MUSGRAVE, Joseph (1676-1757), of Great Russell Street, Westminster, Mdx.

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



1713 - 1715

Family and Education

b. 1676, 5th but 3rd surv. s. of Sir Christopher Musgrave, 4th Bt.*, but 3rd but 1st surv. by his 2nd w.; half-bro. of Philip† and Christopher Musgrave*.  educ. Eton 1689–93; Univ. Coll. Oxf. 1693; G. Inn 1693, called 1701, bencher 1724.  unm.1

Offices Held

Farmer of tolls, Cumb. and Westmld. 1704–7; sec. to chancellor of Exchequer by 1704–12.2

Freeman, Appleby 1704; gov., Q. Elizabeth g.s. Penrith 1705–?d.3


After receiving a legal training, Musgrave followed the familiar family pattern of obtaining minor government office, in his case as secretary to the chancellor of the Exchequer by 1704, a place carrying a salary of £80. On his father’s death the same year Musgrave inherited coal mines and a lease of the tolls of Scottish cattle passing through Cumberland and Westmorland, which in 1707 were claimed to be worth nearly £400 p.a. This windfall perhaps encouraged parliamentary aspirations, for Musgrave was mentioned as a possible Tory candidate in the Westmorland by-election of 1704. An agreement between James Grahme* and Robert Lowther* to allow the unopposed return of William Fleming* was accepted by the county’s Tory interest upon condition that Musgrave contest the imminent general election with his fellow Tory Henry Grahme*. Musgrave was unable, however, to come to an agreement with James Grahme over the division of expenses for this election, leading him to withdraw his candidacy, prompting the Earl of Nottingham (Daniel Finch†) and the hereditary sheriff of Westmorland, the Earl of Thanet (Thomas Tufton†), to complain to Musgrave’s friend Bishop Nicolson, who replied that Musgrave was ‘the best judge of the weight of his own pocket’.4

Despite Musgrave’s failure to gain election, his personal concerns led to his involvement with the Commons during the passage of the Union in 1707. The abolition of customs duties for trade between Scotland and England meant depriving Musgrave of the revenue to which he was entitled as joint farmer of the tolls for Scottish cattle imported through Cumberland and Westmorland, and on 3 Feb. 1707 he petitioned the Commons for compensation, claiming that the lease of these tolls had a further 44 years to run, and pointing out that the toll receipts were charged with £2,000 to pay portions for his two younger brothers. His petition was referred to committee, which considered Musgrave’s claim that given an average annual income of £398 13s. 7d. from these tolls, fair compensation would amount to £7,063 16s., and was reported to the House on the 7th. Five days later the Commons referred the report to the committee of supply. Though William Lowndes proposed that Musgrave receive £6,000, this was opposed and £5,000 was suggested instead, leading to a division carrying in favour of the larger sum by a single vote. However, William Cotesworth demanded a ‘review’ of the division, and the recount found the totals to have been 83 votes to 82 in favour of the lower figure of £5,000. Musgrave’s brother Christopher complained to Robert Harley*, a long-time family friend, that the lower sum had passed only because it had been given out that the supply committee would not sit on the 12th, which had led his ‘friends’ to leave the Commons, and he urged Harley to press for compensation of £6,000 when the supply committee reported. On the 13th, however, the Commons approved the lower figure, and in April £5,000 was ordered to be taken from land tax receipts in settlement of this award. Musgrave maintained his parliamentary ambitions, and having been defeated at Appleby in 1708 he secured his return for Cockermouth in 1713, being classed in the Worsley list as a Tory, though making little impact on the Commons, however. He did not stand in 1715 or at any subsequent election, and died on 14 Feb. 1757.5

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Authors: Eveline Cruickshanks / Richard Harrison


  • 1. G. Burton, Life of Sir Philip Musgrave, 48–49.
  • 2. Boyer, Pol. State, i–ii. 379; iv. 55.
  • 3. Cumbria RO (Kendal), Appleby bor. recs. WSMB/A minute bk. 3, 22 Sept. 1704; P. H. Reaney, Recs. of Q. Elizabeth Grammar Sch. Penrith (Cumb. and Westmld. Antiq. and Arch. Soc. Tract Ser. x), 31–32.
  • 4. Hopkinson thesis, 82–85; Nicolson Diaries ed. Jones and Holmes, 257, 259, 276.
  • 5. Add. 70289, f. 46; 7074, f. 86; Cal. Treas. Bks. xxi. 27, 241, 245, 481; London Mag. 1757, p. 101.