WHITWORTH, Francis (1684-1742), of Leybourne, Kent and Blackford, nr. Minehead, Som.
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Family and Education
b. 9 May 1684, 6th s. of Richard Whitworth of Batchacre Park, in Adbaston, Staffs. and yr. bro. of Charles, 1st Baron Whitworth [I]. educ. Westminster 1701. m. c.1720, Joan Windham of Clarewell, Glos., 1s.
Sec. Barbados 1719-d.; surveyor of woods and forests north and south of Trent 1732-d.
In 1722 Whitworth stood for Minehead on an assurance from Lord Carteret that he would be supported by the Government. Defeated after a hot contest, he presented a petition only to find, as his elder brother put it, that though ‘his endeavours at Minehead had been approved by the ministry, and that he had by great expense and pains in that town broke the interest of a party always contrary to the Government’, he was ‘discouraged by a great man [Walpole] from prosecuting his right in Parliament’ and ‘over-persuaded to withdraw it’.1 However, he was returned for the borough at a by-election the following year, retaining the seat in 1727, when a petition against him was disposed of by a government motion closing the elections committee in order to prevent its being heard.2 About this time he strengthened his interest by buying an estate near Minehead, which he represented for the rest of his life.3
Early in George II’s reign Whitworth applied for the reversion of a colonial sinecure, which he had obtained in the late reign, to be granted to his son, on the ground that George I had consented to this but had died before he had signed the warrant. The application was unsuccessful, but in 1732 he obtained the surveyorship of woods and forests, worth £1,000 a year.4
Whitworth made his first recorded speech, in support of the Hessian troops, on 3 Feb. 1731. On 12 Apr. following he spoke against a proposal to take off the duty on Irish yarn, expressing the views of his constituents, who, depending on wool manufacture, feared Irish competition, based on low wages. Actuated by similar considerations, on 10 Mar. 1732 he moved successfully for a bill to stop the importation of hops from New England into Ireland free of duty, ‘by which the demand in that kingdom for English hops is greatly lessened’. He spoke on the Charitable Corporation bill on 15 May; seconded the army vote in the next session; and ‘had very contumelious usage’ by the mob outside the House on the withdrawal of the excise bill; ‘such language, he said, that was not fit for him to repeat to the House’. On 10 May 1733 he opposed a petition from the trustees for Georgia for more money. According to the 1st Lord Egmont,
he said the gentlemen concerned in the trust were doubtless disinterested, and meant well, but they did not know the scarcity of inhabitants in the country; he therefore was against sending any English men over, but was for some good laws to regulate our poor and make them useful. We might try what we could do by private subscription, but he was against giving public money. I did not wonder at it [Egmont added] for he told me this morning that he was against enlarging our colonies, and wished New England at the bottom of the sea.
Both his last two recorded speeches, in 1734 and 1735, are concerned with the local interests of Minehead.5
Re-elected unopposed in 1741, he was absent from the division on the chairman of the elections committee on 16 Dec. 1741, presumably owing to illness, dying shortly afterwards, 6 Mar. 1742.