ANNESLEY, Hon. Arthur (c.1678-1737), of Farnborough, Hants; Bletchingdon, Oxon., and Knockgrenan, nr. Camolin, co. Wexford

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1702 - 18 Sept. 1710

Family and Education

b. c.1678, 3rd s. of James Annesley†, 2nd Earl of Anglesey, by Lady Elizabeth Manners, da. of John Manners†, 8th Earl of Rutland.  educ. Eton c.1693–7; Magdalene, Camb. matric. 1698, MA 1699, fellow 1700.  m. lic. 6 Jan. 1702, his cos. Mary (d. 1719), da. of Sir John Thompson, 1st Bt.*, 1st Baron Haversham, sis. of Maurice Thompson*, s.p.  suc. bro. as 7th Earl of Anglesey and Visct. Valentia [I] 18 Sept. 1710.1

Offices Held

Gent. of privy chamber 1689–1702; jt. vice-treasurer and paymaster-gen. [I] Oct. 1710–16; PC 19 Oct. 1710; PC [I] 1711–d.; ld. justice Aug.–Sept. 1714.2

MP [I] 1703–10.

FRS 1704.

Commr. building 50 new churches 1711–15.3

Freeman, Drogheda 1712; high steward, Camb. Univ. 1722–d.; gov. co. Wexford 1727–d.4


Able, energetic, and ambitious to the point of ruthlessness, Annesley was also wilful and wayward: a formidable opponent but not always a reliable ally. In truth his talents were better suited to the political wilderness, which it was his ultimate destiny to inhabit, than the high office he evidently craved. In both the English and Irish Parliaments he proved to be a powerful orator with a simple message, giving trenchant expression to his party’s prejudices, and making his name as ‘the darling of the Church’ and the scourge of Dissenters, the irony of which was not lost on those who remembered the Presbyterian sympathies of his grandfather and namesake, the 1st Earl of Anglesey. After a privileged upbringing in court circles, symbolized by service as a gentleman of the privy chamber, in which capacity he carried the canopy at King William’s funeral, he made a brilliant reputation at Cambridge, publishing an edition of Catullus and other Latin poets while still an undergraduate. His political ideas may well have been formed at Magdalene, and before he had turned 25 he had already been chosen as one of the university’s representatives in Parliament. Almost immediately he made his presence felt. Lord Spencer (Charles*) calculated his election as a ‘loss’ to the Whigs, a judgment borne out by Annesley’s nomination on 4 Nov. 1702 to the drafting committee on the first occasional conformity bill. He was afterwards included in the committee of 10 Dec. to consider the seventh of the Lords’ amendments to the bill, and on 13 Jan. 1703 was sent to the Upper House to request a conference on this subject. Although a teller on 9 Dec., with one of the Members for the borough of Cambridge, against an amendment to the Cam navigation bill, most of his significant parliamentary activity in this first session concerned national rather than local issues. He reported on 7 Jan. 1703 from the committee to scrutinize the ballot for commissioners of accounts and the same day was a teller, on the Tory side, against recommitting the address in support of any increase in forces thought necessary, and to ask that the States General be required to put an end to all correspondence with France and Spain. Then on 13 Feb. 1703 he voted against agreeing with the Lords’ amendments to the bill enlarging the time for taking the oath of abjuration. By the close of the session he was recognized as one of the more fluent and aggressive debaters among the younger generation of Tory Members, but, possibly because of a connexion with Secretary Nottingham (Daniel Finch†), to whom he looked for political leadership, his support seems to have been expected by the ministry.5

