Appendix IX: Members of foreign extraction

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Members of foreign extraction

Protestant refugees from the Low Countries and France accounted for the majority of Members of continental European origin. Nicholas Corsellis and Thomas D’Aeth were both descended from Flemish merchants, who had arrived in Essex and Kent respectively in the later 16th century, and eventually established themselves in county society. (Sir) Isaac Rebow also came of Flemish stock, though his family were more recent arrivals, having settled in the early 17th century in Colchester, in which town he himself remained, serving as high steward, and eventually as mayor. The merchants Jacob des Bouverie and Sir James Houblon were both descended from Huguenots who had fled persecution in the Spanish Netherlands in the 1560s; the father of Thomas Papillon, the commissioner for trade, had been carried to England from France as a child at the end of the 16th century; and Adam de Cardonnel, the Duke of Marlborough’s secretary, was the grandson of a Protestant seigneur near Caen, whose family probably appeared in England at the beginning of the 1640s (when de Cardonnel’s uncle received letters of denization). In addition, another City figure, Sir Bartholomew Gracedieu, was reputed to be of Huguenot extraction, although the facts of his ancestry have not been fully established.

During the 17th century England’s commercial and political connexions with the United Provinces expanded, and correspondingly the number of Dutch immigrants increased. One such family were the Davalls: the Tory merchant Sir Thomas Davall I was himself born in Amsterdam, where both his father and father-in-law traded, and he took as his wife a member of the Dutch Church in London. Then, with the accession of King William to the English throne Dutchmen of a rather different stamp were brought into the House of Commons; courtiers, or those personally associated with the monarch: Henry Bentinck, Viscount Woodstock, son of William’s mentor, the 1st Earl of Portland; William Henry Nassau de Zuylestein, Viscount Tunbridge, whose father the 1st Earl of Rochford was not only a close friend and companion of the King, but actually William’s uncle (Rochford’s father having been the illegitimate son of Frederick Henry, Prince of Orange); and, less reputably, the notorious gamester Sir John Germain, 1st Bt., who himself encouraged, or at least did nothing to discourage, the rumour that he was an illegitimate son of William II of Orange, and thus the King’s half-brother.

From somewhat further afield came the Caesars of Bennington in Hertfordshire, represented in Parliament after 1701 by the High Tory firebrand Charles Caesar, who was descended in the fifth generation from the Italian Cesare Adelmare, court physician to Mary Tudor and Queen Elizabeth; and the Swede (Sir) Jacob Banks, a young man with an eye to the main chance, who, having come over to England in 1681 in the retinue of his uncle, Baron Hans Barikman Leijonberg, the Swedish ambassador, decided to stay on once the ambassador was recalled, obtaining first a commission in the Royal Navy, and then the hand in marriage of a wealthy widow, who brought with her an estate in Dorset and some electoral interest at Minehead, for which borough Banks was duly returned to Parliament in 1698.

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: D. W. Hayton

End Notes