MACKWORTH, Sir Thomas (aft.1666-1745), of Normanton, Rutland

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



17 Dec. 1694 - 1695
Feb. 1701 - 1708
1713 - 1715
5 Apr. 1721 - 1727

Family and Education

b. aft. 1666, 5th but o. surv. s. of Sir Thomas Mackworth, 3rd Bt.*, being 4th s. by his 2nd w.  unm. 1s. illegit.  suc. fa. as 4th Bt. 28 Nov. 1694.1

Offices Held

Sheriff, Rutland 1696–7; freeman, Portsmouth 1712.2

Cttee. Mine Adventurers’ Co. 1699–1702, 1703, dir. 1704–11, 1721, dep.-gov. 1731–2, gov. 1732–3.3


Mackworth was closely involved from the very outset in his cousin Sir Humphrey Mackworth’s* mining and smelting ventures in south Wales, acting as a partner in Sir Humphrey’s purchase of the lead mines formerly owned by Sir Carbery Pryse, 4th Bt.*, and in the flotation of the Mine Adventurers’ Company in 1698. When the company received its charter in 1704 he was named as one of the founding directors. There was a certain ambivalence in his relationship with Sir Humphrey, who at first told a subordinate that he ‘depended on’ his cousin but later warned that Sir Thomas ‘would not be manageable, for as soon as he had a right to manage . . . he would become troublesome’. For his part Sir Thomas eventually began to entertain reasonable doubts of his kinsman’s integrity, and of the soundness of the project. It was probably his involvement in the mining schemes which distracted him from parliamentary politics in the mid-1690s. Having succeeded his father as knight of the shire in 1694, he seems not to have put up for re-election the following year, and certainly declined to stand at the 1698 general election.4

What brought Mackworth back into Parliament in 1701 is unknown. The ground had been prepared by his inclusion in the Rutland commission of the peace the previous October, and his candidature was not opposed. Listed in February 1701 as likely to support the Court in agreeing with the supply committee’s resolution to continue the ‘Great Mortgage’, he was later blacklisted (with Sir Humphrey) as having opposed the preparations for war with France, but the two Mackworths’ names were among those appended to the Tory reply to the black list, which denied its various allegations and trumpeted the part played by the accused Members in ‘settling the succession of the crown in the Protestant line’. Retaining his seat without difficulty in the following two elections, he continued to show himself as high a Tory as his cousin, being listed as having favoured the motion of 26 Feb. 1702 vindicating the Commons’ proceedings in the impeachments of the four Whig lords. On 17 Nov. 1702 he was named, with Sir Humphrey, to bring in a bill for the encouragement of the mineral industries and the regulation of miners. He acted as a teller twice in March 1704: on the 2nd, in favour of asking for a report on a petition from two Irish Catholic ladies for compensation for the sale, in the resumption of the Irish forfeitures, of property to which they had a legitimate claim; and on the 17th, for a motion condemning the former Whig Treasury commissioners over their part in the Exchequer bill scandal of 1696–7. At this time Lord Nottingham (Daniel Finch†) included Mackworth on a list of probable supporters during the Scotch Plot proceedings. In the following session Mackworth was considered likely to vote for the Tack, but his name is missing from all published lists of the Tackers. Neither his extreme Toryism on the one hand, nor his failure to achieve the distinction of being blacklisted for devotion to the Church on the other, endangered his election in Rutland, where his stature as a member of the county elite was confirmed in 1705 by admission to the ‘honourable order of Little Bedlam’, a dining club presided over by the Earl of Exeter (John Cecil*). He had made sure, however, that he associated himself publicly with his Tacker cousin Sir Humphrey: ‘at Oakham among all the gentlemen’, Sir Thomas had pronounced

that he was sorry all Sir Humphrey Mackworth’s endeavours for the public good were frustrated; that he [Sir Humphrey] had spent a great deal of time himself and laid out vast sums of money among the most eminent lawyers in England in framing the bill for the poor, and when he had finished it and it was sent to the Lords, my Lord Sunderland [Charles, Lord Spencer*] rose up and spoke against it, and said it was not fit to be passed because Sir Humphrey Mackworth was the author of it, and accordingly their lordships rejected it.5

Absent from the division on the Speaker, 25 Oct. 1705, Mackworth was a teller on 10 Dec. 1707, on the report of the land tax bill, in favour of a motion to nominate a particular Tory gentleman to the Cambridgeshire commission. He was classed as a Tory in a list dating from early 1708 but was by now becoming less interested in parliamentary business and did not put up in the general elections of 1708 and 1710. The Mine Adventurers’ Company was running into difficulties. Production was hampered by administrative inefficiency and by local disputes, partly political in nature, in which Mackworth played a minor role; and also by a gathering financial crisis from about 1706 onwards, in which he was ‘called upon’ by Sir Humphrey to advance some £4,000 of his own money and took part in dubious jobbing operations to ‘keep up the value’ of the stock. Matters came to a head in 1710, when the complaints of creditors provoked a parliamentary inquiry. Mackworth testified to his own participation in the stockjobbing and turned the accusations against Sir Humphrey and the company’s secretary, William Shiers. He himself was ‘no accomptant’, he said, and he had ‘always been a great stranger’ to the dealings between the other two, which, he noted, had never been accounted for, despite his own repeated exhortations. These explanations were accepted by the House, but as one who had held a directorship since 1707 he was debarred from re-election to that office by the Act of 1711 which restructured the company.6