Prior to the resumption of Parliament in the autumn of 1703 Annesley went over to Ireland, where, returned to the house of commons in Dublin for his family’s pocket borough, he took a prominent part in the early stages of the parliamentary session presided over by the new Tory viceroy, Ormond. As at Westminster he quickly achieved distinction among the spokesmen for the Church interest, harrying Whig politicians in revenge for the expulsion from the Irish parliament of his cousin Francis Annesley*, and making several telling interventions in debate, to denounce the Ulster Presbyterians as ‘murderers’ of Charles I, and to press for the revocation of the grant given by King William to Dissenting ministers, the regium donum. Back in London by 23 Nov. 1703, when he told against a motion for leave to print the Commons’ votes, two days later he was named to the drafting committee for the second occasional conformity bill. On 7 Feb. 1704 he was appointed to the committee to prepare the address on Queen Anne’s Bounty (subsequently reporting from the committee on 9 Feb.), and told in favour of going immediately into a committee of the whole House on the grants resumption bill. That he was now taking a position more openly critical of administration is suggested by his election (albeit in last place in the list) as a commissioner under the abortive public accounts bill of February 1704, and confirmed by his tellership on 10 Mar. against the recruiting bill. He had also served as a teller on 26 Feb. on a more private matter, for a clause on behalf of the bishop of Cloyne to be added as a rider to a bill for the relief of another Irish landowner from the effects of the Forfeitures Resumption Act, an example both of his willingness to promote the interests of his compatriots and of his devotion to the Anglican church in all its manifestations. He was forecast by Nottingham in March as a supporter of the government over its actions following the Scotch Plot. Given his history of enthusiasm for legislation to penalize Dissent, and in particular to put a stop to occasional conformity, he was named to the drafting committee for the third occasional conformity bill on 14 Nov., was naturally listed among those thought likely to support the Tack, voted for it or was absent on 28 Nov. and after the failure of this attempt, also told on 14 Dec. 1704 in favour of passing the bill. The ministerial reshuffle, by which Nottingham and other High Tories lost office, had long since freed him from any moral obligation to support Lord Godolphin’s (Sidney†) ministry, and on 13 Jan. 1705 he was named to the drafting committee for a Tory place bill, ‘that all persons, who are entitled by their offices to receive a benefit by public annual taxes to be granted, shall be incapable of sitting in this House, while they are in such offices’. A teller on the Tory side in a division on 26 Feb. 1705 on the Aylesbury case, he was appointed two days later as a manager for a conference with the Lords on this affair. Annesley’s importance as a Tory politician was now such that efforts were mounted by the Whigs to impugn his loyalty to the Protestant succession, based on some alleged remarks of his in the Irish house of commons in 1703 to the effect that Parliament in England might at some future date decide to alter the Act of Settlement, to which he now retorted by claiming sole responsibility for the insertion into an address from the Dublin parliament of an affirmation of support for the succession of the Electress Sophia. More damaging, perhaps, were the attacks of satirists who denounced the violence of his speeches, his ‘horrid language’, ‘raving throat’ and ‘bully tongue’:

A finished coxcomb, with assuming wit,
In all but sense and manners he’s complete;
So furnished with the language of the town,
He made our dunghill rhetoric all his own,
All his endeavours to support the state,
H’ expresses in the style of Billingsgate.6

