HUSSEY, Sir Edward, 3rd Bt. (c.1661-1725), of Caythorpe and Welbourn, Lincs.
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Family and Education
b. c.1661, 2nd s. of Sir Charles Hussey, 1st Bt.†, of Caythorpe by Elizabeth, da. of Sir William Brownlow, 1st Bt.†, of Humby, Lincs. educ. privately (John Birket); Trinity, Camb. adm. 18 May 1675, aged 13; M. Temple 1676. m. (1) in or bef. 1684, Charlotte (d. 1695), da. of Daniel Brevint, dean of Lincoln, 5s. d.v.p. 7da. (5 d.v.p.); (2) 31 May 1698, Elizabeth (d. 1750), da. and h. of Sir Charles de Vic, 2nd Bt., of Guernsey, 3s. (2 d.v.p.) 1da. suc. bro. as 3rd Bt. Apr. 1680, cos. Sir Thomas Hussey, 2nd Bt.*, as 3rd Bt. 19 Dec. 1706.1
Freeman, Lincoln 1689.2
Although a young and inexperienced politician in 1690, Hussey quickly established himself as one of the principal Country speakers in the Commons, developing a particular speciality for place legislation. More generally, he showed great concern for the constitutional balance between crown and Parliament, frequently seeking to impose controls on ministerial activity. Such a stance effectively precluded him from office, but an innate stubbornness was also a bar to preferment, and even his Country Whig ally Sir Richard Cocks, 2nd Bt.*, admitted that he ‘is very honest, but has no great judgment, and a great opinion of his own abilities, [so] that he thinks nobody able to advise him’. Unfortunately for Hussey, his ‘low voice’ may also have conspired to minimize his impact in the House. Having been tutored at home by a Nonconformist clergyman in the 1660s, he attached himself to the Whigs after entering Parliament in May 1689, but did not develop into a champion of the Dissenting cause.3
Hussey was returned unopposed for Lincoln in 1690, and soon afterwards was identified by Lord Carmarthen (Sir Thomas Osborne†) as a Whig. He acted as a teller on 12 Apr. in favour of recommitting the report on the election at Bedford, and later carried up to the Lords a bill to vest the hereditary revenues of the crown in William and Mary. His speeches during this session revealed acute anxiety at the dangers facing the Williamite regime. Most notably, on 26 Apr., during debate on the Abjuration, he warned that ‘popish lords and other papists are numerous about the town, and have great hopes; nor are we to forget those lords that were against the recognizing bill; what can the government expect from them?’ However, two days later he spoke against a proposal to permit imprisonment without bail in cases of treason, arguing that the present ministers were not such as ‘to trust . . . with so great a power’, since they had advised the King to bring over Lord Dumbarton’s regiment of mutineers, and had regarded the Act of Recognition as ‘neither good sense nor reason’. On 1 May he spoke against the regency bill, believing ‘the King to be no King after this bill is passed’.4
In the next session Hussey’s principal interest lay with a bill for reducing the rate of interest from 6 to 4 per cent. He twice acted as a teller to forward its passage, but it was lost on a vote to commit. By the end of the session he was established in opposition ranks, being identified in April 1691 as a Country supporter by Robert Harley*. Furthermore, the following month it was reported that he was to be dismissed from the Lincolnshire lieutenancy.5
Early in the next session Hussey was appointed to committees to draft bills for regulating abuses in elections and for securing the rights of corporations. He again took an active part in promoting a bill to lower interest rates, seconding a motion on 12 Nov. 1691 for leave to bring in such a measure, speaking twice in its favour, and later acting as a teller in favour of its passing the House. He also exhibited continued concern over Jacobite plotting, moving on 16 Nov. for an address to the King to lay before the House the examinations and confessions of Lord Preston (Richard Grahme†) and Matthew Crone. Three days later he demanded to know if Privy Councillors had attended the presentation of that address. Moreover, the following month he proposed that the King finance a return journey to France for the informant William Fuller. He kept a vigilant eye on supply issues, speaking on 19 Nov. in favour of scrutinizing the army estimates head by head, and on 1 Dec. he supported the motion of Sir Edward Seymour, 4th Bt., to consider the report of the commissioners of accounts as a matter of urgency. On 11 Dec. he opposed a Lords’ amendment to the treason trials bill requiring the assembly of the entire Upper House for the trial of a peer, and was subsequently nominated to the committee to prepare reasons for a conference with the Lords on that issue. He acted as a teller on 16 Dec. against passing the bill for registering servants who went to the plantations, and on 12 Jan. 1692 he spoke against a proposal to raise a £1 million loan if it was secured on a good fund, insisting that the revenues of the crown should be ‘as sacred as those of the Church’. Two days later he unsuccessfully offered a clause to the bill for regulating treason trials that impeachments should hold from Parliament to Parliament with no pardon allowed, and six days later opposed a move to assess poll tax payments in line with contributions to the militia. His final action of note was probably a tellership on 25 Jan. in support of the engrossment of the Dover harbour bill, although Narcissus Luttrell* identified his cousin as teller on this occasion.6
