HAWTREY, Ralph (1626-1725), of Eastcote House, Ruislip, Mdx.
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Family and Education
b. 1626, 1st s. of John Hawtrey of Ruislip by Susanna, da. and coh. of Jacob James of London. educ. G. Inn 1631. m. c.1650, Barbara, da. of Sir Robert de Grey of Merton, Norf., 6s. (d.v.p.) 4 da. (1 d.v.p.). suc. fa. 1658.1
The Hawtreys had been established at Ruislip since the 16th century, and boasted sufficient local influence for Ralph to be returned as a Tory for the Parliament of 1685. Subsequently lauded for having refused to ‘comply in taking off the Test and Penal Laws’, he fell foul of James II’s regime, but after the Revolution managed to secure election to the Convention. Before the Middlesex election of March 1690, he and his partner Sir Charles Gerard, 3rd Bt.*, received considerable support from local clergymen, and were hailed as ‘true Protestants, men of estates, abilities; free from all offices and appointments’. They faced a stiff challenge from a Whig campaign headed by the commissioner of the great seal, Sir John Maynard*, but gained a convincing victory at the poll. At the outset of the new Parliament Hawtrey was classed as a Tory by Lord Carmarthen (Sir Thomas Osborne†), who also thought him a probable Court supporter. In the first session he was appointed to the committee to draft the East India bill. In the second session he was more active, being involved in the drafting of four bills. He took a predictable interest in metropolitan issues, becoming involved with measures to regulate hackney coaches in the capital, and to prevent escapes from King’s Bench and the Fleet prisons. The textile trade was another preoccupation, for he was one of the Members selected to draw up a bill to prevent the export of wool. Furthermore, he was a member of the committees to draft a militia bill, and to inspect the laws relating to the trial of offences committed at sea. His politics appeared consistent, since in mid-December he was marked as an ally of Carmarthen, and in April 1691 Robert Harley* identified him as a Country supporter.2
In the 1691–2 session Hawtrey was appointed to drafting committees for bills to improve the highways, and to explain the Acts for regulating the poor. In the fourth session his principal concern was a bill to extend the patent for convex lights in the capital, for on 18 Nov. 1692 he presented a petition on behalf of the contractors, and was first-named to the committee appointed to draft the necessary legislation. Such interest in City affairs may have been prompted by a letter he received several months earlier, which warned of the harm that ‘the lampers’ might cause. He was also first-named to the committee on a private estate bill. In December 1693 he was involved with another local measure, namely a bill to erect a court of conscience in Holborn, and in January 1694 assisted in drafting a bill to regulate the assize of bread, an issue with which he was again associated in the final session. In the 1694–5 session he was also appointed to the drafting committee for a bill to recover debts owed by minors.3
Before the Middlesex election of November 1695 Hawtrey and fellow Member Gerard were described by the Hon. Edward Russell* as ‘declared enemies to the government’. Russell subsequently helped bring about their defeat at the county poll, at which Hawtrey finished last. The following year he was removed as a deputy-lieutenant of the shire, presumably for refusing the Association. This controversy may have hastened his withdrawal from public life, although by that time he was already 70 and perhaps eager for retirement. Despite advancing years, he continued to influence parliamentary affairs, advising his nephew Oliver Le Neve on the passage of an estate bill in the winter of 1696–7. Moreover, he appears to have retained his political principles, voting for the Tory candidates at the Middlesex election of 1705. Contemporary accounts suggested that he lived to see his 100th year, but there is some confusion surrounding the date of his demise, for although it was reported that he died on 5 Dec. 1725, his epitaph records that he passed away nine days earlier. He managed to survive all six of his sons, as well as his only grandson, and thus his estate passed to his three daughters and their heirs.4
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Author: Perry Gauci
- 1. IGI, London; F. M. Hawtrey, Hist. Hawtrey Fam. i. 1; Lysons, Hist. Acct. Mdx. Parishes, 213.
- 2. VCH Mdx. iv. 131; Morrice ent’ring bk. 3, p. 119; Good Advice to Freeholders of Mdx. .
- 3. Greater London RO, Acc. 249/863.
- 4. Devonshire mss at Chatsworth House, Russell to Lady Rachel Russell, 12 Oct. 1695; Luttrell, Brief Relation, iv. 89; Egerton 2718, f. 334; Mdx. Poll 1705; Hist. Reg. Chron. 1725, p. 49; Hawtrey, 71.