DYKE, Sir Thomas, 1st Bt. (c.1650-1706), of Horeham, Waldron, Suss.
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Family and Education
b. c.1650, 2nd but 1st surv. s. of Sir Thomas Dyke† of Waldron by Catherine, da. of Sir John Bramston, c.j. Kb, of Skreens, Essex. educ. Westminster 1660–1; Christ Church, Oxf. matric. 1 June 1666, aged 16; M. Temple 1667; travelled abroad. m. 1695, Philadelphia, da. and coh. of Sir Thomas Nutt of Selmeston, Suss., 2s. (1 d.v.p.) 3da. suc. fa. 1669; cr. Bt. 3 May 1677.
Commr. public accts. 1696–7.1
A High Church Tory, Dyke supported the Revolution and was returned in 1690 for East Grinstead, where he owned property. He was classed as a Tory and probable Court supporter on lists of the new Parliament annotated by Lord Carmarthen (Sir Thomas Osborne†). Carmarthen also identified him in December 1690 as a likely supporter in the event of an attack upon himself in the Commons. By contrast, in April 1691 Dyke was classed in Robert Harley’s* list as a supporter of the Country party, and his subsequent parliamentary record seems to confirm this analysis. Granted three weeks’ leave of absence on 19 Feb. 1694, he probably did not return to the House until the next session. From 1695 he seems to have become moderately active, and to have been involved in various minor items of legislation. He served as teller three times during the 1694–5 session: on 2 Feb. 1695 for an opposition amendment to the supply bill; on the 8th against a bill for the relief of merchants who had imported foreign goods and were being prosecuted under the Navigation Acts; and on 3 May on a procedural motion during the impeachment of the Duke of Leeds (the former Carmarthen).
Dyke successfully contested East Grinstead in 1695 against opposition from the 6th Earl of Dorset (Charles Sackville†), who had a strong interest there. Sir John Bland, 4th Bt.*, wrote to Roger Kenyon* on 31 Dec. that Dyke had
always behaved himself very honestly and like a lover of his country, all the last Parliament. At his election he met with all the opposition the C[ourt] party could give him, and they did not forget to call him Jacobite and told the town, if he was chose, and 60 more of the old Members of his principles, they would be turned out of the House.
Despite a determined attempt by the Whigs to unseat Dyke on petition, his return was confirmed. Forecast as a probable opponent of the Court in the division of 31 Jan. 1696 on the proposed council of trade, Dyke was elected on 1 Feb. as one of the commissioners of accounts, but his refusal to sign the Association prevented him from serving on the commission. In March he voted against the Court over fixing the price of guineas at 22s.2
During the opening months of the next session Dyke concentrated on the case of Sir John Fenwick†. On 6 Nov. he spoke against proceeding against Fenwick by way of attainder; on 13 Nov. he intervened again in debate, arguing that counsel for the prosecution be confined ‘to proofs of the matter contained in the bill’; and on 17 Nov. he made a powerful speech opposing the bill:
That the Parliament hath a power to make such a law, is agreed, but I think it ought not to be used but upon extraordinary occasions, when great persons are concerned that cannot be otherwise brought to justice, and when crimes do not fall under the denomination of the law, which is not the present case. This case is, that a gentleman is charged with treason and it is proved but by one witness, though the counsel did say that a consult to levy war was not treason. Now either it will not be the crime that is alleged, or it is not proved. Here you are judges, prosecutors, witnesses and jury. I would know in what country it is so? Besides the witnesses are produced here and not sworn, and upon the whole, there is but one witness. Sir, I am against the bill . . . as being of dangerous consequence.
