MARKHAM, Sir George, 3rd Bt. (1666-1736), of Sedgebrook, Lincs.
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Family and Education
b. 27 May 1666, 1st s. of Sir Robert Markham, 2nd Bt.†, of Sedgebrook by Mary, da. and coh. of Sir Thomas Widdrington† of Cheeseburn Grange, Northumb. educ. M. Temple 1675, called 1684; Trinity Coll. Camb. 1680. unm. suc. fa. as 3rd Bt. 27 Oct. 1690.1
Commr. taking subscriptions to S. Sea Co. 1711; 50 new churches 1716.2
Member SPCK 1712.3
Descended from a younger branch of a Nottinghamshire family, Markham entered the Middle Temple at a very early age, possibly in conscious imitation of some of his distinguished legal ancestors, such as John Markham, justice of common pleas at the turn of the 14th century. His seat at Sedgebrook, close to the Lincolnshire border with Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire, was within easy travelling distance of Newark and Grantham, both boroughs his father had represented in Parliament.
Markham was returned for Newark at a by-election in 1695 which cost between £500 and £600, a contest caused by the supporters of Sir Richard Earle, 4th Bt., forcing a poll. He was returned unopposed at the general election later the same year. His voting record in this Parliament was in stark contrast to that of the other seven Nottinghamshire Members: he was forecast as likely to oppose the Court on 31 Jan. 1696 over the proposed council of trade (all his county colleagues were listed on the other side); in March he voted against fixing the price of guineas at 22s. (six colleagues voted the other way and one was absent). He did, however, join them in signing the Association in February–March. He did not vote on the attainder bill against Sir John Fenwick†. An interesting glimpse into his social world is offered by an entry in Hon. James Brydges’* diary for February 1698 recording an occasion when Markham met the diarist, Sir Godfrey Copley, 2nd Bt.*, John Trenchard and John Toland at the Grecian coffee-house. The timing and the company are suggestive of Country attitudes, a position not ruled out by his appearance on an analysis of about September 1698, as a supporter of the Country party.4
Markham did not stand in the 1698 election, although he may initially have intended to defend his seat, for a tenant of the Duke of Newcastle (John Holles†) stated in June that he was pre-engaged to Markham. He was returned in January 1701, although his election was challenged by Hon. James Saunderson* who claimed that undue practices were used to gain votes for Markham. Markham appears on one list during the 1701 Parliament as a Member who would support the Court over the ‘Great Mortgage’. It is doubtful whether he contested at the election held the following November; somewhat cryptically he wrote shortly afterwards to Newcastle that ‘by an odd turn of affairs I cannot publicly serve my county this session’. Rayner’s petition substantiates this by referring to only three candidates, although its main contention was that Sir Matthew Jenison* had publicly entertained voters on behalf of both himself and Markham.5
After 1701 Markham seems to have retired from electioneering, although he continued to offer informed comments on political events. Thus, on the ministerial changes of 1706, he remarked to James Stanhope* that ‘the Summerian Whigs ride triumphant’. More interestingly, Sir John Cropley, 2nd Bt.*, also wrote to Stanhope about an estate Markham had informed him was for sale with ‘a certain senatorship tacked to it’. This may have been Markham’s own estate. but it was more likely to have been that owned by Jenison. His acquaintanceship with the radical Whig intelligentsia included the 3rd Earl of Shaftesbury (Anthony Ashley*) with whom he dined in 1706. Markham was elected to the Royal Society in 1708 and was appointed a commissioner for building 50 new churches in 1716, attending eight meetings between 1716 and 1720. He appears to have sold his residence at Sedgebrook to Sir John Thorold, 4th Bt.*, in 1716 and moved to Essex where he bought the manor of Tiled Hall in 1718. He died on 9 June 1736 at Bath and was buried at Sedgebrook.6
A balanced assessment of Markham is made difficult by the furore surrounding his will. As he was unmarried, his natural heir was his sister, Ursula, who had married Samuel Ogle* as her second husband. However, Markham harboured an intense dislike for most of the Ogles, so left his estate, and with it his electoral interest at Newark, to Dr Bernard Wilson, the rector of Newark, who it seems had supervised the estate for many years. Not surprisingly, the will was challenged, with Wilson agreeing to pay a reputed £30,000 to the sons of Ursula and Samuel Ogle. Markham has not received favourable treatment from historians of the family for his actions, being accused of ‘a long course of irregular living’ which had reduced him to ‘great mental as well as bodily imbecility’ by the time of his death.7
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Author: Stuart Handley
- 1. Add. 18721, ff. 16, 25; F. Markham, Gen. of Markhams, 15; info. from Dr D. F. Lemmings.
- 2. Pittis, Present Parl. 351; London Rec. Soc. xxiii. 182.
- 3. SPCK Archs. min. bk. 5, p. 284.
- 4. Add. 46553, ff. 52–53; Huntington Lib. Stowe mss 26(1), James Brydges’ diary, 12 Feb. 1698.
- 5. Devonshire mss at Chatsworth House, Whildon pprs. Alex Clarke to [James Whildon], 4 June 1698; CSP Dom. 1698, p. 225; Nottingham Univ. Lib. Portland (Bentinck) mss Pw2 150, Markham to [Newcastle], 16 Dec. 1701.
- 6. Centre Kentish Stud. Stanhope mss U1590/C9/35, Markham to Stanhope, 26 Mar. 1706; C9/31, Cropley to same, n.d. ; London Rec. Soc. 182; Buildings of Eng. ed. Pevsner, Lincs. 628; Morant, Essex, i. 354.
- 7. PCC 135 Derby; Dickinson, Hist. Newark, 307–9; B. Wilson, A Vindication of Himself.