CHRISTIE, Thomas (1622-97), of Bedford.
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Family and Education
bap. 30 Jan. 1622, 1st s. of Thomas Christie of Bedford by Jane, da. of William Faldo of Bedford. m. (1) aft. 29 June 1646, Alice (bur. 9 Oct. 1666), da. and h. of John Poole, Brewer, of London, wid. of Charles Bainbrigge, Brewer, of Clerkenwell, Mdx., 1s. 2da. d.v.p.; (2) 15 Oct. 1667, Anne (bur. 4 Sept. 1709), da. of Oliver Luke of Woodend, Cople, Beds., s.p.1
Commr. for militia, Beds. Mar. 1660; j.p. Bedford Sept. 1660-at least 1661, Nov. 1688-d., Beds. 1685-d.; commr. for assessment, Bedford 1661-80, Beds. and Bedford 1689; dep. steward, honour of Ampthill by 1662-?d.2
Christie’s family had lived in Bedford since Elizabethan times, and provided a mayor for the borough in 1590. He became an attorney, and either he or his father was appointed to the county assessment committee in 1652. But from the Restoration he attached himself to the Bruce interest. A Churchman and a Tory, he ‘often argued with Parliament men and others about the unreasonableness and unlawfulness of the Exclusion’, and helped to secure the surrender of the charter in 1684. He was returned for the borough in the following year, and became a very active Member, despite his lack of status and experience. He was named to 19 committees in James II’s Parliament, including that for the private bill to relieve the creditors of the Earl of Cleveland, the last of the Bedfordshire Wentworths, and took the chair on a bill for the better recovery of tithe. With two barristers, William Wogan and Roger North, he was entrusted with preparing a bill for registering the deaths, burials, marriages and issue of the nobility and gentry, and he was appointed to the committee on the bill for the general naturalization of Huguenot refugees. After the recess he went into opposition with an impressive speech on supply wrongly attributed by Anchitell Grey to Thomas Coningsby.
We owe ... a duty to our country, and by that are bound to leave our posterity as free in our liberties and properties as we can. ... There being officers now in the army that have not taken the Test flats greatly my zeal for it. ... They debauch the manners of the people, their wives, daughters and servants. Men dare not to go to church where they quarter for fear of mischief to be done to their houses in their absence. Ploughmen and servants quit all country employment to turn soldier, and then a court martial in times of peace is most terrible. ... The Guards I am not against;... I only speak of those that have been new raised.3
Christie replied to the questions put to him by Lord Ailesbury (Thomas Bruce) on the repeal of the Tests and Penal Laws:
[If he] be chosen, which he does not at present design, then he will comply with the King’s inclination so far as he can with a good conscience and with the safety of the Protestant religion of the Church of England. ... He has always been civil and moderate both towards the Catholic and Protestant dissenters. ... He will give his vote for such as have always been of fixed and steady loyalty.
Nevertheless as one of Ailesbury’s ‘votaries’ he was retained on the commission of the peace. Re-elected in 1689, he was even more active in the Convention, in which he was appointed to 93 committees, taking the chair in 18, acted as teller in four divisions, and carried nine bills to the Lords. Presumably this remarkable record was due to his efficiency as chairman, coupled with a certain amount of political indifference; he did not vote to agree with the Lords that the throne was not vacant, though he called for a ‘new Magna Carta’ in the debate of 29 Jan., and was appointed to the committees to report on the essentials for preserving religion, laws and liberties, to recommend alterations to the coronation oath, and to inquire into the authors and advisers of recent grievances. On 29 Apr. he delivered a report on the bailing of Brent, the ‘Popish solicitor’, and he was appointed to the committee on the bill for restoring corporations. The legislation with which Christie was most prominently connected included the two leather bills, two estate bills, the tithe bills, three bills for establishing local ‘courts of conscience’ for small claims, the bill to encourage woollen manufactures, and a naturalization bill. On 24 June he expressed doubt whether the opinion given by (Sir) Henry Bedingfield in the last reign favoured the dispensing power. He helped to draw up the address requesting permission to inspect the records of the Irish committee of the Privy Council. On 4 July he acted as teller for a proviso to the Wye and Lugg navigation bill offered on behalf of a leading Bedfordshire Whig, the Earl of Kent. He helped to manage a conference on the attainder bill on 2 Aug.4
After the recess Christie was added to the committee to inspect war expenditure, and reported on the petition from the widow of Sir Thomas Armstrong on 19 Nov. He helped to draft the address seeking to establish responsibility for the employment of Commissary Shales. With (Sir) William Williams, John Arnold and Sir Matthew Andrews, he was ordered to draw up a list of Brent’s papers. On 21 Dec. he reported on several complaints from merchantmen about the navy. He took the chair on the bill for the preservation of captured French salt, and carried it to the Lords on 10 Jan. 1690. He reported the bills to reverse Armstrong’s attainder and the judgements de scandalis magnatum obtained by the Duke of Beaufort (Henry Somerset). He was re-elected in 1690, and sat in the Officers’ Parliament as an independent Tory. He was buried at St. Paul’s, Bedford on 9 July 1697, the only member of his family to enter Parliament. He died rich, though not worth the £20,000 with which some credited him, and endowed eight almshouses which he had already built in his lifetime.5
Ref Volumes: 1660-1690
Author: Leonard Naylor
- 1. Beds. Par. Reg. xxxv. 9; PCC 93 Lee, 97 Twisse; St. James Clerkenwell (Harl. Soc. reg. xvii), 291; G. A. Blaydes, Gen. Bed. 24, 29, 86.
- 2. Add. 33590, f. 158.
- 3. Beds. N. and Q. iii. 351; True Relation of What Happened at Bedford (1672); CSP Dom. 1677-8, p. 489; VCH Beds. ii. 58; C.J, ix. 736, 751; Lowther diary, ff. 43-46.
- 4. Hardwick SP, ii. 115; CJ, x. 110, 204, 205, 246; Grey, ix. 359.
- 5. CJ, x. 296, 325, 337, 342; Blaydes, 39; HMC Lords, n.s. iv. 292; Beds. N. and Q. iii. 110-11; VCH Beds. iii. 33.