Mackworth’s return to Parliament for Portsmouth in 1713 was entirely due to the influence of Lord North and Grey, the governor, who recommended him as ‘a gentleman of plentiful fortune and ancient family, who has . . . been always staunch and true to his country’s interest’, one of ‘a tried honesty, experienced in parliamentary affairs’. In an interesting aside in a complimentary letter to his patron, Mackworth wrote, ‘I have taken some pains here [at Bath] with two or three young Quakers, who I hope in a little time will be converted to the truth’, an echo of the evangelical churchmanship of his cousin Sir Humphrey. He served his new constituents by acting as a teller on 2 June 1714 for an address to the Queen to hasten the proposed repairs to Portsmouth harbour. The Worsley list classified him as a Tory. Prospects for re-election were destroyed by the Hanoverian succession and the dismissal of North and Grey from the Portsmouth governorship, but somewhat surprisingly he was chosen again as knight of the shire for Rutland in a by-election in 1721. As yet his finances were still healthy: he contributed £1,000 to the stock raised by Sir Humphrey’s new Company of Mineral Manufacturers at Neath in 1713, and it was observed in 1716 that he had ‘got a great deal by stocks, venturing boldly at the time of the rebellion, when stocks were low’. However, a contest the following year ended in a pyrrhic victory: ruined by his election expenses, he was obliged to sell off his patrimonial estate. He retained mining and other industrial interests, winning back his directorship of the Mines Adventurers’ Company in 1721, this time as an opponent of his cousin, from whom there was now a lasting and bitter estrangement. His involvement in copper-smelting gave rise to more than one lawsuit. Politically he remained a High Tory, giving vent to some pro-Jacobite sentiments during a visit to Paris in 1729. Mackworth died in February 1745, when his address was given as Kentish Town. His will, drawn up in 1735 and proved on 9 Feb. 1745, left his estate, consisting of leasehold property, goods, stocks, ‘Mine Adventure shares’, ‘mortgages and securities for money due’, to his three sisters, with a remainder to the cousin, an apothecary in Huntingdon, who was to succeed him in the baronetcy. There was also a bequest of £500 to be used for the maintenance and ‘liberal’ education of ‘my son or reputed son Thomas Mackworth’, who at the time was still a minor.7

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: D. W. Hayton


  • 1. Blore, Rutland, 128; Cottrell-Dormer mss at Rousham, ‘abstract of jnl. and accts. of mss of Charles Caesar*’, 28 Nov. 1694.
  • 2. R. East, Portsmouth Recs. 376.
  • 3. Evans thesis, 285–6; Sel. Charters, 243; Gent. Mag. 1731, p. 496; London Mag. 1732, p. 420.
  • 4. D. R. Phillips, Vale of Neath, 237; W. Waller, The Mine Adventure Laid Open . . . (1710), pp. xiii–xvii, 47, 57; Flying Post, 14–16 July 1698; Post Man, 27–29 Oct., 12–15 Nov. 1698; BL, Althorp mss, Ld. Nottingham to Mq. of Halifax (William Savile*, Ld. Eland), 4 June 1698.
  • 5. L. K. J. Glassey, Appt. JPs, 143; An Answer to the Black-List: Or the Vine-Tavern Queries (1701), 4; HMC 6th Rep. 399; Bodl. Carte 244, ff. 58–59.
  • 6. Bull. IHR, xxxvii. 24, 43; G. Grant-Francis, Smelting of Copper in Swansea District (1881), 92; CJ, xvi. 358–68; W. R. Scott, Jt.-Stock Cos. ii. 449–56.
  • 7. Bodl. North b.2, f. 9; c.8, f. 179; d.1, ff. 132–3; Univ. Coll. Swansea, Mackworth mss, Sir Humphrey to Bulkeley Mackworth, 28 Feb. 1715[–16], Bulkeley to [?Sir Thomas], 29 Oct. 1719, Sir Humphrey to Pleydel Courteen, 4 Mar. 1724, 28 Nov. 1726; Evans thesis, 246; Bodl. Rawl. D.916, ff. 291, 297–300; Add. 36050, ff. 94–95; 36054, f. 132; RA, Stuart mss 132/59; London Mag. 1745, p. 102; Blore, 128; PCC 51 Seymer.