LEWIS, Thomas (c.1679-1736), of Soberton, Hants.
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Family and Education
b. c.1679, 3rd but 1st surv. s. of Richard Lewis, M.P., of Edington and Corsham, Wilts. and the Van and St. Fagan’s, Glam. by his w. Mary James. educ. Salisbury sch. m. (1) Anna Maria (d. 1709), da. and h. of Sir Walter Curll, 1st Bt., of Soberton, s.p.; (2) settlement 8 Feb. 1710, Elizabeth Turnour of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, London, 1da. suc. fa. 1706.
Lewis, whose father had represented Westbury in nine Parliaments, came of an old Welsh family with large estates in Glamorgan. A member of the October Club under Queen Anne, he was returned as a Tory for Southampton in 1715, voting against the Administration in all recorded divisions of that Parliament. His name was sent to the Pretender in 1721 as a probable supporter in the event of a rising.1 However, during a debate in February 1726 on the treaties with Hanover and Spain, he ‘left his friends’ and declared himself ‘an humble servant of the great man’, Walpole. In return, it was alleged, he was ‘to be a peer and the honour to be entailed on his daughter and her issue and she is to be married to Sir Robert’s second son’. Next month he spoke in support of the Administration on increasing the number of seamen, and in February 1727 he opposed Pulteney’s motion on the right of the House to be informed about the disposition of public money. Returned in 1727 as a Whig for both Salisbury and Buckingham, he chose to sit for the former, voting for the Government in all recorded divisions. He made a ‘set’ speech, i.e. one learned by heart, in support of Pelham’s motion for maintaining the land forces in January 1729, when the 1st Lord Egmont described him as ‘a country gentleman, without place or pension, and one of the richest commoners in England’. He also spoke in February 1731 for the Hessians and in February 1733 for keeping the army up to 18,000 men, saying that ‘in 1715 he was warm for reducing the army but has since seen the ill consequences of it. It was our weakness that encouraged the rebellious plots in the late reign.’ In April 1734 he complained successfully for a breach of privilege on one of his servants, who was carrying out an order of the House. At the election in 1734 he was beaten at Salisbury but was returned for an Admiralty seat at Portsmouth, Sir Charles Wager having written to Walpole in 1733:
I forgot to mention to-day ... whether you remembered to speak to Mr. Lewis about Portsmouth in case he is not like to be chose at Sarum.2
His last recorded speech was against a place bill in April 1735.
Lewis died 22 Nov. 1736. In his will he left his estates, which were heavily encumbered, to his only grandchild, the 4th Earl of Plymouth, then ‘a sickly minor of about 4 years old’, with remainder successively to Sir Robert and Horace Walpole, and their issue, both of whom received substantial legacies and were appointed executors.3