CHOLMONDELEY, Thomas (1627-1702), of Vale Royal, Cheshire.
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Family and Education
b. 15 Sept. 1627, 3rd but 1st surv. s. of Thomas Cholmondeley of Vale Royal; bro. of Francis Cholmondeley. m. (1) bef. 1651, Jane (d. 14 Apr. 1666), da. of Sir Lionel Tollemache, 2nd Bt.†, of Helmingham, Suff., 5s., d.v.p. 7da.; (2) 20 May 1684, Anne (d.1742), da. of Sir Walter St. John, 3rd Bt., of Lydiard Tregoze, Wilts., 4s. (1 d.v.p.) 1da. suc. fa. 1653.1
Commr. for militia, Cheshire Mar. 1660, capt. of militia ft. Apr. 1660, sheriff June 1660-1, j.p. July 1660-?89, dep. lt. c. Aug. 1660-Nov. 1688, commr. for assessment Aug. 1660-80, 1689, corporations 1662-3, loyal and indigent officers 1662; alderman, Chester by 1664-84; commr. for maintenance of poor clergy, I.o.M. 1675; freeman, Liverpool 1686.2
Cholmondeley’s ancestors had been established on the Cheshire estate from which they took their name since the late 12th century, and first sat for the county in 1547. His father bought Vale Royal early in the 17th century, served as a ship-money sheriff and a royalist commissioner of array, and compounded for his delinquency on a fine of £450. Cholmondeley inherited his father’s politics and was involved in the rising of Sir George Booth in 1659. At the Restoration he was made sheriff of Cheshire, holding office until November 1661, and consequently presiding over the general election. He was proposed for the order of the Royal Oak with an estate of £2,000 p.a. His neighbour and political adversary, Sir John Crewe, described him as
a proper handsome gentleman of a strong constitution, of good natural parts and of a solid judgement. He was a kind husband, an indulgent parent, a loving and affectionate master; a cried-up landlord, a constant and generous housekeeper. He got esteem without seeking it and without pride; a good justice of the peace, patiently giving ear to all who came before him; a very faithful trustee and careful in those matters in which he was employed ... He was of a generous disposition, of an universal affability; a composer of differences; apt to do kindnesses to his countrymen; remarkable for his temperance, liberality and hospitality.3
Cholmondeley stood as court candidate for the county at a by-election in 1670, and defeated Sir Philip Egerton. He was a moderately active Member of the Cavalier Parliament, being named to 63 committees, most of which were for private bills, and acting as teller in three divisions. In his first session he was appointed to the committees for both conventicles bills, for authorizing commissioners to treat for union with Scotland and for the bill preventing the growth of Popery. About this time his name appears on a list of court supporters drawn up by the Opposition. After the long prorogation he was named to the committees which produced the test bill (6 Mar. 1673) and considered a bill of ease for Protestant dissenters. In 1674 he was on the committees for the bills to prevent illegal exactions and to reform the collection of the hearth-tax.4
Despite his relative inconspicuousness Cholmondeley was named on the Paston list. In April 1675 he was summoned to the court caucus which met Danby to arrange the business of the House, and in September he received the government whip as well as a personal letter from Henry Coventry. He was noted as a court supporter ‘to be remembered’, but Sir Richard Wiseman ‘doubted’ his reliability, blamed him and (Sir) Henry Capel for leading William Banks I astray, and hoped that Roger Werden might ‘undeceive Mr Cholmondeley, or inform how it can be done’. Probably the author of A Seasonable Argument was not far from the truth when he alleged that Cholmondeley had been ‘promised a great place at Court, but not only deceived, but laughed at, poor gentleman’. Although he was inactive in the closing sessions of the Cavalier Parliament, Shaftesbury marked him ‘doubly vile’ and he was included in the ‘unanimous club’ of court supporters; but his name does not appear on the list drawn up by the Government.5
There is no evidence that Cholmondeley sought election to the Exclusion Parliaments. When Monmouth toured Cheshire in 1682, Cholmondeley twice wrote to Secretary Jenkins to purge the Cheshire commission of the peace without delay, adding:
I find many are, by what has happened to the Duke of Monmouth, brought to consider, and some to repent, of what they did, and to hold them on in a good way, the removing from employment of such as encouraged them to wander may be a good inducement.
In 1685 Cholmondeley was returned again for Cheshire after a hotly contested election, but was named to only two committees of no political importance. He was listed by Danby as one of those in Parliament opposed to James II. In May 1687 the bishop of Chester prepared the address thanking James for his promises to maintain the Established Church in his Declaration of Indulgence. Roger Morrice noted that
it is said the address was proposed to Mr Thomas Cholmondeley of Vale Royal who is reported to answer to the dean that he would never thank the King for breaking the laws, or words to that purpose, who is therefore complained of, and some say taken into custody.6
In October 1688 Cholmondeley wrote to Lord Dartmouth (George Legge) that he prayed ‘for a right understanding between his Majesty and the Prince of Orange to prevent the effusion of blood’. He did not stand in 1689, though he actively supported the Tory candidates at Chester. A non-juror and an active Jacobite, he was arrested in May but released on £3,000 bail. He accepted a commission from the exiled King, and was probably one of those who assured him in 1694 that ‘the people of England are very much disposed to receive him’. He died on 26 Feb. 1702 and was buried at Church Minshull, Cheshire. ‘Had he not lived in times of difficulties and divisions’, wrote his Whig neighbour, ‘he had been the most popular commoner at home and abroad.’ His son Charles sat for Cheshire as a high Tory in the last two Parliaments of Queen Anne and again from 1722 to his death in 1751.7
Ref Volumes: 1660-1690
Authors: Gillian Hampson / Basil Duke Henning
- 1. Ormerod, Cheshire, ii. 157-8; Cheshire Vis. Peds. (Harl. Soc. xciii), 27-28.
- 2. Parl. Intell. 16 Apr. 1660; Cal. Treas. Bks. xvii. 128; Chester corp. assembly bk. 2, ff. 137V, 150; SP29/420/131; 44/70/75; Wahlstrand thesis, 58.
- 3. Thurloe, iii. 348; Ormerod, i. p.lxvi; iii. 156.
- 4. CSP Dom. 1670, p. 30.
- 5. Dering Pprs. 63; CSP Dom. 1675-6, p. 304.
- 6. CSP Dom. 1682, pp. 383, 434, 439; R. Morrice, Entering Bk. 2, pp. 137, 138.
- 7. HMC Dartmouth, i. 139; Bodl. Eng. C711, f. 100, HMC Buccleuch, ii. 91; Hatton Corresp. (Cam. Soc. n.s. xxiii), 146; HMC Lords, iii. 92; Orig. Pprs. ed. Macpherson, i. 475; Ormerod, ii. 156.