WRIGHTSON, William (1676-1760), of St. Nicholas All Saints, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Northumb.
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Family and Education
b. 29 Dec.1676, 2nd s. of Robert Wrightson of Cusworth, Yorks. by 3rd w. Sarah, da. of Sir Thomas Beaumont of Whitley Beaumont, Yorks. m. (1) 2 Feb. 1699, Isabel (d. 1716), da. and h. of Francis Beaumont, merchant, of Newcastle, wid. of Thomas Matthews of Newcastle, s.p.; (2) 1722, Isabella (d. 1746), da. and coh. of William Fenwick of Bywell, Northumb., 1s. d.v.p., 2da. (1 d.v.p.). suc. bro. at Cusworth 1724.1
Clerk, pipe office by 1704–?13.
Wrightson’s early life is obscure. The younger son of a Yorkshire landowner, he was appointed in the early 1700s to a minor government place, worth only £10 p.a., but his prospects improved on his marriage to the heiress of a significant estate in Newcastle. He was encouraged to stand for the borough in 1710, a report of the election revealing that supporters of Wrightson and Sir William Blackett, 2nd Bt.*, wore hats emblazoned with the legend ‘for the Queen and Church’. Wrightson’s partisan Tory sympathies were evident in much of his activity in the 1710–11 session. Concern for local interests appears in his nomination on 20 Feb. 1711 to draft a bill for the navigation of the Tyne, and having been appointed on 17 Mar. to inspect the ballot for commissioners of accounts Wrightson reported the result to the House on 9 Apr. Two days earlier he had been teller on the Tory side in a division on the Cockermouth election case. His support for another Tory-sponsored measure, the crown grants resumption bill, became evident in April. Having been named on 17 Apr. to inspect the ballot for the commissioners to be appointed by the bill, Wrightson finished in joint seventh place, as the House was informed on the 20th, thereby necessitating a run-off. Wrightson was successful in the ballot to determine the last commissioner, but in the event the bill was defeated in the Lords. On 19 May he conveyed to the Lords the bill to prevent coal combinations. Earlier, in March, members of the cartel dominating the north-east coal trade had asked Wrightson to procure a copy of this measure; and Wrightson was again instructed to carry the bill to the Lords on 1 June once the Commons had agreed with the Lords’ amendments. In the summer Wrightson was included in a published list of ‘worthy patriots’ who during the session had detected the mismanagements of the previous ministry, and was also noted as a member of the October Club. His party solidarity was similarly evident in the 1711–12 session. On 17 Jan. 1712, for example, he acted as teller against a Whig attempt to adjourn the debate upon the expulsion of Robert Walpole II, while on 19 Feb. he told in favour of declaring that Adam de Cardonnel’s* dealings concerning army bread contracts had been corrupt. He also told on 6 Mar. in favour of the motion that having been sent to the Tower, Walpole was ineligible to sit in the Commons. He managed two committees on estate bills, one of which concerned Northumberland. Wrightson’s willingness to pursue local concerns was also evident in his promotion of a bill to place the management of the keelmen’s hospital in Newcastle in the hands of the corporation. The measure was an attempt by the corporation to gain control of an institution which in 1710 had provided support for the strike of Newcastle’s keelmen, but despite a petition against the measure from nearly 1,000 keelmen, presented at the bill’s third reading on 29 Mar., it passed and Wrightson was ordered to carry the bill to the Lords. The final months of the session saw him assist Sir Henry Johnson† in lobbying the Lords against the bill to ease the passage of sheriff’s accounts, which Johnson claimed would affect Wrightson on account of his place in the pipe office. Wrightson was less active in the 1713 session. On 23 Apr. he was nominated to draft a bill to allow the endowment of poor parishes in the West Riding of Yorkshire from the proceeds of enclosing common land, and the following day was appointed to draft a bill to ease the passage of