Hussey remained prominent in the 1692–3 session, and in belligerent mood. On 23 Nov. 1692 during a debate in the committee of the whole on the employment of foreign officers in the army, he called for the dismissal of the Dutch commander Count Solmes, and opposed Seymour’s suggestion that the Commons should ensure their advice agreed with that of the Lords, saying:
I hope such doctrine shall not pass here; that would lay aside all advice. As there are lords to advise and consult with, so I hope there will always be commoners in this House who will be faithful to this nation; though I see some men by preferment have their mouths gagged up against the interest of the people. Yet I am for this question that no foreign officers be preferred to any vacancy for the future.
Such a bold denunciation of placemen sparked a clash with Richard Hampden I, and Hussey continued to harangue the ministry, supporting the suggestion from Paul Foley I on 26 Nov. that all members of the government should append their signature to any written advice to the King. Only two days later he expressed alarm at the recently uncovered plots, and proposed that the bill for regulating treason trials should come into force in either March 1693 or March 1694, observing ominously that ‘if by that time the government be not settled, it will not be at all’. During a debate on naval mismanagement on 30 Nov., he returned to a favourite theme, noting, ‘I have seen many gentlemen turned out who were very zealous for this government and others put in who are not so now. I would, therefore, move for an address to remove all them that protested against the bill of recognition.’ On 2 Dec. he supported a supply for the navy before considering the estimates for the army. In the rest of December his time was mainly taken up with a bill for free and impartial proceedings in Parliament, designed to ensure that any Member who accepted an office after 1 Feb. 1693 should resign his seat immediately and not be eligible to stand again until the following general election. He presented the bill on 13 Dec., and later carried it to the Lords, where it was eventually defeated by two votes after heavy opposition from the Court. In January he twice sought to curb royal patronage, proposing, unsuccessfully, an additional clause in the land tax bill that would prevent the King granting away any of his hereditary revenue, and telling on 10 Jan. in favour of a clause to suspend all pensions during the war. The day before he had told against a clause to appoint extra commissioners for that bill, and on 23 Jan. did so again in favour of having Bishop Burnet’s Pastoral Letter burnt by the common hangman. In February he spoke twice in favour of the triennial bill, most significantly to back its contentious first clause requiring the holding of annual Parliaments.7
Besides these important matters of state, Hussey was keen to advance a miscellany of issues, including a private estate bill, and a bill to explain the Act restraining tithes on hemp and flax. Perhaps encouraged by local interests, he backed a bill to revive part of the Act to encourage the woollen industry, ‘because the more exporters of a manufacture the better’. In addition, he was teller in an unsuccessful attempt to block the introduction of the Salwarpe navigation bill. Not surprisingly, on 6 Feb. he presented the petition against the return of Court supporter Sir Francis Molyneux, 4th Bt., at Newark, and four days later told in favour of granting leave of absence to an opponent of the ministry, Granado Pigot. On 14 Feb. Hussey was himself allowed a fortnight’s leave, and took time off at a similar point in the next two sessions as well.8
Hussey began the 1693–4 session by moving for an investigation into the miscarriages of the fleet during the previous summer, reminding the House on 13 Nov. that ‘former Parliaments had grievances redressed before they gave supply’, and demanding to know who had advised the delay in the sailing of the Smyrna fleet and the rejection of the triennial bill. Next day he re-introduced his place bill; this time the Lords returned it with a number of amendments, to all of which the Commons agreed except one which debarred the Speaker from holding any other office or employment. He chaired the committee to draw up their reasons for disagreement, which were presented at a conference with the Lords on 5 Jan. 1694. He was one of the managers of this conference and afterwards reported back to the Lower House. The Lords eventually agreed to waive their last amendment, but the bill was refused the Royal Assent. In the opinion of Robert Yard*,
it was a bill that nobody seemed to mind but Sir Edward Hussey who brought it in, in so much that when he went up to the Lords he could hardly get anybody to go along with him, as is usual, so that it could not be so much the loss of this bill that warmed the House as the dissatisfaction they seem to have at some other matters.
