PAPILLON, Philip (1660-1736), of Fenchurch Street, London, Lee and Acrise, Kent

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



Dec. 1701 - Dec. 1720

Family and Education

b. 26 Nov. 1660, 1st surv. s. of Thomas Papillon*.  m. (1) 10 Sept. 1689, Anne (d. 1693), da. of William Joliffe*, 1s. 2da. d.v.p. (2) by 1695, Susannah (d. 1707), da. of George Henshaw of ?St. Saviour’s, Southwark, Surr., 2s. d.v.p., 3da. (2 d.v.p.).  suc. fa. 1702.1

Offices Held

Cashier of victualling to treasurer of navy, 1689–?Sept. 1699; receiver of stamp duties Dec. 1720–?1723.2

Member, Levant Co. 1689; commr. taking subscriptions to Bank 1694, S. Sea Co. 1711; commr. Greenwich Hosp. 1695–?1704; trustee, receiving loan to Emperor 1706; member, New England Company 1713; gov. Artillery Co. 1713, St. Thomas’ Hosp. by 1719.3

Freeman, Dover 1697; Mercers’ Co. by 1710.4


Papillon was involved in his father’s business activities from at least 1682. Negotiations two years later with Sir Joseph Ashe, 1st Bt.†, and Lord Townshend (Sir Horatio Townshend, 3rd Bt.†) in relation to a possible marriage between Papillon and Dorothy Cartwright demonstrate that Papillon’s father was keen to set him up as an independent businessman. At this point he was described by his father as ‘sober and free from all the vices and debauchery of the age and of a very kind and loving nature so as to make a wife very happy’. When further marriage negotiations were in progress in May 1688, with Abraham Dolins, Thomas Papillon indicated his son’s more material advantages:

I did and do intend to settle him in a way of trade, if the public affairs in the world were in a more settled position, but as matters now stand, I am unwilling he should be engaged far in business and therefore on his marriage intend to give him the present possession of my lands in Kent which are £400 p.a. and to let him receive his wife’s portion, and after mine and my wife’s death, I intend him my house at London, some lands in Leicestershire and in money to make it the full value of £1,000 p.a. more.

Papillon even suggested that Philip remove to Holland while the current situation remained unsettled. When Papillon did take a wife in 1689, his bride came from a strong nexus of Dissenting Whig families. Anne Joliffe’s father had married into the Foley family, and both Thomas Foley I* and Paul Foley I* were parties to the marriage settlement. Furthermore, Joliffe was now married to the sister of Sir John Trenchard*, a future secretary of state. By 1693 there is evidence that Papillon was active in the Levant trade (as was his father-in-law), and may well have taken over much of the running of his father’s concerns when the latter became involved in the victualling business. However, Philip had a share in that activity too, being cashier to the victuallers, for which he received a small percentage of each transaction. Also by 1693, when he was appointed to the county bench, Papillon was cutting a figure in Kentish society. Before the shire election in 1698, for example, he was busy rallying support for the Whig Sir James Oxenden, 2nd Bt.*5

