LADE, John (1662-1740), of St. Saviour’s, Southwark, Surr. and Warbleton, Suss.
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Family and Education
bap. 29 May 1662, 5th but 3rd surv. s. of Thomas Lade of Warbleton by Mary, da. of John Nutt, DD, of Selmeston, Suss. unm. cr. Bt. 11 Mar. 1731.1
Master, Leathersellers’ Co. 1710–11, 1728–9; commr. taking subscriptions to S. Sea Co. 1711; asst. Royal African Co. 1712–13; gov. St. Thomas’ Hosp. by 1719–?d.; dir. S. Sea Co. 1721–4, 1733–9.2
Although pursuing advancement in the capital, Lade actually boasted a respectable gentle pedigree of Kentish origins. His father had been the first of the family to settle at Warbleton, but, as the youngest son, Lade sought to make his fortune in the Southwark brewing industry. Despite his decision to join the Leathersellers’ rather than the Brewers’ Company, Lade amassed great wealth from brewing and later invested in overseas enterprises, most notably the African and South Seas trades. In political terms, he was a controversial figure, refusing to take the oaths acknowledging William III as ruler. Given this stance, he may possibly have been the ‘Mr. Ladds’ who was found guilty of ‘misdemeanour’ for taking part in May 1695 in a riot in the Haymarket, the precursor to a more serious Jacobite disturbance at Drury Lane. His first notable involvement in Southwark politics came soon afterwards, for in the wake of the borough election of October 1695 he was prosecuted by a fellow brewer, Sir George Meggot, for the testimony he gave to the elections committee. Lade had actually given evidence in support of the sitting Whig Members, an early indication of his political inconsistency. Although he was later to gain much publicity as a patron of the Tory hero Dr Henry Sacheverell, his principles often bowed to the political wind, and he ultimately found little difficulty in accommodating himself to Hanoverian rule.
Lade’s suspect allegiance at the outset of Queen Anne’s reign was subsequently highlighted by his electoral rival Charles Cox*, who reported in February 1705 that Lade believed ‘the Jacks’ to be ‘milksops for kicking at oaths, [for] . . . they should never be able to do anything if they, his friends, did not take all the oaths that could be imposed’. Lade had evidently taken the required oaths before he first contested Southwark in July 1702, when he performed creditably to poll over 1,000 votes against the sitting Whig Members. However, although trailing the victors by nearly 600 votes, he petitioned the House on 24 Oct., alleging that many of his supporters had been driven from the poll by the violent actions of his opponents’ agents. On 10 Nov. the House declared the election void, but 15 days later Lade was still unable to overcome the powerful Whig brewing interest at the second election. However, he remained politically active, presenting at court in September 1704 a congratulatory address on behalf of his fellow Southwark notables. Local animosities clearly continued to simmer, judging by Cox’s eagerness in February 1705 to report Lade’s Jacobite sympathies. However, Lade’s views also scandalized politicians of the stature of the Earl of Sunderland (Charles, Lord Spencer*), who sought to oust him from the Surrey commission of the peace. Sir Nathan Wright, lord keeper until October 1705, later recalled saving the Southwark justice from dismissal by a suggestion to the Queen that Lade’s previous refusal to take the oaths was ‘a sign of his being a conscientious man’. Sunderland was reportedly outraged by the Queen’s leniency towards Lade, and further confirmation of Lade’s strident Tory outlook came in September 1705 when an acquaintance described him as a ‘high-flyer’.3
Although Lade had not endeavoured to challenge the Whig brewers at the polls in 1705, his opponents still thought it prudent to launch a pre-emptive attack against him in preparation for the Southwark election of 1708. Cox was the instigator of a renewed campaign to discredit Lade, sending an affidavit to Sunderland in which he was accused of neglecting to enforce the oaths against suspected persons, and of referring to the late King as an usurper. On this occasion the Whigs achieved their objective, Lade’s name failing to appear in the Surrey commission of April 1708 following submissions to the ministry which demonstrated his ‘disaffection . . . to the Queen and government’. However, although declining to fight the ensuing Southwark election, he had emerged within a year as key figure in the Tory plan to procure a vacant chaplaincy at St. Saviour’s for Dr Henry Sacheverell. As a ‘leading parishioner’, Lade was instrumental in bringing the fiery cleric to the capital, although at one point he felt compelled to send Sacheverell back to Oxford in order to reduce tensions within the borough. However, accompanied by ‘his Southwark myrmidons’, on 5 Nov. 1709 Lade went to St. Paul’s to hear Sacheverell deliver the infamous sermon for which he was later impeached.4
No doubt hoping to capitalize on the High Tory euphoria which followed Sacheverell’s trial, Lade contested the Southwark election of October 1710. However, he was once again unable to remove either of the sitting Whig Members. This disappointment was particularly galling in view of Tory success at the subsequent Surrey and London polls, where he duly voted in his party’s interest. He petitioned the House against the Southwark return on 5 Dec., charging the sitting Members with bribery and of having circulated ‘scandalous papers’ to discredit him, but the elections committee never reported on these allegations. He then suffered another electoral defeat in April 1711 when campaigning to become alderman for Bridge Within, the City ward closest to Southwark. Moreover, his rivalry with the recently knighted Charles Cox continued to smoulder, for on 14 Apr. the House heard an information from Lade which sought to condemn Cox for encouraging a massive influx of Palatine refugees to Southwark some 18 months before.
