HUTCHESON, Archibald (c.1659-1740), of the Middle Temple and Golden Sq., Westminster.
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Family and Education
b. c.1659, 1st s. of Archibald Hutcheson of Stracum, co. Antrim. educ. M. Temple 1680, called 1683, bencher 1726. m. (2) lic. 18 Aug. 1715, Mary Gayer, wid. (d. 19 Feb. 1727), of Stepney; (3) Rebecca; (4) 1731, Elizabeth, wid. of Col. Robert Stewart of Montserrat, s.p.s.1
Attorney-gen. Leeward Is. 1688-1702; ld. of Trade Dec. 1714-Jan. 1716; dep. steward of Westminster Aug. 1726-Jan. 1727.
Hutcheson, lawyer and economist, was the man of business of the Duke of Ormonde, ‘from whom he had received signal obligations’. Returned for Hastings as a Whig who would often vote with the Tories, he was given a place on the board of Trade on George I’s accession. After Ormonde’s flight in 1715, he made a long and spirited defence of his patron in the House, taking over the administration of Ormonde’s affairs in England and visiting him in Paris.2 Early in 1716 he resigned his place, speaking against the septennial bill in April following. In the summer of that year, he was described as one of the principal Tory advisers of the Prince of Wales, later George II,3 and as having been ‘a mighty man for the Government, but is at present a malcontent, for he was not enough considered, and so sides highly with the Prince’.4 He opposed the vote of credit against Sweden in April 1717, and a month later spoke against the South Sea Company’s proposals for taking over the national debt. In January 1718 he and Walpole led for the Opposition in the debate on the retention of half-pay officers, having ‘already prepared the minds of the assembly by causing his book of abstracts and observations to be distributed gratis to most of the Members’, ‘to show that the lists of half-pay were charged with many officers who had no right to it’. He wrote several treatises on the national debt, claiming to be ‘the first who set the debts of the nation in a fair and full light ... which, till then had been kept as a mystery from the people’. During the South Sea crisis he proposed that all transactions made during the boom should ‘be esteemed of no more force or validity, than the bargains of children, lunatics and madmen’.5 An opponent of Walpole’s ‘ingraftment’ scheme, he proposed
a scheme of his own in a committee for retrieving of credit, etc., the method ... was to bring down the prices of stocks of all our companies to the sums paid in by the first proprietors, that is £100 South Sea stock would be at seventy pounds, that being the sum originally paid by the proprietors at the founding of the Company. He also proposed that all the money and effects that should arise out of the late directors’ estates and others, with other sums etc. should be applied to appeasing of the annuitants, the subscribers of the many subscriptions and such who bought the South Sea stock at the high prices. Though many think this the most equitable way of relieving the unhappy sufferers, yet the committee would not hear of it, which put Mr. Hutcheson somewhat out of humour, being a gentleman not a little attached to his own thoughts. He was so far provoked as to say loudly that he would never appear in that committee again, and so walked out of the House, on which some were so indecent as to hiss.6
Nevertheless he was elected to the secret committee set up by the House of Commons to investigate the South Sea scandal.
In 1721-2 Hutcheson had several conversations and some correspondence with Sutherland, in which he pressed for an early dissolution of Parliament and for triennial and even annual Parliaments.7 Early in 1722 he introduced a bill, which passed the Commons but was rejected by the Lords, for correcting abuses in despatching writs to sheriffs and enforcing the penalties against returning officers who made false returns. He also took part in the successful agitation for the repeal of the clauses of the Quarantine Act giving emergency powers to the Government. Put up for Westminster in 1722 with the support of Atterbury and the Tories, he was returned with a huge majority, but was unseated on petition in December, having already taken his seat for Hastings, for which he had also been elected against a government candidate. At the opening of the new Parliament he moved that the elections committee should be a select one, instead of open to anyone who wished to join it, but nobody else supporting him, the motion dropped. He opposed the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act in October 1722, and in March 1723 spoke in Atterbury’s defence and against the bill of pains and penalties against Plunkett.8 In a debate on the tobacco frauds that year, he proposed successfully that a single commission of customs for both England and Scotland should be set up.9 He spoke against the army in 1724 and against the supply in 1726. He remained on close terms with the Jacobites, one of whose leaders, Lord Orrery, wrote to the Pretender 10 May 1724: ‘Mr. Hutcheson is a very honest man, and to be depended upon. I think he is a good friend of yours, but he is of a peculiar turn, and will serve the cause in his own way’.10 And in 1728 Atterbury wrote to his daughter:
I should be glad to know how Mr. Hutcheson does, who is, I think, several years older than I, and therefore in danger of going sooner. Whenever he goes, we shall loose a worthy, honest, incorruptible man, which is, at this time of day, a great rarity ... The Duke of Ormonde’s affairs will never find one, after he is gone, I fear, that will manage them with so disinterested a zeal, and so much to his service ... Give him many thanks from me ... for the many instances of his friendship, and assure him that, wherever I am, I carry about me the same grateful heart towards him, and am in all respects just the same as I was when I left England, except in point of health.11
Hutcheson did not stand again, dying 12 Aug. 1740.
Ref Volumes: 1715-1754
Author: Eveline Cruickshanks
- 1. Nichol's Atterbury Corresp. iv. 226; v. 109; PCC 227 Browne; Add. 18683, f. 3.
- 2. HMC Stuart, v. 524; vii. 299-300; Stuart mss 156/75, 157/138.
- 3. Coxe, Walpole, ii. 73.
- 4. HMC Stuart, vii. 314.
- 5. Pol. State, xv. 88; xxiii. 367; Abstracts of the number and yearly pay of the Land Forces ... for the year 1718.
- 6. Stuart mss 52/157.
- 7. Copies of some letters from Mr. Hutcheson to the late Earl of Sunderland (1722).
- 8. Pol. State, xxiii. 361-6; Stuart mss 57/125 (see LONDON); Knatchbull Diary, 29 Mar. 1723.
- 9. See PERRY, Micajah.
- 10. Stuart mss 74/58A.
- 11. Atterbury Corresp. iv. 152-3.