be a person unquestionably true to the interest of the Church of England; upon which the safety of the state depends’, and proceeded to nominate (Sir) Thomas Hanmer II (4th Bt.), extolling his ‘sincere adherence to our constitutions . . . [and] affection to the House of Hanover’. This nomination was unopposed, and suggests that in relation to the internecine conflict endemic in the Tory party by this time Kaye was one of those who enlisted himself in Hanmer’s interest. Subsequent to his being nominated on 9 Mar. to draft a bill to prevent wool smuggling, Kaye’s Country loyalties were clearly demonstrated on the 11th when he moved the introduction of a place bill. After guiding this legislation through its Commons’ stages during March, he was appointed on 5 Apr. to carry the bill to the Lords. His Hanoverian loyalties and association with Hanmer were demonstrated later the same month in the debate of the 15th upon the succession. One observer listed Kaye as one of the Tories who, having been given ‘great life’ by Hanmer’s speech against the ministry, opposed the motion that the succession was not in danger, while two other accounts state that Kaye moved that the Speaker retake the Chair before the main question could be put. This hostility to the ministry was also evident later the same month when Kaye was counted with the leading Hanoverian Tories Hanmer and Ralph Freman II as ‘revolters from the Ch[urch] party’ upon the issue of the Lords’ resolution in support of the ministry’s peace policy, though whether Kaye actually spoke in the debate of 22 Apr. on this resolution is uncertain. Despite his increasing alienation from the ministry, Kaye’s Tory loyalties remained firm and were clearly demonstrated in his support for legislative attempts to strengthen the Church of England. On 1 May he was appointed to draft a bill to extend from the West Riding to the nation as a whole the scheme to endow poor Anglican livings from the revenue generated by enclosure, but his support for the Anglican establishment was most vivid in his advocacy of the schism bill. Having been appointed on the 12th to draft this measure, he told on the 27th in favour of accepting an amendment ‘to excuse Dissenters teaching to write’. A speech supporting the measure, probably delivered during the debates of the same month, clearly demonstrates that Kaye’s approach to this issue was the same as when he first entered the House:

I hope sir, I shan’t be understood to intend the weakening [of] the toleration, let that be enjoyed which with convenient restrictions may lessen evil and remove some inconveniences; but all can never be taken away without another sort of education. And as the toleration was first intended for those unhappy scrupulous consciences only, who had then the misfortune to dissent from us, I believe no gentleman here will believe it was intended to propagate the schism. If it be a natural right to choose what religion he will profess, there is yet no right of nature which I know of but what is limitable to the public good and forfeitable by the abuse of it. And when the public peace is hazarded, the safety of the government endangered, when ’tis apparent religion is damnified, [by] the persons professing those doctrines, the propagating of those doctrines ought to be restrained.

Kaye’s Country sympathies were given further expression the following month when he told, on 14 June, against a motion to instruct the committee of the whole on the public accounts bill to reappoint five of the existing commissioners without a Commons’ ballot, the motion being defeated. Given his alliance in this session with prominent Whimsical Tories such as Hanmer and Freman, it is not surprising that the Worsley list classed Kaye as a Tory who would on occasion vote with the Whigs.5

Though suffering from illness at the end of 1714, Kaye was returned unopposed for Yorkshire in the election of the following year, and a comparison of the 1713 and 1715 Parliaments classed him as a Tory. He retained his Yorkshire seat and opposed successive Whig ministries until his death on 10 July 1726. By his will, in which Hanmer was named as one of three trustees, Kaye left his estates to his only daughter, through whom they eventually passed to the earls of Dartmouth, while his baronetcy passed to his nephew John, who represented York as a Tory in the 1734 Parliament.6

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: Richard Harrison


Unless otherwise stated this biography is based upon ‘Diary and Speeches of Sir Arthur Kaye 1710-21’, ed. Szechi, Cam. Misc. xxxi. 321-48.

  • 1. Dugdale’s Vis. Yorks. ed. Clay, i. 77–78.
  • 2. DZA, Bonet despatch 6/16 July 1694; NLS, Advocates’ mss, Bank of England pprs. 31.1.7, f. 97; P. Roebuck, Yorks. Bts. 299–300; N. Yorks. RO, Swinton mss, Danby pprs. Sir William Hustler* to Sir Abstrupus Danby*, 21 Jan. 1696–7; T. Lawson-Tancred, Recs. of a Yorks. Manor, 218; HMC Lords, n.s. vii. 73, 543–4; Parl. Rep. Yorks. ed. Gooder (Yorks. Arch. Soc. Record Ser. xcvi), 103; Add. 70421, newsletter 4 May 1710; 24475, f. 138; W. A. Speck, Tory and Whig, 95.
  • 3. Yorks. Arch. Jnl. xlvi. 105–7; G. Holmes, Pol. in Age of Anne, 124; D. Szechi, Jacobitism and Tory Pol. 82–83.
  • 4. HMC Portland, x. 430.
  • 5. Hearne Colls. iii. 386–7; Cobbett, Parlty. Hist. vi. 1252; Luttrell, Brief Relation, vi. 725; NLS, Advocates’ mss, Wodrow pprs. letters Quarto 8, ff. 64, 95–96; G. Holmes and W. A. Speck, Divided Soc. 113; Douglas Diary (Hist. of Parl. trans.), 15 Apr. 1714; Szechi, 155; BL, Trumbull Alphab. mss 54, Ralph Bridges to Sir William Trumbull*, 23 Apr. 1714; Bull. IHR, xxiv. 215.
  • 6. Roebuck, 285; PCC 148 Plymouth.