TITUS, Silius (c.1623-1704), of Bushey, Herts. and Ramsey Abbey, Hunts.
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Family and Education
b. c.1623, 1st s. of Silas Tyte, Salter, of Field Lane, Holborn, London and Bushey by his 2nd w. Catherine Colley. educ. Christ Church, Oxf. matric 16 Mar. 1638, aged 15; M. Temple 1639. m. 1663, Katherine, da. of James Winstanley, barrister, of Braunstone, Leics., 3da. suc. fa. 1637.1
Capt. of ft. (Parliamentary) 1642–5, of horse 1645–6, June–Nov. 1660; gov. Deal Castle 1661–9; capt. Admiralty regt. 1666–7.2
Gent. waiter to Charles I by 1647–8; groom of the bedchamber to Charles II 1650–1, by May 1660–75; member, council of trade 1668–74, council of plantations 1670–4; PC July–16 Dec. 1688.3
Keeper, Bushey park, Mdx. July–Aug. 1660; surveyor of highways, Bushey 1665, 1680; conservator, Bedford level 1679–d.4
Asst. African Co. 1663, R. Fisheries Co. 1664.5
Freeman, Ludlow 1691.6
Titus had forfeited his reputation among his fellow Whigs – and within the political world at large – through having given temporary support to James II’s government. He had spoken in 1687 in favour of the repeal of the Penal Laws and had afterwards ‘appeared . . . a courtier’, being an active member of the Privy Council, to which he was appointed in July 1688. His eventual disillusionment with James and attempts to ingratiate himself with William of Orange did not erase the impression his collaboration had made: when he joined William at Windsor in December 1688 he was refused an audience. He did not stand in the elections for the Convention, nor at the general election of 1690. In January 1691, however, he was chosen at Ludlow, probably with the assistance of Lord Macclesfield, whose eldest son, Viscount Brandon (Charles Gerard*), had been another of James II’s Whig collaborators and whose second son, the Hon. Fitton Gerard*, had been an unsuccessful candidate at Ludlow the previous year. That election had been declared void subsequently by the Commons. At the ensuing by-election in January, Titus took Gerard’s place as a candidate, and was returned together with another Whig.7
Titus, who was usually known by his former rank of colonel in the militia, appears not to have attended Parliament between his being returned and the prorogation in May 1691, and in that month was reported to be lying ‘dangerously sick’. However, he had recovered by the beginning of the next session, and spoke in support of the East India Company during a discussion of its accounts on 13 Nov. He intervened again, briefly, on 19 Nov. in a debate on army estimates. On 15 Dec., when the House was debating a resolution which declared that the papers seized from a French packet-boat by Sir Ralph Delaval* had not included instructions from Lord Nottingham (Daniel Finch†), Titus moved that in the resolution ‘some notice might be taken’ of the fact that the Earl of Danby (Peregrine Osborne†) had admitted giving mistaken evidence on the matter to the Lords, but this proposal was rejected after the argument had been put that any ‘reflection’ on Danby was irrelevant to ‘the vindication of the Lord Nottingham’.8
During the next session Titus was particularly active, intervening frequently in debates, on the Whig side and against the administration, and sometimes spicing his remarks with the sardonic wit which had often characterized his parliamentary speeches (in 1680, when rebuked for jesting in the House, he had answered that ‘jests are not jests without being sharp, nor are things serious because they are dull’). On 11 Nov. 1692 he added his voice to those pressing for an inquiry into the conduct of the navy, agreeing that the responsibility should lie with the lords of the Admiralty, and expressing the hope ‘that if there had been any miscarriages . . . the House would not be against hearing them’. Three days later he joined William Palmes*, Edward Clarke* and John Smith I* in bringing to the Commons’ attention the absence across the sea of a number of Members, serving either in Ireland or as ambassadors to foreign courts. It was proposed that either the absentees be given a day on which to appear or a committee be set up to examine precedents, the latter course being adopted. On 17 Nov. Titus took part in the Whig attack on the East India Company, a body he had defended in the previous session. After it had been argued on behalf of the company that what was needed was not a bill to create a new company but only to remedy the defects in the existing company’s charter, and it had been moved that the House hear the company once more before taking a decision, he commented roughly: ‘if the company have not trifled with you enough already and spent sufficient time the last sessions, then pray hear them again. But if they did, I am for bringing in a bill pursuant to the regulations offered by his Majesty.’ On 3 Dec. he spoke against the government again, in the committee of supply, criticizing the proposal that Parliament should pay for 34,000 troops to be stationed abroad. ‘It is a strange opinion’, he said, ‘that when our enemies are stronger and we hardly able to deal with them already that we shall go to weaken ourselves more.’ The debate on 21 Jan. 1693 on Charles Blount’s pamphlet King William and Queen Mary Conquerors, a work that had been complained against, drew from Titus a typical witticism. A bitter critic of the pamphlet – the previous day, in a preliminary debate, he had been one of those who had proposed that the licenser and printer should be sent for – he was quick to answer the point that ‘there were many good things in the book’, replying that ‘in the beginning of King James I’s reign, the Bible was printed, and the word “not” being left out of the seventh commandment, the whole impression was burnt, and yet no man can deny but there were many good things in it’. He opposed the bill against hawkers and pedlars when it was reported on 2 Feb. and seven days later spoke in favour of the triennial bill, arguing that ‘manna, when it fell, was sweet as honey, but if kept, bred worms. It is objected, we have good laws for frequent Parliaments already. I answer, the Ten Commandments were made almost 4,000 years ago, but were never kept.’ In this session he also managed through the House a bill concerning the repair of highways in his native Hertfordshire, and on 22 Feb. ‘took notice’ in the Commons
of the multitude of private bills, and to save a great deal of trouble desired that leave might be given to bring in a bill to make all settlements valid and effectual but until the next session of Parliament. It would save much time.