sheriff’s accounts. This nomination suggests that Wrightson had come to support a measure he had opposed in the previous session. To attribute this about-turn to his removal from the pipe office would, however, be mistaken. The bill was said to have been initiated by ‘the officers of the pipe office’, and Wrightson’s correspondence with Lord Strafford suggests that his support for this measure was due to alterations in the provisions of the bill. Though removed from office, Wrightson remained loyal to the Court in the proceedings on the French commercial treaty. On 6 May he told in favour of the second reading of the bill to suspend the duty on French wines and on 18 June voted in favour of the bill confirming the treaty’s 8th and 9th articles.2
During the summer of 1713 Wrightson lobbied Lord Treasurer Oxford (Robert Harley*) for appointment as commissioner of the navy, writing in August that such a mark of favour would increase the ‘zeal’ in Newcastle for ‘her Majesty’s great goodness and generous expressions’. Wrightson’s request was ignored, however, and, having been returned for Newcastle unopposed at the 1713 election, he renewed his application in December. He did so again in January 1714, attempting the same month to enlist Lord Strafford’s support, but Oxford ignored all these requests. Early in the session Wrightson was appointed to draft a bill for the relief of wine merchants (12 Apr. 1714). His concern for local issues was also apparent during May, when he was reported to be intending to present a petition from the Newcastle keelmen calling for measures which would have opened up the coal trade on the Tyne. Knowledge of his intentions, however, allowed Tyne colliery owners to organize opposition to it in the House. (Sir) Henry Liddell* reported that these efforts were so successful that Wrightson, faced by the opposition of such Members as Lord William Powlett, Sir Joseph Jekyll and Sir Arthur Kaye, 3rd Bt., decided against presenting the petition. During May he was closely involved in the passage of a bill to extend to the whole country the terms of an Act passed in the previous Parliament to endow poor livings in the West Riding. On 6 May he was teller on the Tory side in the division on the Colchester election petition. Later the same month, however, he told against hearing a petition concerning the Harwich by-election from a candidate supported by Lord Bolingbroke (Henry St. John II*). This suggestion of Hanoverian Toryism on Wrightson’s part was more clearly underlined in June when Wrightson was included on Speaker Hanmer’s list of the ballot for the commission of accounts. Obtaining only 145 votes, he was unsuccessful, however. The session saw Wrightson tell against a proposal to levy a duty – intended to pay for repairs to the breach in the banks of the Thames – on coal landed at London (14 May), and in favour of an additional duty on imported linen (22 June). The Worsley list of the 1713 Parliament classed him as a Tory, as did two comparisons of the 1713 and 1715 Parliaments. He was returned for Newcastle in 1715, despite doubts as to whether he satisfied the property qualification for Members, and sat as a Tory until removed on petition in 1724. That same year Wrightson inherited from his elder brother the family estates in Yorkshire, where he resided until his death on 4 Dec. 1760. His estates passed to his surviving daughter. Her husband took the name Wrightson and their son sat for Aylesbury in the 1784 Parliament.3
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Authors: Eveline Cruickshanks / Richard Harrison
- 1. J. Foster, Peds. of Yorks. i. (Wrightson); IGI, London.
- 2. Add. 70421, newsletter 7 Nov. 1710; 31144, ff. 242–4, 379, 389; 22222, f. 435; Cobbett, Parlty. Hist. vi. 1014; HMC Lords, n.s. ix. 134–5; E. Hughes, N. Country Life, i. 176; Transformation of Eng. Provincial Towns ed. Clark, 211–12.
- 3. Add. 70208, Wrightson to Ld. Oxford, 14 Aug., 18 Dec. 1713, 11 Jan. 1713[–14]; 22222, f. 436; 70305, ballot list; NLS, Advocates’ mss, Wodrow pprs. letters Quarto 8, f. 138; Liddell–Cotesworth Letters (Surtees Soc. cxcvii), 162; Gent. Mag. 1760, p. 594; Foster.