COXHEAD, Thomas (c.1734-1811), of Hemnalls, Epping, Essex.
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Family and Education
b. c.1734. m. Deborah (d. 2 Nov. 1810, aged 78), s.p. (2s. illegit. by Sarah Marsh of Ashwell, Herts). Kntd. 1 Feb. 1793.
Coxhead appeared as a cooper (1770) and timber merchant (1774) at Great Hermitage Street, Wapping, in the London trade directories. At the time he entered Parliament he was a stave merchant in partnership with one Stephens; a London liveryman; and a Middlesex freeholder. The partnership was later joined by his illegitimate son Thomas Coxhead Marsh (1780-1847), with premises at the Unicorn Wharf, Wapping. In 1781 he purchased an Essex estate from Lord Valentia’s trustees.1
Through Sir Benjamin Hammet*, Coxhead was introduced to John Mortlock† who, when he gave up the patronage of Cambridge to the 4th Duke of Rutland in 1787, stipulated for Coxhead to come in at the next general election. It would appear that Coxhead had paid £3,000 in advance. This was modified on the suggestion of Rutland’s plenipotentiary, the bishop of Ferns, in order to make the transfer of interest less obvious, and Hammet agreed that Coxhead should be returned for Bramber. After the bishop’s death Coxhead was ‘fearful of anything being misunderstood’, so Hammet introduced him to the duchess and the arrangement was confirmed ‘with the addition on the part of Sir B. H. of Mr C.’s being friendly to Mr Pitt’s and the Rutland interest, which was no part of the original engagement’.2
Coxhead accordingly supported the ministry. He was listed hostile to the repeal of the Test Act in Scotland in 1791. His only speech, it seems, was on 12 Feb. 1796, on Whitbread’s labourers’ wages bill, when he praised Pitt and assured the House from his own knowledge that the farmers and gentry of Worcestershire were as forward in relieving the poor as those of any other county. It was evidently not the intention to bring in Coxhead again for Bramber;3 but in February 1796 he again expressed his wish of the previous year to vacate, because his health and that of his wife obliged him ‘to live very much in the country’ (at Epping) so that he was unable to attend the House. He suggested that Hammet’s son should occupy the seat for the remainder of that Parliament, but the young Duke of Rutland’s guardians were averse to this, so Coxhead retained his seat until the dissolution. The duchess, who had no other nominee in mind, seemed ‘to wish that Sir Thomas Coxhead might continue his seat, though he cannot attend the House’.4
In his will Coxhead, who had subscribed £1,000 to the loyalty loan for 1797, and had two votes as an East India company stockholder by 1806, bequeathed £30,000 to his wife in lieu of ‘dower and thirds’, (she predeceased him) and left the bulk of his estate between his two illegitimate sons. He died 24 Nov. 1811, ‘aged 77’.5