GAGE, Thomas (c.1695-1754), of High Meadow, Glos.
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Family and Education
b. c.1695, 1st s. of Joseph Gage of Sherborne Castle, Oxon. by Elizabeth, da. and eventually h. of Sir George Penruddock of Hale, Hants. m. (1) settlement 3 Oct. 1713, Benedicta Maria Teresa (d. 25 July 1749), da. and h. of Henry Benedict Hall of High Meadow, Glos., 2s. 1da.; (2) 26 Dec. 1750, Jane, da. of one Godfrey, wid. of Henry Jermyn Bond of Bury St. Edmunds, Suff., s.p. cr. Baron Gage of Castlebar and Visct. Gage of Castle Island [I] 14 Sept. 1720. suc. fa.-in-law to High Meadow, Dec. 1714; Sir Francis Fortescue, 4th Bt., to ‘near £20,000’, 9 Nov. 1729;1 his cos. Sir William Gage, 7th Bt., to baronetcy and Firle, Suss. 23 Apr. 1744.
Verderer, Forest of Dean till May 1752; master of the household to Prince of Wales 1743-51.
Gage, like his first cousin, Sir William Gage, a converted Roman Catholic, was returned for Minehead in 1717. Unseated on petition but returned for Tewkesbury in 1721, he made his first recorded speeches 23, 26 Nov. 1722, 6, 14 May 1723, against the special tax on Papists. In April 1727 he spoke for the motion for a vote of credit.
In the next Parliament Gage voted with the Government except on the excise bill, which he opposed. He was responsible for exposing the fraudulent sale of the Derwentwater estates, for which he was thanked by the House of Commons on 31 Mar. 1732, and awarded £2,000 under Act of Parliament 8 Geo. II, c.29, in 1735.2 Horace Walpole states that he was ‘constantly paid by the foreign ministers for intelligence’ and ‘did all kinds of jobs for Sir Robert Walpole in the same way’.3 Described by Hervey as a ‘petulant, silly, busy, meddling, profligate fellow’,4 he was prominent in the Irish peers’ agitation for their right of precedence at the Princess Royal’s wedding in 1734, on which he moved for ‘a bill to relieve prisoners for debt’ so ‘that every part of his Majesty’s subjects might rejoice on this occasion’. In 1736 he introduced a bill to prevent clandestine marriages, which was rejected. He was reported in 1738 to have been appointed governor of Barbados, in succession to Sir Orlando Bridgeman, but the appointment did not materialize.5 Going into opposition, he spoke against the Spanish convention of 1739 both in Parliament and at Tewkesbury, where his ‘rhetoric and eloquence made them damn the convention and all who espoused it’.6 In December 1739 he supported Pulteney’s motion for a call of the House; but he was one of the opposition Whigs who withdrew on the motion for Walpole’s removal in February 1741. In the last days of Walpole’s Administration he is described as acting as ‘a postilion’ for the Prince of Wales, carrying ‘messages and errands for him in order to concert measures for the ... Opposition’.7 According to Horace Walpole, who states that Gage depended on his privilege as a Member of Parliament for keeping out of gaol for debt, the Opposition also employed him
in getting together the party to the House and keeping watch at the door to prevent their going away. On the change, he was paid for staying away a whole sessions. At his house in the country, he would frequently leave his company to go and read letters from, or write them to the King and royal family. Soon after he was made master of the household to the Prince.8
With the rest of the Prince’s party he voted with the Government till 1747 when he followed his master back into opposition, putting up his son, W. H. Gage, against Newcastle’s candidate at Seaford, so ‘that he might have something to talk about at Leicester House’.9 In the 2nd Lord Egmont’s lists of future office-holders on Frederick’s accession he is put down as comptroller of the Mint.
After the death of the Prince Gage made his peace with the Pelhams.10 In 1753 he wrote to a local newspaper complaining that many of his friends at Tewkesbury were
engaged in a scheme, which, if persisted in, must deprive me of the honour of representing them; although I flatter myself their resolution to choose no members but such as will give £1,500 each towards mending their roads, does not proceed from any personal dislike to me, but from the benefit they conceive the trade of Tewkesbury will receive by it.11
Refusing to accede to these terms, he and his son, Thomas, were defeated in 1754 at Tewkesbury, which he had represented for 33 years. He died shortly afterwards, 21 Dec. 1754.
Ref Volumes: 1715-1754
Author: Romney R. Sedgwick
- 1. Glos. N. & Q. ii. 651.
- 2. HMC Egmont Diary, i. 244, 247, 250; Harley Diary, 6 May 1735.
- 3. Corresp. H. Walpole (Yale ed.), xvii. 252-3 n. 22.
- 4. Hervey, Mems. 265.
- 5. HMC Egmont Diary, i. 405, 409; ii. 63, 257; Gent. Mag. 1738, p. 325.
- 6. Robt. Tracy to Sir Robt. Walpole, 21 Sept. 1739, Cholmondeley (Houghton) mss.
- 7. T. Carte to O'Bryan, 6 Apr. 1742, Stuart mss 241/3.
- 8. Corresp. H. Walpole, loc. cit.
- 9. HMC 10th Rep. I, 296-7.
- 10. AECP Angl. 435, ff. 210-12.
- 11. Namier, Structure, 131.