In contrast to lingering personal animosity, Lade’s response to the Southwark by-election of December 1711 suggested that he may have reached a rapprochement with at least some of his local Whig opponents. Six weeks before the contest, reports cited Lade as a possible candidate, but he did not stand and actually backed Sir George Mathews*, who had voted Whig at the Surrey election of 1710. At the poll, Mathews gained more votes than his rival Whig candidate Edmund Halsey*, but the latter was returned. Lade’s support for Mathews was confirmed by a witness’s testimony to the elections committee which subsequently reviewed the return, and on 7 Feb. 1712 the House accepted the committee’s recommendation in Mathews’ favour, thereby delivering Lade his most significant electoral success to date. He later sought to influence Parliament to uphold his commercial interests as well, signing a petition on 26 June 1713 as part of the Royal African Company’s campaign to block a bill to open up the African trade.5
The Southwark election of 1713 saw Lade score a notable victory at the head of the poll, but that success highlighted how far he had distanced himself from his former Tory allies, standing alongside the Whig Fisher Tench* in opposition to his recent electoral ally, Sir George Mathews. His shifting loyalties were also evident at the ensuing London poll where he split his votes. Moreover, the subsequent report of the elections committee on the Southwark contest, submitted to the Commons on 20 Apr. 1714, cited a witness who testified that Lade had admitted to soliciting the support of local Nonconformists. This source also claimed that Lade had poured scorn on his former High Church allies, raging that ‘the Churchmen were all rogues, they had been so to him, [and] that the Dissenters could not be so false as the Churchmen had been’. Such disillusionment could only have been of recent origin, as in February 1712 Lade had been prepared to prosecute two local Dissenters who had dared to burn a calf’s head on the anniversary of Charles I’s execution. Having heard many instances of corruption on both sides, the House declared the election void, but even after a second successive election victory on 3 May, Lade and Tench still had to fight another campaign to justify their return. The House itself heard the case, and on 3 July delivered its verdict in favour of the sitting Members. Significantly, a parliamentary observer viewed their victory as evidence of Whig strength in the Lower House. Having taken so long to vindicate his right to sit in the Commons, it was not surprising that Lade failed to make any significant contribution to the business of that Parliament.
Soon after the accession of George I, two parliamentary lists placed Lade firmly within Whig ranks, but the Worsley list was perhaps more perceptive in describing him as a Whig who would often vote with the Tories. It was clearly local Whig support which facilitated his unopposed return in January 1715, but within a few years he had again revealed fluctuating loyalties by going into opposition with Robert Walpole II*. Even though he did not stand at Southwark in 1722, he proved the strength of his constituency interest by winning the by-election of January 1724, only to retire from Westminster on the accession of George II. He was later honoured with the bestowal of a baronetcy, but remained a controversial local figure, provoking great opposition by his management of the St. Saviour’s vestry. Conversely, as one of the trustees for Thomas Guy*, he helped to establish the famous local hospital, and at the time of his death on 30 July 1740 was ‘reckoned one of the best justices in England and worth £100,000’. His will also testified to vast wealth, listing properties in six counties as well as in London. A bachelor, Lade left the bulk of this fortune to his great-nephew John Inskip of Uckfield, Sussex, who, under the name of Lade, sat as MP for Camelford in the 1754 Parliament. Lade was actually succeeded as baronet by another great-nephew, John Whithorn, who also took the name of Lade, but the title became extinct on the latter’s death in 1747.6
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Author: Perry Gauci
- 1. IGI, Suss.; Vis. Suss. (Harl. Soc. lxxxix), 69–70.
- 2. W. H. Black, Hist. Leathersellers’ Co. 68; Pittis, Present Parl. 350; K.G. Davies, R. African Co. 384; Daily Courant, 20 Jan. 1713; J. Aubrey, Surr. v. 316.
- 3. Luttrell, Brief Relation, iii. 478–9, 495; G. Holmes and W. A. Speck, Divided Soc. 102; London Gazette, 9–11 Sept. 1704; Bodl. Carte 230, f. 230; Bodl. Ballard 10, f. 56.
- 4. L. K. J. Glassey, Appt. JPs, 184–5; Add. 61652, f. 53; HMC Downshire, i. 872, 874; G. Holmes, Trial of Sacheverell, 63.
- 5. Surr. Poll 1710; London Poll 1710; Boyer, Pol. State, i. 266; British Mercury, 29–31 Oct., 31 Oct.–1 Nov. 1711; Post Boy, 2–5 Feb. 1712; HMC Lords, n.s. x. 175.
- 6. London Rec. Soc. xvii. 99; Verney Letters 18th Cent. i. 296; Cal. Treas. Pprs. 1731–4, p. 122; W. Rendle and P. Morgan, Inns of Old Southwark, 67; Survey of London, xxii. 36; London Mag. 1740, p. 405; PCC 337 Browne.