MARSHAM, Sir Robert, 4th Bt. (1650-1703), of The Mote, Maidstone; Whorn’s Place, Cuxton, Kent; Bushey Park, Herts.; and Marsham Street, Westminster
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Family and Education
b. 16 Dec. 1650, 2nd s. of Sir John Marsham, 1st Bt.†, of Whorn’s Place by Elizabeth, da. of Sir William Hammond of Nonington, Kent. educ. St. John’s, Oxf. 1666; M. Temple 1669. m. 12 Dec. 1681, Margaretta (d. 1710), da. and h. of Thomas Bosvile of Little Mote, Eynsford, Kent, 3s. (2 d.v.p.), 4da. (1 d.v.p.). Kntd. 13 Dec. 1681; suc. nephew as 4th Bt. 13 May 1696.1
Six clerk in Chancery 1680–1695.2
Alderman, St. Albans 1685.3
It would seem that Marsham’s father acquired Bushey Park specifically for his second son, Robert, whose place of residence it was by 1685. Indeed, not only did Sir John die there in May 1685, but Robert’s son, the future 5th baronet, was born there in the following September. The first incident of note in Marsham’s career occurred in 1678, when he was witness to a fatal duel and felt the need to sue for a pardon. He succeeded his father in 1680 as one of the six clerks in Chancery and was knighted in December 1681, the day after his marriage to a Kentish heiress. He seems to have been resident mainly in London, but also had strong connexions with Hertfordshire, being named in March 1685 as an alderman in the new charter issued to St. Albans. The date of this nomination shows that he was acceptable to the court during the period of ‘Tory reaction’, after the Oxford Parliament. When James II’s agents posed the ‘three questions’, Marsham was recorded in the Kentish returns as ‘living in Essex’, either a mistake for Hertfordshire, or the result of confusion with the Mashams of Otes. Marsham was put out of the commission of the peace in February 1688, having been a j.p. since 1683, presumably because he had evinced some dissatisfaction with royal policies. Whatever his actual role in the Revolution, his commitment to the new regime can be seen in the fact that he made no fewer than four short-term loans to the government between May 1689 and January 1690, each of £2,000, and in 1694 became a subscriber to the Bank of England.4
Having acted as a guardian to his nephew, the 3rd baronet, since 1692, Marsham succeeded to the family baronetcy in 1696. Already in possession of a Kentish estate through his wife, he quickly re-established his presence in Kentish society, being appointed a deputy-lieutenant in April 1697 and a j.p. the following July. By the 1698 general election he was in a sufficiently strong position to use his local power base to gain a seat at Maidstone. Before his election, Marsham had already had some dealings with Parliament in February 1692: he petitioned with his brother, the 2nd baronet, to be heard by counsel against a bill for the recovery and distribution of bankrupts’ estates when Sir Robert Viner’s executor threatened to use its provisions to destroy their security for a debt which Viner owed them. Furthermore, on 13 Apr. 1697, Marsham had made an affidavit before a Lords’ committee on an estate bill, confirming the details of the marriage settlement of one of his Hammond relatives. In December 1697, he voted for the Tory, Ralph Freman II*, in the Hertfordshire by-election. On a comparative analysis of the old and new Parliaments made shortly after the 1698 election, Marsham was classed as a Country supporter. However, on 18 Jan. 1699 he voted against the third reading of the disbanding bill. This apparent contradiction in his political position was not clarified by a third list, an analysis of the House into ‘interests’ early in 1700, which marked him with a query. From the evidence of contests at Maidstone it would seem that in local politics, at least, Marsham was more likely to find himself in opposition to rigid Tories such as Thomas Bliss*, than to Whigs like Sir Thomas Roberts, 4th Bt.*5
Once in the House, Marsham was soon involved in a piece of legislation which aimed to promote Kentish agricultural interests. On 8 Mar. 1699 he was ordered to prepare a bill for a corn market within Westminster near to the river, which would enable the citizens to benefit from cheap grain, and of course expand the market for Kentish produce. He managed this bill through the House until the 24th, when the motion to pass it was defeated. Of more personal import was Marsham’s own bill to consolidate his estate by disposing of his lands in Hertfordshire in exchange for settling property of greater value in Kent, which passed the House in April 1701 (a separate bill was needed in the 1702–3 session to rectify an error in this Act). After having sat for three Parliaments, Marsham was returned again in 1702, only for the Commons to declare the election void on 8 Dec. and refuse to issue a new writ. Marsham died the next year, on 25 July 1703. In his will he allowed his two daughters £5,000 each for portions, ordered his Bank stock to be sold for the payment of debts and legacies, and left his wife ‘the dwelling house in Marsham Street where I now live’. His surviving son inherited his estates in Kent, Essex, Norfolk, Surrey, Westminster and Middlesex, and, after coming of age, acquired a seat in Parliament.6
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Author: Stuart Handley
- 1. R. M. Townshend, Chart and Peds. of Marsham, 8.
- 2. T. D. Hardy, Cat. of Chancery, 111.
- 3. CSP Dom. 1685, p. 73.
- 4. Townshend, 8, 25–26; CSP Dom. 1679–80, p. 155; 1680–1, p. 17; 1685, p. 73; Centre Kentish Stud. Romney of the Mote mss U1300 C3/2, Marsham to Sir John Marsham, 12 July 1683; info. from Prof. N. Landau; Duckett, Penal Laws and Test Act (1882), 359; Cal. Treas. Bks. x. 1972, 1977, 1981, 1992; DZA, Bonet despatch 6/16 July 1694.
- 5. PCC 11 Coker; CSP Dom. 1697, p. 136; info. from Prof. Landau; HMC Lords n.s. ii. 547; Herts. RO, Q/PE/2, f. 3.
- 6. Romney of the Mote mss, U1300 L2, 1701 act; Top. and Gen. iii. 46; PCC 192 Dogg.