STANHOPE, Thomas (c.1679-1730), of Elvaston, Derbys.
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Family and Education
b. c.1679, 2nd but 1st surv. s. of John Stanhope of Elvaston by Dorothy, da. and coh. of Charles Agard of Foston, Derbys.; bro. of Charles† and William Stanhope†. educ. Brasenose, Oxf. matric. 14 July 1696, aged 16. m. settlement 6 Oct. 1705, Jane, da. and coh. of Gilbert Thacker of Repton Priory, Derbys., wid. of Charles Wootton Stanhope, 2nd s. of Philip, 2nd Earl of Chesterfield, s.p. suc. fa. July 1692.1
The family’s connexion with Derbyshire went back to the grant of some abbey lands to Sir Michael Stanhope† in the 16th century. Stanhope’s grandfather settled a branch of the family at Elvaston, in the south of the county. His family had been Royalist during the Civil War and Stanhope’s father was still applying for patronage in 1687 as a reward for financial services rendered to the exiled Charles II. Stanhope succeeded to the estate after his father met with an accident on the horns of a local bull. He was still a minor on 28 Jan. 1699 when his mother presented a petition to the Commons on his behalf, probably against the Derwent navigation bill as the family had estates bordering the river.2
Stanhope first contested Derby in the election of November 1701, in partnership with John Harpur*. Although he was defeated, the election of Harpur, along with Lord James Cavendish*, made some local observers confident that he would be returned upon petitioning the House. On 22 Dec. 1701 he approached the county Member, Thomas Coke*, to present his petition against Cavendish and it was duly delivered into the Commons on 3 Jan. 1702. It was withdrawn on 6 Feb. 1702. A few months later he was returned unopposed with Harpur in the election held following the death of William III.3
Stanhope’s parliamentary career is difficult to disentangle from that of his more illustrious distant cousin, James Stanhope*, but it is likely that most references on matters of importance in the Journals relate to the Whig general. One measure with which he can be identified, however, is a bill to make the Derwent navigable, which Stanhope and others were ordered to prepare soon after the beginning of the session. This was a controversial measure which split his family: Dr George Stanhope was reported by Bishop Nicolson to be lobbying peers against it, and Alexander Stanhope petitioned the Lords against it as a trustee on behalf of Stanhope’s youngest brother, William. Stanhope’s attitude to the bill can be gleaned from a petition which survives among the papers of the Lords, which the Journals do not record as having been presented. In it he suggested that his brother had not consented to the petition against the bill and that the navigation could not prejudice his brother because William had ‘no estate in any of the land affected but in remainder after the death of the petitioner [Thomas] and Charles Stanhope, his second brother and their heirs’. Despite his efforts the bill was refused a second reading by 27 votes to 19 on 1 Feb. 1703. Moreover, the circumstances of this defeat may account for Harpur’s comment in a letter to Coke in March 1703 that ‘many are out of humour with Mr Stanhope: how his presence may influence them I cannot tell, but I think he ought to make a trial how they will relish his company’.4
Stanhope made little impact in the Commons and the only information on his voting record derives from lists made in connexion with the Tack in 1704. In a forecast of October 1704 he was noted as a probable opponent of the bill and he appeared on Robert Harley’s* list of Members to be canvassed against it. Whether it was because of his own moderate Tory views or Harley’s persuasive talents, he did not vote for the Tack on 28 Nov. The impression that he was not a zealous participant in the Commons is sustained by his apparent apathy when confronted by two Whig opponents at Derby in the 1705 election. As early as December 1704, Coke’s agent, Robert Harding, was expressing concern at Stanhope’s lack of activity. In January 1705 Harpur wrote in an optimistic vein to Coke about his own interest and noted that ‘Mr Stanhope’s, with management and his appearance among the burgesses will, I believe, be full as good, if not better’. In April, Harpur was making similar hopeful comments with the same caveat concerning Stanhope’s activity. Not surprisingly, both went down to defeat, but Stanhope polled almost 50 votes behind his partner.5
Stanhope did not stand for election again, it being noted in 1708 ‘that Mr Stanhope had rather give £200 than stand, for he loves to be at home’. However, he continued to take an interest in local politics, particularly in 1713 when he was part of a concerted family campaign to elect James Stanhope at Derby, a plan which was eventually dropped due to the strength of the Tory opposition. Stanhope died on 10 Apr. 1730 at his London house in Conduit Street and was buried at Elvaston. He left most of his estate to his brother Charles.6
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Author: Stuart Handley
- 1. Collins, Peerage, iv. 285; Add. 36175, f. 2; W. Woolley, Hist. Derbys. (Derbys. Rec. Soc. vi), 147; Derbys. RO D518/F18; Luttrell, Brief Relation, ii. 525.
- 2. Lysons, Derbys. pp. l, lii; Woolley, 55; Huntington Lib. Hastings mss HA 12592, John Stanhope to Earl of Huntingdon, 2 Nov. 1687; Luttrell, 525.
- 3. BL, Lothian mss, Stanhope to William Francis, 11 Nov. , same to Coke, 22 Dec. 1702; HMC Cowper, ii. 444, 448.
- 4. CJ, xiv. 35; Nicolson Diaries ed. Jones and Holmes, 188; HMC Lords, n.s. v. 181–2, 186–7; HMC Cowper, iii. 23.
- 5. HMC Cowper, 54–56, 60; Lothian mss, John Harpur to [Coke], 11 Apr. 1704 [sic].
- 6. Nottingham Univ. Lib. Mellish pprs. ME144–83/57, Edmund to (Sir) Thomas Parker*, 3 Apr. 1708; Centre Kentish Stud. Stanhope mss U1590/C9/28, Thomas Gisborne to [James Stanhope], 11 Apr. 1713, Ld. Stanhope to same, 15 Apr. 1713, Thomas Stanhope to same, 2 May 1713; Boyer, Pol. State, xxxix. 449; A. N. Newman, Stanhopes of Chevening, 67; PCC 139 Auber.