Annesley was one of the prime targets of the ministry’s electioneering campaign in 1705. His place as a university representative was challenged by Godolphin’s son Hon. Francis* and by none other than Isaac Newton*, who was knighted by the Queen when she visited Cambridge in May, an exercise interpreted by many observers to have been undertaken ‘on purpose to turn Mr Annesley out’. The reason for this personal spite, according to one Tory, was that ‘Mr Annesley last session made a speech in the House [of Commons] against my Lord Godolphin, and had the Parliament sat a week longer his lordship would certainly have been impeached’. At the general election itself no pains were spared by the treasurer, who sent down his own and the Queen’s chaplain to vote for the ministerial candidates. Secretary of State Robert Harley* also canvassed college heads and fellows of his acquaintance, one of whom indignantly refuted allegations that Annesley was a ‘turbulent’ man: on the contrary, ‘he is a scholar, and has been long of my acquaintance as such and has acquitted himself in all university business entrusted to him with great approbation’. The student body, too, reacted in Annesley’s favour, and the election was marked by riotous undergraduates ‘crying “No fanatic”, “No occasional conformity”’ against Godolphin and Newton. Annesley was returned in triumph at the top of the poll, and was duly classified as ‘True Church’ in a list of the new Parliament. The fact that cousin Francis was elected as well in 1705 makes it difficult henceforth always to be sure of Annesley’s parliamentary activity. For example, we know that he voted against the Court candidate, John Smith I*, in the division on the Speaker, 25 Oct. 1705, but not whether he was the ‘Mr Annesley’ who had earlier spoken in favour of Smith’s Tory opponent William Bromley II*, though given his greater prominence in the House he must count as the more likely of the two. In the same way he probably spoke on 4 Nov. on the bill from the Lords for the repeal of the Aliens Act, paving the way for the Tories’ ‘Hanover motion’ (to invite over to England the heir presumptive to the throne) by pointing out the dangers of the succession not being yet decided in Scotland: it was, observed ‘Annesley’, ‘not so easy to come from Han[over] as Scot[land]’. An Annesley was also a teller on the Tory side on 13 Nov. against a motion that the Coventry election petition be heard at the bar. On 8 Dec. ‘Mr Annesley Irish’, as Grey Neville* identified him, spoke in the debate on the Lords’ resolution that the Church was not ‘in danger’ under the present administration. With heavy irony he agreed that ‘the late Revol[ution]’ had been ‘a benefit’: ‘episco[pacy] in Scot[land]’ had been ‘abol[ished]’, Presbyterianism had been ‘restored’ there and had moreover ‘crept into Eng[land]’. Later in the same debate he intervened again, to answer a point raised by Lord Coningsby (Thomas*), a former Irish lord justice, who had reminded the House of the 800 loyal Ulster Presbyterian volunteers raised by Lord Granard for Charles II. Annesley acknowledged their contribution but wished to know the present ‘designs’ of ‘the Scotch’. He then told against keeping the clause to stigmatize as an enemy to ‘Queen, Church and kingdom’ anyone ‘going about to suggest’ that the Church was in danger. The name Annesley figured frequently in the diarist’s reports of the debates on the regency bill: on 11 Dec., during the controversy raised by Charles Caesar’s* innuendoes against Lord Treasurer Godolphin; on 15 Jan. 1706, on a technical point arising from the arrangements proposed to be made on the Queen’s death; and on 19 and 21 Jan., on further such details. One of the Annesleys had on 12 Jan. supported the motion for an instruction to the committee on the bill to insert a provision to secure the ‘place clause’ of the Act of Settlement, and over a month later, on 15 Feb., was a teller for postponing consideration of a Lords’ amendment to this part of the bill, the so-called ‘whimsical clause’. Other possible tellerships occurred on 13 Feb., for a Tory amendment to the recruiting bill, to prevent the ‘irregular listing of men’; on 2 Mar., against a bill for the better regulation of charter and proprietary governments in America and for the encouragement of the Plantations trade; and on 8 Mar., against condemning the Letter from Sir Rowland Gwynne* to the Earl of Stamford, a pamphlet (in justification of the ‘Hanover motion’) which the ministry wished to burn. A much higher degree of probability attaches to his tellership against the Whig John Pedley in the Huntingdon election (22 Jan.), because of the possibility of a local (Cambridge) connexion with the case. Finally, both Annesleys were named as tellers, together, on 18 Mar., against proceeding on the report of the committee on the law reform bill. And responsibility for one bill may with confidence be assigned to Annesley rather than his cousin: that to make his Irish parliamentary constituency of New Ross a port for the exporting of wool to England, which he presented on 9 Jan. 1706 and subsequently managed through the House.7

In the next session, Annesley supported a Tory amendment moved on 6 Dec. 1706 which would have avoided committing Members to an acceptance of the Anglo-Scottish Union and would have ‘left ’em free to argue against it’ when the union bill was introduced. After two other Tories had proposed and seconded the amendment he ‘more ingeniously spoke his and the sense of the other two in a few plain words’, but without success. In the light of his loathing for Presbyterians, both in Ulster and in Scotland itself, it seems reasonable to credit him with consistent opposition to union, as manifested in three tellerships: on 28 Jan. 1707, in favour of an address requesting that the minutes of the 1702 union commission be laid before the House; on 22 Feb., for an instruction to the committee on the union bill to receive a clause guaranteeing that in future Englishmen would be free from any oath or test inconsistent with the religion and government of the Church of England, in the same way that the Scots had already been reassured as to their Kirk; and on 28 Feb., against passing the union bill in its final form. Two further tellerships probably belong in his biography: on 27 Jan. 1707, against a resolution approving the previous advancement of money under the heading ‘extraordinary services’, to go towards financing the war in Spain, one of many occasions on which Annesley’s name appeared as a teller alongside that of his close political associate (Sir) Thomas Hanmer (4th Bt.)*, with whom he appears to have spoken in the debate; and on 1 Apr. following, against adjourning the report of the committee on the bill for securing the purchase of Cotton House for ‘the public’, in which again there was a Cambridgeshire connexion through the Cotton family. One speech was certainly his: in January, against the settlement on the Duke of Marlborough of a life annuity of £5,000. He ‘spake mighty well against it in the House, and all sorts of people speaks well of him for it’.8

