POWELL, Thomas (1648-1709), of Thanet House, Aldersgate Street, London

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



1705 - 17 Jan. 1706

Family and Education

bap. 7 May 1648, 2nd s. of William Powell, Merchant Taylor, of Great St. Bartholomew, London. educ. Merchant Taylors’ 1659–62.  m. (1) 29 Oct. 1671, Elizabeth Marshe of Dunstable, Beds., 2s. (1 d.v.p.) 1da.; (2) lic. 30 July 1684, Mary, da. and coh. of Ralph Bucknall*.1

Offices Held

Livery, Merchant Taylors’ Co. by 1671; common councilman, London by 1700.2

Asst. Co. for Linen and Paper Manufactures in Jersey and Guernsey 1691, Mines Adventurers’ Co. 1693; cttee. R. Fishery Co. [I] 1691, E. I. Co. 1706–7.3


Powell was principally a cloth merchant, though he had a finger in various pies. In 1687 he obtained a licence from the City for ‘converting Thanet House . . . into an exchange for the lace men, where all that bring lace out of the country are to express it for sale’, and in the early years of William’s reign he took part with his father-in-law Ralph Bucknall in a number of industrial projects under royal patent. His ‘good interest among the interlopers’ attracted the attention of Sir Thomas Cooke* and others in the East India Company who in 1692–3 were seeking to fend off opposition to the company’s monopoly: over £15,000 of stock was purchased from him, and he was also paid £500 for being ‘instrumental in reconciling differences’. As a result he was examined in 1695 by the committee of both Houses but suffered no penalty. He subscribed £3,000 to the Old Company’s advance loan in 1698 and later served on its committee. He may have ventured into City politics in 1700, when a ‘Mr Powell’ was one of the Tory candidates for a vacant place as alderman. Invited to stand at Ludgershall in 1705 by several leading local clothiers who saw him as a fit representative for the borough’s trading interests, he joined with another London merchant and Tory, Walter Kent, to challenge the dominance of the Webb family. Although returned, he was soon unseated on petition. In the meantime he had been marked as a ‘Churchman’ in a list of the new Parliament and had voted against the Court candidate in the division on the Speaker on 25 Oct. 1705. It was reported in December 1707 that he was being ‘espoused’ by Lady Clarges, the widow of Sir Walter, 1st Bt.*, as a candidate for Ludgershall at the next election, and he did make an interest before withdrawing from the contest.4

In his will, dated 19 Apr. 1709, Powell described himself as ‘sick and weak of body’. He divided his estate between his wife, the sole executrix, and his children by her, ‘both sons and daughters’, disregarding the claims of the offspring of his first marriage, some of whom he declared he had already sufficiently provided for.5

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: D. W. Hayton


  • 1. HMC Lords, iv. 40; Cobbett, Parlty. Hist. v. 923; CJ, xvi. 320; Robinson, Merchant Taylors’ Sch. Reg. i. 246; Merchant Taylors’ Sch. Reg. ed. Hart; Beds. N. and Q. iii. 207; PCC 125 Lane; London Mar. Lic. ed. Foster, 1083.
  • 2. Info. from Prof. H. Horwitz; Beaven, Aldermen, i. 7.
  • 3. CSP Dom. 1690–1, p. 474; 1691–2, p. 4; Sel. Charters, 239.
  • 4. HMC Lords, iv. 37; CSP Dom. 1686–7, pp. 352, 359; 1691–2, p. 249; Cobbett, v. 923; CJ, xi. 318; xii. 322; xv. 93; HMC Lords, n.s. i. 558, 564; Luttrell, Brief Relation, iv. 706; HMC 15th Rep. VII, 199, 200; Wilts. RO, Ailesbury mss 1300/1338A, Charles Becher to Ld. Bruce (Charles*), 9 Dec. 1707.
  • 5. PCC 125 Lane.