LOCKYER, Thomas (1699-1785), of Maperton, nr. Ilchester, Som.
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Family and Education
bap. 19th Sept. 1699, 4th s. of Thomas and Elizabeth Lockyer, of Ilchester, Som.1 m. (1) 1728, Elizabeth (d. bef. 1751), da. of Joseph Tolson, East India captain, with a marriage portion of £5,000; his sons d.v.p.; 2da. Elizabeth, w. of Edward Phelips (q.v.) and Mary, w. of Samuel Smith (q.v.) surv. him.; (2) c.1780, Mary, da. of Thomas Handcock of Fore Street, London, s.p.
Thomas Lockyer was a Dissenter.2 He was settled in London as a merchant and broker and appears in the London directories from 1738 till 1777. In 1746 he bought Maperton and succeeded his brother Charles in the representation of Ilchester. Francis Fane, returned with Thomas Lockyer in 1747, wrote on 8 Aug. 1753 to Henry Pelham, who wished to be informed ‘of the true state of the borough’:3
I ... am now sorry to say that Mr Lockyer from various connections has got such possession of the town that it would be very difficult if not impossible to have a majority against him in a contested election ... Seeing it clearly in this light I thought it advisable (though very disagreeable to myself) to have a meeting with Lockyer, when he expressed a readiness to join with me, being as he said entirely disengaged at present. But which upon condition that I should be at the whole expense of the election, and at the same time be offered to give me the strongest assurances of his fidelity to you upon all future occasions. In answer to this I told him that I was ready to pay my share of the expense, let it be ever so great. But that I could not afford to treat other people and as to his assurances of fidelity to you, he must get some persons to be bound to the performance who had been less acquainted with him than myself. Thus ended our conversation, only I desired he would give me a little time to turn his proposition in my thoughts before he treated with another, which he consented to.
On 16 Mar. 1754 Fane reported to Newcastle that Lockyer ‘is willing to bring in anybody for £2,000 with him, and has answered for his own behaviour’.4 He returned John Talbot, £1,000 of whose expenses was paid from secret service funds.5 No vote or speech of Lockyer's is on record in this poorly reported Parliament.
When Talbot was dying (he died 23 Sept. 1756), Newcastle thought of putting up Peter Burrell II for his seat, and sent Francis Fane to Ilchester to sound Lockyer. Fane reported on the 29th6—he found that Lockyer ‘had the night before called together many of the principal inhabitants of the borough and in very strong terms recommended his son (whom it is said he has not seen for some years) to supply the vacancy’ in case Talbot died. He made them sign a paper promising their support which he would show in London ‘as a proof of his superior interest in the borough.’ Fane hardly knew what to advise.
Mr Lockyer by family connection, estate in the borough, the returning officer his menial servant, his usury and oppression must have weight and influence in the town. But then on the other hand he has a multitude of enemies, is himself a dirty, sordid, tyrannical fellow, rich but unwilling to spend a penny, and so timid and unsteady that in my own opinion the least prospect of expense would make him decline a contest of this sort though he was certain of victory.7 He is full of promises, falsehood and deceit, as my late worthy friend, Mr Pelham very well knew, and I now most seriously believe that he will not be prevailed on to give a vote on the side of the Administration in any matter of consequence unless influenced by Lord Egmont. The people in general in the borough are poor and corrupt, without honour, morals, or attachment to any man or party.
Newcastle replied, 12 Oct., that Lockyer came to see him, ‘determined his son should stand, or at least that it should cost so much, that I could not advise Mr Burrell to undertake it’. He assured Newcastle of his son's attachment ‘to the King and his interest’, and in these circumstances the Duke thought it more advisable to withdraw his recommendation and agree to the election of young Lockyer.
In 1761 Newcastle hoped that Lockyer would return one candidate of his, but in the end Lockyer returned his own son and Egmont. ‘This fellow Lockyer hath deceived your Grace and your friend, and hath made a fool of me’, wrote on 13 Mar. Thomas Fane's younger brother, employed as intermediary.8
And here is the story of those transactions as told by Lord Egmont:9
Mr Lockyer (who from small beginnings as a broker, a banker, an East India trader, and a dealer in the funds, acquired a great fortune) is now possessed of £3,000 per annum in, and contiguous to, Ilchester, which borough he entirely commands. Formerly he was so far attached to the Duke of Newcastle, that he brought in one Member constantly for him, but the Duke employed Mr Fane to trick him if he could out of his borough, as Fane actually did out of the money which he was to pay Mr Lockyer for choosing him there.
Resentment for this usage, and a former attachment to me in the time of the late Prince of Wales, induced him to enter into engagements with me, for ever to bring in one Member there at my recommendation, and even to accommodate me with both, if any extraordinary occasion should induce me to require it. The Duke of Newcastle knowing this, determined to distress him in all respects, as far as he was able, and directly or indirectly employed Fane to do it, by animating one Mr Coombes to oppose me twice at Ilchester, and to tease my friends by prosecutions at law afterwards, while he himself connived at Fane's practices wither the under officers of the Treasury (where the Fanes have great and old connexions).
Fane may possibly have supported Richard Coombe (q.v.) in his opposition to Lockyer, but there is no evidence that Newcastle was concerned in it.
Although Lockyer continued patron of the borough till his death, he himself never stood for Parliament again. He died 9 July 1785, directing his executors to sell all his possessions, and invest the money in Government stock, which terminated the Lockyer control of Ilchester.
Ref Volumes: 1754-1790
Author: Sir Lewis Namier
- 1. 'Family Memoir' by Prof. Basil Williams, communicated by his son W.B. Williams.
- 2. Gent. Mag. 1743, p. 388.
- 3. Newcastle (Clumber) mss.
- 4. Add. 32995, f. 102.
- 5. Namier, Structure, 200.
- 6. Add. 32867, f. 474.
- 7. See also the pamphlet, Case of Maria Perry, Widow, against Edward Phelips, etc., and Others, Claimants under the late Thomas Lockyer, Esq.
- 8. Add 32917, f. 28; 32919, f. 58; 32920, f. 181.
- 9. Egmont to Bute, 3 June 1762, Bute mss.