OGLETHORPE, Theophilus (1650-1702), of St. James's Palace, Westminster and Westbroke, Godalming, Surr.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Feb. 1701

Family and Education

bap. 14 Sept. 1650, 2nd s. of Sutton Oglethorpe of Oglethorpe Hall, Bramham, Yorks. by Frances, da. of John Matthew, wid. of Mark Pickering. m. by 1681. Eleanor (d. 19 June 1732), da. of Richard Wall of Rathkennan, co. Tipperary, 5s. (2 d.v.p.) 4da. Kntd. 7 July 1685.1

Offices Held

Capt. Duke of Monmouth’s Horse (French army) 1673-8, R. Dgns. 1678-9; maj. 2 Life Gds. 1679, lt-col. 1680-5; col. of ft. Holland Regt. (later The Buffs) 1685-Nov. 1688; brig. Nov.-Dec. 1688.2

Commr. of the stables 1682-5; equerry 1685-Dec. 1688.3

Freeman, Portsmouth 1683; master, Founders’ Co. 1684-5; keeper of New Lodge walk, Windsor Forest 1687-9; commr. for assessment, Surr. 1689.4


By Oglethorpe’s own account, his ancestors had been seated on the Yorkshire estate from which they took their name since the Norman Conquest, and they can indeed be traced back at least to the reign of Edward II; but they had never aspired to a seat in Parliament. His father was a Royalist in both wars, and the estate, already mortgaged up to the hilt, had to be sold to the Fairfaxes in 1653. After the Restoration his elder brother was appointed master of Charles II’s stud of horses, while Oglethorpe himself became a professional soldier, serving in the French army under Turenne at the age of 18, and later under the Duke of Monmouth in France and Scotland, where he distinguished himself against the Covenanters in 1679. Soon afterwards he married the King’s laundress, a Roman Catholic, and entered the royal household.5

Oglethorpe was returned as a Tory for Morpeth in 1685, no doubt on the interest of the 2nd Earl of Carlisle (Edward Howard), who had served with him in the French army. A moderately active Member of James II’s Parliament, he was appointed to seven committees, including those to inspect the disbandment accounts, to prevent theft and rapine on the northern borders, to provide carriages for the navy and ordnance and to estimate the yield of a tax on new buildings. He was a partner in a patent for ‘making sea-water fresh and wholesome’, and on 5 June was given leave to bring in a bill to confirm it, which never reached a second reading, perhaps because he was recalled to the colours after Monmouth’s invasion. He showed notable incompetence in the Sedgemoor campaign, but was knighted for bringing the news of the rebels’ defeat. He remained a court supporter in the second session. In the debate on the army on 16 Nov. he said:

New troops are not so good as old, and more subject to commit disorders, but will be less so when longer under discipline. The King of France never sends troops to his army till they have been on foot two or three years in garrison.

He was among those appointed to estimate the yield of the proposed tax on French wines on the following day.6

Oglethorpe was further rewarded with the grant of two forfeited estates and two crown leases, and in 1688 he was able to buy Westbroke. This gave him an interest at Haslemere, but Sunderland ordered him to stand for re-election at Morpeth. He brought the news of the desertions at Warminster to the Prince of Orange, which he sought to minimize, though his desire not to be named in the Gazettesuggests that he realized the precariousness of the situation. An active Jacobite after the Revolution, despite William’s efforts to engage him for his service, he was imprisoned but released on bail in 1692, whereupon he went to France. But when James was prevailed on to require all Protestants to leave St. Germains Oglethorpe returned to England and took the oaths to the new regime. He was elected for Haslemere in 1698, and sat as a Tory in this parliament and its successor. He died on 10 Apr. 1702, and was buried at St. James Piccadilly. His daughters were Roman Catholics. His three surviving sons all sat for Haslemere. The youngest, James Edward, is celebrated as a philanthropist and founder of Georgia.7

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: Gillian Hampson


  • 1. DNB; Clay, Dugdale’s Vis. Yorks. ii. 300; Thoresby, Ducatus Leodensis, 252-3; HMC Rutland, ii. 90; Cal. Treas. Bks. vii. 264, 577, 766.
  • 2. J. Childs, Army of Charles II, 246.
  • 3. Cal. Treas. Bks. vii. 674; viii. 504.
  • 4. R. East, Portsmouth Recs. 367; SP44/335/399; Cal. Treas. Bks. viii. 1273.
  • 5. A. A. Ettinger, James Edward Oglethorpe, 3, 11-19; Le Neve, Mon. Angl. 1700-15, p. 23; J. T. Cliffe, Yorks. Gentry, 149-50; Thoresby, 253; Reresby, 457.
  • 6. HMC Ormonde, n.s. vii. 343-4; HMC Rutland, ii. 90; Grey, viii. 367.
  • 7. Cal. Treas. Bks. viii. 443, 504, 2067; Manning and Bray, Surr. i. 614; CSP Dom. 1687-9, pp. 178, 276, 361; 1689-90, p. 11; 1691-2, p. 343; A. Boyer, Hist. Wm. III, ii. 310; Harl. Misc. vi. 394.