The last session of the 1705 Parliament was a particularly busy one for Annesley, as he was among the leaders of a powerful combined opposition to the ministry. He told on 10 Dec. 1707, when the land tax bill was reported, in a division over the inclusion of one John Brownell on the Cambridgeshire commission, and may have been a teller twice more during the proceedings on the bill on 12 Dec. In the crucial debate on 29 Jan. 1708 on the number of troops actually available in Spain at the time of the battle of Almanza, one of the Annesleys was a teller with Sir Thomas Hanmer against adjourning, and it was almost certainly Arthur who on 4 Mar. moved for a loyal address on the occasion of the Pretender’s invasion attempt, to assure the Queen ‘they would stand by her with their lives against the pretended Prince of Wales, and all other enemies at home and abroad’, and who was then named to the committee for an address. This, however, was intended to dissociate the Tories from Jacobitism, not to demonstrate support for the ministry, and a month later Annesley was to be found vigorously opposing the motion for an address to thank Prince George as lord high admiral for his care in fitting out the fleet which had defeated the design of the invasion. Besides these high-political, set-piece debates, he also appears to have been involved in more mundane affairs. His many connexions with Oxford University make it likely that he was a teller on 19 Feb. against referring to a committee the petition of Sir Thomas Cookes Winford, 2nd Bt.*, for a bill to facilitate the charitable settlement in the will of the late Sir Thomas Cooke for the foundation of what was to become Worcester College, Oxford; and, despite the fact that his cousin Francis Annesley’s legal training made Francis generally more useful as a sponsor of private bills, it may well have been Arthur who in February brought in a measure to assist one James Stopford to sell lands in Nottinghamshire, as this was the name of one of his neighbouring landowners in county Wexford and a fellow Tory member of the Irish parliament.9

Re-elected unopposed for the university in the general election of 1708, Annesley was marked as a Tory and as a Tacker respectively in two parliamentary lists of that year. There were two tellerships of considerable political significance, in which it is fair to assume that Arthur rather than Francis was the Annesley involved: on 20 Jan., in favour of (Sir) Simon Harcourt I* in the notorious Abingdon election case; and on 7 Mar., with Sir Thomas Hanmer, against passing the naturalization bill. He may also have told on 14 Apr., against an amendment to the bill preserving the rights of patrons to advowsons, and assisted in the management of the reintroduced private bill for James Stopford. In speeches he continued to bark defiance at the ministry. When Members were debating Treasury management but were showing some reluctance to criticize Godolphin explicitly, Annesley

said he could not find why gentlemen should be shy in naming the T[reasure]r, for he would take it upon him to say, for all the great encomiums that some gentlemen were continually making upon him, that never was the Treasury worse managed. What, to have a million of money paid by the country, and not paid into the Treasury by the receivers, was strange management.

During the following summer he paid a lengthy visit to Lord Nottingham at Burley, where they were joined by Hanmer. Nottingham described Annesley’s ‘good company’ as ‘the best part of the entertainment here’. At the same time Annesley kept up his friendly acquaintance with Robert Harley, on one occasion writing from Burley to hint at the boredom his rustication had engendered, which showed the temperament of the politician. As might have been expected he was forward in defence of Dr Sacheverell. Whatever his views on the Revolution and the succession (and, unlike his elder brother, he was never seriously accounted a Jacobite by his own side), he would naturally come to the aid of an Anglican parson threatened by the Whigs. He had, after all, been one of the few Tories in the Commons to defend Bishop Blackall’s 1708 sermon in justification of the principle of non-resistance, and he took a similar stand in December 1709, when the notion of impeaching Sacheverell was first aired. He was, again, one of only a handful of Tories who opposed the motion to impeach, though at this stage very sparingly, none of them excusing the paragraphs, but desiring only that the matter might be referred to the committee of religion, or else one appointed on purpose, who might read the sermons at length; or else they did not think they could pass a fair judgment. Later, when opposition gathered strength, he spoke with other Tories on 11 Jan. in a more concerted effort to recommit the articles, and was listed among those who had voted against the impeachment. Probably the ‘Mr Annesley’ included on 25 Jan. 1710 in a drafting committee for a place bill, he was a teller with Hanmer on 15 Feb. against making an address to request the Queen to send over the Duke of Marlborough to attend the peace negotiations. In the debate on the motion for the address he had made ‘a very warm speech’ denouncing the Duke: to request his despatch to Holland would be ‘exalting that man whose pride was already intolerable, setting him above the Crown, which would make us the most abject of slaves, and that ’twas insulting the sovereign to prescribe whom she should employ in the treaty of peace’. On 2 Mar. he was almost certainly the Annesley who told for an amendment to an address for the suppression of the ‘present tumults’ which would have added ‘republicans’ to the list of ‘enemies to the Queen’s table and government’ who were held to be responsible for fomenting the disturbances. The following day he intervened to forestall a Whig proposal for a bill ‘for the security of the Church’. Then on 24 Mar. he supported William Bromley II’s motion for an address for a fast ‘to deprecate the divine vengeance’ to be apprehended from Parliament’s failure to put a stop to what was viewed as the torrent of blasphemy, from the press and in some cases from the pulpit. He answered Whig comments to the effect that the ministry had more urgent things to do than ‘meddle in matters of that nature’ by commenting, ‘it must give the world a strange idea of a ministry that thought it below them to show any concern for the honour of the great God’. His defence of Dr Sacheverell, of the Church of England, and of orthodox Christianity itself only served to increase his popularity among High Churchmen in Cambridge, and, conversely, the hostility of Whig sympathizers, as was shown by a curious incident in July 1710 when Annesley, supping with some university cronies in the course of a visit to his constituency, fell foul of a humourless Whig proctor, whose officious demands to the revellers to repair to their colleges were answered by banter and toasts to Dr Sacheverell, and who subsequently entered a formal complaint against their insouciant treatment of him. Although it made a stir in the pamphlet press, the affair came to nothing, and, as a dissolution loomed, Annesley’s position in regard to his re-election seemed stronger than ever. Were he to stand again ‘there was no probability that anyone would dare to oppose him’. At Westminster too, his prospects were rosy. As the likelihood of a ministerial revolution increased, his was one of the names that cropped up repeatedly when new appointments were rumoured, and Robert Harley certainly regarded him as one of the Tory Members for whom it would be essential to provide. He was, however, in this context still to some degree in the shadow of his elder brother, and while the Earl of Anglesey was being considered as a potential secretary of state, Annesley was thought of by Harley for some minor post, such as the mastership of the jewel office.10