Papillon’s first excursion into electoral politics on his own account was at the Dover by-election of 1697. He was early in the field, for on 19 May he wrote a letter to the corporation offering to serve them and reminding the jurats of their previous willingness to choose his father. Unfortunately, not only did the vacancy attract many other contenders, but Papillon’s strong position as cashier to the victualling office (and his father’s role as leading victualling commissioner) may have worked against him, owing to the Treasury’s recent decision to enforce a strict payment-in-course regime to deal with the victuallers’ creditors. Thus, any expectation of favourable treatment on the part of naval suppliers in Dover (many of whom were freemen) failed to materialize. Furthermore, the end of the war itself led to some of the commission’s employees in Dover being laid off. Papillon’s reluctance to treat, and his adherence to the letter of the law governing elections, left him vulnerable and he lost to Admiral Matthew Aylmer*. Attempts to persuade Papillon (and more particularly his father) to petition the Commons were dismissed with reference to the need to ‘preserve the freemen of the corporation in love and amity’, especially as the Papillon interest was ‘bound up with theirs – our estates lying near, the prosperity of the town will advance the same’. Papillon’s letterbook for the early months of 1698 suggests that he was determined to challenge for the seat at the next election, probably in partnership with Sir Basil Dixwell, 2nd Bt.* If, indeed, he did stand he was defeated. Likewise, in January 1701, when Dixwell preferred to retain his office rather than his seat in Parliament, Papillon lost out to Secretary Sir Charles Hedges*. He finally secured election at Dover in December 1701, at Hedges’ expense; Robert Harley* duly listed him as a Whig on his analysis of the new Parliament. He was re-elected in the 1702 general election despite efforts by the Earl of Winchilsea to portray him to Dover corporation as one ‘whom they must know will be obnoxious, and can do them no service’. However, this did not mean that he could not serve the town in other ways, and particularly its Dissenters. In 1703 he purchased an old malt house in Last Lane which was leased to the Presbyterian congregation and converted into a chapel. On 13 Feb. 1703 he voted for agreeing with the Lords’ amendments to the bill for enlarging the time for taking the oath of abjuration. The following session saw him attacked in Parliament by the public accounts commissioners for irregular accounting procedures when cashier of the victualling, particularly his failure to secure the signatures of three commissioners before paying bills. On 14 Mar. 1704 a resolution was passed for Papillon to be prosecuted in order to compel him to account according to the course of the Exchequer. The following session a report delivered into the Commons on 6 Nov. 1704 from the auditors of the imprest noted that Papillon was accountable to 19 Oct. 1699 and had filed accounts up to 31 Dec. 1697: he was ordered to pay in any balances owing, which he had done by 11 Nov. When the report was considered by the House on 22 Jan. 1705, other officials were attacked instead, showing that Papillon had obviously defended himself successfully. Periodically however, the issue of his accounts would resurface, often raised as a concomitant of an attack on Lord Orford’s (Edward Russell*) tenure as treasurer of the navy. On the whole, Papillon was able to defend himself, aided no doubt by the chaotic administrative procedures of the victualling commission during the Nine Years War. Papillon was forecast as a probable opponent of the Tack, and did not vote for it on 28 Nov. 1704.6

Returned for Dover in 1705, Papillon was marked on one analysis of the new House as a ‘Low Church courtier’. On 25 Oct. 1705 he voted for the Court candidate for Speaker, and on 18 Feb. 1706 supported the Court on the ‘place clause’ of the regency bill. In 1707 he was alerted by the corporation of Dover to the possibility that the French were preparing to raid the town: his response was to lobby Secretary Sunderland (Charles, Lord Spencer*) for preventive measures. On two analyses of Parliament early in 1708, Papillon was classed as a Whig. Returned again in 1708, he supported the naturalization of the Palatines in 1709 and voted for Dr Sacheverell’s impeachment in 1710. As a result of a report from the auditors of the imprests to the Commons on 21 Feb. 1710, Papillon’s final account as cashier of the victualling under Orford remained under scrutiny. Re-elected in 1710, Papillon voted in the Parliament’s second session, on 7 Dec. 1711, for the ‘No Peace without Spain’ motion, and in the third session, on 18 June 1713, was one of the Whigs who voted against the French commerce bill. The evidence of his letterbook shows that Papillon attended many of the debates on the commercial treaty. On 10 June he reported that the House ‘these two days [has] been taken up in hearing the Turkey merchants and Portugal and Italian merchants and the weavers touching their trades’, and on the 12th predicted ‘a long debate tomorrow on the commercial treaty’. On 26 June he wrote, ‘we have a great many members absent although am apt to believe the House will hardly rise this month yet’.7

