NOEL, Thomas (?1705-88), of Exton, Rutland
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Family and Education
b. ?1705, 2nd s. of Hon. John Noel (s. of Baptist, 3rd Visct. Campden), by Elizabeth, da. of Bennet, 2nd Baron Sherard [I], wid. of Edward, 2nd Visct. Irwin [S]. m. 6 Nov. 1756, Elizabeth, da. of William Chapman, gamekeeper at Exton, wid. of Baptist Noel, 4th Earl of Gainsborough, 1st cos. once removed of Thomas Noel, s.p. suc. bro. 6 Jan. 1728.
Noel’s family had represented Rutland since the middle of the sixteenth century, and with a single break 1841-7 they held one seat 1727-1883. Thomas Noel succeeded to his brother’s parliamentary seat in 1728; stood down in 1741 and 1747; but having again succeeded his cousin James to the seat in 1753, in the two contested elections of 1754 and 1761 topped the poll. All his subsequent elections were unopposed. In 1754 he was listed by Dupplin as a Tory, which he was by tradition and inclination;1 but in 1761 he received Newcastle’s parliamentary whip, even then hardly ever sent to Tories. He voted with the Opposition on the peace preliminaries, and on Wilkes and general warrants; and he was invariably classed by Newcastle and Rockingham as a friend. But after 1766 his attendance became irregular: he is not in the two division lists of 1767-1768; appears in only seven out of 25 division lists between 1768 and 1780, always on the Opposition side; and in none after 1780. The Public Ledger wrote about him in 1779: ‘A very old Member of Parliament, and attends but very seldom. He is an independent man, and inclined to the minority.’ Robinson wrote about him in one parliamentary list towards the end of 1783 as ‘ill; can’t attend’; and in another: ‘Mr. Noel’s ideas are not known, but he does not attend much.’2 Apparently he never spoke in the House after 1754.
He died 18 June 1788, aged 83. An obituary note in the Gentleman’s Magazine (1788, p. 566), describes him as ‘father of the House of Commons’, and as ‘the oldest fox-hunter in the kingdom, having kept up his hounds [the Cottesmore pack] from 1730 till his death’.