GAPE, Thomas (1685-1732), of Harpsfield Hall, nr. St. Albans, Herts.
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Family and Education
b. 17 Aug. 1685, 1st surv. s. of John Gape, M.P., by Susan, da. of Thomas Cowley of London. educ. Canterbury; Trinity, Camb. 1703; L. Inn 1703. m. 21 Feb. 1710, Elizabeth Baxter, 2s d.v.p.
The Gapes were an old St. Albans family, figuring frequently as mayors from 1554. Gape’s grandfather, who in 1676 bought the neighbouring estate of Harpsfield Hall, was returned for St. Albans in 1679 and his father sat for it as a Tory, 1701-5 and 1708-15. He himself played a prominent part on behalf of the opposition candidates in the St. Albans election of 1722 when, according to a petition lodged by the defeated candidates, ‘the mob was encouraged by Mr. Gape, junior, who, with his drawn sword, began the riot on the election day, and caused the music to play "The King shall enjoy his own again"'. He also appears to have been responsible for the arrangements for bribing voters.
On a vacancy at St. Albans in 1730 Gape was asked by Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, to support the candidature of her grandson John Spencer. Instead he used her invitation as a bargaining factor with Lord Grimston, on whose recommendation the St. Albans corporation unanimously adopted Gape himself as their representative.1 According to an account of the election, he was escorted to the poll by Lord Grimston and the principal gentlemen of the county, attended by about 300 voters, all on horseback,
and the town illuminated, bonfires made, and such great rejoicings made there as has not been seen for many years: which shews what regard is paid to those gentlemen who are elected with no other view than to serve their country.
In Parliament Gape voted against the Government on the army in 1732. On his death on 11 Dec. 1732 his estate of about £900 p.a. passed to his brother William, 'late a dry-salter'.2