Papillon faced an uphill fight to retain his seat at Dover at the 1713 election. However, he began to campaign early and it was his erstwhile partner, Aylmer, who lost after a fierce contest. Papillon had been at pains to explain to would-be clients why he was unable to obtain places for them: he informed the corporation in January 1713 that he had been trying without success for six to eight months to move a man from one port to another of equal value; and to a second correspondent he emphasized that it was an error to believe he had ‘a great influence on [the] Lord Treasurer’s brother [Edward Harley*]’. Papillon was present on the first day of the new Parliament, on 16 Feb. 1714, when he reported that the House had ‘unanimously’ chosen (Sir) Thomas Hanmer II (4th Bt.) as Speaker. On 11 Mar. he wrote ‘’tis thought Mr. Steele [Richard] will be expelled the House for some of his pamphlets’. Papillon voted on the 18th against Steele’s expulsion, writing on the 20th that the debate had ‘continued from one o’clock to near 12 Thursday night last before the House was up’. He recorded on 15 Apr. that the debate on the Protestant succession lasted ‘about 7 hours’. He felt keenly the decision of the Commons on 22 Apr. to agree with the Lords’ address thanking the Queen for the peace and promising to overcome any ‘obstructions’ to proposals for completing the settlement of Europe. The formal entry in the Journals hid a fierce conflict described thus by Papillon:

after seven hours’ debate this day, and a great deal of good argument and reason used against it, yet numbers overswayed us so that we could not withstand it, but it was carried so unanimously for agreeing with the Lords, that there was no division, and therefore I shall say no more, but hope that God in his own time will find out deliverance for us which we cannot at present see.

Papillon kept his corporation fully informed of developments on the schism bill, but rarely added any personal comment, except once when he described it as ‘very hard upon poor schoolmasters and schoolmistresses’. By 11 June he confided to Dixwell that ‘what you say concerning it [the bill] is too true, but I’m afraid it will pass’, and all he could offer to another correspondent was the advice to trust in divine Providence. On 19 June he wrote that ‘the schism bill and some other things which have happened in the House of late has taken up all of my time’. These ‘other things’ were chiefly local legislative matters. In March Papillon had been informed that the masters of fishing boats in Dover wished to petition for a bill to protect their domestic market from foreign fishermen. His response, detailed in a letter to Philip Yorke†, was to point out the difficulties of enforcing the kind of legislation required, but promised to ‘consult Sir William [Hardres] and those gentlemen that serve for the Cinque Ports to see what is to be done therein and advise you’. Other missives followed, advising the Dover fishermen on the technical details of applying to Parliament for legislation, before Papillon was able to report on 14 Apr. that he had presented their petition and been ordered to draw up a bill. On 28 Apr. he sent Yorke a copy of the bill, which he was to present the following day, asking that the fishermen peruse it and send up anything they desired to be added, which ‘can be safely done without a fresh order from the House’. The bill was committed on 6 May, and by the 8th Papillon was reporting that the committee had already met and made several amendments. He reported the bill on the 11th, and on the 13th told a correspondent that he hoped to get it read a third time on the 14th. On that date the bill was rejected, a fact Papillon failed to explain except to say ‘it was no fault of mine, for that most people did believe it would pass, after it was ordered to be engrossed’. Papillon was also concerned in an attempt to add a clause to a general bill on vagrancy aimed at solving a problem peculiar to the southern ports and to Dover in particular. On 6 May leave was given for a bill to continue and strengthen the laws punishing vagrants. In order to ensure that the new legislation was satisfactory Dixwell sent Papillon ‘a proviso as to vagrants and a clause as to soldiers’, the main financial implications being to pass the cost of removing soldiers and their families on to the county. Papillon kept Dixwell informed of the bill’s progress, reporting on 22 May that Walter Chetwynd II*, a member of the drafting committee, had promised to give him sight of the bill before it was presented to the House, upon which he ‘would consult some friends to see what can be done therein’. On 25 June Papillon recorded that he had received a clause from Dixwell in readiness for the report stage of the bill. However, he felt that the clause stood little chance of success as it concerned ‘a single corporation’. That being the case, it would seem highly likely that Papillon was behind a clause offered the following day relating to the conveyance of soldiers from seaports, which was refused leave to be brought up to the table. It is clear from this activity that Papillon remained at Westminster, closely engaged in these local matters for most of the session. The Worsley list and two analyses of the 1713 and 1715 Parliaments classed him as a Whig.8

