WREY, Sir Bourchier, 6th Bt. (?1715-84), of Tawstock, nr. Barnstaple, Devon.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1715-1754, ed. R. Sedgwick, 1970
Available from Boydell and Brewer



20 Jan. 1748 - 1754

Family and Education

b. ?1715, 1st s. of Sir Bourchier Wrey, 5th Bt., M.P., of Tawstock by Diana, da. of John Rolle of Steven-stone, Devon, sis. of John Rolle and wid. of John Sparke of Plymouth, Devon. educ. Winchester; New Coll. Oxf. 21 Oct. 1732, aged 17; Grand Tour (Italy, Germany, Holland) 1737-40.1 m. (1) 10 July 1749, Mary (bur. 3 Sept. 1751), da. of John Edwards of Highgate, Mdx., s.p.; (2) 1 May 1755, Ellen, da. of John Thresher of Bradford, Wilts., 2s. suc. fa. Nov. 1726.

Offices Held


Wrey came of an old west country family, who in 1654 had inherited the Devonshire property of the Bourchiers, Earls of Bath.2 The son of an active Jacobite,3 he was introduced by his first cousin, Henry Rolle, to Newcastle in 1742 as ‘one who has a great interest in his county’.4 According to Horace Walpole, who describes him as ‘a very foolish knight’, he hurried up to London from Exeter during the political crisis of February 1746, on hearing from his kinswoman, Lady Orford, ‘that it was a brave opportunity for him to come up and make his own terms’.5Returned as a Whig for Barnstaple in 1748 in succession to Rolle, who had been created a peer, he became involved in a bitter quarrel with the 2nd Earl of Orford, lord lieutenant of Devonshire, over the disposal of a local crown living. Both parties appealed to Newcastle, Wrey writing, 2 June 1748, that he would appear

contemptible ... in the face of all those gentlemen, who I ventured to oppose in person at the late elections for both Exeter and Barnstaple and in both places, with some honour perhaps and at no inconsiderable expense to myself and my relations, if I do not appear to merit from your Grace some little preference to those, who neither on those, or occasions of much higher importance [i.e. in 1745] have given us the least assistance in that county;

while Orford threatened to resign his lord lieutenancy if he were ‘got the better of in this affair’ by Wrey and Rolle, ‘two such insignificant figures ... as silly and as dirty fellows as ever were born’, both of whom had been ‘bred up Jacobites from their cradles and will never give you another vote as soon as their turn is secured’.6 He went to the Baltic ports in 1752 on behalf of the society for promoting the herring fishery;7 voted against Hardwicke’s marriage bill in 1753;8 and declared himself a candidate for Exeter at the forthcoming general election, but withdrew before the poll.9 He died 13 Apr. 1784.

Ref Volumes: 1715-1754

Author: Shirley Matthews


  • 1. PCC 304 Rockingham.
  • 2. Lysons, Devonshire, i. pp. xcviii, cix.
  • 3. Report from the Committee appointed by the House of Commons to examine Christopher Layer and others (1723), App. F. 11.
  • 4. Add. 32699, f. 459.
  • 5. To Mann, 6 Mar. 1746.
  • 6. Add. 32715, ff. 147, 154.
  • 7. Wrey to Newcastle, 19 July 1752, Add. 32838, f. 333.
  • 8. C. Amyand to Newcastle, 4 June 1753, Add. 32732, f. 22.
  • 9. Wrey to Bedford, 2 Sept. 1753, Bedford mss; Sir F. Drake to Pelham, 6 Sept. 1753, Newcastle (Clumber) mss.