JACOB, Thomas (c.1653-1730), of Norton, Wilts.
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Family and Education
b. c.1653, 2nd s. of John Jacob of Wootton Bassett and Norton, sheriff of Wilts. 1680–1, by Martha, da. and h. of Roger Calley (d. 1668) of Hilmarton, Wilts. educ. St. Edmund Hall, Oxf. matric. 12 July 1670, aged 17; L. Inn 1673, called 1680. m. lic. 6 June 1694, Elizabeth, da. of Richard Stephens of Eastington, Glos., wid. of John Packer of Shellingford, Berks., 1s.1
Jacob’s family had been settled in Wootton Bassett for at least three generations, and his father, who died in 1705, still had property and interests there. However, it is likely that the influence of Henry St. John I*, possibly abetted by the lord of the manor Lord Rochester (Laurence Hyde†), was primarily responsible for his election in 1695. A moderately prosperous lawyer, able to purchase the manor of Hullavington in Wiltshire in 1696, Jacob was not an active Member of his first Parliament. His political sympathies were with the Tories. Although he was marked as ‘doubtful’ in the forecast for the division of 31 Jan. 1696 on the proposed council of trade, and made no difficulty about signing the Association, he voted on 25 Nov. 1696 against the attainder of Sir John Fenwick†. On 5 Jan. 1697 he was given a fortnight’s leave of absence. In an analysis of the House in about September 1698 he was included among the supporters of the Country party ‘left out’ of the new Parliament. His return to the Commons in November 1701 followed the establishment of a family connexion of a kind with the St. Johns, his stepson Robert Packer* and Henry St. John II* having married sisters. His only known speech was made on 14 Feb. 1702, following Sir Edward Seymour, 4th Bt., in supporting the continued investigation of the circumstances of the ‘vexatious’ Malmesbury election petition, though he did not please Seymour or other Tories by his sour aside that ‘for his part he believed they never chose but by bribery’. Jacob had been placed among the ‘doubtfuls’ in Robert Harley’s* list of this Parliament, and it may have been a failure to commit himself sufficiently strongly to the Tory cause which cost him the recommendation of the St. Johns in the 1702 election. He did not stand again.2
Jacob appears to have spent the last years of his life at Hullavington, three miles south of Norton, which he had leased in 1691 and purchased five years later. A memorandum of 1711 stipulated that it was to be conveyed to his uncle ‘on request’. He made his will in April 1720. After a lengthy religious preface, in which he referred to himself as a ‘sinner’, he bequeathed £10 for a communion plate to Hullavington church, £5 for the repair of his pew there, £10 for the minister to increase the sum allocated by Queen Anne’s Bounty, and £20 to four poor ministers’ widows. His son John, named as executor, was given Hullavington manor. Jacob was buried at Hullavington on 6 Mar. 1730, where a plaque was erected to his memory.3