MIDDLETON, Sir Thomas (1654-1702), of Stansted Mountfitchet, Essex

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



Oct. 1679 - Mar. 1681
1689 - 1698
25 Feb. 1699 - 1700

Family and Education

bap. 21 Apr. 1654, o. surv. s. of Thomas Middleton of Stansted Mountfitchet by Constance, da. of Thomas Bromfield, Haberdasher and merchant, alderman of London 1651, of Coleman Street, London.  educ. Camb. MA 1675.  m. by 1676, Mary (d. 1686), da. and h. of Sir Stephen Langham, merchant, of Crosby Place, Bishopsgate, London and Quinton, Northants. and wid. of Thomas Style of Wateringbury, Kent, 2s. 3da.  suc. fa. 1668; kntd. 14 Dec. 1675.1

Offices Held

Freeman, Harwich 1679.2


Middleton’s political career before the Revolution had been undistinguished but moderate, and he had been ‘agreed upon by all parties’ in Harwich at the election of 1689. In December he underlined his support for the new King by lending £1,000 to the government, and on his re-election in February 1690 was marked as a Whig by Lord Carmarthen (Sir Thomas Osborne†); Robert Harley* thought that he might be counted as a Country supporter in the spring of 1691. Towards the end of the fourth session, on 8 Feb. 1693, he brought a letter to the House’s attention from the mayor of Harwich which gave an account of the abuses committed by the press-men of the navy, and the ensuing debate forced Sir Edward Seymour, 4th Bt.*, of the Admiralty to promise to lay the matter before the King. Perhaps as a result, Middleton was one of those appointed in April to set out the bounds of the port of Harwich, and later helped recover the cost of the relief of poor Dutch seamen and soldiers there that winter. In the following session, on 9 Feb. 1694, he acted as teller in a procedural motion, and about this time was listed as a Court supporter by Samuel Grascome.3

Returned again in 1695, Middleton was marked as likely to support the Court in the division on the proposed council of trade on 31 Jan. 1696, and in March once more supported the Whig ministerialists in their attempts to fix the price of guineas. In February he signed the Association, and in the next session voted on 25 Nov. for the attainder of Sir John Fenwick†. Having been involved in the preparation of legislation for the better relief of the poor in October 1696, Middleton returned to the problem in January 1698 with specific concern for Harwich, and was given leave to bring in a bill to prevent the immigration of ‘poor people’ in packet-boats, though no further progress was made. He failed to secure re-election in 1698 and was retrospectively marked as a supporter of the Court in a list comparing the old and new Parliaments. However, when Samuel Atkinson was expelled from the House on 14 Feb. 1699 for accepting a place, Middleton was able to regain his seat at the by-election. He eluded categorization into any of the ‘interests’ noted in the House in the spring of 1700, and it was perhaps partly as a result of this low-profile that Harwich corporation decided at the next election to lay him aside. His friends accepted that he had too little support to be chosen again, and instead backed Dennis Lyddell, who was duly elected. Middleton died, on 11 June 1702, his son entering Parliament later in Queen’s Anne’s reign.4

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: Mark Knights


  • 1. Misc. Gen. et Her. ser. 3, ii. 265–9; J. R. Woodhead, Rulers of London (London and Mdx. Arch. Soc.), 38.
  • 2. Essex RO, Harwich bor. recs. 98/4/58.
  • 3. Cal. Treas. Bks. ix. 1988; x. 171; xvii. 722; Luttrell Diary, 411.
  • 4. Add. 28886, ff. 158, 185.