HORNER, Thomas (1688-1741), of Mells, Som. and Melbury, Dorset.
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Family and Education
bap. 1688, 1st s. of George Horner, M.P., by Elizabeth, da. and coh. of Col. Robert Fortescue of Filleigh, Devon. educ. Trinity, Oxf. 14 May 1705, aged 17. m. 1713, Susanna, da. of Thomas Strangways, sis. and coh. of Thomas Strangways jun. of Melbury, Dorset, 2s. d.v.p. 1da. suc. fa. 1708; assumed add. name of Strangways on his w.’s succeeding to Melbury 1726.
Sheriff, Som. 1711-12.
A Somerset squire, whose family had acquired Mells at the dissolution of the monasteries, Horner sat as a Tory for his county with Sir William Wyndham in Anne’s last Parliament. In 1715 he successfully contested Wells, afterwards narrowly escaping arrest on the discovery of Wyndham’s plans for a western rising.1 Retaining his seat just long enough to vote against the septennial bill before being unseated on petition, he was re-elected, only to meet the same fate. He did not stand for Wells again, but from 1727 represented the county once more, voting against the Government.
In 1729 Horner’s wife, who had already inherited Melbury as the co-heir of her brother, succeeded on the death of her sister, the Duchess of Hamilton, to the rest of the Strangways estates. Seven years later she arranged a clandestine marriage between their only surviving child, a 13 year-old daughter, and Stephen Fox, the brother of her paramour, Henry Fox, though her husband strongly objected to the match on the ground not only of the age of the bride but of the politics of the bridegroom. She attempted to appease him by representing that the marriage had taken place without her knowledge, also procuring a written undertaking from Fox not to interfere in county politics.2 Horner seems never to have forgiven his daughter, to whom he refers in his will only as ‘the person who shall under my marriage settlement be entitled to receive the sum of seven thousand and five hundred pounds, the provision made for a daughter of the said marriage settlement’. On his death 19 Nov. 1741, without surviving male issue, Mells passed to his younger brother, the Strangways estates devolving ultimately on his daughter.