MUSGRAVE, Richard (c.1675-1711), of Hayton, Cumb.
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Family and Education
b. c.1675, o. s. of Sir Richard Musgrave, 2nd Bt., of Hayton by Dorothy, da. and coh. of William James of Washington, co. Dur. educ. Queen’s, Oxf. matric. 8 Dec. 1692, aged 17, St. Edmund Hall, Oxf. BA 1698; G. Inn 1693, ?called 1707; Edinburgh Univ. MA 1698. m. by 1701, Elizabeth (d. 1713), da. and coh. of Joseph Finch of Westenhanger, Kent, wid. of Thomas Ramsden of Croston, Lancs., 2s. 2da. suc. fa. as 3rd Bt. 10 May 1710.
Established at Hayton during the reign of Henry VIII, the Musgraves of Hayton were a cadet branch of the Musgraves of Edenhall. Musgrave’s grandfather was created a baronet in 1638, and during the Civil Wars he raised a regiment for Charles I. His Royalism was, however, to prove costly and by his actions in the 1640s he incurred fines of nearly £1,800. From the 1650s he was reduced to a series of land sales which continued until 1671, though suggestions that the lands sold were worth £2,000 p.a. appear to be an exaggeration. The family’s fortunes began to improve with the marriage of Musgrave’s father to a Durham heiress, which allowed the family to purchase land worth £1,350 in 1664 and to embark the following year upon the rebuilding of Hayton Castle, though it seems that the spectre of financial hardship, either real or imagined, continued to haunt Musgrave’s father. His father’s political sympathies, following the outlook of his own father, lay towards Toryism and he gave unfavourable responses to James II’s questions on the repeal of the Penal Laws and Test Act; in 1700 Sir Richard had been proposed by Sir Christopher Musgrave, 4th Bt.*, for the Cumberland seat left vacant by the death in July of Sir George Fletcher, 2nd Bt., and the following month he attended a meeting of Cumberland’s and Westmorland’s leading Tories, including Sir Christopher Musgrave, Christopher Musgrave*, Joseph Musgrave* and James Grahme*, to decide upon candidates for the by-elections due in Cumberland and Westmorland and the expected general election. The proposal that Sir Richard stand on this occasion came to nothing, and instead it was his son who was nominated for Cumberland at a county meeting in December 1700. Though Richard Musgrave’s only previous experience of public life had been when he accompanied Sir Joseph Williamson* to the signing of the Treaty of Ryswick, his return was unopposed at the first 1701 election.1
Musgrave was classed in February 1701 as likely to support the Court on the question of continuing the ‘Great Mortgage’. Defeated at the second election of the year, he regained his seat in 1702 but remained inactive. His Tory sympathies were confirmed during the 1702–3 session, with his vote on 13 Feb. 1703 against agreeing with the Lords’ amendments to the bill enlarging the time for taking the abjuration oath. During the 1703–4 session Musgrave managed an estate bill on behalf of his uncle John Briscoe, and was nominated on 3 Jan. to draft another estate bill. Though granted three weeks’ leave of absence on 7 Feb. 1704, his partisan allegiance was again evident from his inclusion in mid-March upon a forecast of supporters of the Earl of Nottingham (Daniel Finch†) on the issue of the Scotch Plot. His only significant activity in the 1704–5 session related to the Tack. Included on Robert Harley’s* lobbying list on this measure, Musgrave was also subject to pressure from Bishop Nicolson of Carlisle, an old ally of the Musgrave interest in the north-west, and on 28 Nov. he assured Nicolson that he ‘would not vote for tacking the occasional’. Like his kinsman Christopher Musgrave, Musgrave he does not appear on any list of the division on the 28th, suggesting that he was one of the ‘sneakers’ expected to vote for the measure but who in fact abstained. Whether some promise had been made to Musgrave by the ministry in return for his abstention is unclear, but it is evident that from January 1705 at the latest Musgrave’s father had been negotiating with Harley for some official place, and in April the baronet wrote to thank Harley for ‘introducing’ Musgrave ‘to my lord treasurer with the great character of his conduct in Parliament, whereby he has received from my lord assurance of the Queen’s favour’.2
No mark of official favour was bestowed on either Musgrave or his father before the 1705 election, when Musgrave was again returned for Cumberland. An analysis of the new Parliament classified him as a ‘Sneaker’ and he was absent on 25 Oct. from the division upon the choice of the Speaker, though it is unclear whether this absence was occasioned by an unwillingness to jeopardize his family’s hopes of official favour, or by a failure to arrive in time for the opening of the session. The 1705–6 session saw him appointed on 17 Dec. to initiate a private bill concerning the estate of the recently deceased Lancashire Tory Richard Bold*, a bill he presented three days later. His father’s continuing attempts to obtain some favour from the ministry were evident the same month when he wrote to Harley of his hopes that he would recommend Musgrave to the Queen. Though forced by his wife’s illness to return to the country, having obtained a leave of absence on 11 Jan., Musgrave pursued his claims upon Harley by letter. The failure of these requests was evident when later the same month he wrote to Grahme that
the misfortune which has fallen upon my wife has left room for Mr Harley to forget me, though I have fully discovered my thoughts by letter which he does not think fit to answer. Therefore, dear sir, press him to a conclusion upon my account that I may receive that answer from you which he does not think fit to give himself, for my father is provoked to the last degree to find the usage that has fallen to the share of your humble servant.
