FRANKLAND, Thomas (1718-84), of Kirby Hall, Berks. and Thirkleby, nr. Thirsk, Yorks.

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



12 May 1747 - 1780
3 Apr. - 21 Nov. 1784

Family and Education

b. 26 June 1718, 2nd s. of Henry Frankland, gov. of Fort William, Bengal by Mary, da. of Alexander Cross, merchant, and bro. of William Frankland. m. 27 May 1743, Sarah, da. of Judge Rhett, c.j. and gov. of South Carolina, 5s. 8da. suc. bro. as 5th Bt., 11 Jan. 1768, and his uncle’s wid. in possession of Thirkleby estates 1783.

Offices Held

Entered R.N. 1731; capt. 1740; r.-adm. 1755; v.-adm. 1759; adm. 1770.


In 1754 Frankland was brought in for the family borough of Thirsk, and was classed by Dupplin as a Government supporter. As agent for the sale of captured ships in the West Indies he had dealt in very large sums of money, and in 1760 he became involved in a bitter dispute with the Treasury. He was threatened with prosecution if he did not pay £40,000, the balance remaining in his hands from the sale of prizes. On his refusal, the Treasury brought an action against him which lasted till 1766, when a compromise was reached: Frankland agreed to pay £30,000, and the case was dropped.1

In Bute’s list of December 1761 Frankland is marked ‘doubtful’, but is included in Henry Fox’s list of Members favourable to the peace preliminaries, December 1762. He did not vote against the Grenville Administration over general warrants, 18 Feb. 1764, nor is he known to have been absent. Classed ‘pro’ in July 1765 by Rockingham, he did not vote against the repeal of the Stamp Act; classed ‘Government’ by Charles Townshend in January 1767, he voted with the court on the land tax, 27 Feb. 1767, but against on the nullum tempus bill. In 1769 over Wilkes and the Middlesex election he went with the Opposition; became connected with Rockingham (in January 1770 he was one of those who presented the Yorkshire petition to the King); and remained in opposition throughout the Parliament.

He decided not to stand again in 1780, and on 28 July Rockingham wrote to the Duke of Portland:2

I have heard for some time that Sir Thomas Frankland had been offering to barter his boroughs for [the governorship of] Greenwich Hospital. I don’t doubt but that if he sells the seats he will get the best price he can, and that the difference between pounds and guineas will weigh more than the difference between Whig and Court Tory. I wish nevertheless that we could get at the knowledge of the price he would ask for one of the two seats ... It might be suggested that perhaps some creditable Yorkshire gentleman might be found, and a little hint that £3,000 was a good fair price.

‘Being disappointed of Greenwich Hospital’, Frankland returned Thomas Gascoigne and Beilby Thompson, both wealthy Yorkshiremen and followers of Rockingham.

In 1784 Frankland was again returned for Thirsk, and traded his other seat to Pitt. There is no record of his having voted in this Parliament, but he made two speeches in which he ‘complained loudly that all subordination and discipline were lost in the navy’, and condemned the appointment of very young men as ships’ commanders.3  He died 21 Nov. 1784.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: Mary M. Drummond


  • 1. T29/30/333; T29/34/101-2; T29/37/299, 417, 445.
  • 2. Portland mss.
  • 3. Stockdale, ii. 114-16.