MYDDELTON, Sir Richard, 3rd Bt. (1655-1716), of Chirk Castle, Denb. and Soho Square, Westminster
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Family and Education
b. 23 Mar. 1655, 4th but 3rd surv. s. of Sir Thomas Myddelton, 1st Bt.†, of Chirk Castle by his 1st w. Mary, da. of Thomas Cholmondeley of Vale Royal, Cheshire, sis. of Francis† and Thomas Cholmondeley†; bro. of Sir Thomas Myddelton, 2nd Bt.† educ. Brasenose, Oxf. 1670; travelled abroad. m. 19 Apr. 1686, Frances (d. 1694), da. and coh. of Sir Thomas Whitmore† of Bridgnorth, Salop, sis. of Sir William Whitmore, 2nd Bt.*, and wid. of her cos. William Whitmore of Balmes House, Hackney, Mdx., 1s. 2da. (1 d.v.p.). suc. bro. as 3rd Bt. 5 Feb. 1684.1
Custos rot. Denb. 1684–Apr. 1688, Mar. 1690–6, 1702–d.; common councilman, Denbigh 1684–d., recorder 1684–?Feb. 1688, alderman 1685–6; sheriff, Denb. Jan.–Nov. 1688; steward, lordship of Denbigh June 1702–d.2
The greatest landed magnate in north Wales, Myddelton was guaranteed re-election as knight of the shire for Denbigh, where he was never once opposed. He was a High Churchman, having in fact been originally intended for a clerical career, but was not vindictive in his attitude to Dissenters: his disbursements in 1691 included a sum of money to an ‘old Quaker, towards releasing him out of prison’. Similarly, although a strong Tory and one who in the Convention had voted against the transfer of the crown, he was to prove not entirely rigid in his principles. Lord Carmarthen (Sir Thomas Osborne†) listed him in March 1690 as a Tory and also as a Court supporter, and he appeared in two subsequent lists of supporters of this administration, one in December 1690, probably in connexion with the projected attack on Carmarthen in the Commons, and the other after 23 Dec. By April 1691 Robert Harley* was including him in the ranks of the Country opposition. Myddelton seems generally to have been an inactive Member; certainly he is not known ever to have spoken, and his attendance at the House was frequently prevented by bouts of ill-health. It was on these grounds that his absence from a call of the House was excused on 14 Nov. 1692, and on 22 Jan. 1694 he was granted leave of absence. Though listed during the 1694–5 session as a likely ‘friend’ of the treasury secretary Henry Guy* in the event that Guy should come under parliamentary attack, Myddelton was ‘in the country’ in May 1695 and was thus unable to add his personal representations to the protests of other local MPs attending the Treasury against the proposed grant to Lord Portland. He was, however, one of the landowners most closely affected. By all accounts he opposed the grant as heartily as the rest, and on 14 Jan. 1696 was appointed to prepare an address asking the King to stop it. Forecast as likely to vote against the ministry in the divisions of 31 Jan. 1696 on the council of trade, he refused the Association and in consequence was deprived of his place as custos. He was even removed from the commission of the peace. Subsequently he voted against fixing the price of guineas at 22s., and on 25 Nov. 1696 voted against the bill to attaint Sir John Fenwick†. Although given leave of absence again on 22 Mar. 1697, he was among the leading Tory gentlemen visited by Sir Edward Seymour, 4th Bt.*, during a tour of the west Midlands and Welsh marches in the following summer. He was classed as a member of the Country party in an analysis of the old and new Parliaments in about September 1698 and forecast as a probable opponent of a standing army. In 1699 he was involved in a serious fracas in Denbigh when he and his allies tried to secure control of the borough against an interest headed by the Country Whig Sir Robert Cotton, 1st Bt.