If Musgrave received any answer it must have been negative as there is no record of his receiving any official favour. He returned to London for the 1706–7 session, telling on 7 Jan. 1707 against a bill for suppressing brewhouses and other works within a mile of Whitehall and St. James’s. The session also saw him lobby Bishop Nicolson to support what appears to have been an attempt in January to have Whitehaven included among the ports permitted to import Irish wool. On 4 Mar. he was appointed to draft a bill to oblige an army officer to account for monies granted to pay the arrears of his regiment. During the first Parliament of Great Britain Musgrave was listed as a Tory.3
The candidacy of James Lowther* led Musgrave to withdraw from the Cumberland election in 1708, but in 1710 he was mentioned, having succeeded his father to the baronetcy, as a probable opponent of Lowther in anticipation of an election that year. In April, however, his attempt to obtain a High Tory address from the Cumberland assizes was successfully opposed by Bishop Nicolson, and in the autumn Musgrave withdrew from the county election without taking it to a poll. He was nevertheless active in the Tory cause in 1710, supporting the candidacy of John Orfeur at Cockermouth and writing to Harley in November to complain that
the arbitrary proceedings of some nobleman’s tools have rendered all my endeavours ineffectual for the borough of Cockermouth. I there carried it by an undoubted majority, but by the base malice of the officers had a return against me . . . I had endeavoured, and without reason to doubt the success, to have been a Member myself, but my affairs upon my father’s death and other inconveniences prevented me in that design, but hope upon future elections to be a sitting Member of the honourable House.
Such aspirations were to be unfulfilled, as he died in October the following year. Buried at Aspatria, Cumberland, on 11 Oct. 1711, Musgrave was succeeded by his elder son Richard.4
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Authors: Eveline Cruickshanks / Richard Harrison
- 1. C. B. Phillips, ‘Gentry of Cumb. and Westmld. 1600–65’ (Lancaster Univ. Ph.D. thesis 1974), 27, 326–7; Ferguson, Cumb. and Westmld. MPs, 418; P. Musgrave, Collectanea Musgraviana, 42–44; Duckett, Penal Laws and Test Act (1882), 32; Cumbria RO (Carlisle), Lonsdale mss D/Lons/L1/1/46, Sir John Lowther, 2nd Bt. I*, to Lady Lonsdale, 29 Aug. 1700; Hopkinson thesis, 102; Huntington Lib. Stowe mss 58(1), p. 17.
- 2. Hopkinson thesis, 31; Nicolson Diaries ed. Jones and Holmes, 237; Add. 70249, Sir Richard Musgrave, 2nd Bt., to [Harley], 1 Jan. 1704[–5], 3 Apr. 1705.
- 3. Add. 70249, Sir Richard Musgrave, 2nd Bt., to [Harley], 30 Dec. 1705; Bagot mss at Levens Hall, Musgrave to Grahme, 22 Jan. 1705–6; Nicolson Diaries, 408.
- 4. HMC Portland, iv. 578, 632; Lonsdale mss D/Lons/W2/1/43, James Lowther to William Gilpin, 19 Jan., 21 Mar. 1709[–10], 8 June, 8 July, 23 Sept. 1710, Gilpin to Lowther, [Aug. 1710]; Trans. Cumb. and Westmld. Antiq. and Arch. Soc. ser. 2, xxxv. 125.