Yard, however, underestimated the anger of the Commons, and Hussey was one of the Members ordered on 26 Jan. to draft an address condemning the rejection of the bill. Later in the session, he was closely involved with the passage of supply bills, acting as a teller on four occasions in connexion with the poll and beer excise bills. He also showed an interest in trade, telling in favour of introducing another bill to continue the Act to encourage woollen manufacture, and reporting from the committee on the leather-cutting bill.9
In the last session of this Parliament Hussey again campaigned for a place bill, although he caused much resentment by suggesting on 17 Dec. 1694 a clause to disqualify from sitting all those who had been members of James II’s Privy Council, which Speaker Sir John Trevor regarded as ‘scandalous’. Undeterred, Hussey acted as a teller on 7 Jan. 1695 in favour of giving an early hearing to the report from the committee of the whole on the bill. Five days before he had told against a motion for the House to consider further expedients to raise supplies for carrying on the war. Renewing his attack on Trevor on 16 Mar., he ‘either moved or seconded’ Sir John’s expulsion for accepting bribes.10
Hussey lost his seat in the 1695 election, and petitioned the House to no avail. A letter he penned to Harley suggests that he was not unduly concerned to pursue the petition, which he left ‘entirely to the disposal of you and some other friends’. Despite such insouciance, he was returned for Lincoln in 1698, after which he was predictably classed as a Country supporter. His name also appeared in a probable forecast of those likely to oppose the standing army, and on 17 Dec. he was appointed to the drafting committee on the disbanding bill. On 3 Feb. 1699 he seconded a motion to restrict the navy to only 10,000 men, and on 16 Feb. backed Seymour’s proposal to report the committee’s resolution on troop numbers. He later contributed to debate, probably on 10 Mar., in the committee on the state of the navy. Most of his activity in this session related to naturalization bills, he being involved with no less than four measures affecting the rights and status of aliens. Prompted by ‘extraordinary occasions’, on 4 Apr. 1699 he secured permission for a leave of absence.11
In the session of 1699–1700 Hussey resumed his campaign for the rights of aliens, managing a bill to enable English-born subjects to inherit the estate of their foreign ancestors. He acted as a teller on one occasion, 9 Dec. 1699, to set a date for a call of the House, and promoted a bill for ascertaining the measure of sea coal. On 16 Feb. 1700 he intervened in debate on yet another place bill. James Vernon I* reported that at first the bill was drawn so that
nobody should be capable of being elected a Member of Parliament, who had any office whatsoever, without any exception; but Sir Edward Hussey, who had formerly brought in two bills declaring that no man should accept of an office after he was chosen, stuck to his old notions and proposed it as an amendment instead of the utter incapacity, which Sir Christopher Musgrave [4th Bt.] joined in; and the whole frame of the bill was altered accordingly, to the amazement of those who were for turning all men in places out of the House: at least, they were to come no more into Parliament.