*, through a mass admission of non-resident freemen, mostly country gentry, an extreme tactic which provoked a riot and led to a trial at the assizes. He also took the lead in attempts during the winter of 1699–1700 to prevent the passage of a crown grant to James Isaacson* of all the sea marshes in Flintshire and Denbighshire. In February 1701 Myddelton was listed as likely to support the Court in agreeing with the supply committee’s resolution to continue the ‘Great Mortgage’, and at the end of the year Harley ranked him with the Tories in an analysis of the new Parliament. He did not figure in the black list of those who had opposed preparation for war. However, a letter from the Tory Gervase Pierrepont* in November 1701, requesting Myddelton’s backing in the forthcoming election, referred to the fact that the two men had ‘sat in two Parliaments and voted together’. Myddelton was also listed as having favoured the motion of 26 Feb. 1702 in favour of vindicating the Commons’ proceedings of the previous Parliaments in the impeachments of the four Whig lords.3
With the accession of Queen Anne, Myddelton was restored as custos and was also appointed steward of the lordship of Denbigh. His attendance at the 1702–3 session was delayed by a sharp fit of gout. In March 1704 Lord Nottingham (Daniel Finch†) included Myddelton upon a list of likely supporters in the proceedings upon the Scotch Plot. Ill-health led to Myddelton’s absence from the early months of the 1704–5 session, and he was included upon the list of those who had voted against, or had been absent from, the division upon, the Tack on 28 Nov. A sympathy for this measure may, however, be suggested by the overwhelming difficulties faced in Denbighshire in the 1705 election by the ‘sneaker’ Edward Brereton*, who felt obliged to defend himself in a letter to Myddelton from the slur of conversion to Whiggery, while Myddelton himself was once more returned unopposed. On the other hand, he was clearly in sympathy, and on good terms, with the ministry, or at least its Tory wing. In February 1704 his petition to the Treasury for a lease of coal and lead mines in Denbighshire was granted. In August, when the victory of Blenheim was celebrated locally at his expense, he was appointed colonel of the militia. After the defeat of the Tack in December 1704, he made another request of the Treasury, that his appointment as steward of the Denbigh lordship be converted to a life patent; this too was promptly granted. Marked as a ‘Churchman’ rather than as ‘True Church’ in a list of the 1705 Parliament, he voted against the Court candidate in the division on the Speakership, 25 Oct. 1705. While he was still able to make use of his friends in high office, obtaining the favour of the Duke of Ormond on behalf of a kinsman in the Irish army, and applying to Robert Harley to prevent a Denbighshire client from being pricked as sheriff, such opportunities were drying up. Ramillies was the last triumph of the Duke of Marlborough (John Churchill†) to be toasted by the inhabitants of Chirk and its vicinity in Myddelton’s wine.4
Though he appears to have been absent from most of the 1707–8 session, Myddelton was classed as a Tory in two parliamentary lists from 1708. In October that year he was called upon to act as an unofficial ‘whip’ in advance of the new session, to ensure the best possible attendance of Tory Members from north and mid-Wales. However, when asked to provide reassurance that he would himself be present at the beginning of the session he was forced to admit that, though he had ‘always been as constant in my attendance at the opening of the Parliament as any Member whatsoever, when my health did permit’, he was uncertain when he would be able to travel to London. He was still at Chirk in November 1708. Having voted with his party against the impeachment of Dr Sacheverell, he was granted a leave of absence, on grounds of ill-health, on 17 Mar. 1710. Having returned to Wales, he entertained Sacheverell at Chirk ‘in a princely manner’ during Sacheverell’s ‘progress’ to take up his living at nearby Selattyn, but does not appear to have lent his patronage to the Jacobite Cycle of the White Rose, founded in Denbighshire during the summer, and likewise withheld his interest when requested by the extreme Tory