BURDETT, Robert (1640-1716), of Bramcote, Warws.
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Family and Education
b. 11 Jan. 1640, 1st s. of Sir Francis Burdett, 2nd Bt., of Foremark, Derbys. by Elizabeth, da. of Sir John Walter† of Sarsden, Oxon., c. baron of Exchequer 1625–30. educ. Queen’s, Oxf. 1659; G. Inn 1662. m. (1) 1666, Mary (d. 1668), da. of Gervase Piggot of Thrumpton, Notts., 1s. d.v.p. 1da.; (2) 1676, Magdalen, da. of Sir Thomas Aston† of Aston, Cheshire, 4s. (3 d.v.p.) 4da. (2 d.v.p.); (3) aft. 1700, Mary, da. of Thomas Brome of Croxhall, Derbys., s.p. suc. fa. as 3rd Bt. 30 Dec. 1696.1
Asst. Linen Corp. 1690.2
The Burdett family had been settled in Warwickshire since the 11th century. By the late 17th century, however, their estates extended into Derbyshire, where the manor of Foremark had been acquired through marriage by Robert’s grandfather. The family seem to have alternated between their two estates, with Robert’s brother Walter living at Foremark and looking after the family’s electoral interests in that county. After opposing the Exclusion bill Robert Burdett was added to the Warwickshire bench in 1681, where he proved an inactive justice. Although opposing James II’s religious policies and attending Princess Anne at Nottingham, he also voted in the Convention against the transfer of the crown to William and Mary, and thus it is no surprise to find that he was left off the bench after the Revolution.3
Burdett was re-elected for Lichfield in 1690, the Marquess of Carmarthen (Sir Thomas Osborne†) classing him on a list of the new Parliament as a Tory and probable supporter of the Court. However, he does not appear to have been very active. His local political sympathies clearly lay with the Tories, for during the King’s progress around the Midlands in the summer of 1690 Burdett dined in the royal presence together with Lord Digby (William*) and Sir Charles Holte, 3rd Bt.†, to the exclusion of Sir Richard Newdigate, 2nd Bt.†, a zealous partisan of the Whig cause. In the 1690–1 session, on 10 Oct he was sent to desire Dr Charles Hickman to preach before the Commons. In December Carmarthen listed him as a probable supporter in case of an attack upon his ministerial position in the Commons and in April 1691 Robert Harley* classed him as a Country party supporter. In this and in subsequent sessions he was named in the drafting of several bills and was given leave of absence for three weeks on 8 Feb. 1695 owing to his wife’s illness.4
At the general election of 1695 Burdett was returned with Biddulph after the intervention of a ‘Mr Combes’ had been thwarted. In the first session of the new Parliament, he was forecast as likely to oppose the Court in the divisions on 31 Jan. 1696 over the council of trade; refused to sign the Association in February (reportedly sending back his lieutenancy commission to Lord Northampton in July); and voted in March against fixing the price of guineas at 22s. He acted as a teller on the Tory side on 10 Mar. 1696, against the engrossment of the Quaker affirmation bill. He adopted a much higher profile in the Commons during the following session. He voted on 25 Nov. 1696 against the attainder of Sir John Fenwick†, and acted as a teller on four occasions: on 28 Nov. in favour of a motion that the arrest of Sir Isaac Rebow’s steward was a breach of privilege; on 10 Feb. 1697 against the committal of a bill for better securing debts and establishing credit, which scraped through by five votes; three days later against excusing Lord William Powlett* from being a commissioner of accounts; and finally on 25 Feb. 1697, against allowing the committee of ways and means to consider a supply for the civil list at the same time as supply for the war. This record of activity is all the more surprising given that he received leave of absence twice during the session, on 2 Jan. 1697 owing to his father’s illness (he was in fact already dead), and on 10 Mar. He also protested to the House that one of his servants had been arrested at the instigation of an attorney in breach of privilege, a complaint referred to the committee of privileges on 3 Mar. 1698, but with no result. He acted as a teller on three occasions: on 24 Mar. in favour of a motion to proceed with the bill for suppressing blasphemy and profanity; on 19 Apr. in favour of an amendment to the bill regulating elections, that all persons with the power of making freemen in parliamentary boroughs could, notwithstanding this act, create burgesses provided that they were natural born subjects living within five miles of the borough and with an estate worth £200 p.a. (clearly Burdett favoured retaining the gentry’s ability to influence elections in neighbouring boroughs); and finally, on 18 May, for reading the order of the day to consider the Lords’ amendments to the bill suppressing profanity. A comparative analysis of the old and new Houses of Commons in September 1698 classed him as a Country supporter, a stance wholly compatible with his Tory views.5
Somewhat unexpectedly, Burdett retired from Parliament in 1698. Nevertheless, he retained a keen interest in public affairs, both locally and nationally. For example, he opposed the Derwent navigation bill put forward in the 1698–9 session, and twice petitioned the Commons, on 15 May 1701 and 24 Nov. 1702, over land tax assessments for Hemlingford hundred in Warwickshire. He supported the Tory candidate Thomas Coke* in the Derbyshire election of December 1701, and felt able to call on Coke to help him avoid being pricked as sheriff in 1704. By 1704 he had been made a deputy-lieutenant for Warwickshire. Increasingly, his son Robert took an important role in family matters, especially in Derbyshire, where he was named a deputy-lieutenant in 1702, and even in Warwickshire, where in January 1704 he was being discussed as a possible parliamentary candidate for Tamworth. Robert jnr. died on 2 Jan. 1716, predeceasing his father, who himself died on 18 Jan. The heir was yet another Robert†, born posthumously, who later sat for Tamworth as a Tory.6
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Author: Stuart Handley
- 1. Nichols, Leics. iii. 352; IGI, Notts., Derbys.
- 2. Sel. Charters, 213.
- 3. S. Erdeswicke, Survey of Staffs. 462; W. Woolley, Hist. Derbys. (Derbys. Rec. Soc. vi), 146; Warws. Co. Recs. viii. pp. xxxiii, xx; Duckett, Penal Laws and Test Act (1882), 167; D. Hosford, Nottingham, Nobles and the North, 108.
- 4. Bodl. Ballard 25, f. 16.
- 5. Add. 29578, f. 579.
- 6. BL, Lothian mss, Burdett to Coke, n.d.; HMC Cowper, ii. 442; iii. 51; CSP Dom. 1703–4, p. 279; 1702, p. 397; Bath mss at Longleat House, Thynne pprs. 28, ff. 328–9.