PELHAM, Henry (c.1661-1721), of Stanmer, Suss.

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



1690 - 1695
1695 - 1700
Dec. 1701 - 1702

Family and Education

b. c.1661, 3rd s. of Sir John Pelham, 3rd Bt.*, and bro. of Thomas Pelham I*.  educ. Eton c.1673–8; Christ Church, Oxf. matric. 14 Feb. 1679, aged 17; G. Inn 1678.  m. 18 Dec. 1683, Frances, da. of John Byne of Rowdell, Suss., 3s. 4da.1

Offices Held

Clerk of the pells 1698–d.; commr. taking subscriptions to S. Sea Co. 1711.2


Returned for Seaford on his father’s interest, Pelham was classed as a Whig on Lord Carmarthen’s (Sir Thomas Osborne†) list of the new Parliament, but insofar as concerns his other activities the Journals usually fail to distingish him from his brother, Thomas I. In April 1691 he was queried as a Country party supporter in Robert Harley’s* analysis of the House. On 2 Jan. 1693 Pelham was ordered to be sent for in custody for being absent from the House without leave, a mistake he did not repeat, applying for and being given leave for 21 days on 3 Feb. 1694 and for seven days on 14 Mar. the same year. Either he or his brother was given leave on 23 Mar. 1695.

In 1695 Pelham switched to Lewes, where he had a strong interest and which he represented for the rest of his parliamentary career. He was forecast as a probable government supporter in the division on the proposed council of trade on 31 Jan. 1696, signed the Association in February, was given leave for ten days due to his wife’s illness on 18 Feb., but returned and voted with the Court on fixing the price of guineas at 22s. in March. In the next session he followed his father in voting for the attainder of Sir John Fenwick† on 25 Nov. 1696. On 9 Feb. 1697 he was again given leave of absence. Through the influence of his brother, who had been made a lord of the Treasury in May 1697, he was appointed clerk of the pells in January 1698. The grant, which was worth about £2,000 p.a., was challenged by Colonel Thomas Strangways I*, who claimed he had been given a reversionary title to the office by Charles II, but the Treasury lords insisted that the place was in the gift of the Treasury not the crown and eventually Pelham was sworn into office. He was noted as a Court placeman after the 1698 election, and on 18 Jan. 1699 voted against the disbanding bill. Further periods of absence were allowed him on 22 Mar. 1699 and 13 Mar. 1700. In early 1700 he was again listed as a placeman in an analysis of the House into factions and interests. He did not stand in the first 1701 election but was returned for Lewes in December, when his return was classed as a gain for the Whigs by Lord Spencer (Charles*), and Harley also listed him as a Whig. On 5 Jan. 1702 he was a teller for the Whigs against hearing the disputed Maidstone election case at the bar of the House. He did not seek re-election in 1702, or subsequently.3

The death of Pelham’s father in January 1703 led to many disputes with his brother Thomas over the division of the estate. Henry claimed that certain properties had been settled on him by their father, which Thomas maintained Sir John had had no right to dispose of. On 9 May 1706 he wrote to Thomas:

I cannot end this without bewailing my unhappy circumstances, because every year stirs up new occasions of dispute between us, which makes me almost wish that I had let you have all I had from my father upon any conditions rather than keep it with this unlucky and sad attendant.

Thomas expressed his discontent in a letter on 23 Jan. 1708, writing:

The thing which all along has been so great a weight upon my spirits, is that I am persuaded you have not treated me in this matter with that kindness and consideration which I had reason to expect, from the affection I have shown for you from your cradle, and from the great advantage you have had by it.

They did manage to reach a settlement that year. Pelham died on 1 Apr. 1721 and was buried in St. Anne’s, Soho. Both his sons, Henry and Thomas, sat in Parliament after 1715.4

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: Paula Watson


  • 1. J. Comber, Suss. Geneal. Lewes, 212.
  • 2. Cal. Treas. Bks. xiii. 234; Pittis, Present Parl. 351.
  • 3. CSP Dom. 1698, p. 46; Luttrell, Brief Relation, iv. 336, 338; Add. 28086, f. 16.
  • 4. Add. 33084, ff. 171, 172, 175, 179, 180, 181; Comber, 212.