COWPER, Henry (1668-1707), of Strood Park, Slinfold, Suss.
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Family and Education
bap. 30 Oct. 1668, s. of Edward Cowper of Slinfold by Martha, da. of Lancelot Johnson of the Inner Temple, and Lambeth, Surr. educ. New College, Oxf. 1685; I. Temple 1687. m. lic. 20 June 1693, Sarah, da. of James Smith of St. Benet Gracechurch Street, London, 3s. 2da. suc. fa. 1678.1
The Cowpers of Slinfold were the root of the family from which Sir William*, Spencer* and William* were descended, though the politics of the two branches diverged. The father of this Member had served as a gentleman pensioner to Charles II, and unlike his kinsmen, his political sympathies lay with moderate Toryism. Slinfold was a ‘small seat surrounded with woods’, which lay only three miles north-west of Horsham and gave Cowper an influence over the borough. This had been enhanced by his service there as an active magistrate at least since the Revolution; but it may have been the failing health of the Whig lord of the manor, the 7th Duke of Norfolk, that gave Cowper the opportunity to stand for election in January 1701. Although the presence of his kinsman William in the House makes positive identification difficult, Cowper was clearly not an active Member in this or subsequent Parliaments. He was blacklisted as having opposed the preparations for war with France, though his name appeared in a published reply which suggested that his zeal in settling the Protestant succession and readiness to waive privileges for prosecution from debt were enough to merit his re-election. Nevertheless, Cowper failed by one vote to be chosen again in the autumn, and petitioned on 3 Jan. 1702 against the return of the Whig, John Wicker*. Although the case was never heard, Cowper seems to have won the friendship of Robert Harley*, since an undated letter to Adam de Cardonnel* referred to a recommendation on behalf of a relative ‘given to you in my fight in the House of Commons by Mr Speaker’, who had ‘promised to speak again in it’. He regained his seat at the election in 1702, when he initially stood with Charles Eversfield*, the pair probably enjoying the support of the Gorings, to whom Cowper was related. He was forecast as a probable supporter of the Tack, but on 28 Nov. either voted against the bill or was absent from the House. Cowper was re-elected in 1705 by the narrowest of margins, and was subsequently listed as ‘Low Church’ in an analysis of the new Parliament. On 25 Oct. 1705 he voted against the Court candidate as Speaker. He was given leave of absence from the House on 28 Feb. 1707 to recover his health and died on 22 Mar. His will, dated two days earlier, made provision for his children, all of whom were minors. He left marriage portions of £1,800 for each of his daughters, appointing his ‘trusty and well beloved’ friend Lawrence Alcock* as one of their guardians, and the bulk of the estate was eventually to pass to the eldest son, Edward. Cowper ordered that mourning gloves be given to each of Horsham’s burgage-holders and their wives in gratitude ‘for their past kindness’. His last request was that ‘my kinsman Spencer Cowper Esq. will be pleased to take care that this my last will be performed’, an indication that he valued his more prominent relative’s legal expertise and trust, even if he did not follow his politics.2
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Author: Mark Knights
- 1. D. Elwes and C. Robinson, Hist. of Castles, Mansions of Western Suss. 205–7; IGI, Suss.; Mar. Lic. Vicar-Gen. (Harl. Soc. xxxi), 261; Comber, Sussex Gen. (Horsham), 77.
- 2. VCH Herts. Fams. 133; Suss. Arch. Colls. lxix. 136; Vis. Suss. (Harl. Soc. liii), 148; W. Albery, A Millennium of Facts, 114; Answer to the Black List (1701), 4; Albery, Parl. Hist. Horsham, 41–45; Add. 61284, ff. 91–92; PCC 137 Poley.