PEMBERTON, Thomas (1667-1703), of Higham Ferrers, Northants.

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



13 Apr. 1702 - 8 May 1703

Family and Education

b. 30 Mar. 1667, o. s. of Robert Pemberton of Bow, Essex by Mary, da. of Anthony Rudd of Aberglasney, Carm.  educ. L. Inn 1686, called 1702.  m. 13 Apr. 1691, Martha (d. 1704), da. of Theophilus Sanderson of Little Addington, Northants., 2da. (1 d.v.p.).  suc. fa. 1670, uncle Sir Rice Rudd, 2nd Bt.*, 1701.1

Offices Held

Receiver, honor of Higham Ferrers 1702–3.2


Pemberton’s ancestors had been associated with Rushden and its vicinity since the second half of the 15th century, and the family had since become prominent in nearby Higham Ferrers, his grandfather, Goddard Pemberton, having endowed an almshouse there. Thomas Pemberton inherited the family lands as a young infant when his father was killed in a duel. Although he received a legal training, a considerable while elapsed before he was called to the bar, suggesting perhaps that until then his control of unencumbered real estate freed him from any financial pressure to make law his full-time vocation. However, his financial circumstances were rendered less robust on inheriting from his maternal uncle, Sir Rice Rudd, who died in July 1701, some heavily mortgaged estate comprising property at Higham Ferrers and several manors in Carmarthenshire. At Hampton Court on 11 Nov. 1701 it was Pemberton rather than the sitting Member for Higham Ferrers, Thomas Ekins, who presented the borough’s address in support of the King’s war policy. A certain rivalry appears to have existed between the two men, both of whom were Tories and chief residents in the Rushden area, focusing on the borough’s single parliamentary seat. Five days after Pemberton had presented the address Ekins spoke of ‘some difficulty’ in his canvassing for the impending election, and it would seem likely that Pemberton was its source. Having been informed while at Hampton Court of the decision in Council that day to dissolve Parliament, Pemberton immediately notified Sir Justinian Isham, 4th Bt., the Tory knight for Northamptonshire, deeming it ‘my duty as an Englishman to give this notice to so true an assertor of the kingdom’s liberties’. In the event, he did not challenge Ekins to a poll in November 1701 but was returned at a by-election following Ekins’ death in March 1702. In the summer election he himself faced obstruction from Hon. Thomas Watson Wentworth* who, when narrowly defeated, petitioned alleging that Pemberton had resorted to ‘indirect practices’ to obtain votes, but Pemberton’s return was later upheld. He features in none of the surviving division and party lists that cover his brief career in Parliament, but his expression of regard for Isham implies that his politics approximated to a similar Tory outlook. He died on 8 May 1703 and was buried at Higham Ferrers, having prepared his will in mid-February, an indication perhaps that by then he had succumbed to serious illness. The Carmarthenshire property was to be sold off to meet his own and his uncle’s outstanding debts, while the Northamptonshire property was to devolve in the first instance upon his widow and daughter. He also provided for an augmentation of his grandfather’s charity, directing that £200 be raised from the sale of land in Higham Ferrers.3

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: Andrew A. Hanham


  • 1. Vis. Northants. (Harl. Soc. lxxxvii), 170, 191.
  • 2. Somerville, Duchy of Lancaster Official Lists, 194.
  • 3. R. C. B. Pemberton, Pemberton Peds. chart 9; PCC 35 Gee; Northants. RO, Isham mss IC 4705, Pemberton to Isham, 11 Nov. [1701]; IC 2716, Thomas Ekins to same, 16 Nov. 1701; Luttrell, Brief Relation, v. 250, 262.