He told against engrossing the bill on 23 Nov., and voted against it in the final division two days later. Earlier he had told twice on the bill for regulating elections: on 19 Nov. for a motion to consider the bill before supply, and on 21 Nov. against receiving a petition from Exeter against the bill. On 24 Nov. he defended the secretary of state, Sir William Trumbull*, from criticism of his actions in office, in such a way that James Vernon I* believed Dyke hoped to turn the attack on to the Earl of Portland. During the winter he was purged from the Sussex commission of the peace for refusing the Association. In the second half of the session he brought into the House on 19 Feb. 1697 a letter from Ostend about the joining of the Brest and Toulon squadrons, but the opposition could make little headway on the matter. He also told on 24 Feb. 1698 for a motion to recommit the resolution granting £515,000 for the civil list; on 3 Mar. against laying a duty on all goods made of wool, silk or hair; and on 10 Mar. for a bill for the repair of Whitby harbour.3
In the 1697–8 session Dyke was one of the opposition speakers who began the attacks on Lord Sunderland, saying on 21 Dec.,
if it were not time now to talk of ill ministers, and if any were about the King who misled the two last, and that either gave up the rights of the people, or the Protestant religion, he would move for addressing the King, that he might be removed from his councils and his presence for ever.
The attack frightened Sunderland into resigning almost immediately. On 8 Jan. 1698 Dyke spoke in the debate on a motion to grant £500,000 for guards and garrisons, apparently opposing it on the grounds that the debate was irregular. He was teller on 11 Feb. for a resolution of the committee of supply fixing the debt due to the king of Denmark, and on the 16th for the opposition in favour of Charles Montagu’s* withdrawing from the House during a debate on Montagu’s Irish grant, making on 18 Feb.
a long and set speech upon the subject of these grants and particularly against Mr [Charles] Montagu, who as one of the lords commissioners of the Treasury, ought to have dissuaded his Majesty from granting them, much less have taken one himself, which he thought a breach of his trust and oath, and that the House could not do otherwise than censure him for it.
He was a teller on 29 Mar. against the Court for adjourning consideration of adding an appropriating clause to the land tax bill. In late March, he was described as one of the leaders of the opposition. In May 1698 it emerged that he had been involved with attempts to discredit the commissioners of excise, encouraging Thomas Webb’s* allegations that some members of the board had neglected to qualify themselves by taking the oaths, and in the same month he was reported to be contemplating an attack on Lords Albemarle and Orford (Edward Russell*), exploiting the failure of Norris’ squadron to attack the French under Pointis. Vernon wrote that ‘if Sir Christopher Musgrave [4th Bt.*] and Sir Thomas Dyke have espoused it, as I hear they have, they will make a troublesome piece of work of it’. However, possibly because of the lateness in the session, little headway was made with the attack. On 1 June he moved that a list of disbanded troops and those to be disbanded be laid before the House, but enthusiasm for disbanding had cooled and Vernon wrote, ‘they say it was not intended to be carried further’.4
Dyke’s continued refusal to sign the Association led to his decision not to stand in the 1698 election, much to the regret of the Tory leader Lord Nottingham (Daniel Finch†). He was classed as a supporter of the Country party in an analysis of the old and new House of about September. In January 1701 a rumour that Dyke would return to Parliament at the next election proved unfounded, and in 1704 Nottingham wanted to put him forward as the candidate for the University of Oxford, but he resisted all requests. A letter to his Oxford friend, Dr Arthur Charlett, on 15 Oct. 1704, suggests that he took a gloomy view of current politics and preferred to remain on the sidelines: ‘the whole world seems to be playing at pushpin for their lives. . . . Your statesmen are at cross-purposes and blind man’s buff.’ Dyke died on 31 Oct. 1706 and was buried at Waldron.5
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Author: Paula Watson
- 1. CJ, xi. 429.
- 2. HMC Kenyon, 387; H. Horwitz, Parl. and Pol. Wm. III, 166, 179; Luttrell, Brief Relation, iv. 74.
- 3. Vernon–Shrewsbury Letters, i. 49–50, 76, 213–14; Cobbett, Parlty. Hist. v. 1004, 1019, 1059; L. K. J. Glassey, Appt. JPs, 123.
- 4. Vernon–Shrewsbury Letters, i. 445; ii. 85–87, 94; CSP Dom. 1697, p. 534; 1698, p. 96; Cam. Misc. xxix. 358; PRO 31/3/180, f. 150; Cal. Treas. Bks. xiii. 94.
- 5. Horwitz, 239; SRO, Hamilton mss GD 406/1/4657, Gawin Mason to Duke of Hamilton, 2 Jan. 1700[–01]; Add. 29588, ff. 265–6, 281; Bodl. Ballard 11, ff. 54–55, 56.