PENGELLY, Thomas (1675-1730), of Cheshunt, Herts.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1715-1754, ed. R. Sedgwick, 1970
Available from Boydell and Brewer



29 Apr. 1717 - 16 Oct. 1726

Family and Education

bap. 16 May 1675, s. of Thomas Pengelly of Moorfields, London, and Cheshunt, Turkey merchant, by Rachel, da. of Lt.-Col. Jeremy Baines. educ. I. Temple 1692, called 1700, bencher 1710. unm. Kntd. 1 May 1719.

Offices Held

Serjeant-at-law 1710; King’s prime serjeant 1719; chief baron of the Exchequer 1726-d.


Pengelly was legal adviser to the 6th Duke of Somerset, who returned him for Cockermouth.1 At first he supported the Government, voting for the repeal of the Occasional Conformity and Schism Acts and speaking violently for the peerage bill, because it would have kept men of property in the Commons.2 On the collapse of the South Sea bubble he spoke in favour of the bill restraining the directors from leaving the country. Elected to the secret committee set up by the Commons to inquire into the affair, he was the first to inform the House of the flight of the company’s cashier. In spite of his legal and political claims he was passed in the race for legal promotion by a much junior barrister, Philip Yorke, for whom Lord Chancellor Macclesfield was supposed to have an undue partiality. It is said that he

was so disgusted at frequently hearing the chancellor declare that Mr. Yorke had not been answered that he one day threw up his brief and declared he would no more attend a court where he found that Mr. Yorke was not to be answered.3

On Macclesfield’s fall in 1725 Pengelly played a leading part in promoting and conducting his impeachment. Having unsuccessfully applied for the chief justiceship of the King’s bench,4 he went into opposition, speaking in support of Pulteney’s motion of 9 Feb. 1726 for an inquiry into the public debt, and on 16 Feb. against the treaty of Hanover. Soon afterwards he was appointed chief baron of the Exchequer, thus terminating his parliamentary career.

He died of gaol fever 14 Apr 1730.

Ref Volumes: 1715-1754

Author: Romney R. Sedgwick


  • 1. HMC 7th Rep. 681, 683.
  • 2. HMC Egmont Diary, i. 113.
  • 3. R. Cooksey, Lord Somers, 72.
  • 4. Knatchbull Diary, 36, 38, 42; Pengelly to Newcastle, 24 Feb. 1725, Add. 32687, f. 65.