His brother’s sudden death in September 1710 changed Annesley’s political status and his expectations. He succeeded to the title as Earl of Anglesey, and to the lucrative post of vice-treasurer of Ireland (albeit held jointly) which his brother had been given as a consolation prize for not achieving one of the great offices of state on the change of ministry. Anglesey could now conceive of himself as a candidate for the highest honours, and evidently did. Furthermore, although removed to the company of his seniors in the Upper House, he did not long remain a small fish in that bigger pool. His oratorical talents and sheer force of personality rapidly established him as a figure to be reckoned with. At the same time he did not lose his influence in the Commons. He ‘took upon him the sole direction of the election’ at Cambridge University, securing the return of ‘his creature’ Thomas Paske*, one of a number of Members in the Parliaments of 1710 and 1713 who can be regarded, and indeed were regarded by contemporaries, as followers of Anglesey. Like the majority of his fellow Tories, he seems to have been prepared at the outset of the 1710–14 ministry to give Robert Harley (subsequently Earl of Oxford) the benefit of any doubts he himself might have entertained. Though anxious to see the pursuance of a thoroughly Tory policy, in reference both to men and measures, he remained close to the ministers during the first session of the 1710 Parliament, being on particularly good terms with Henry St. John II*. He may have been privately sympathetic to the frustration felt by the October Club, and in February 1711 supported an abortive bill for the repeal of the Naturalization Act of 1709, but otherwise caused the ministry little public embarrassment. And after spending the autumn of 1711 at the Irish parliament he returned to Westminster almost as an enthusiastic ministerial loyalist, presumably as a result of observing the Duke of Ormond’s failures as viceroy in Dublin and pluming himself as the natural and inevitable replacement. Indeed it seems likely that his ambition to be lord lieutenant more than any other factor dictated his political conduct over the next three years. During the winter of 1711–12 he canvassed and spoke for the administration, occasionally with excessive zeal, and the following year was brought into the inner circle of Oxford’s cronies. He did not, however, receive any tangible reward for himself, and refused to regard a few favours for his friends and adherents as adequate compensation. In particular, Oxford’s slowness in replacing Ormond in the Irish viceroyalty rankled with him, and when eventually it was decided that Ormond would be removed, the new lord lieutenant was not Anglesey after all but a moderate Whig, the Duke of Shrewsbury. Disappointed ambition was almost certainly behind his sharp turn away from the Court in June 1713, when he led the opposition in the Lords to the treaty of commerce with France and deployed his squadron of followers in the Commons against the treaty. Certainly he was not yet prepared to make a complete break with the ministry and follow Nottingham over to the Whigs. He listened to whatever offers Oxford and St. John (now Lord Bolingbroke) made to him without committing himself to either man, and in the autumn of 1713 did what he could to influence the direction of the ministry’s Irish policy, attending Shrewsbury’s Irish parliament, and both there and at the Irish privy council acted effectively to undermine the viceroy’s management by encouraging the intransigence of hotter Tories, some of whom, most notably the Irish lord chancellor Sir Constantine Phipps, were almost open Jacobites. He returned to England the undisputed head of the Tory interest in Ireland, and courted by all factions at Westminster. Sir John Perceval, 5th Bt.†, who had observed at close quarters his spoiling game in Ireland, depicted him at this time as avaricious and ambitious ‘of power and honour’, though ‘very eloquent and enterprising’ and possessed of a ‘working head’. He also considered Anglesey ‘violent’ in party matters and one who would ‘raise the prerogative to a high pitch’. This, however, may have been a somewhat unjust criticism, derived from Perceval’s disgust at what was for Anglesey a political tactic rather than a point of principle, namely his assertion of the power of the Irish privy council to interfere in municipal affairs, especially in the case of the dispute over the Dublin mayoralty, on which Shrewsbury had vainly sought to reach a compromise. It might also be argued that Anglesey was always rather more concerned with honour than money per se, and indeed affected to despise mercenary motives when it suited him to do so. However, the overall accuracy of Perceval’s description cannot seriously be questioned. He also summed up Anglesey’s political position in early 1714:

