THOMPSON, Maurice (1675-1745), of Haversham, Bucks.
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Family and Education
b. 1675, 2nd but 1st surv. s. of Sir John Thompson, 1st Bt.* educ. L. Inn 1692, travelled abroad (Holland) 1693. m. (1) 18 Oct. 1703 (with £10,000), Elizabeth (d. 1712), da. and h. of John Smith of Herts., 2 da. d.v.p.; (2) 16 Aug. 1737, Elizabeth (d. 1772), da. of Richard Annesley, 3rd Baron Altham, and wid. of William Green, s.p. suc. fa. as 2nd Baron Haversham 1 Nov. 1710.
Capt. 1 Ft. Gds. 1695, Coldstream Gds. 1697–1702; brevet lt.-col. 1697.
Receiver-gen. excise 1717–18.1
With all the advantages provided by a wealthy and influential household, Thompson first entered public life as a page to the Electress Sophia. He seemed destined at first for the legal profession, but after an initial trip to Holland in 1693, the following year he returned to the Low Countries as a volunteer for military service. Unfortunately for him he was ‘dangerously wounded’ at the siege of Namur in December 1694, and fears were expressed that he was ‘likely to die’. One observer thought him ‘a fool of £4,000 a year’ for risking his life in such an unnecessary manner, but his courage gained him the recognition of his monarch and a captain’s commission. Although he had recovered sufficiently by November 1695 to stand for Bletchingley, concerns continued to be expressed for his health, and in December 1698 he was ‘said to be distracted’. Barely of an age eligible to enter Parliament, his return was probably engineered by Sir Robert Clayton*, the Whig proprietor of the borough. However, the elections committee had to submit two reports on the contest before Thompson’s victory was upheld by the House on 18 Feb. 1696.
Although the presence of other Thompsons in the Commons obscures his contribution to its business, it is clear that he proved an inactive Member. However, he made a fairly dramatic start to his parliamentary career, for only two days after signing the Association, he was cautioned by the House after strong words had passed between him and Hon. John Granville*, who had refused to acknowledge King William as monarch ‘by right’. Truer to his back-bench persona, on 2 Nov. he was granted leave of absence. Right from the outset he was identified as a Court supporter, as testified by a forecast on the division of 31 Jan. 1696 concerning the proposed council of trade, and by his vote in March in favour of fixing the price of guineas. His father’s elevation to the Lords in May 1696 then provided him with a safe seat at Gatton where his family held an important proprietorial interest. On account of his military commission he was twice identified as a placeman at the beginning of the 1698 Parliament as well as by another parliamentary observer early in 1700, a view endorsed by his support for the standing army in the first session. He actually contributed to the key debate of 18 Jan. 1699 and at its conclusion voted against disbandment.2
Early in the next Parliament Thompson was again bracketed as a Court supporter, probably on the occasion of the vote of 2 Feb. 1701 to agree with the committee of supply’s resolution to continue the ‘Great Mortgage’. However, in the most significant burst of activity of his whole parliamentary career, only three months later he gave ample proof of his antipathy towards the current ministry. On 16 May, when the House debated the impeachment of the Junto lords, Thompson rose to denounce the partiality of the House’s proceedings and moved that Lord Jersey be impeached for signing the Second Partition Treaty. His intervention caused ‘a great uproar’ in the Commons, but Speaker Harley (Robert*) deflected Thompson’s attack by directing the House to consider the impeachment of Lord Somers (Sir John*), its scheduled business for the day. Three days later Thompson’s attempt to raise the issue was again thwarted, and even though he successfully moved for Lord Jersey’s impeachment on 20 May, no one seconded his motion. Thompson’s father subsequently launched an even more outspoken attack on the selectivity of the impeachments in the Lords on 13 June, and the unanimity of father and son on this issue led to Thompson’s identification as a Whig in Robert Harley’s list of December 1701.
Even though Thompson resigned his commission in January 1702, his energies were still directed away from the political arena. Already a man of substance, his fortune was augmented by his marriage to an heiress, Elizabeth Smith, in October 1703, and this windfall may have sapped still further his enthusiasm for parliamentary business. The following year his father sold the manor of Upper Gatton, a decision which must have been taken with Thompson’s consent, for his parliamentary place depended upon the estate. Far from exhibiting his father’s taste for the political limelight, Thompson seemed quite willing to give up his seat. He maintained his political principles right to the end of his term in the Commons by voting against the Tack on 28 Nov. 1704, having being forecast as one of its probable opponents a month earlier. There is no evidence to suggest that he sought to regain his seat at Bletchingley or at any other constituency, and when he returned to Westminster in December 1710, it was as successor to his father’s place in the Lords.3
As the 2nd Lord Haversham, he maintained a Whiggish profile, forecast as he was to vote against the French commerce bill in June 1713 and against the schism bill in June 1714. Harley (now Earl of Oxford) had thought it worth his while to canvass for Haversham’s support in February 1713, but the latter showed little sign of his father’s volatile political nature. Such adherence to the Whigs was eventually rewarded by a Treasury post in July 1717, although he was only to hold it for one year. The timing of this appointment suggests that he was no ally of Robert Walpole II*, and he showed an admirable consistency within his own party by later emerging as one of the minister’s opponents in the Upper House. Although he sold the family estate at Haversham in 1728, it became his final resting place after he died in London on 11 Apr. 1745, aged 70. The title became extinct on his demise and his estates passed to his grandchildren, both his daughters having predeceased him.4
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Author: Perry Gauci
- 1. Wood, Life and Times, iii. 255; CSP Dom. 1693, p. 74; IGI, London; Luttrell, Brief Relation, v. 355.
- 2. London Mag. 1745, p. 205; Lexington Pprs. 116; Luttrell, iv. 466; Cam. Misc. xxix. 387.
- 3. Cocks Diary, 129–30, 138; CSP Dom. 1700–2, p. 494; Manning and Bray, Surr. ii. 237.
- 4. Party and Management ed. C. Jones, 155; Cal. Treas. Bks. xxxi. 30; Lipscomb, Bucks. iv. 188.