BRAMSTON, Thomas Berney (1733-1813), of Skreens, Essex
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Family and Education
b. 7 Dec. 1733, o.s. of Thomas Bramston, M.P. for Essex, by Elizabeth, da. of Richard Berney, recorder of Norwich. educ. Felsted; New Coll. Oxf. 1751; M. Temple 1742, called 1757. m. 10 Jan. 1764, Mary, da. and h. of Stephen Gardiner of Norwich, 3 surv. s. 1da. besides four children ob. inf.1 suc. fa. 14 Nov. 1765.
Bencher, M. Temple 1783, reader 1791, treasurer 1795.
Bramston, of a Tory family and a close friend of John Strutt, supported the ‘old interest’ in Essex county elections: Conyers in 1763; and Harvey and Houblon in 1768. He was active in county affairs but did not stand for Parliament till 1779, when he was returned for Essex unopposed; similarly in 1780 and 1784. In five out of six divisions for which lists are available, 21 Feb.-24 Apr. 1780, he voted with the Government: the one in which he does not appear was over Dunning’s motion on the influence of the Crown, 6 Apr. The English Chronicle, although an Opposition paper, wrote about him after the general election of September 1780:
Thomas Berney Bramston, Esq. is universally respected by all distinctions of men as an honest, upright, well meaning man. He has often been solicited to accept a nomination, previous to his actual election for the county, but motives of domestic prudence induced him to decline it, as he had a large family and wished, from a just conception of parental duty, to avoid the great expense that inevitably attends a contest of this kind. He declined this honour, therefore, till the death of Mr. Harvey in 1779, when, being given to understand that it was a point settled in the county, at a meeting of both parties, that each should introduce a Member of their own complexion without contention, repeated trials having taught them that the opposite interests were nearly equal, and that the difficulties of such a contest were therefore equally expensive and ineffectual, he was prevailed upon to offer himself a candidate, and was elected without opposition. He has since been returned with Mr. Luther. Mr. Bramston has a good estate and wants no favour from ministers at present, but he constantly votes with them.
In the new Parliament he appears on the Government side in each of the six division lists, 12 Dec. 1781-15 Mar. 1782. He voted against Shelburne’s peace preliminaries,2 was absent from the divisions on Fox’s East India bill; and also at least from the first meetings of the House after the dismissal of the Coalition Government. Bamber Gascoyne sen. wrote to Strutt on Friday, 19 Dec. 1783 (Gascoyne and Bramston were life-long friends who at bottom disliked each other): ‘As to Bramston the same motives which made him shrink from opposing the India bill may keep him quiet.’ And in a postscript ‘Come up on Monday. Force Bramston.’3 John Sinclair wrote about Bramston in a paper of ‘short hints of what he has collected with regard to some of the least known’ Members, which he apparently sent to Pitt early in January 1784:4
A very worthy character insomuch that regret for the state of public affairs has affected his health. He did not vote, and will probably support the new ministers. Rigby has a good deal to say with him but Strutt, Sibthorp, and he, in general go together.
Robinson, in his list of January 1784 classed Bramston as ‘very hopeful’; he belonged to the St. Alban’s Tavern group which tried to bring about a union between Pitt and Fox; but after the breakdown of these negotiations Bramston apparently voted with the Government: he is listed among their supporters both by Stockdale, 19 March, and by William Adam, May 1784. A further letter from Gascoyne, 26 May 1784, again hints at Bramston’s fitful attendance: he regrets Strutt’s absence ‘as you would have kept Bramston in the House’; and further: ‘Bramston had Sir Robert Smyth’s petition [for Colchester] which he deserted and left to Mr. Smith of Nottingham.’ Bramston voted with Pitt during the Regency crisis. No speech of his in the House is recorded before 1790.
He died 12 Mar. 1813.
Ref Volumes: 1754-1790
Author: Sir Lewis Namier
- 1. See Bramston ped. in Autobiog. of Sir John Bramston (Cam. Soc. xxxii).
- 2. According to the list published by the Morning Post, 27 Feb. 1783, he voted for them, according to Robinson’s list, against; the point is settled by a conversation between Barré and Rigby reported to Shelburne by
- 3. Strutt mss.
- 4. Sinclair mss at Thurso.