MORE, Robert (1703-80), of Linley Hall, nr. Bishop's Castle, Salop.
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Family and Education
b. May 1703, o.s. of Robert More of Linley (formerly a London merchant), by his 2nd w. Sarah, da. of John Walcot of Walcot, Salop. educ. Queens’, Camb. 1723-5. m. (1) 1750, Ellen, da. of Thomas Wilson of Trevallyn, Denb., 2s.; (2) 8 Feb. 1768, Catherine, da. of Thomas More of Millichope, Salop. suc. fa. 1719.
In 1727 More was returned on his own interest for Bishop’s Castle, which his great-grandfather had represented in the Short and Long Parliaments and his uncle 1681, 1689 and 1695-8. In Parliament he voted with the Administration, while his nephew, John Walcot, a Tory, who had recently acquired the manor of Bishop’s Castle, voted with the Opposition. During the last session he abstained from a division on a bill for limiting the number of placemen in the House of Commons, on the ground that,
though he liked the bill, he did not know if the passing it at this time might not embarrass the King’s affairs, as we are going into a war, when it will be necessary the next Parliament should consist of Members that will concur in the court measures, as placemen will be sure to do.1
At the opening of More’s election campaign in 1733 he applied to Walpole for a place for the son of Edward Morris, an influential constituent, without whose support he would
sink under Mr. Walcot’s opposition. And to give you a proof that I have no other view than to prevent the Tory interest, whoever you please shall have the benefit of what you do for Mr. Morris. Whoever you will put up upon that interest, I will freely resign my pretensions to, and assist with my vote interest, and purse.2
On 1 Feb. 1734 Morris reported that three of Walcot’s servants had gone about Bishop’s Castle with a drunken mob (though few of them burgesses) crying ‘down with the roundheads, damn More, down with him’; that Corbet Kynaston, Mytton, and Lyster, all three leading Tories, had persuaded Walcot to give More this opposition—‘your relations take it ill you did not vote sometimes along with Mr. Walcot’; and that ‘Mr. Walcot’s servants give out, they’ll double what any body else do. I am more than £20 out of pocket, I want a bill. I can do nothing without money’.3 More was re-elected, but did not contest the seat in 1741.
More’s only recorded speeches were made in 1736 on the mortmain bill, when he spoke with ‘warmth and bitterness’ against the universities,4 and on a bill, which he helped to prepare and bring in, for explaining the Bribery Act of 1729. He was a member of the parliamentary gaols committee of 1729, revived in 1730; and of the common council of the Georgia Society, set up by royal charter in 1732, from which in 1736 he and John White jointly resigned, continuing however to act as trustees. Their ostensible reason for resigning was ‘their absence from town the greatest part of the year and their parliamentary business when in town’. It was thought, however, that White, ‘a professed Dissenter’, resigned because the council would not ‘leave room for public encouragement to set up dissenting congregations in Georgia’ but did appropriate land for endowing the church of England, and that he had persuaded More to resign with him.5
While out of Parliament More spent a good deal of his time on foreign travel. Two of his journeys can be traced in a passport and through correspondence preserved at Linley Hall, which he started building in 1742 from designs by Henry Joynes, long employed at Blenheim Palace as clerk of the works to Vanbrugh. In 1749 he set out for Portugal, and in October was at Madrid; most of 1750 he spent in Italy, returning about the end of the year by way of Vienna and Leipzig to England. In 1751 he visited Scandinavia, Russia, and northern Germany, returning to Hull in September. On 3 Aug. 1749 Benjamin Keene, minister at Madrid, wrote to the British consul at Lisbon:
I forgot to mention Mr. More to you. I knew him in Parliament; a great friend of Mr. White’s, your cousin Laroche, and the Heathcotes. I have made him speak. I have heard him speak well in the House. This will be strange to you who have seen his invincible modesty in Lisbon. He has been on the top of the mountain at St. Ildefonso to see where the water came from, without opening his eyes to see it squirt out of the fine fountains below. And he has found out what neither you nor I ever did, that the snow that braves out the summer, lies on the south, not the north side of the mountain. D’ailleurs great knowledge, good sense and probity.6
More was returned unopposed for Shrewsbury in 1754 but declined standing again in 1761. He died 5 Jan. 1786.