ASTON, Sir Thomas, 4th Bt. (?1704-44), of Aston, Cheshire.
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Family and Education
b. ?1704, o.s. of Sir Thomas Aston, 3rd Bt., by Catherine, da. and coh. of William Widdrington of Cheeseburn Grange, Northumb. educ. Corpus Christi, Oxf. 1 Mar. 1722, aged 17. m. Mar. 1736, Rebecca, da. of John Shishe of Greenwich, Kent, s.p. suc. fa. 16 Jan. 1725.
Sir Thomas Aston was a Cheshire country gentleman with an estate of £4,000 p.a. In 1729 he stood as an opposition Whig for Liverpool, defeating the government candidate, Thomas Brereton, who petitioned. Pending the hearing of the petition he took his seat, was elected to serve on the gaols committee, and on 19 Feb. 1730 reported to the mayor of Liverpool the result of a debate on the Royal African Company’s attempt to force the independent traders to contribute to the maintenance of its forts in Africa:
Yesterday came on the African affair, the House thought fit to reject the petition, but it being alleged by some gentlemen, that some of the forts were necessary to keep up our title to that part of the world, and that the Company were no longer able to do it without the assistance of the public, the House appointed Tuesday sennight for taking into consideration the trade of Africa in general. The sentiment of the House seemed to be much in favour of the separate traders so I believe you have not much to fear on this account.
In April 1730 Brereton’s petition against Aston’s election was rejected by the House after protracted hearings.1
In the debate on Hessian troops on 3 Feb. 1731, Aston proposed ‘that the House should address the King to give away his Hanover dominions to anybody that would take them’, but the move ‘fell to the ground’. On the Address on 16 Jan. 1733, he said:
It is proposed that we should congratulate his Majesty upon the situation of our affairs both abroad and at home. This I can’t agree to, because I do not really think them in the best situation. Are not the French still going on in fortifying the harbour of Dunkirk, contrary to the faith of the most solemn treaties? ... Have our merchants yet had any redress for those depredations committed upon them by the Spaniards? ... There is scarcely any sort of trade in a thriving condition, but that in Change-Alley.
He therefore moved that the words ‘satisfied with the situation of our affairs’ be left out, but ‘was not supported, and so the matter dropped’. On 20 Feb. he spoke against a qualification bill (see Rolle, Henry), thinking it ‘unreasonable to expect of merchants who serve for seaport towns that they should be qualified in land’. He also spoke against the excise bill, saying, 16 Mar. 1733,
that it was his misfortune to know too much of the influence that the officers of the customs and exise had upon elections; for at his own election, there were many of the voters come to him and tell him, they would rather vote for him than for any other person, but that the officers had threatened to ruin him if they did; and there was others who came and told him, that they had promises from his antagonist, that either they, or some of their sons or brothers, should be made officers of the excise or customs, and therefore since their bread or the support of their families depended upon it, they hoped he would excuse them if they voted against him.
On the first reading, 4 Apr. 1733, he spoke
earnestly against the bill, and pronounced the projector an enemy to his King and country; the Speaker thereupon took him down to order, and reproved him; he told if such words were suffered to come out of any Member’s mouth, there was an end to all debating, and even of Parliament.2
At the general election of 1734 Aston declined standing for Liverpool, and was returned for St. Albans on the recommendation of Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough. On 30 Mar. 1739 he spoke in favour of the repeal of the Test Act. He did not stand in 1741, and died ‘on his travels at Paris’ on 17 Feb. 1744.3