ERLE, Thomas (?1650-1720), of Charborough, nr. Wareham, Dorset.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1715-1754, ed. R. Sedgwick, 1970
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1679 - 1681
1685 - 1687
1689 - 1698
1698 - 1701
1701 - Mar. 1718

Family and Education

b. ?1650, 2nd s. of Thomas Erle, M.P. (d.v.p. 1650), of Charborough by Susanna, da. of William Fiennes, 1st Visct. Saye and Sele. educ. Trinity, Oxf. 12 July 1667, aged 17; M. Temple 1669. m. 1675, Elizabeth, da. of Sir William Wyndham, 1st Bt., M.P., of Orchard Wyndham, Som., 1da. suc. e.bro. Walter bef. 1665 and gd.-fa. Sir Walter Erle, M.P., at Charborough 1665.

Offices Held

M.P. [I] 1703-13.

Sheriff, Wilts. 1679-80; capt. Dorset militia by 1679, maj. by 1688; col. new regt. of Ft. 1689-98, 19 Ft. 1691-1709; brig.-gen. 1693; gov. Portsmouth 1694-1712, 1714-18; maj.-gen. 1696; P.C. [I] 1701; c.-in-c. [I] 1701-5; one of the lds. justices [I] 1702-3, Mar.-Nov. 1704; lt.-gen. 1703; col. of Drags. [I] 1704-5; Lt.-gen. of the Ordnance 1705-12, 1714-18; P.C. 3 May 1705; gen. of Ft. 1711.


Thomas Erle came from a Devonshire family, who acquired Charborough by marriage in the 16th century. His grandfather, Sir Walter Erle, was M.P. for Poole, Dorset, Lyme Regis, and, in the Long Parliament, Weymouth and Melcombe Regis; his father also sat in the Long Parliament for Wareham. Succeeding to his estates as a boy, Erle consolidated his interest at Wareham by buying the manor in 1697.1 Though he did not become a professional soldier until the Revolution, when he was nearly 40, he played a distinguished part in all King William’s campaigns both in Ireland and the Low Countries. After further service in Ireland as commander-in-chief there, he fought under the Earl of Galway at the battle of Almanza, in Spain, in 1707; and was in command of the projected descent on the French coast which was diverted to Ostend in 1708. Between 1679 and 1718 he sat in sixteen successive Parliaments, fourteen times for Wareham on his own interest and twice for Portsmouth, where he held an office, on the government interest. He was also returned for both boroughs in February and November 1701, 1702 and 1708. After the Hanoverian succession he regained his two military posts, of which the Tories had deprived him in 1712. He voted for the septennial bill in 1716 but next year took part in the attack on Lord Cadogan, moving for papers relating to the Dutch troops and voting against the Government in the ensuing division, 4 June 1717. In December he supported Walpole in urging a reduction of the army from 16,000 to 12,000 men. Superseded by Cadogan as general of foot, he was forced to resign all his posts in March 1718 in return for a pension of £1,200 a year,2 thereby vacating his seat. He died 23 July 1720.

Ref Volumes: 1715-1754

Author: R. S. Lea


  • 1. Hutchins, Dorset, i. 82; iii. 502.
  • 2. Draft letter from Erle to the King, undated [1718], Erle-Drax mss at Churchill Coll., Cambridge; Cal. Treas. Bks. xxxii. 246.