LECHMERE, Anthony (1674-1720), of Hanley Castle, Worcs.
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Family and Education
b. 17 June 1674, 1st s. of Edmund Lechmere of Hanley Castle by Lucy, da. of Anthony Hungerford† of Blackbourton, Oxon. and Farleigh Castle, Som., and sis. of Sir Edward Hungerford*; bro. of Nicholas Lechmere*. educ. Eton c.1690; M. Temple 1693. m. bef. 1707, Anne, da. of Thomas Foley II*, 1s. 1da. suc. fa. 1703.1
Freeman, Worcester 1710.2
Jt. receiver-gen. and cashier of customs June 1717–d.3
The Lechmeres were a prominent legal family. Anthony’s grandfather, Sir Nicholas Lechmere (d. 1701), had been appointed a baron of the Exchequer in 1689; his father, Edmund, was a barrister, as was his brother, Nicholas. Upon the death of his father, Lechmere inherited extensive estates in Worcestershire and an important position in county politics as one of a group of men of Whiggish sympathies who were keen nevertheless that political divisions should be kept to a minimum. In 1702 it had been a ‘Mr Lechmere’ (probably his father), who had argued for an accommodation between William Bromley I* and William Walsh* to avoid a contest for knight of the shire. In 1705 Anthony Lechmere was a staunch supporter of Bromley’s attempts to regain one of the county seats. As such, he knew of the agreement between Bromley and Sir John Pakington, 4th Bt.*, for a reciprocal exchange of votes at the election. However, committed as he was to Bromley, he was ‘a little squeamish upon giving second votes to Sir J.P.’, and took great pains to keep the agreement secret and to avoid the appearance of joint treating. Following Bromley’s death in 1707 Lechmere proposed an electoral agreement between Samuel Pytts* and Sir Thomas Cookes Winford, 2nd Bt.*, whereby a contest would be avoided and the shire representation divided between them at the general election due in 1708. This plan came to nothing when it was revealed that the idea had originated with Bishop Lloyd as a means of unseating Pakington.4
Lechmere’s own parliamentary ambitions centred on Tewkesbury, which already returned his Whig friend Richard Dowdeswell*. In the period preceding the 1708 election Lechmere was able to utilize the influence of his father-in-law, Thomas Foley II, to ask Robert Harley* for a letter of recommendation to the Earl of Essex, high steward of the borough. Later in the campaign, Lechmere himself wrote to Harley asking for more pressure to be placed upon Edward Popham’s* agent to circulate a letter in which the latter endorsed Lechmere’s candidature. Despite these efforts, Lechmere was defeated. In April 1710 he signed the Worcestershire address condemning the Sacheverell riots, and later that year entered the lists at Bewdley, the scene of a titanic struggle between the Herberts and Winningtons. Standing on Lord Herbert’s (Hon. Henry*) interest, he was duly returned according to the new charter granted in April 1708. However, Salwey Winnington* challenged his election on the grounds that the new charter was invalid. Given the close relationship between the Winningtons and the Foleys, Sarah Foley felt Lechmere ‘foolish’ in the extreme to ‘proclaim a quarrel with all his wife’s relations’. Nicholas Lechmere was no more charitable when he considered the political circumstances:
I’m ashamed for him, that he had not advised with you [William Lygon] or some of his friends, before he embroiled himself in the affair of Bewdley, which, as this Parliament is chosen, will serve to expose him and bring him under inconveniences which for my own part I would not be under for a thousand pounds. I am amazed at his want of thought to suffer himself to be a bubble to my Lord H[erbert].
Given the political complexion of the House, it was a foregone conclusion that Lechmere would be unseated when the case was heard before the bar on 19 Dec. 1710. Such notable Whigs as his brother Nicholas, Sir Joseph Jekyll and Robert Walpole II spoke in his favour, but to no avail. There seems to have been no animosity to Lechmere, Samuel Bracebridge noting that ‘they all seem to like the man but dislike the cause’. Henry St. John II concurred, contrasting the Tories’ restraint as to persons with the likely response of a Whig majority. Lechmere was classed as a Whig on the ‘Hanover list’ of the 1710 Parliament. He returned to the Commons as Member for Tewkesbury in June 1714, in a by-election caused by the demise of Charles Dowdeswell, and continued to sit until June 1717 when he was appointed to office. Lechmere died suddenly of an apoplexy on 8 Feb. 1720, and was succeeded by his son Edmund†.5
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Authors: Eveline Cruickshanks / Stuart Handley
- 1. E. P. Shirley, Hanley and the House of Lechmere, 46; Nash, Worcs. i. 560; Vis. Oxon. (Harl. Soc. v), 259.
- 2. W. R. Williams, Worcs. MPs, 171.
- 3. Cal. Treas. Bks. xxxi. 375.
- 4. PCC 356 Ash; Northumberland mss at Alnwick Castle, 21/i. ff. 145–6, [Walsh] to bp. of Oxford, 15 Apr. 1702 (Speck trans.); Hereford and Worcester RO (Worcester, St. Helen’s), Cal. Wm. Lygon Letters, 105, Bromley to Lygon, 9 Dec. ; 113, Lechmere to same, 21 Feb. 1704[–5]; HMC Portland, iv. 437.
- 5. Add. ch. 76115; HMC Portland, 457, 461, 472; Barré thesis, 288; Cal. Wm. Lygon Letters, 360, Nicholas Lechmere to Lygon, [Oct. 1710]; 382, Bracebridge to same, Dec. 1710; 723, Isaac Tullie to same, 18 Feb. 1720; Bolingbroke Corresp. i. 45–46; Cowper, Diary, 50–51; SRO, Mar and Kellie mss GD124/15/1020/4, Hon. Sir James Dunbar, 1st Bt.*, to Ld. Grange, (Hon. James Erskine†), 19 Dec. 1710; Clavering Corresp. (Surtees Soc. clxxviii), 106; Nash, 564; VCH Worcs. iii. 488, 500; iv. 78–79.