BERRY, Sir Thomas (d.1698), of Burrough, Northam, Devon.
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Family and Education
2nd but 1st surv. s. of John Berry of Estleigh by Mary, da. and coh. of William Leigh of Burrough. m. Mary, da. of William Martin of Lindridge, Bishop’s Teignton, and coh. to her bro. William, s.p. Kntd. 18 July 1671; suc. fa. 1674.1
Commr. for assessment, Devon 1661-3, 1673-4, 1689 90, recusants 1675, j.p. 1675 bef. 1681, 1685-9, 1600-d.; freeman, Totnes ?1673-?84; dep. lt. Devon, 1676-?89.
Commr. for excise appeals 1673-8.
Berry’s family was widespread and numerous in North Devon in the 17th century. They were minor gentry whose male line can be traced back to the 13th century. A collateral branch produced a Member for Barnstaple in 1529. Berry’s father made a fortunate marriage; his attitude during the Civil Wars is unknown, but he was named to several local commissions in 1647-9 and again in 1657, and seems to have been a j.p. throughout the Interregnum. Berry’s contemporary, the admiral, was probably a distant cousin; but his political career was entirely due to his marriage to a sister-in-law of Thomas Clifford. Berry was elected at Totnes on the by-election following Clifford’s elevation to the peerage, after a false start when Parliament cancelled writs issued by Lord Chancellor Shaftesbury during the recess. He had the mortification of seeing his patron driven from political life only four months later, though not before he had been provided with a post worth £200 p.a. Berry made no speeches and sat on no committees. He received the government whip in 1675, and was regarded as a follower of Edward Seymour. But it is probable that his attendance was irregular; he was still a stranger to Sir Richard Wiseman in 1676 and he is noted as absent from a debate about April 1678. Nevertheless he was mentioned in the working lists, marked by Shaftesbury as ‘twice vile’, and included in the ‘unanimous club’. It is unlikely that he ever stood again.2
Although Berry returned the standard negative reply on the repeal of the Test Act and Penal Laws, he was retained on the commission and the lieutenancy. He accepted the new regime, under which he held local office after the Revolution. He may have been in financial difficulties, for in 1692 he sold the manor of Northam. He died on 3 Nov. 1698; under his very complicated will the Berry estates were entailed successively on no less than five branches of the family, while Burrough went to his sister’s grandson.3