BATHURST, Sir Benjamin (c.1639-1704), of Paulerspury, Northants. and Westminster.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
b. c.1639, 12th but 6th surv. s. of George Bathurst (d.1651) of Thedingworth, Leics. by Elizabeth, da. and h. of Edward Villiers of Hothorpe, Northants. m. June 1682, Frances (d. 7 June 1727), da. of Sir Allen Apsley of Westminster, 3s. 1da. Kntd. 17 Jan. 1682.1
Freeman, E.I. Co. 1676, committee 1684-98, dep. gov. 1686-8, 1695-6, gov. 1688-90; asst. R. Africa Co. 1677-95, dep. gov. 1680-2, sub-gov. 1682-4, 1685-6, 1689-90; commr. for assessment, Northants. 1679-80, 1689; alderman, London 1683-6, commr. for Christ’s Hospital 1684; dep. lt. London 1685-7, Oct. 1688-9, Glos. 1702-d.; jurat, New Romney 1685-Oct. 1688; dep. gov. Levant Co. 1686-7, gov. 1688-9, 1695; freeman, Brackley Sept.-Oct. 1688.2
Commr. for Duke of York’s revenue 1682-5, treas. to Princess Anne 1683-1702, to the Duke of York 16845, to Prince George of Denmark 1684-1702, to the Duke of Gloucester 1699-1700; commr. of horse to Prince George 1687-1702, to Queen Anne 1702-d.; cofferer of the Household 1702-d.3
Bathurst traced his descent from a Canterbury clothier in the reign of Henry VI. Two branches of the family acquired manorial property in Kent in Elizabethan times, and Bathurst’s father married a Northamptonshire heiress, by whom he had a large family ‘very ingenious and prosperous in the world, and most of them very handsome’. No less than six of Bathurst’s elder brothers are said to have died in the service of Charles I. One survived to become president of Trinity College, Oxford in 1664, another held a comfortable living in Northamptonshire, another was judge-advocate of the navy, another attorney-general of Munster, and the fifth inherited Hothorpe. This left only trade as a career for Bathurst, the youngest. Unable to live in England without disturbance during the Interregnum, he settled in Cadiz. On his return, a prosperous merchant, he married into a court family. His wife was an intimate friend of Princess Anne, and obtained for him the office of treasurer of her household, in which he distinguished himself (according to his epitaph) ‘by his singular prudence and economy’. He bought Paulerspury from Edward Hales II, and, as a reliable Tory, he was appointed alderman in the new London charter of 1683, and was intended for other commissions as well in order to counter the ‘direful bodings of the Whigs’. In 1684 he and his brother-in-law, Sir Peter Apsley, were appointed treasurer and receiver-general respectively to the Duke of York, and he was soon lending the Government sums in excess of £25,000.4
In order to evade the statute by which half the excise was limited to the life of Charles II, a fictitious lease was made out to Bathurst, Apsley and James Grahme, and dated the day before the King’s death. Bathurst was returned for New Romney as the government nominee at the general election of 1685, and attended the coronation of James II as a baron of the Cinque Ports. But he had also been elected for Bere Alston, for which he chose to sit on 27 May. A moderately active Member, he was appointed to eight committees, including those to prohibit the import of gunpowder and tallow candles and to encourage woollen manufactures and ship-building. His removal from the London corporation in 1686 does not seem to have affected his loyalty, and Sunderland ordered him to stand for re-election at Bere Alston in 1688. The King’s agents reported that he would be chosen with John Maynard II and added that ‘one if not both of them are right’. In December James wrote to Bathurst in an attempt to secure his shares in the East India and Guinea Companies, concluding, ‘I look on you to be so honest a man as well as a loyal subject, that I make no doubt of your serving me faithfully in it’.5
After the Revolution Bathurst concerned himself with his duties in the household of Princess Anne and with the East India Company, in which he held £6,350 stock. He gave evidence to the Convention about the collection of excise without parliamentary authority after the death of Charles II. He was not seriously threatened, but he did not sit again during William’s reign. He died on 27 Apr. 1704, aged 65, and was buried at Paulerspury. His three sons all followed him into Parliament, the eldest being one of the 12 Tory peers created in 1712.6
Ref Volumes: 1660-1690
Author: J. S. Crossette
- 1. Baker, Northants. ii. 203, 207; Evelyn Diary, iv. 264.
- 2. Cal. Ct. Mins. E.I. Co. ed. Sainsbury, x. 305; Add. 38871, ff. 8-11; J. R. Woodhead, Rulers of London, 26; CSP Dom. 1687-9, p. 269; HMC Lords, iii. 45.
- 3. Add. 24927; CSP Dom. 1685, p. 291; 1699-1700, p. 49; 1702-3, p. 396; Cal. Treas. Bks. vii. 1053; LS13/231/24.
- 4. Collins, Peerage, v. 80-86; Trans. R. Hist. Soc. n.s. vi. 160; B. Bathurst, Letters of Two Queens, passim; Baker, ii. 202; Cal. Treas. Bks. vii. 971, 1084, 1416; Bramston Autobiog. (Cam. Soc. xxxii), 201; CSP Dom. 1683-4, p. 16; HMC Dartmouth, i. 95.
- 5. Cal. Treas. Bks. viii. 10-11; C. D. Chandaman, Eng. Pub. Revenue, 74; Kent AO, NR/AEp/50; Suss. Arch. Colls. xv. 193; CSP Dom. 1687-9, p. 276; HMC 10th Rep. IV, 329.
- 6. Add. 22185, f. 14; CJ, x. 224; PCC 87 Ash.