PUDSAY, Ambrose (1655-1716), of Bolton Hall, Yorks.

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



1695 - 1698
Dec. 1701 - 1705

Family and Education

bap. 18 Apr. 1655, 2nd but o. surv. s. of Ambrose Pudsay† by Jane, da. of Sir Thomas Davison of Blakiston, co. Dur.  educ. Christ’s, Camb. 1672; G. Inn 1682.  m. bef. 1680, Elizabeth, da. of Henry Marsden† of Gisburn, Yorks., and Wennington, Lancs., 5s. (3 d.v.p.) 3da. (2 d.v.p.).  suc. fa. 1679.1

Offices Held

Sheriff, Yorks. 1682–3, 1692–3; bailiff, Clitheroe 1684, 1694, 1706.2


Pudsay’s father represented Clitheroe in the Cavalier Parliament, but when his son came of age in 1676 he was faced with a mortgage of £1,500 upon Bolton Hall, six miles from Clitheroe, and a further £1,000 debt to Henry Marsden. His poor financial straits may explain his marriage to Marsden’s daughter, but by 1687 Pudsay had redeemed both debts, and his fortunes had recovered to the extent that in the 1690s he became a subscriber to the land bank. Pudsay served as Yorkshire’s sheriff in 1683, in which capacity he was requested to assist in the pursuit of suspects in the Rye House Plot, and when the three questions were put to him in August 1687 he responded evasively, claiming that if elected to a new Parliament he would ‘declare my opinion concerning the Penal Laws and Test according to the debate of the House’, that he would vote for men of ‘untainted loyalty’, and that he was ‘desirous to lie friendly with all men’. His parliamentary ambitions, encouraged by the interest his father-in-law had established at Clitheroe, first surfaced in December 1688 but he decided against standing for the Convention.3

Pudsay retained his interest at Clitheroe, however, and at the by-election of November 1693 was a prominent opponent of Hon. Fitton Gerard*, helping to quell a disturbance by Gerard’s supporters and travelling to London in December 1693 to give evidence against Gerard’s election. When this election was declared void Pudsay again opposed Gerard’s return, on this occasion serving as bailiff with the support of Gerard’s opponents. When the Commons heard the petitions relating to the 1694 by-election Pudsay was in attendance to defend his claim to be rightful bailiff. Despite his opposition to the Gerard interest, Pudsay was among those added, in a regulation of the magistracy prompted by the Earl of Macclesfield (Charles Gerard*), to the Lancashire bench in March 1694. He was persuaded by a non-juror to stand for Clitheroe in 1695 and was returned with the support of the 9th Earl of Derby, Macclesfield’s principal rival in Lancashire politics.4

Once in the Commons, however, Pudsay’s political allegiance began to shift. In December 1695 it was reported that ‘Mr Pudsay votes with the Court party’, but it was thought that this was in order to gain Court support in the petition pending against his return. The same observer thought that if Pudsay’s voting was motivated by such considerations, it was proving counter-productive, as the Court ‘like him not, saying it is only to make his election sure and when that is over they will lose him’ and that ‘meantime . . . [Pudsay] has lost his interest with the other party’. The following month the same Tory observer wrote that ‘the Clitheroe Members . . . go with the Liverpool Members perpetually’, both Liverpool MPs being Court Whigs. The unwillingness of contemporaries to accept the sincerity of Pudsay’s support for the Court was demonstrated in the forecast of him in January 1696 as a probable opponent of the Court on the proposed council of trade, and on the 31st he duly voted against the imposition of an oath upon commissioners. Pudsay’s support for the Tory position in the council of trade division bore fruit on 3 Feb. when the committee of privileges and elections considered Thomas Stringer’s* petition against Pudsay’s return. The Tory Members Thomas Brotherton and Thomas Preston supported Pudsay during the hearing, as did, surprisingly, the Whig Member for Preston Thomas Molyneux, while the Liverpool Member and Court Whig William Norris supported Stringer’s case. Pudsay’s return was confirmed by the committee, reportedly with the support of the chair of the committee, the Tory Hon. John Granville. The most obvious explanation for the nature of Pudsay’s support in his disputed election was his previous association with Lancashire’s Tories, but his signing the Association in February indicated a further move away from this group. This shift in loyalties was confirmed the following session by his vote on 25 Nov. for the attainder of Sir John Fenwick†. Pudsay was granted leave of absence on 4 Mar. 1697 and 16 Mar. 1698, and made little further impression on the records of this Parliament. He was defeated at Clitheroe in 1698, and his desertion of the Tories is indicated by his being classified as a Court supporter ‘out’ of the new Commons.5