being at the head of the High Church clergy, he never would hearken to a coalition with the Whigs because the Dissenters were protected by them, and therefore though he resented the being by the ministry left out of their most private councils, yet he often concealed his temper, and left a door open for reunion with them.

In the 1714 Parliament Anglesey followed an erratic path, determined by his hope or despair at prospects of achieving the Irish viceroyalty for himself and the adoption of ‘steady and vigorous measures’ to strengthen ‘the Church interest’ in both kingdoms. Thus he ‘tacked’ first towards Lord Oxford; then early in April declared himself against the ministry in the ‘succession in danger’ debate and, for a spell, co-operated with the Whig and Nottinghamite opposition; and at last, after some wavering, joined with Bolingbroke, in the hope that Oxford ‘was to have terms put upon him, and a junto’. Their alliance was symbolized by the schism bill, a measure dear to Anglesey’s heart and made even more precious in his eyes by the addition of a clause extending the provisions to cover Ireland, an amendment Anglesey had brought in himself. His speech in favour of the bill was characteristic. He declared:

that the Dissenters were equally dangerous both to Church and state; that they were irreconcilable enemies to the established Church . . . and . . . had rendered themselves unworthy of the indulgence the Church of England granted them at the Revolution.

Outside Parliament he expressed himself even more violently, reportedly saying in a coffee-house that there was no difference between Presbyterians and papists, and that ‘jumbled together they would make an excellent salad for the devil’. From Bolingbroke, Anglesey was supposed to have received a promise of the lord lieutenancy of Ireland, but all that Bolingbroke was in fact able to procure was a commission for him to remodel the Irish army, presumably so as to give the Tories more of a chance to bargain with would-be successors when Queen Anne died. It came too late, however, and before he reached Dublin with his commission the Queen was dead.11

Fortunately for Anglesey, this last volte-face occurred too late to prevent him from taking his place as one of the regents appointed to govern the kingdom until the arrival of King George. His parliamentary stand over the succession in April had created an impression of him as the leader of the ‘Hanoverian Tories’, and also enabled him to secure the favour of the electoral family, to whom he had written in May 1714, probably with sincerity:

The same principles of loyalty and obedience which made me a faithful and, I hope, good subject to her Majesty must needs tie me down a firm and zealous servant to the Hanover succession, as the only means (whenever we shall be deprived of our good and gracious sovereign) to repair so great a loss; and to secure and preserve to these nations our invaluable constitution in Church and state.

When the King arrived, Anglesey worked hard to cultivate this good opinion, and, unlike some other Hanoverian Tories, complied with whatever the new Whig ministry demanded. However, the cracks soon began to show. As early as 19 Aug. 1714 Defoe’s letter in the Flying Post exposed the details of the commission to purge the Irish army and accused Anglesey of Jacobitism. Author and publisher were arrested and the story suppressed, but the seeds of suspicion had been planted. Harassment from Whig colleagues kept up the pressure and by March 1715 it was reported that Anglesey was ‘out of court’ and ‘raging’. In July he made a speech in the Lords against Oxford’s impeachment, recommending mercy and claiming, perhaps tactlessly, that ‘such cruel proceedings would shake the sceptre in the King’s hand’. The last straw, as far as the Court was concerned, would appear to have been some resolutions passed by the Irish house of commons in January 1716 condemning Anglesey as an enemy to the Protestant succession and a Jacobite, for his role in advising a prorogation of the Irish parliament in 1714 and the ‘breaking’ of the Irish army. Engineered by a faction among the Irish Whigs, these resolutions were brought in without any prior debate or inquiry, proceedings so irregular that, as one of the chief secretaries wrote, ‘had it been against any person but one so generally hated and to that degree he is here, it must have miscarried’. As was expected, their communication to London was swiftly followed by Anglesey’s dismissal from office. His own version of what had happened implied that he had left the administration voluntarily, but still admitted that he had been to some degree prepared to abandon his friends. If the court had called the servants of the late Queen to account and had stopped there (he told Bolingbroke) he must have considered himself a judge, and have acted according to his conscience on what should have appeared to him; but that war had been declared on the whole Tory party, and that now the state of things was altered.12