On 1 Mar. 1693, when it was reported that the Lords were not sitting at a time appointed for a conference between the two Houses, and the Speaker judged this to be ‘in the nature of refusing a conference’, Titus commented that, although he knew of no precedent, ‘I think you may lawfully demand a conference upon the same matters relating to the last conference.’ He seconded Sir Christopher Musgrave, 4th Bt., on 8 Mar., in a proposal to refer to the committee of privileges the question as to whether William Culliford* should be given the benefit of privilege against charges which were being laid against him in Ireland.9
At the beginning of the next session Titus was vehement in his denunciation of the naval miscarriages and the loss of the Smyrna convoy. One commentator described the Commons during a debate on this topic in November as ‘very hot . . . Paul Foley I laid open the grievances very naked; was seconded by Sir Thomas Clarges and Titus, and there were very severe reflections’. In his own speech Titus had complained that
a great sum was given last year to set out the fleet, which brought home nothing but infamy. The fleet should have convoyed the Turkey fleet out of danger, and it convoyed them into danger. They fiddled and danced at Torbay, and we must pay the music. If you inquire not into these miscarriages, you will be as popular a Parliament as the fleet is a fleet.
But he supported Sir Edward Seymour, 4th Bt., Sir Christopher Musgrave and John Grobham Howe in their insistence upon including in the Commons’ resolution on the matter a promise to support the government. When the triennial bill was given its third reading on 22 Dec. he spoke in favour of its being passed, though with a characteristic quip he admitted the weight of the principal objection against the bill was that it had been drawn up by the Lords: ‘the apostle Paul wished to be dissolved’, he pointed out, ‘but, I doubt, if his friends had set him a day, he would have taken it kindly from them’. This is the last speech, as such, that he is recorded as having made. He was given leave of absence on 26 Feb. 1694 for three weeks to recover his health. Classed as a Court supporter in Grascome’s list of 1693–5, he was less active in the next session than formerly, though he was provoked to interject a comment during a debate on the place bill on 18 Dec. 1694. A clause was offered to exclude from Parliament all who had held office under Charles II and James II, and Sir Edward Hussey, 3rd Bt., proposed that in addition all should be excluded who had been members of the Privy Council under James. ‘To this Colonel Titus answered that he had indeed that title, but knew no more of that king’s council than the yeoman of the guard who stood at the door.’ Henry Guy* listed Titus in this session as a likely supporter in connexion with the Commons’ investigation of him for corruption.10
Having no longer either an influential patron or enough interest of his own to secure election, Titus was not returned to any subsequent Parliament. After having been defeated in Huntingdonshire (by Anthony Hammond*) in 1695 and in Hertfordshire in 1698, the two counties in which his own estates lay, he did not stand again. He was included in the lieutenancy for Hertfordshire in March 1701 and again in 1702, and he died in 1704, his will being proved on 5 Jan. 1705. Ramsey Abbey was sold to pay his debts, and Bushey left to his elder surviving daughter. His reputation as a renegade outlived him: Swift was to claim that Titus had been ‘the greatest rogue in England’.11
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Author: D. W. Hayton
- 1. Genealogical Mag. vii. 461; Clutterbuck, Herts. i. 342; Nichols, Leics. iv. 629.
- 2. Clutterbuck, 344; CSP Dom. 1645–7, p. 146; 1660–1, p. 598; 1665–6, p. 510; HMC 8th Rep. pt. 1 (1881), 8–10; Cal. Treas. Bks. iii. 901.
- 3. CJ, v. 365; HMC 4th Rep. 274; CSP Dom. 1650, p. 321; 1675–6, p. 200; Pepys Diary, i. 122; Bulstrode Pprs. 147; Luttrell, Brief Relation, i. 449.
- 4. CSP Dom. 1660–1, pp. 137, 174; Trans. St. Albans and Herts. Arch. Soc. (1928), 152; S. Wells, Drainage of Bedford Level, i. 456–85.
- 5. Sel. Charters, 179, 183.
- 6. Salop RO, Ludlow bor. recs. min. bk. 1690–1712.
- 7. HMC Downshire, i. 276; Add. 34515, ff. 37, 47–48; Bramston, Autobiog. (Cam. Soc. xxxii), 311, 312.
- 8. Portledge Pprs. 110; Luttrell Diary, 16, 79, 194; Cobbett, Parlty. Hist. v. 665.
- 9. Grey, vii. 401–3; x. 298; Luttrell Diary, 218–19, 225, 228, 231, 234, 292, 371, 376–7, 385–6, 394, 397, 401, 414, 436, 455, 456, 473; Cobbett, 712, 737, 767; Macaulay, Hist. Eng. 2296–7.
- 10. Hatton Corresp. (Cam. Soc. n.s. xxiii), ii. 199; Cobbett, 777–8, 825–6; Grey, x. 372–3; Lexington Pprs. 22.
- 11. Luttrell, Brief Relation, iii. 544; CSP Dom. 1698, p. 381; 1700–2, p. 253; 1702–3, p. 392; VCH Herts. ii. 80; VCH Hunts. ii. 194; PCC 18 Gee; Burnet, i. 19.