Hussey’s subsequent activity was curtailed by leave of absence granted on 8 Mar., and an analysis of the House according to ‘interests’ in early 1700 was unable to categorize his politics, regarding them as ‘doubtful’.12
Hussey contested Lincoln in February 1701, and, although defeated, showed little concern about the result. Certainly, he must have been delighted with the subsequent passage of the Act of Settlement, its constitutional provisions reflecting many of the reforms for which he had campaigned. He was returned for Lincoln at the December election, and after the death of King William found ample opportunity to assert his Country principles, teaming up with Cocks to lambast crown influence as would-be courtiers scrambled for office under the new Queen. On 13 Mar. 1702 he seconded Cocks’s motion that an account of the yield of civil list duties be put before the House, indignantly observing that ‘I should be ashamed to go down into my country and to be asked if such a motion was made and not put’. He did not gain his point, but had more success on 19 Mar. when offering a rider that commissioners of accounts be disallowed from taking another post during their year of office. The next day he clashed with William Lowndes when moving an instruction that the civil list ‘might not be begged by lords and ladies’. On 23 Mar. he submitted a clause to prevent the Queen from granting pensions from her civil list, but it did not even gain a second reading, having no more than ‘an air of popularity’. Thus, it was entirely predictable that he was named to the committee to thank the Queen for donating £100,000 of her revenue to public use. He also advanced another Country cause, the bill to prevent electoral corruption, and acted as a teller in support of an investigation of occasions where Members had been elected while abroad. His activity in this session once more covered a wide range of issues, he being named to drafting committees on bills to encourage privateers, and for the recovery of servants’ wages. His philanthropic instincts moved him to propose that for tax purposes all lands given to charity since 1693 should be assessed at the time of donation. He managed a private estate bill on behalf of his son-in-law Robert Apreece*, offered an amendment to the Whitby harbour bill, and unsuccessfully attempted to add a further clause to the abjuration bill.13
Following a contested victory at Lincoln in August 1702, Hussey was less conspicuous at Westminster. In the third session, he displayed his Whig sympathies by voting against the Tack. Despite speculation that he might stand at the Lincoln election of 1705, he did not put up, and retired from active politics. He died on 19 Feb. 1725 at Welbourn, and was buried at Caythorpe, where his monument celebrated ‘a gentleman of great virtue, learning, integrity and singular love to his country, which he served many years in Parliament with honour’. He was succeeded by his son Henry, whose death in 1730 brought about the extinction of the family’s two baronetcies.14
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Authors: Paula Watson / Perry Gauci
- 1. Lincs. Peds. (Harl. Soc. li), 531.
- 2. Ibid. 531.
- 3. Cocks Diary, 244–45, 255; A. G. Matthews, Calamy Revised, 59.
- 4. Bodl. Rawl. A.79, f. 79; Grey, x. 88, 108.
- 5. Add. 70015, f. 86.
- 6. Luttrell Diary, 14, 23, 28, 32, 55, 69, 75, 117, 124, 129, 130, 144.
- 7. Ibid. 256, 263, 265, 276, 284, 360, 407, 415; Grey, 262, 285–6.
- 8. Luttrell Diary, 402, 428.
- 9. Grey, 315; Centre Kentish Stud. Stanhope mss 78/18, Yard to Alexander Stanhope, 30 Jan. 1694.
- 10. Lexington Pprs. 22; HMC Astley, 82–83.
- 11. Add. 70200, Hussey to Harley, 23 Nov. 1695; Cam. Misc. xxix. 392–3, 396.
- 12. Vernon–Shrewsbury Letters, ii. 434.
- 13. Glos. RO, Newton mss D1844/C/10, J. Weld to Sir John Newton, 2nd Bt., 25 Jan. 1701; Cocks Diary, 232, 244–5, 247, 250, 253, 254–5, 262.
- 14. Add. 70335, list of constituencies, 7 Feb. 1705; Lincs. Peds. 531; The Gen. n.s. vi. 182; Blore, Rutland, 109.