PAICE, Joseph (c.1658-1735), of Clapham, Surr.

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



Feb. 1701 - 1702

Family and Education

b. c.1658, s. of Ezekiel Paice of Exeter, Devon by Elizabeth, da. of Thomas Whitehorne, rector of Upton Helions, Devon.  educ. Chard sch.; travelled abroad (France).  m. (1) 31 Jan. 1683, Mary Payne (d. 8 Apr. 1700), 1s. 2da.; (2) 10 Oct. 1700, Susannah Newman, 1s. 1da.  suc. fa. 1667.

Offices Held

Freeman, Salters’ Co. 1691, master 1723.1

Asst. R. Lustring Co. 1692; commr. taking subscriptions to land bank 1696.2


Paice, the son of Dissenting parents, was born in Exeter where the family had resided since the time of his grandfather. While he was still a child his father died, leaving his mother in straitened circumstances. He was adopted by his ‘uncle Burridge’, possibly Robert Burridge the father of John Burridge I*, who sent him to school at Chard in Somerset and afterwards to a counting house in St. Malo to learn French. On his return he was apprenticed to a Turkey merchant, and when he married, the combined capital of himself and his bride amounted to £50. Two years later, when things became difficult for Dissenters after the Monmouth rebellion, he made a trip to Jamaica with the idea of settling, but finding the climate disagreeable returned home, where he set up as a merchant and shipowner, prospering sufficiently to buy a house in Clapham.

Although Paice was a stockholder in the New East India Company, his standing for Parliament in February 1701 does not seem to have been connected with the Company’s efforts to increase its parliamentary representation. According to his own account he was invited to stand at Lyme by Nathaniel Butler, a member of the corporation, at a time when the town knew nothing of him but his reported character. Presumably his connexion with the Burridges, one of the most influential families there, counted for a great deal. He accepted the offer after ‘great debates in my own thoughts’ and was brought in without trouble or expense. He prepared himself for the parliamentary session by praying privately with two Presbyterian ministers. In general he supported the Court, writing

I have with great diligence attended my duty the whole session and found in a little while the Members divided principally into two parties; the Court and Country – an unhappy distinction. Upon an impartial observation, in my weak judgment the Court party were those who did most heartily espouse the true interest of his Majesty and the nation; and, therefore, from my own judgment and not to espouse a party I voted usually with them. It seemed to me that the Country party (Sir Edward Seymour etc.) were offended that they themselves had not the preferment under the government and had particular resentments against some whom his Majesty had preferred and . . . therefore, obstructed the King’s affairs in the House greatly.

He had voted in favour of the Act of Settlement and supported preparations for war, although the latter were against his own interests because he had considerable consignments of goods in Cadiz, Naples, Messina, Lisbon and Oporto, which would probably be lost on the outbreak of hostilities. He was convinced that it was absolutely necessary for

all the princes of Europe to confederate with the Emperor . . . to check the great power of France. The Court party in the House thought these matters highly worthy of our consideration and would provide timely against the further evil of encroachments; but they were generally outvoted by the Country party.

Towards the end of the session he presented an address from Lyme Regis, expressing indignation at the French king’s acknowledgement of the Pretender and soon afterwards another to the same effect from Chard.3

In December 1701 Paice was again elected to serve for Lyme Regis, without the necessity of making a personal appearance. He was classed as a Whig by Robert Harley*, but soon after the King’s death he began to tire of public life and did not stand in 1702. Of his parliamentary career he wrote in his diary:

as I never sought it at first, so I can appeal to my God that I never had any vain glory in it, and have in all my votes acted according to the best of my judgment and conscience, without the least partiality or favour to any party or cause.

He remained in business until handing over to his two sons in March 1724. He died on 15 July 1735 and was buried in the churchyard at Clapham. The constancy of his religious affiliation was indicated by a bequest of £10 to the pastor of the Dissenting congregation at Clapham. With a personal estate of some £6,000 (mainly vested in securities, for he had no land), he was able to make an adequate provision for his wife and family together with several charitable donations to the poor of Clapham, Exeter, Chard and Lyme Regis.4

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: Paula Watson


Unless otherwise stated this biography is based on A. Manning, Fam. Pictures, 4-14, and info. from R. A. Elliott.

  • 1. PCC 158 Ducie.
  • 2. CSP Dom. 1691–2, p. 387; CJ, xii. 510.
  • 3. EHR, lxxi. 237.
  • 4. PCC 158 Ducie.