HEATH, Thomas I (1680-c.1717), of Hatchlands, East Clandon, Surr.
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Family and Education
bap. 1 Mar. 1680, 1st s. of Sir Richard Heath of East Clandon by his 2nd w. Lettice, da. of (Sir) George Woodroffe† of Poyle, Surr., and sis. of George Woodroffe*. educ. I. Temple 1684, called 1702; Christ Church, Oxf. 1698. m. Dorothy Hubert of Boys Court, Kent, 2s. suc. fa. 1702; kntd. 8 Jan. 1715.
Previously confused by some historians with his namesake, the Member for Harwich between 1714 and 1722, Heath owed his brief political career to his family connexions in west Surrey. His paternal grandfather, Roger Heath of Shalford, had contested Haslemere in 1660, and his maternal grandfather had twice represented the borough in the 1680s. Moreover, Heath’s father had further consolidated the family’s influence in the county by buying the manor of East Clandon. Less encouragingly for Heath, his father also brought the family much unwanted publicity as one of the judges who supported James II’s use of the dispensing power and the attack on the seven bishops. Such time-serving loyalty had been rewarded in 1688 by a brief appointment as recorder of Guildford, but Sir Richard’s close identification with the court actually led to his exemption from the Act of Free Pardon after the Revolution. Although Sir Richard’s public career had come to an abrupt halt, he had provided Heath with a head start in life by securing his admission to the Inner Temple at the age of four, and had clearly instilled strong Tory principles in his son.1
Given his family’s standing, it was no surprise that Heath should be put forward by local Tories in November 1704 as the stop-gap replacement for the deceased Member for Haslemere, Lewis Oglethorpe*. Even though Heath only entered the House in the course of the third session, within a week of taking up his seat he was called upon to prove his party allegiance in the division over the Tack. Having duly voted in favour of the measure on 28 Nov., he performed no other significant service during his brief time in the Commons, and was granted a fortnight’s absence from Westminster on 12 Jan. 1705. At the general election of that year he appeared content to relinquish his seat without a struggle, for two Tories were returned at Haslemere. One report indicated that Heath may have contested the election, but the identity of the victors at Haslemere, as well as Heath’s decision to plump for the Tory candidate at the subsequent county poll, suggests that he himself did not stand.
Although remaining an active figure in Haslemere’s affairs, there is no evidence of his having stood for the borough again. He clearly retained his political principles since he voted for the Tory candidates at the county poll of 1710, and in November 1712 presented an address at court which lauded the achievements of the Earl of Oxford’s (Robert Harley*) administration. However, his support for the Hanoverian regime was recognized in January 1715 when a knighthood was conferred upon him. Although the date of his death has not been ascertained, an administration was served on his estate on 4 Feb. 1717, and only a month later his family and creditors petitioned the Upper House for a bill to settle his unpaid debts. The bill received the Royal Assent in June, and accordingly several of the family’s Surrey properties, worth some £5,460, were put up for sale. Neither of Heath’s two sons revealed political ambitions, and such was the increasing seriousness of the family’s financial difficulties that in 1749 the seat at Hatchlands had to be sold.2