PEARSE, Thomas (d.1743), of Tower Hill, London and Witchampton, Dorset.
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Family and Education
?s. of James Pearse of Weymouth. m. (1), 1s. 3da.; (2) bef. 1730, da. of Thomas Best of Chatham, 2s.1
Chief clerk, navy office to 1726, commr. of the navy 1726-d.; director, South Sea Co. 1721-24.
Pearse appears to have been a business man who, like John Phillipson, for some time combined the position of a clerk in the navy office with that of a South Sea director. Returned unopposed for Weymouth, his native town, he vacated his seat on being appointed a commissioner of the navy in 1726 but did not stand at the ensuing by-election. Reelected in 1727 after a contest, he was unopposed in 1734, voting with the Government in every recorded division.
When in 1740 George Bubb Dodington set up four opposition candidates at Weymouth, Walpole gave Pearse and John Olmius ‘the strongest assurance of my friendship and support against everybody that shall think fit to oppose those gentlemen that deserve so very well of all the King’s servants’.2 During the election campaign he approved a scheme drawn up by Pearse’s friends at Weymouth for the removal of several local revenue officers to enable the Government to carry all four Members. After losing the election, Pearse gave evidence to the secret committee set up by the House of Commons to enquire into Walpole’s Administration. He admitted that the mayor of Weymouth had been offered the post of collector of customs if he would pack the corporation, in order to choose a returning officer for the forthcoming election. Another inducement was a promise to procure the mayor’s brother-in-law, a clergyman, ‘any living that became vacant in the gift of the Crown or the Lord Chancellor.’ Asked whether, when the mayor refused, he, Pearse, had said that ‘if fair means would not do, foul must,’ meaning that their charter would be attacked, he replied that ‘he did not know but he may have said "have at your charter"'.3
Pearse died, still in possession of his place, 3 Apr. 1743.