LIDDELL, Henry (c.1644-1723), of Ravensworth Castle, co. Dur.

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



1689 - 1690
1695 - 1698
Feb. 1701 - 1705
2 Jan. 1706 - 1710

Family and Education

b. c.1644, 1st s. of Sir Thomas Liddell, 2nd Bt., of Ravensworth by Anne, da. of Sir Henry Vane† of Raby Castle, co. Dur.  educ. I. Temple 1662; travelled abroad 1662–5.  m. by 1670, Catherine (d. 1704), da. and h. of Sir John Bright, 1st Bt.†, of Carbrook Castle and Badsworth, Yorks., 5s. (1 d.v.p.) 1da.  suc. fa. as 3rd Bt. Nov. 1697.1

Offices Held

Freeman, Newcastle 1675; sheriff, co. Dur. 1721–2.2

Member, hostmen’s co. of Newcastle-upon-Tyne 1680.3


Heir to considerable estates and collieries in the north-east, Liddell became one of the region’s chief colliery owners upon succeeding his father in 1697, and by the time of his death owned lands in Durham, Northumberland and Yorkshire. Grandson of a leading Republican and son of a Presbyterian, Liddell’s consistent Whiggery was blemished only by his vote during the Convention against declaring the throne vacant. There is no evidence that he stood at the 1690 election, but five years later he was again returned for Durham: it was probably this recent return to the Commons which explains his being classed in January 1696 as ‘doubtful’ in a forecast on the proposed council of trade. His Whiggish loyalties soon became clear, however, as he signed the Association promptly and in March voted with the Court for fixing the price of guineas at 22s. In July 1696 he was listed as a subscriber to the Bank of England, and after the Commons returned in the autumn, Liddell voted for the attainder of Sir John Fenwick†. At the general election in 1698 he was defeated at Durham, and was classed retrospectively in September as a Court supporter. At the first 1701 election Liddell abandoned Durham and was returned instead at Newcastle, where his participation in the coal trade gave him some interest. His contribution to parliamentary proceedings remained slight. He served as teller on 29 Apr. in favour of committing the bill to endow Worcester College, Oxford from Sir Thomas Cooke Winford’s* charity.4

Liddell continued as a loyal, if inconspicuous Whig Member during the reign of Queen Anne. On 13 Feb. 1703 he voted to agree with the Lords’ amendments to the bill for enlarging the time for taking the Abjuration. At the end of October 1704 he was forecast as a likely opponent of the Tack and at the division on 28 Nov. either voted against it or was absent. Liddell did not stand at the 1705 election, but this does not seem to have been due to a desire to retire from the House as, following the death in December 1705 of Sir William Blackett, 1st Bt.*, he was returned at the ensuing by-election at Newcastle. Liddell was one of the Whigs absent on 18 Feb. 1706 from the Court side in the division upon the ‘place clause’ of the regency bill. He was nominated on 26 Dec. 1706 to draft a bill concerned with the estates of the deceased Christopher Lister*. An analysis of the House dating from early 1708 classed Liddell as a Whig, and in 1709 he supported the naturalization of the Palatines. Given Liddell’s low political profile, it is somewhat surprising to find him being mentioned in the autumn of 1709 as a likely addition to the Admiralty Board in the reshuffle being urged by the Junto. The proposal came to nothing, however, though in the following session Liddell naturally voted for the impeachment of Dr Sacheverell.5

Though he resolved not to stand in 1710 and never again offered his services at an election, Liddell retained a strong interest in Commons’ proceedings, most notably those impinging upon his mining interests. In 1708 he had entered into a combination of north-east coal owners intended to regulate the production and price of the region’s coal, and in November 1710 the likelihood that a bill to prevent such combinations would be introduced to the House led Liddell to organize a meeting to prepare the cartel’s response. One of his sons shouldered the greater burden of opposing the bill brought into the Commons in 1711, though on 13 Apr. Liddell and Sidney Wortley Montagu* petitioned against this measure. Concern for his business interests also led him to oppose in 1714 the attempt by William Wrightson* to introduce a petition from Newcastle’s keelmen calling for measures that would have inhibited the effectiveness of the cartel of which Liddell was a leading member. He financed a celebration of George I’s accession, but this did not presage an attempt to regain his seat in 1715. Even so his continuing attention to parliamentary affairs was demonstrated two years later when he assisted those opposed to a bill to navigate the Wear, a proposal to benefit the coal trade on that river which would have allowed it to compete on more equal terms with colliery owners based on the Tyne. Liddell died in London on 1 Sept. 1723 and was buried at Kensington two days later. He was succeeded in the baronetcy and most of his estates by his grandson Henry; as 4th baronet, Henry sat for Morpeth under George II until being raised to the peerage in 1747 as Lord Ravensworth.6

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: Eveline Cruickshanks


  • 1. Surtees, Durham, i. 209; CSP Dom. 1661–2, p. 509.
  • 2. Reg. of Freemen (Newcastle Reg. Soc. iii), 91.
  • 3. Newcastle Hostmen’s Co. (Surtees Soc. cv), 271.
  • 4. DZA, Bonet despatch 6/16 July 1696.
  • 5. Party and Management ed. C. Jones, 81; Add. 61460, f. 75.
  • 6. E. Hughes, N. Country Life, i. 167–8, 175–83, 290–7; L. Gooch, The Desperate Faction?, 31; R. Welford, Men of Mark ’Twixt Tyne and Tweed, ii. 47; PCC 238 Richmond.