Papillon was detained in London after the end of the parliamentary session in July 1714, owing to the fatal illness of his brother-in-law, Sir Edward Ward, the lord chief baron of the Exchequer. Ward died on 16 July and Papillon was still dealing with his affairs when the Queen died. Thus, he was able to report to friends in Dover on events in London. There can be little doubt that for Papillon the Hanoverian successsion was a welcome event, writing on 14 Aug. that ‘this sudden alteration has given a new life through the goodness of God to all our affairs’. His thoughts soon turned to the need to secure election to the next Parliament. As early as 7 Aug. he had written to his son, David†: ‘I would have you feel the pulse of those gentlemen how they stand affected upon a new election without taking too much notice of me therein’, and similar letters went to his supporters in Dover. Moreover, he was interested in the London contest too. Despite rumours in the autumn of 1714 of likely opponents at Dover, his return in 1715 appears to have been uncontested. Before the end of this Parliament, however, Papillon accepted office as receiver-general of stamp duties and relinquished his seat. The exact date of the appointment is unclear since it occurred during the parliamentary recess, with a new writ being moved on 10 Dec. 1720, and the warrant to the lord privy seal bearing the date of the 20th, and another source also places the event in mid-December. Although Papillon failed to re-enter the House in 1727, his son David recaptured the Dover seat for the family in 1734. Papillon himself died on 12 Sept. 1736, leaving instructions in his will for his funeral expenses not to exceed £50 and for his burial, in woollen, to take place at Acrise. His daughter Sarah received his estate at Lee, while Acrise and his property in Dover went to his son, David.9

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: Stuart Handley


  • 1. A. F. W. Papillon, Papillon Mems. 46; HMC Portland, iii. 513; Centre Kentish Stud. Papillon mss U1015/T25, mar. settlement; U1015/F103/9, A. F. W. Papillon notes.
  • 2. Watson thesis, 70; Luttrell, Brief Relation, iv. 562; Egerton ch. 7733.
  • 3. Info. from Prof. R. Walcott; NLS, Advocates’ mss, Bank of Eng. pprs. 31.1.7; Pittis, Present Parl. 351; Add. 10120, f. 236; Boyer, Anne Annals, iv. 126; W. Kellaway, New England Co. 299; Flying Post, 30 Apr.–2 May 1713; Aubrey, Surr. v. 318.
  • 4. Add. 29625, f. 129.
  • 5. Papillon mss U1015/C12/1, Philip Papillon to his fa., 31 Jan. 1681–2; C13/4, 13, Thomas Papillon to Ashe, 11 June 1684, same to Ld. Townshend, 18 July 1684; C35/2, same to Abraham Dolins, 14 May 1688; C35/4, same to Philip Papillon, 3 Apr. 1693; T25/1, mar. settlement; C44, p. 91; J. R. Woodhead, Rulers of London (London and Mdx. Arch. Soc.), 99–100; info. from Prof. N. Landau.
  • 6. Papillon mss U1015/C44, pp. 20, 26, 28, 44, 51, 57, 59–61, 66–67; Add. 28886, ff. 119, 200; 29588, f. 93; Statham, Hist. Dover, 125; Jones, Annals of Dover, 194.
  • 7. Add. 61607, f. 53; 61546, ff. 56–57; Papillon mss U1015/C45, pp. 98, 100, 106.
  • 8. Papillon mss U1015/C45, pp. 8–9, 12, 200, 213, 216–17, 219, 225, 233–5, 239, 242, 248–9, 251, 253–4, 256, 265–6, 268, 270; C41/6, 7, Dixwell to Papillon, 12, 19 May 1714.
  • 9. Papillon mss U1015/C45, pp. 281, 284, 290, 294–5, 301, 306, 322; Egerton ch. 7733; Hist. Reg. Chron. 1720, p. 39; PCC 206 Derby.