Anglesey remained a strong voice on the opposition benches after 1716, though very much as a Hanoverian Tory, and to begin with alongside Nottingham, whose anti-Socinian amendment to the bill of 1718 repealing the Occasional Conformity and Schism Acts he strongly supported. There was talk that he might return to office in a ministerial reconstruction in 1722, and he was approached again in 1725. The Jacobites in exile considered that he ‘stands fairest to be at the head of the Tories’ but were not encouraged to contact him. On the death of George I he appears to have recommended to the surviving body of Irish Tories that they come to terms with the Court, and himself secured the governorship of county Wexford, but nothing else. Nor did he lose his own influence at Cambridge University, where he was chosen high steward unanimously in 1722.13

Anglesey died on 31 Mar. 1737, at his house at Farnborough, and was buried in the parish church. ‘He was esteemed the greatest orator of the present age’, ran one public tribute, ‘and whenever his lordship spoke . . . the House of Lords was crowded to hear him’. Perceval, now Lord Egmont, whose earlier hostility had mellowed, wrote of him:

He was in principle a High Churchman, but no Jacobite, and a man of strict virtue and honour, but a hard drinker, which very many years ago drew on the gout, of which he died at last. He had fine parts, was a remarkably good speaker in Parliament, and what he said was witty, bold and from the heart.

To his personal distress his entailed estates in Ireland and England, worth over £7,000 a year, and the Anglesey and Valentia titles were to descend to persons he despised: the lands to Charles Annesley, one of the ‘Battle-axe guards’ in Dublin; the earldoms and viscountcy to another cousin, Richard Annesley, Lord Altham, a half-pay officer and adventurer. At the same time ‘what the law gave him the disposal of he would leave to the most worthy’, and he therefore bequeathed his Oxfordshire estates and ‘considerable’ personalty to his cousin Francis. Minor beneficiaries under the will (which had been drawn up in 1735) included the brothers Hon. Andrews* and Hon. Dixie Windsor*, while another ‘whimsical’ or ‘Hanoverian’ Tory from Queen Anne’s reign, Richard Shuttleworth*, had acted as a witness.14

