VERNON, Henry I (1663-1732), of Hilton Park, Staffs.
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Family and Education
bap. 22 Mar. 1663, 1st s. of Henry Vernon of Hilton by Mary, da. of William Ladkins of the Shawe, Kingsley, Staffs. educ. I. Temple 1681, called 1690. m. settlement 26 Oct. 1717, Penelope (d. 1727), da. and coh. of Robert Phillips of Newton Regis, Warws., 5s. 2da. (1 d.v.p.). suc. fa. 1711.1
Dep. steward, honor of Tutbury 1692–?; freeman and recorder, Stafford 1700.2
Vernon’s great-grandfather was Sir George Vernon†, a judge of common pleas. His grandfather settled the Hilton estates of the family on his second son, Henry, and gave him a legal education (as he did his eldest son, George I*). In turn Henry jnr. was sent to the Inner Temple where he excelled, being called to the bar. Identification of the young Vernon is made somewhat hazardous by the longevity of his father and the presence of his cousin, Henry Vernon II* of Sudbury. Nevertheless, it appears that the minor branch of the family concentrated on local affairs. His father served as sheriff in 1691 and seems to have been an agent for the Bagot interest in the county by-election of 1693. Likewise in the 1698 county election, either Henry or his father advised Edward Bagot* on the campaign. He also held at least one office among a number of forestry posts held by both branches of the family and certainly revelled in the role of a huntsman. His major political involvement was in Stafford corporation where he was admitted a burgess and nominated as recorder in quick succession.3
Little is known about Vernon’s activities for most of Queen Anne’s reign, until July 1709 when he was left out of the commission of the peace along with (Sir) Bryan Broughton†, a Whig. This outraged county opinion and provoked a petition to Lord Chancellor Cowper (William*) from the grand jury and justices assembled at the assizes the following month. In calling for their reinstatement it noted that Vernon ‘is the only barrister at law who has attended constantly upon the bench at our sessions’, having done so without fail for 12 years, many of them as chairman of the bench. This situation may have related to a declared intention by Vernon to run for one of Stafford’s parliamentary seats at the next election; in August he informed the county’s chief grandee, Lord Gower (Sir John Leveson Gower, 5th Bt.*), that unless one or two leading figures in the corporation could be prevailed on by the sitting MP Thomas Foley III to support a joint candidature of Foley and Vernon himself, he would have little choice but to oppose the moderate Tory candidate, Hon. Henry Paget*, in the county election. Following the petition, and other lobbying from Broughton’s Whig friends, they were both restored to the commission in August 1709.4
At the 1710 election, Vernon and Foley may have made common cause against their mutual enemy, Walter Chetwynd II*, for in his petition Vernon, on 10 Dec., only challenged Chetwynd’s return. Not only had he good grounds for a petition, according to a correspondent of Lady Gower, but, as a ‘loyal Churchman’, the House was almost certain to look favourably upon it. They duly declared him elected on 25 Jan. 1711. Four days later he was given leave to visit the country where his father was very ill (he died in April). He was granted leave of absence again on 22 Feb. 1712. Although a ‘Mr Vernon’ acted as a teller on one occasion in the 1713 session, it was on a matter concerning trade and was thus probably Thomas Vernon. Re-elected unopposed in 1713, Vernon continued to follow an inactive course in the House, an impression reinforced by his absence from all parliamentary lists. In November he wrote to the 2nd Lord Gower in despair at the apathy of the Tories and the consequent lack of preparations for the forthcoming elections. This may have been the reason why he failed to contest Stafford in 1715. However, he remained active in local affairs, taking a great interest in the subscription to raise horses in the county in response to the ‘Fifteen’. The ‘Henry Vernon’ appointed a gentleman of the privy chamber to George I in 1714 is unlikely to have been this particular Member. In a letter to Gower in December 1721 Vernon showed no inclination to stand as a candidate for Stafford in the next general election, noting that it depended ‘upon a Court approbation, who will be sure to have a majority returned on their side’ and advising Gower to maintain his alliance with Lord Paget (Thomas†), rather than ‘to create disputes which will not be determined in favour of honest gentlemen’. Vernon died on 24 July 1732, leaving his unsettled lands to his son Henry and £500 to each of his younger children. Furthermore, he revealed some of his thoughts on religion by setting aside £2 p.a., half of which was for an annual sermon to be preached by the rector of Shareshill on the subject of parental responsibility for instructing children in the catechism and half to be divided between a reward for those children who repeated it correctly and devotional books.5
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Author: Stuart Handley
- 1. IGI, Staffs.; Collins, Peerage, vii. 406; NRA Rep. 6242, pp. 185, 187; J. C. Wedgwood, Staffs. Parl. Hist. (Wm Salt Arch. Soc.) ii. 207.
- 2. Staffs. RO, Vernon mss D1790/A/4/9, 10, 20; D1323/A/1/2, Stafford corp. order bk. 1691–1739, pp. 61, 88.
- 3. Info. from Dr D. F. Lemmings; Hereford and Worcester RO (Hereford), Foley mss E12/F/IV/BE/275, William Nabbs to Philip Foley*, 21 Oct. 1693; Wm. Salt Lib. (Stafford), Bagot mss D/1721/3/291, Henry Vernon to Edward Bagot, 11 Feb. 1697[–8].
- 4. Staffs. RO, Sutherland mss D593/P/16/2/4/5, petition to ld. chancellor; D593/P/16/1/2a, Vernon to Ld. Gower, 13 Aug. 1709.
- 5. Sutherland mss D868/9/37e, P. Wood to Lady Gower, 11 Oct. 1710; D593/P/16/1/2d, Vernon to Ld. Gower, 9 Nov. 1714; D593/P/16/2f, same to same, 4 Dec. 1721; Post Boy, 8–10 Feb. 1711; Vernon mss D1790/D/8, Francis Smith to Vernon, 25 Nov. 1715, ‘Sat. afternoon’; Wedgwood, 207; VCH Staffs. v. 1791; PCC 276 Bedford.