BELLINGHAM, Alan (1656-93), of Levens, Westmld.
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Family and Education
Commr. for assessment, Westmld. 1677-80, 1689, dep. lt. 1685-?89.2
Capt. indep. tp. June 1685; capt. of horse, regt. of Robert Werden Dec. 1685-Dec. 1688.
Bellingham came from a prolific family which took its name from a Northumberland township. But his ancestors had established themselves on the western side of the Pennines by the 14th century, and one of them sat for Cumberland in 1449. The family were divided in the Civil War. When Bellingham’s grandfather succeeded unexpectedly to the Levens estate after a series of deaths in the elder line, he claimed to have been always well-affected to Parliament; but he was proposed for the order of the Royal Oak at the Restoration with an estate of £1,500 p.a. He unwisely alienated part of the property for the benefit of two younger sons, and Bellingham’s father had no less than six marriageable daughters for whom portions had to be found. Bellingham himself, ‘an ingenious but unhappy young man’, made no secret of his parliamentary ambitions, though he forbore to oppose Sir John Lowther III in the first by-election for Westmorland after he came of age. But on the death of Sir Philip Musgrave he appeared in the court interest, supported by letters from his father and the Roman Catholic Sir Thomas Strickland, and defeated Lowther’s uncle Richard, though there appears to have been some doubt about the validity of his election. He took his seat on 4 May 1678, and by his ‘ingenuity’ in voting steadily with the country party he earned Shaftesbury’s approval as a ‘worthy’ Member, and was not disturbed. He was appointed to no committees, and his only speech was on 21 Dec. when he defied ‘the best friend the [lord] treasurer has in the House’ to propose a question on the irregular conduct of William Williams in the chair of the impeachment committee.3
Bellingham was not slow to patch up relations with the Lowther interest. He stood jointly with Sir John at the first general election of 1679, and they were returned, probably unopposed. Shaftesbury again marked him ‘worthy’, and he voted for exclusion. He was re-elected in September, but may never have taken his seat in the second Exclusion Parliament, because of his involvement in some abhorring petition from Yorkshire. He was listed among the defaulters in attendance on 4 Jan. 1681. At the next general election he tried to bring in the crypto-Catholic naval officer, Sir Roger Strickland, as his colleague for Westmorland. On a report that Bellingham had been one of only 25 Members who had voted for the Duke of York, ‘all the fanatic party have declared against him’; but he resumed his old partnership with Sir John Lowther, and was re-elected after a contest with Christopher Philipson. Throughout the Exclusion Parliaments he was appointed to no committees and made no speeches.4
Bellingham had definitely gone over to the Court by 1683, when, by agreement with the 5th Earl of Thanet (Richard Tufton) and (Sir) Christopher Musgrave, he presented a loyal address from Kendal. He wrote anxiously to the 6th Earl before the general election of 1685, and received the not entirely satisfactory answer: ‘I cannot give you a positive answer as to money now, till we meet; but what interest I have I ever designed it for you’. He defeated Philipson again, but it was a Pyrrhic victory, from which both contestants emerged ruined men. Bellingham left no trace on the records of James II’s Parliament, but he raised a troop of horse on Monmouth’s invasion and was given a regular commission at the end of the year. In 1686 he conveyed his estates to trustees for payment of his debts. On the King’s religious policy ‘Mr Bellingham does give all possible assurances that he will with all readiness concur. ... He takes it for a great dishonour and reproach to him that there should go abroad a report of him as if he would not.’ Sunderland accordingly ordered him to stand as court candidate for Westmorland in 1688. The remainder of his life is wrapped in mystery. In his will, dated 12 Oct., he stated that his lands were mortgaged for £13,000, and soon afterwards his trustees sold them to James Grahme for £24,000. He may have been the Captain Bellingham who accepted the Revolution, but was sent to Newgate as a Jacobite agent in April 1692. If so he must have soon been released, for he died in France in the following year. He was the last of this branch of the family to sit in Parliament.5
Ref Volumes: 1660-1690
Author: Leonard Naylor
- 1. Flemings at Oxford (Oxf. Hist. Soc. xliv), 198; Nicolson and Burn, Westmld. and Cumb. i. 206; HMC Le Fleming, 394.
- 2. Westmld. RO, D/Ry 2914 (ltcy. warrant, 6 May 1685).
- 3. A. Hewitson, Bellingham Diary, v, xii; Westmld. RO, D/Ry 1961, Lowther to Fleming, 18 Feb. 1678; HMC Le Fleming, 145; Grey, vi. 373.
- 4. HMC Le Fleming, 156, 173, 180; Westmld. RO, D/Ry 2374, Lowther to Fleming, 28 Jan. 1681.
- 5. Westmld. RO, D/Ry 2711, Musgrave to Fleming, 1 Sept. 1683, 2865a, Thanet to Bellingham, 26 Feb. 1685; HMC Lords, n.s. i. 365; R. Morrice, Entering Bk. 2, p. 74; CSP Dom. 1687-9, p. 286; PCC 202 Coker; Luttrell, ii. 460; Hewitson, xiii.