PIERREPONT, Gervase (1649-1715), of Tonge Castle, Salop; Croston, Staffs.; and Hanslip Park, Bucks.
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Family and Education
b. 1649, 5th s. of Hon. William Pierrepont† of Thoresby, Notts. by Elizabeth, da. and coh. of Sir Thomas Harris, 1st Bt., of Tonge Castle. educ. Emmanuel, Camb. 1664; G. Inn 1668. m. lic. 10 Mar. 1680 (with £8,000), Lucy (d. 1721), da. of Sir John Pelham, 3rd Bt.*, sis. of Henry* and Thomas Pelham*, 1da. d.v.p. cr. Baron Pierrepont of Ardglass [I] 21 Mar. 1703, Baron Pierrepont of Hanslip 19 Oct. 1714.1
Pierrepont was the grandson of the 1st Earl of Kingston (Robert Pierrepont†) and uncle to the 3rd and 5th earls, the latter (Evelyn Pierrepont*) becoming 1st Duke of Kingston. In addition, he was extraordinarily well connected through the marriages of his three sisters to Henry Cavendish† (later 2nd Duke of Newcastle), Gilbert Holles† (later 3rd Earl of Clare) and Sir George Savile† (later 1st Marquess of Halifax). His first foray into politics met with defeat in his family’s native county of Nottinghamshire in both elections to the Exclusion Parliaments of 1679. Thereafter, he seems to have eschewed politics until his nephew through marriage, Lord Thanet (Hon. Thomas Tufton†), provided him with a seat at Appleby in 1698.2
The Tory views of his patron suggest that Pierrepont shared a similar political outlook, a view confirmed by a comparative analysis of the old and new Parliaments drawn up in September 1698 which classed him as a Country supporter, and by a forecast of those likely to oppose a standing army. The presence in the House of a namesake William Pierrepont* makes it difficult to discern references to him in the Journals until 1703 when he received an Irish peerage. However, he was a party to many of the meetings of the Country opposition in March 1699 as they set about drafting a bill for renewing the commission of accounts. He received leave of absence for a fortnight on 6 Apr. By virtue of his ownership of some lead mines in Matlock he became involved in the Derbyshire election of January 1701, giving support to Thomas Coke*, a member noted for his advocacy of Country opinions. Pierrepont’s own re-election for Appleby proceeded smoothly and he topped the poll. In February he was listed as a possible supporter of the Court over the ‘Great Mortgage’. He was given leave of absence for three weeks on 9 Apr. to recover his health.3
In December 1701, Pierrepont made a bid for one of the county seats in Shropshire, wherein his main residence lay. To this end he solicited the aid of Sir Richard Myddelton, 3rd Bt.*, to approach Lord Hertford (Algernon Seymour*), Sir Humphrey Mackworth* (without success) and Robert Harley*, intimating that if the pre-election meeting of the gentry at Shrewsbury ‘do not think me worthy of so great an honour I shall willingly acquiesce in what they determine’. However, although Pierrepont entered the poll for the county, he gave up the following day, ‘going out of the field with much disgrace’ and finished nearly 900 votes adrift at the bottom of the poll. Fortunately, he had Appleby to fall back on, secure not only in Thanet’s approbation but also in his conditional backing of the other Tory candidate, James Grahme*, on the understanding that Pierrepont had first call on the Thanet interest. Having spent £120 on the election, Pierrepont was elected top of the poll. A list of the new Parliament compiled by Harley grouped Pierrepont with the Tories, an analysis confirmed on 26 Feb. 1702 by his support for the motion vindicating the Commons’ proceedings over the impeachment of the Whig ministers in the previous session.4
At the election of 1702, Pierrepont again joined Grahme, leaving the management of Appleby to his agent and to his partner’s local knowledge. On this occasion, the election cost him £180, but both Tory candidates were successful. At the end of the first session of the new Parliament, he was given an Irish peerage possibly as a reward for his political allegiance, but perhaps also because his status merited the honour, being in possession of land in at least four counties and holding local office in Buckinghamshire and Staffordshire. Henceforward easily identifiable in the Journals, Pierrepont was appointed on 17 Jan. 1704 to prepare a bill restraining the export of bullion by the East India Company, which he introduced into the House, and on which he subsequently shared the duties of chairman in the committee of the whole with Sir Robert Danvers*. Although the bill completed its committee stage it was never reported to the House. Pierrepont’s Tory views are again confirmed by the appearance of his name on a list compiled by the Earl of Nottingham (Daniel Finch†) in March 1704 forecasting support for the beleaguered secretary over the Scotch Plot. In the following session he demonstrated that his Toryism was tempered by moderation by failing to vote for the Tack on 28 Nov. 1704.5
Pierrepont retired from the Commons in 1705, declining to stand at Appleby and never returning to the hustings. In May 1711 he wrote to Harley seeking approval for his relative, the Duke of Shrewsbury, to approach the Queen to request a British peerage on his behalf, using ‘the great respect you have so often expressed for the memory of my father’ as an argument in his favour. He was finally created a British peer in October 1714, but did not live long to enjoy his new dignity. He died on 22 May 1715 and was buried in the chapel at Tonge, where he had endowed a library. His will directed that the tithes of Tonge and Croston be used to support their respective ministers, and he left £10 and £2 p.a. for the use of the poor of those two parishes. Most of his estates reverted to the main branch of the family, a curious quirk of fate given that in 1706 the head of the family, the Marquess of Dorchester (Evelyn Pierrepont), had secured a special remainder of that title in Pierrepont’s favour.6
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Author: Stuart Handley
- 1. Add. 6671, f. 140; 29995, f. 36; R. B. Moffat, Pierrepont Gens. 25; Egerton 3541, ff. 63–64.
- 2. Moffat, 24.
- 3. Huntington Lib. Stowe mss 26(1), James Brydges’* diary, 14, 17, 20, 21, 23 Mar. 1699; BL, Lothian mss, J. Morris to Coke, 19 Dec. 1700; Add. 6677, f. 69.
- 4. NLW, Chirk Castle mss, Pierrepont to Myddelton, 17 Nov. 1701; Add. 70036, f. 224; 70206, H. Speke to Harley, 19 Dec. 1701; HMC 10th Rep. IV, 336; W. A. Speck, Tory and Whig, 60.
- 5. Bagot mss at Levens Hall, Pierrepont to [Grahme], 26 Apr., 8 Aug. 1702; Speck, 60; CSP Dom. 1700–2, p. 250; 1702–3, p. 391; 1703–4, pp. 277, 278.
- 6. HMC 10th Rep. IV, 337; Add. 70288, Pierrepont to [Harley], 24 May 1711; Egerton 3517, f. 116.