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: D. W. Hayton


  • 1. Reg. of Deeds: Abstracts of Wills (Irish Mss Commn.), i. 242; Eton Coll. Reg. ed. Sterry, 8.
  • 2. Info. from Prof. R. O. Bucholz; Cal. Treas. Bks. xxv. 294; xxx. 105; Luttrell, Brief Relation, v. 635, 644.
  • 3. E. G. W. Bill, Q. Anne Churches, p. xxiii; Recs. R. Soc. (1940), p. 389.
  • 4. Drogheda Corp. Council Bk. ed. Gogarty, i. 315.
  • 5. G. Holmes, Pol. in Age of Anne, 278–9; Bodl. Ballard 36, f. 70; Poems on Affairs of State ed. Ellis, vii. 115–16; Cal. Treas. Bks. xvii. 198; Hearne Colls. xi. 435, 451; Boyer, Anne Annals, i. 138; Calamy, Life, i. 465; Bath mss at Longleat House, Portland misc. pprs. Ld. Godolphin to Robert Harley, ‘Saturday at noon’.
  • 6. CSP Dom. 1703–4, pp. 141, 198; Add. 28932, f. 101; Surr. RO (Guildford), Midleton mss 1248/2, ff. 129, 131–2, 197, 199; 1248/4, f. 360; Poems on Affairs of State, 115–16.
  • 7. Newton Corresp. iv. 439; Trinity, Dublin, Lyons (King) mss 2002/1230, Francis Annesley to Abp. King [1705]; W. A. Speck, Tory and Whig, 101, 107; Bodl. Carte 244, f. 58; HMC Portland, iv. 179; J. Gascoigne, Camb. in Age of Enlightenment, 96–97; Bull. IHR, xxxvii. 29; Cobbett, Parlty. Hist. vi. 450; Cam. Misc. xxiii. 41, 45, 47–48, 53, 62, 70, 73, 81.
  • 8. Anglesey mss at Plas Newydd, Roger Ackerley to Ld. Paget, 6 Dec. [1704]; Nottingham Univ. Lib. Mellish mss, [William Wrightson*] to Joseph Mellish, 16 Jan. 1706[–7]; G. Sitwell, Letters of Sitwells and Sacheverells, ii. 47.
  • 9. Bodl. Ballard 10, f. 169; VernonShrewsbury Letters, iii. 365; HMC Portland, iv. 480; Addison Letters, 106; Hayton thesis, 342.
  • 10. Wentworth Pprs. 77–78, 110; Add. 61459, f. 163; Hanmer Corresp. 123; Leics. RO, Finch mss, Ld. Nottingham to Ld. Finch (Daniel*), 29 Aug. 1709; Add. 70282, Annesley to Harley, 6 Sept. 1709; 70332, memo. by Harley, 12 Sept. 1710; 70219, Thomas Conyers* to Harley, 18 June 1710; 57861, f. 151; Huntington Lib. Stowe mss 58(5), p. 124; 57(4), pp. 95–96; Lockhart Pprs. i. 318, 481; Hearne Colls. ii. 329; G. Holmes, Trial of Sacheverell, 90, 100–1; HMC Portland, iv. 539; Yale Univ. Beinecke Lib. Osborn mss, ‘Acct. of Trial of Dr Sacheverell’, 3 Mar. 1710; Camb. under Q. Anne ed. Mayor, 456–69; Nichols, Lit. Anec. i. 159; C. H. Cooper, Annals of Camb. iv. 99–100; The Univ. of Camb. Vindicated (1710), pp. 21–35; Bagot mss at Levens Hall, Edward Harvey* to James Grahme*, 12 July 1710; HMC Mar and Kellie, 484.
  • 11. Churchill Coll. Camb. Erle mss 2/12, f. 33, James Craggs I* to [Thomas Erle*], 19 Sept. 1710; Boyer, ix. 243; HMC Portland, iv. 605–6; Holmes, Pol. in Age of Anne, 39–40, 278–81; K. Feiling, Tory Party, 435, 446, 450, 470; Party and Management in Parl. ed. C. Jones, 135, 143, 153; Swift Stella, i. 114, 240; ii. 584, 599; Nicolson Diaries ed. Jones and Holmes, 542; Irish Hist. Stud. xxii. 200–13; NSA, Kreienberg despatch 11 Dec. 1711; Wentworth Pprs. 254–5, 276–7, 357, 366–8, 371, 406; Cobbett, vi. 1037, 1330, 1335, 1352; H. Horwitz, Revolution Politicks, 236, 240, 242; Add. 70331, canvassing list [c. Jan. 1712]; 70262, Horatio Walpole I* to Oxford, 11 July [1712]; 70282, Anglesey to same, 8 July 1712; 47072, f. 86; 47087, ff. 56–57, 61–62, 64; Luttrell, vi. 715; Hanmer Corresp. 34; HMC Portland, v. 403, 467–8; Hayton thesis, 247, 252–4; Swift Corresp. ed. Williams, ii. 8–9; Lockhart Letters ed. Szechi, 93, 98; HMC Polwarth, i. 18; HMC Kenyon, 455–6; Sir David Hamilton Diary ed. Roberts, 63; Midleton mss 1248/3, f. 187.
  • 12. G. M. Trevelyan, Eng. under Q. Anne, iii. 311; Burnet, v. 339; Hanmer Corresp. 57, 59–60; Stowe 227, f. 21; C. S. King, A Great Abp. of Dublin, 164; Defoe Letters, 447–8; L. Colley, In Defiance of Oligarchy, 181; HMC Portland, v. 508, 513; Hayton thesis, 305–6; Add. 61640, ff. 78, 81.
  • 13. HMC Portland, v. 574; HMC Carlisle, 31; HMC 5th Rep. 189–90; Colley, 206; RA, Stuart mss 70/107, 71/137; Penal Era and Golden Age ed. Bartlett and Hayton, 46; HMC Dartmouth, iii. 55; Add. 32457, f. 5; Gascoigne, 96.
  • 14. Gent. Mag. 1737, p. 252; Boyer, Pol. State, liii. 429; HMC Egmont Diary, iii. 387–8; T. Prior, A List of the Absentees of Ire. (1730), p. 5; Add. 28050, f. 149; Reg. of Deeds: Abstracts of Wills, 242.