ABDY, Sir Anthony Thomas, 5th Bt. (?1720-75), of Chobham Place, Surr. and Albyns, Essex.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1754-1790, ed. L. Namier, J. Brooke., 1964
Available from Boydell and Brewer



3 Feb. 1763 - 7 Apr. 1775

Family and Education

b. ?1720, 1st s. of Sir William Abdy, 4th Bt. (of the 1641 creation), of Chobham Place by Mary, da. and h. of Philip Stotherd of Terling, Essex.  educ. Felsted; St. John’s, Camb. 9 June 1738, aged 17; L. Inn 1738, called 1744, bencher 1758, K.C. 1765.  m. 13 Aug. 1747, Catherine, da. and coh. of William Hamilton of Chancery Lane, London, s.p.  suc. fa. 18 Jan. 1750; and to Albyns under will of his 3rd cos. Sir John Abdy 1759.

Offices Held


Abdy’s practice was in chambers rather than at the bar and more akin to an attorney’s than a barrister’s: he specialized in family business and in cases concerning landed property. He was legal adviser to Lord Thanet and managed for him the borough of Appleby; and was legal agent to Lord Burlington whose daughter and heiress married the 4th Duke of Devonshire. His father had been London agent to the 3rd Earl of Ailesbury, uncle by marriage of Lady Burlington, and son of a prominent Jacobite exile. When in 1756 Lady Burlington solicited the chief justiceship of Chester for Abdy, Devonshire replied:1

Sir Anthony and his father’s principles have been a little heretofore called in question, and his friends and the company he kept have been of that stamp; for which reason the King may find fault with me for recommending him, and therefore in order to obviate the difficulty, if Sir Anthony will make an avowal (which I am persuaded he will have no objection to) either to your Ladyship or Mr. Arundell [Richard Arundell] of his loyalty and attachment to the King, I give your Ladyship or Mr. Arundell full powers to make use of my name in his behalf and shall wish him success.

Presumably Abdy made the required declaration, but his application was unsuccessful; as were also further ones on 29 Sept. 1756 and 15 Dec. 1761.2

In January 1763 a vacancy occurred at Knaresborough, a Burlington borough now controlled by Devonshire; who offered the seat to Abdy. Abdy replied on 20 Jan.:3

I am very desirous of making the earliest personal acknowledgements for your very kind remembrance of my former inclination to come into Parliament. Those inclinations were founded in the countenance which I flattered myself your Grace’s patronage and protection would afford me in public, and as the great opinion I had then formed of your character and politics ... is much heightened from what hath since happened, my inclinations have kept pace with that opinion and are stronger than formerly for the object I then wished for.

Abdy voted consistently with the Cavendishes, and was always classed as belonging to the Rockingham party. Though he advised on legal points, he was not in the party’s inner circle. He supervised the drafting of the nullum tempus bill, and spoke for it in the House on 17 Feb. and 15 Nov. 1768. Most of his speeches deal with legal questions, and are dry and colourless.

On 24 Aug. 1769 Abdy wrote to Rockingham about the Surrey petition on the Middlesex election:

My confinement with the gout has prevented my attending the meetings in Surrey ... Indeed, their present method of proceeding is entirely against my opinion. I would have persuaded them to have petitioned the House of Commons and have addressed their Members ... but numbers overpowered, and an address to the Crown was almost unanimously carried.

Rockingham was sufficiently impressed to ask Burke to go down to Albyns and consult further with Abdy, who then changed his mind; he wrote from Albyns to Rockingham on 10 Sept.:

I have now been drove to form some plan of a petition to the Crown to be ready in case any meeting should be had in this county ... I think this petition should be confined to the freeholders’ rights only ... and then pray the Crown to give such constitutional relief as the law of the country hath put into his hands, this can be nothing but a removal of ministers and dissolution of Parliament.4

This was the procedure later adopted in Yorkshire, which produced the prototype petition for the other counties.

On 28 Feb. 1770 Bamber Gascoyne wrote to John Strutt:5 ‘Sir Anthony Abdy was near dying on Saturday, but do not be shocked he is now better.’ But henceforth Abdy suffered increasingly from gout, and took much less part in politics. His last recorded speech was on 12 Dec. 1770, and no vote by him is known 1771-5. In Robinson’s surveys on the royal marriage bill, March 1772, Abdy is classed as ‘contra, sick, present’; and in that of September 1774 as ‘contra’. He died 7 Apr. 1775.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: John Brooke


  • 1. 25 Feb. 1756, Devonshire mss.
  • 2. Devonshire mss.
  • 3. Ibid.
  • 4. Rockingham mss.
  • 5. Strutt mss.