candidates at Bridgnorth, Whitmore Acton* and Richard Cresswell*. An analysis of the new Parliament classified him as a Tory, and he was listed in 1711 with the ‘worthy patriots’ pressing for investigations into the misdeeds of the previous administration and the ‘Tory patriots’ voting for peace; this despite being afforded leave of absence on 23 Feb. 1711 to recover his health. His support for the Tory ministry is clear from his inclusion in December 1711 in a list of those Lord Treasurer Oxford (as Harley had become) was considering raising to the peerage in order to ensure the acceptance of the peace by the Lords. Though this honour was denied Myddelton he again found access to the well of patronage: in April 1713 a relation was recommended by the lord treasurer to a clerkship in the office of the salt commissioners (who included in their number Edward Brereton); and in February 1714 the term of his own stewardship of the lordship of Denbigh was extended from one life to two, with the addition of his son’s. His loyalty to the ministry was evident in his support for the Treaty of Utrecht: in June 1713 he approved an address from Denbighshire praising the peace, and condemning the expense of English blood and treasure ‘for the advantage of foreigners’. Gout again prevented Myddelton from attending the opening month of the first 1714 session, but when in March Oxford requested that he attend the Commons he promised to travel to London despite continuing lameness. He was described as a Tory, pure and simple, in the Worsley list and in two lists of the Members re-elected in 1715, when his candidature was endorsed by a resolution signed by 76 freeholders, having ‘a due sense how honourable and how agreeable to the sentiments of this loyal county, Sir Richard Myddelton his behaviour in former Parliaments has been’.5
Myddelton died on 29 Apr. 1716, and was buried in some style at Chirk, his funeral costing £365 13s.7d. His daughter recorded for posterity that her father had possessed ‘the penetration and abilities of a statesman, the integrity and firmness of a patriot’; less credibly, that ‘as long as his health permitted, he was constant in his attendance in the service of the House’.6
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Author: D. W. Hayton
- 1. Chirk Castle Accts. 1666–1753 ed. Myddelton, 175; Misc. Gen. et Her. ser. 3, ii. 228–9; W. D. Pink, Notes on Middleton Fam. 28; Herbert Corresp. ed. W. J. Smith (Univ. of Wales Bd. of Celtic Studies, Hist. and Law ser. xxi), 320.
- 2. J. Williams, Recs. of Denbigh, 140–1, 145; CSP Dom. 1689–90, p. 509; Cal. Treas. Bks. xvii. 247.
- 3. NLW Jnl. xi. 105–6; Chirk Castle Accts. 250; NLW, Chirk Castle mss E1072, Sir John Trenchard* to Myddelton, 15 Nov. 1692; E1031, Pierrepont to same, 17 Nov. 1701; Cal. Treas. Bks. x. 1201–2, 1374–5; L. K. J. Glassey, Appt. JPs, 123, 138; BL, Althorp mss, Halifax pprs. box 4, p. 3, Francis Gwyn* to Ld. Halifax (William Savile*), 5 July 1697; Luttrell, Brief Relation, iv. 603.
- 4. Chirk Castle mss E1019, Myddelton to [Hon. Thomas Bulkeley*], 10 Sept. 1702; E59, same to [–], 24 Nov. 1704; E4204, Brereton to Myddelton, 3 Mar. 1704[–5]; Cal. Treas. Bks. xviii. 465; xix. 103, 125, 432; Chirk Castle Accts. 354–5, 364; Cal. Treas. Pprs. 1702–7, p. 306; HMC Ormonde, n.s. viii. 140; HMC Portland, iv. 350.
- 5. G. Holmes and W. A. Speck, Divided Soc. 164; Chirk Castle mss E978, Paul Jodrell to Myddelton, 13 Jan. 1708; E995, Sir Roger Mostyn, 3rd Bt.*, to Myddelton, 24 Oct. 1708; E993, Myddelton to Mostyn, 26 Oct. 1708; E991, Sir William Williams, 2nd Bt.*, to Myddelton, 23 Nov. 1708; C9, resolution of 76 freeholders of Denb., 27 Jan. 1715; G. Holmes, Pol. in Age of Anne, 301, 315–16; G. Holmes, Trial of Sacheverell, 246; D. Szechi, Jacobitism and Tory Pol. 62; Add. 70332, memo. 27 Dec. 1711; 70202, Myddelton to [Brereton], 16 Feb. 1713–14, same to [Oxford], 5 Mar. 1713–14; Cal. Treas. Bks. xxvii. 193–4; xxviii. 137; Cal. Treas. Pprs. 1708–14, p. 478.
- 6. Chirk Castle Accts. 75, 391, Pink, 28.