PRESTON, Thomas (1647-97), of Holker, Cartmel, Lancs.

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



1689 - 31 Jan. 1697

Family and Education

bap. 20 June 1647, 2nd but o. surv. s. of Thomas Preston† of Holker, by Catherine, da. of Sir Gilbert Hoghton, 2nd Bt., of Hoghton Tower, Lancs.  educ. St. John’s, Camb. 1665, BA 1669.  m. (1) bef. 1670, Mary, da. of George Dodding of Conishead, Lancs. 1s. d.v.p.; (2) bef. 1685, Elizabeth, da. of Sir Roger Bradshaigh, 1st Bt.†, of Haigh Hall, Lancs., sis. of Sir Roger Bradshaigh, 2nd Bt.*, 1da.  suc. fa. 1679.1

Offices Held

Freeman, Preston 1662.2

Ensign, Holland regt. 1665.


Preston’s family had been established at Cartmel since the dissolution of the monasteries. In the 1680s he gained possession of Furness estates bequeathed to superstitious uses by a Catholic kinsman. Though his opposition to the repeal of the Penal Laws and Test Acts led James II to cancel this grant, he was granted a further 21-year lease in January 1689 at £200 p.a., an advantageous rent as the iron mines established on these estates were yielding a profit of £1,300 p.a. by the 1680s. An important part of Preston’s income was derived from tithes, and in the 1680s and 1690s he initiated a number of successful legal suits against local Quakers over non-payment of tithes. In county politics Preston was a loyal supporter of the 9th Earl of Derby, thus opposing the ambitions of Lord Brandon (Charles Gerard*), and his opposition to the Whig interest in Lancashire was manifested in his Tory allegiance at Westminster.3

Returned for Lancaster in 1690, Preston was classed by Lord Carmarthen (Sir Thomas Osborne†) as a Tory, and when a Commons attack on the Lord President seemed likely in December, Preston was included on a list of Carmarthen’s probable supporters. In April 1691 Robert Harley classed him as a Country supporter. On 4 Feb. 1692 William Ettrick successfully moved a clause to the bill vesting forfeited estates in the King and Queen, which safeguarded Preston’s rights to Furness. On 27 Feb. 1693 he was granted leave of absence to attend a trial at the York assizes, and the following month he was instrumental in the issue of a caveat preventing the incorporation of Lancaster’s guilds, a proposal supported by the Gerard interest at Lancaster. This opposition to the Gerard interest was also evident in the 1693–4 session when in December Clitheroe’s Tory Member Roger Kenyon was assured that ‘honest Mr Preston will stick close to you’ in the debates on the Clitheroe election petition, and in January 1694 Preston was one of the Lancashire Members lobbied by two local Tories to ensure the nomination of ‘truly principled’ men to serve as tax commissioners.4

Returned again in 1695, Preston was initially forecast as ‘doubtful’ for the divisions of 31 Jan. 1696 over the proposed council of trade, but was later reclassified as likely to oppose the Court. Peter Shakerley* reported that on the 31st Preston had voted against the imposition of an abjuration oath on members of the proposed council, though Preston subsequently signed the Association promptly. On 3 Feb. he spoke in favour of Ambrose Pudsay* in the debate on the Clitheroe election petition, and on 15 Apr. was granted leave of absence. He was absent from a call of the House on 2 Nov. and, having still not appeared, was ordered into custody a week later and not discharged until 7 Dec., thus explaining his absence from the division of 25 Nov. on Sir John Fenwick’s† attainder. On 21 Jan. 1697 he was given leave to bring in a private bill to vest the estate of a lunatic in trust, and presented this measure the next day. Preston’s health had been declining for some years and on 28 Jan. it was reported that ‘Mr Preston is seriously ill, being seized with a pleurisy’; he died three days later and was buried at Cartmel on 13 Feb. He left his widow £300 a year, and the remainder of his estate, worth £30,000, was left to his only daughter who in March 1697 married Sir William Lowther, 1st Bt.*5

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Authors: Eveline Cruickshanks / Richard Harrison


  • 1. Vis. Lancs. (Chetham Soc. ser. 1, lxxxviii), 235; Cartmel Par. Reg. (Lancs. Par. Reg. Soc. xxviii), 107.
  • 2. Preston Guild Rolls (Lancs. and Cheshire Rec. Soc. ix), 150.
  • 3. VCH Lancs. viii. 270–1; HMC Le Fleming, 202; N. Morgan, Lancs. Quakers and the Establishment, 203–8; Lancs. RO, Kenyon mss DDKe 9/61/63, Preston to Roger Kenyon, 2 Oct. 1688.
  • 4. Luttrell Diary, 170; CSP Dom. 1691–2, p. 414; 1693, pp. 45, 57; HMC Kenyon, 179; Kenyon mss DDKe/HMC/836, Richard Richmond and Thomas Marsden to Kenyon, 2 Jan. 1693[–4].
  • 5. HMC Kenyon, 398–400; Kenyon mss DDKe/HMC/1031A, Richard Wroe to Kenyon, 28 Jan. 1696[–7]; Cartmel Par. Reg. (Lancs. Par. Reg. Soc. xcvi), 179; VCH Lancs. 271; Trans. Hist. Soc. Lancs. and Cheshire, cxxvii. 48.