PIERREPONT, William (1669-1706), of Nottingham
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Family and Education
bap. 1 Apr. 1669, 3rd but 2nd surv. s. of Robert Pierrepont† of Nottingham by Anne, da. and coh. of Henry Murray, of Berkhampstead, Herts., groom of the bedchamber to Charles I. educ. L. Inn 1681. m. (1) May 1691, Anne (d. 1702), da. and coh. of Robert Greville, 4th Baron Brooke, of Beauchamps Court, wid. of William Pierrepont, 4th Earl of Kingston, s.p.; (2) 6 July 1703, Elizabeth, da, of Sir Thomas Darcy, 1st Bt.*, 2s. suc. bro. c.1693.1
Freeman, Nottingham 1694.2
Pierrepont was descended from a Nottinghamshire family with a wealth of parliamentary experience, the previous three generations having all been represented in the Commons. Little is known of his early life until March 1691 when he married the widow of his cousin, the 4th Earl of Kingston. Shortly afterwards he succeeded to his brother’s estate and to his place on the lieutenancy. He also inherited a substantial interest in Nottingham which, although insufficient to secure his election to the Commons in 1695, ensured his success at a by-election in December of that year.3
Given his Whiggish family background, it is not surprising that Pierrepont was forecast as likely to support the Court on 31 Jan. 1696 over the proposed council of trade, signed the Association in February and voted in March to fix the price of guineas at 22s. Although nominated to three committees in November 1696 he was not recorded as voting on the 25th in the division over Sir John Fenwick’s† attainder bill. He was given leave on 12 Mar. 1698 to go into the country to recover his health. In the county election of 1698, he split his votes, opting for Sir Thomas Willoughby, 2nd Bt.*, and Sir Scrope Howe*. Re-elected unopposed in 1698, the presence in the House of his second cousin, Gervase Pierrepont, makes it difficult to identify references to him in the Journals with any certainty. On a comparative analysis of the old and new Parliaments compiled in September 1698 he was noted as a Court supporter, although another list forecast that he was likely to oppose a standing army. It is probable that he was the first-named Member to a committee to investigate the necessity for a bill to ascertain the measures of beer and ale according to measures kept in every town, and that it was he who managed the resultant bill through the House.4
Pierrepont was keen to secure his seat in the forthcoming election. On 5 Nov. 1700 the freemen were entertained at his expense, and on his return from London a demonstration was arranged with a vast crowd escorting him to his house with ‘great acclamations for his good service to the government and particularly to their borough’, the latter possibly referring to the defeat of the Derwent navigation bill in 1699. In the election of January 1701 Pierrepont’s Country instincts appear to have been stronger than his commitment to Whiggism per se, as he joined forces with his fellow Member, Robert Sacheverell*, in a closely fought election against two Whigs more inclined to the Court. Pierrepont topped the poll by a margin of less than 20 votes, but Sacheverell was defeated. On 10 June 1701 Pierrepont acted as a teller in favour of the successful motion that Sacheverell was duly elected. Pierrepont also played a role in the Derbyshire election of January 1701, attempting to engage Sacheverell to support Thomas Coke*, another man who had combined ardent support for a Country programme with Toryism in the previous Parliament. In the 1701 Parliament, he may have been appointed to draft a bill regulating elections (Sacheverell’s petition was pending at the time) and to draft a Nottingham workhouse bill. He was also listed as likely to support the Court over the ‘Great Mortgage’. In the election of December 1701 Pierrepont, again partnered by Sacheverell, was returned after a contest with George Gregory*. Harley listed him with the Tories on a list of the new Parliament. In the 1702–3 session he was probably active in opposing a renewed attempt to make the Derwent navigable, being asked to do so by Nottingham corporation. Although the task of identifying him in the Journals after March 1703 is made easier by his cousin’s elevation to the Irish peerage, it is clear that he was not an active MP. His position as a moderate Tory was shown by his failure to vote for the Tack on 28 Nov. 1704, an attitude forecast with accuracy by Harley in October. In 1705 he was returned with Sacheverell, being cited as a ‘Low Churchman’ on a parliamentary list. He voted on 25 Oct. against the Court candidate for Speaker, but on 18 Feb. 1706 supported the Court on the regency bill, one of only seven Tories who were not placemen who did so. These votes possibly illustrate his moderation and independence, and hence his acceptability to the majority of voters in Nottingham’s divided polity.5
Pierrepont died on 29 Aug. 1706, having recently made a will in which he liberally dispensed charity to the poor of Nottingham and presented the ministers of Holme Pierrepont and St. Mary’s in Nottingham with new robes. He asked to be buried in the family vault at Holme Pierrepont next to his first wife. In the session following his death a private estate bill was passed to allow trustees to purchase and sell land on behalf of his two infant sons. These estates eventually reverted to the head of the family, Evelyn Pierrepont*.6
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Author: Stuart Handley
- 1. J. T. Godfrey, Notes of St. Mary’s Reg. 50, 56; R. B. Moffat, Pierrepont Gens. 25–26; Add. 6671, f. 140; Centre Kentish Stud. Stanhope mss U1590/O59/1, Robert Yard* to Alexander Stanhope, 11 May 1691; Egerton 3517, f. 180.
- 2. Notts. RO, card index of freemen.
- 3. Luttrell, Brief Relation, ii. 221; CSP Dom. 1694–5, p. 299.
- 4. Harl. 6846, f. 340.
- 5. Post Boy, 7–9 Nov. 1700; Flying Post, 12–14 Dec. 1700; Add. 70305; BL, Lothian mss, Robert Harding to Coke, 15 Nov. 1700, 17 Jan. 1701; Nottingham Bor. Recs. vi. 15; Speck thesis, 70.
- 6. Folger Shakespeare Lib. Newdigate newsletter 31 Aug. 1706; Egerton 3517, f. 180; HMC Lords, n.s. vii. 43–44.