Returned unopposed at the election to the 1701/2 Parliament, Pudsay was classed as a ‘gain’ by Lord Spencer (Charles*). Again successful in 1702, his support for Lord Irwin (Arthur Ingram*) in the Yorkshire election apparently confirmed his Whig loyalties. The 1702–3 session saw Pudsay appointed to two committees of significance, the more important being that of 20 Jan. 1703 to draft a bill to apportion the cost of transporting poor felons to gaol (20 Jan.), a measure probably intended to relieve Clitheroe from the cost of transporting prisoners to Lancaster. Pudsay’s continuing Whig allegiance was confirmed by his vote on 13 Feb. to agree with the Lords’ amendments to the bill for enlarging the time for taking the Abjuration. Pudsay’s only parliamentary activity of note in the 1703–4 session saw him as a teller on 2 Mar. 1704 in favour of a petition relating to a forfeited Irish estate. In February he had petitioned the Treasury for a grant of the royalty of a tenth of lead mines in Yorkshire, which he claimed would be worth about £15 p.a. At the beginning of the 1704–5 session he was forecast as a probable opponent of the Tack, and was not a supporter of this measure in the 28 Nov. division.6

Pudsay did not stand in the next two general elections, though he did support the candidacy of Daniel Harvey* in the 1706 Clitheroe by-election. He appeared, nevertheless, as a Whig on a parliamentary list of early 1708. Pudsay’s support for Harvey in 1706 appears to have ingratiated him with the Whigs for in 1710 his candidacy for Clitheroe was proposed by the Earl of Sunderland (Charles, Lord Spencer), the Duke of Newcastle (John Holles†) and the Duke of Devonshire (William Cavendish*, Marquess of Hartington), but he refused these requests, though he remained active in Clitheroe elections until his death on 4 May 1716. He was buried at Bolton Hall three days later, and was succeeded by his son.7

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Authors: Eveline Cruickshanks / Richard Harrison


  • 1. Pudsay Deeds (Yorks. Arch. Soc. Rec. Ser. lvi), 16; Dugdale’s Vis. Yorks. ed. Clay, ii. 276.
  • 2. Pudsay Deeds, 62; Lancs. RO, Kenyon mss DDKe/27, breviat for a charter, c.1684; HMC Kenyon, 287–8; CJ, xv. 232.
  • 3. Pudsay Deeds, 62–63; CSP Dom. Jan.–June 1683, pp. 76–77, 358–9; Duckett, Penal Laws and Test Act (1882), 85; NLS, Advocates’ mss, Bank of Eng. pprs. 31.1.7, f. 97; Kenyon mss DDKe 9/62/2, Pudsay to Roger Kenyon*, 10 Jan 1688–9.
  • 4. Kenyon mss DDKe/27, information of Pudsay, 5 Nov. 1693; DDKe/HMC/862, John Weddall to Pudsay and Kenyon, 9 Mar. 1693[–4]; DDKe 9/68/74, Thomas Hodgkinson to Kenyon, 19 Sept. 1695; HMC Kenyon, 279, 287, 288–9; L. K. J. Glassey, Appt. JPs, 281; John Rylands Univ. Lib. Manchester, Legh of Lyme mss corresp. Kenyon to Peter Legh†, 19 Oct. 1695.
  • 5. HMC Kenyon, 386, 395–6, 399–400.
  • 6. W. Yorks. Archs. (Leeds), Temple Newsam mss TN/C9/233, F. Scroop to Ld. Irwin, 10 Apr. 1702; Cal. Treas. Bks. xix. 127.
  • 7. Nottingham Univ. Lib. Portland (Holles) mss, Pw2 134, William Jessop* to [Newcastle], 23 June 1709; Pw2 2/5, Sunderland to [Newcastle], 2 Sept. 1710; Lancs. RO, Parker mss DDB 85/19/43, Thomas Dunmer to [Edward Parker], 9 Sept. 1710; Pudsay Deeds, 63.