PAUNCEFORT, Tracy (c.1683-bef. 1723), of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, 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



29 Nov. - 22 Dec. 1707

Family and Education

b. c.1683, o. s. of Tracy Pauncefort, Leatherseller, of St. Clement Danes and St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Mdx. and the Palace, Witham-on-the-Hill, Lincs. by Jane, da. of John Partridge of St. Giles-in-the-Fields, Mdx. and Lincs.; nephew of Edward Pauncefort*.  m. lic. 1 Apr. 1704, Anne, da. of Richard Whitworth of Batchacre Park, Adbaston, Staffs., sis. of Charles Whitworth† of Batchacre Park, 2s.1

Offices Held

Clerk to sec. of state by 1706–7.


Pauncefort’s father had served on the grand jury which threw out the charges against the Earl of Shaftesbury (Sir Anthony Ashley Cooper, 2nd Bt.†) in 1681, and had been arraigned for high treason by a grand jury in 1685 ‘for being concerned . . . about the . . . Duke of Monmouth’s declaration’, but had obtained a pardon by turning King’s evidence. A London leatherseller, Tracy snr. undertook clothing contracts for the army after the Revolution, and exploited his younger brother Edward’s* position in the paymaster’s office to extend this involvement to several regimental agencies. One of his principal partners in clothing contracts, James Moyer, may well have been a later marital connexion of Edward’s. He also participated in government loans. But in 1695 a parliamentary investigation into a local complaint against one of the regiments for which he was agent exposed various abuses of office on his part. The most serious, as far as the Commons was concerned, was the allegation that he had collected 500 guineas from the officers of the regiment for a bribe to secure payment of their arrears. He at first refused to answer on this point, but after a spell in the Tower incriminated his brother (see PAUNCEFORT, Edward) as the official who had handled the transaction for him. The Commons’ intention to punish both brothers by means of a bill was forestalled by the prorogation, upon which they were released from custody. Edward returned to a place as deputy-paymaster; Tracy snr. eventually to another regimental agency. He applied in 1697 for employment in the collection of the leather duty but does not seem to have been appointed. However, some years later his son was able to obtain a post as clerk in the secretary’s office. The younger Tracy was assisted perhaps by his newly acquired brother-in-law, the diplomatist Charles Whitworth; and there was also a family connexion with the secretary of state himself, Robert Harley*. The Member’s uncle, Grimbald Pauncefort, a successful lawyer, had addressed Harley in 1692 as his ‘cousin’.2

After giving up his clerkship in about September 1707, Pauncefort jnr. was returned (at a cost of over £500) in a by-election for Bedwyn in the following November. Harley may have sponsored his candidature in some way; or perhaps some influence was brought to bear by his uncle Edward’s patron, Sir Stephen Fox*. Pauncefort would appear to have stood as a Tory, since his main opponent was a Whig, Nicholas Pollexfen*, and he himself enjoyed the support of the leading Tory interest in the borough, that of the Bruces. He was duly elected, but unseated on petition, and then spent some time in custody for ‘corruption’, and for ‘refusing to tell who the person was that publicly gave money on his behalf to the electors’. In preparation for the general election some six months later, Pauncefort was hard at work once more in the constituency, but this time without the backing of the Bruce family. There may even have been a rapprochement with Pollexfen, but Pauncefort was defeated and eventually withdrew an election petition.3

Pauncefort did not stand for Parliament again. In the summer of 1708 he visited Holland and the army in Flanders, reporting back unofficially to the secretary’s office. The last that is heard of him is an unsuccessful application in September 1712 for the office of secretary to the comptrollers of army accounts. He was dead v.p. by 16 May 1723, when his elder son became the heir to Edward Pauncefort’s estate.4

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: D. W. Hayton


  • 1. Burke, Commoners, ii. 75; Leathersellers’ Company, arch. minute bk. 1676–90 (unfol.), 20 Feb. 1677 (ex inf. Dr M. J. Knights); London Mar. Lic. ed. Foster, 1027; PCC 151 Plymouth.
  • 2. A True List of the Names of the Good Men of the County of Middlesex Summoned to be of the Grand Jury . . . 6 Oct. 1681 (ex inf. Dr M. J. Knights); Luttrell, Brief Relation, i. 354; CSP Dom. 1685, pp. 251, 259, 282; 1686–7, p. 66; 1690–1, p. 76; Cal. Treas. Bks. ix. 617–18, 658, 694, 697, 821, 824, 1256, 1287, 1392, 1783, 1945, 1999; x. 282, 299, 369, 436, 479, 608, 855, 938, 1046; xii. 136; Cal. Treas. Pprs. 1557–1696, p. 206; Boyer, Wm. III, iii. 11–12; H. Horwitz, Parl. and Pol. Wm III, 146–7; CJ, xi. 213–14, 216, 230, 234, 283, 293–4, 316, 320; xiii. 901; Portledge Pprs. 202; HMC Portland, iii. 504.
  • 3. Wilts. Arch. Mag. vi. 305–6; HMC 15th Rep. VII, 190, 199; Wilts. RO, Ailesbury mss 1300/1338A, 1339, 1343, 1344, 1348, Charles Becher to Ld. Bruce (Charles*), 9 Dec. 1707, 26, 27 Apr. 1708, ‘Sunday night’ [1708]; Luttrell, vi. 242, 266.
  • 4. HMC Portland, iv. 501–2, 508; Cal. Treas. Bks. xxvi. 445; PCC 151 Plymouth.