DOLMAN, Sir Thomas (1622-97), of Shaw, Berks.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. 13 Jan. 1622 o.s. of Humphrey Dolman of Shaw by Anne, da. and h. of John Quarles, merchant, of London. educ. Lincoln, Oxf. 1638; L. Inn 1641. m. 1651, Margery (d. 21 Jan. 1687) da. and h. of John Hobday of Thornton, Warws., 5s. (3 d.v.p.) 3da. Kntd. 2 Feb. 1661; suc. fa. 1666.1

Offices Held

Commr. for assessment, Berks. Jan. 1660-80, 1689-90, Leics. 1673-80, Warws. 1677-80, militia, Berks. Mar. 1660; j.p. Berks. July 1660-87, Newbury 1664, 1671, 1685, Leics. 1669-87, dep. lt. Berks. c. Aug. 1660-?87; freeman, Reading 1661; commr. for recusants, Berks. 1675.2

Gent. of the privy chamber 1672-85; clerk to the Privy Council extraordinary 1676, ordinary 1677-85.3


Dolman’s ancestors were prosperous Newbury clothiers. His great-grandfather bought Shaw manor in 1554, and is said to have spent £10,000 in building. Although his father was named to the commission of array and Shaw became a royalist garrison in the Civil War, the property escaped sequestration. Dolman himself is said to have fought at the second battle of Newbury, but his father held local office during the Interregnum, and there is no evidence that either was active in royalist conspiracy. Dolman’s knighthood was perhaps intended to enhance his status at Reading where the Royalists feared ‘an ill election’ in 1661. He was granted the freedom of the borough and apparently returned unopposed. A moderately active Member of the Cavalier Parliament, he was appointed to 167 committees, acted as teller in 11 divisions, and made eight recorded speeches. During the Clarendon administration his most important committees were to consider the uniformity bill, the five mile bill, and the public accounts bill. A zealous Anglican, he was teller against allowing a debate on the order for receiving the sacrament on 9 Dec. 1666. Shortly afterwards he succeeded to the Shaw estate, which was probably somewhat over-valued by Bishop Ward at £2,000 p.a. In 1667 he was appointed to the committee to prevent the growth of Popery, and was teller for the unsuccessful proviso of 28 Apr. 1668 that the conventicles bill was intended against the Roman Catholics. He was one of the deputation sent on 23 Nov. 1669 to thank the Duke of Albemarle (George Monck) for taking measures to prevent disturbances by the disaffected. Ten days later he was teller against accepting one of the charges of misdemeanour brought by the public accounts commissioners against Sir George Carteret. He was appointed to all the committees directed against conventicles in this session, and acted as teller for the bill on 9 Mar. 1670. He appeared in both lists of the court party in 1669-71 as one to be engaged by the Duke of York. Dolman’s activity was most marked during the session of 1670-1, when he was among those named to manage a conference on the growth of Popery, and served on some 40 other committees. In debates on supply he acted as stalking-horse for the Government, proposing, to the horror of Sir Thomas Meres, an additional excise on beer and ale, and during the recess he was given a post at Court. When Parliament reassembled, he again took the lead over supply. He declared that the third Dutch war was just and prudent and Parliament no less loyal than before, and therefore proposed a land tax of £70,000 a month for 18 months. He opposed dispensations either for Protestant dissenters from the oaths of allegiance and supremacy, or the Roman Catholic Bernard Howard from the recusancy laws. On Howard’s petition he declared:

If the little thief gets in at the window of the house, he will soon open the great door to let in the rest of the thieves. Let one in by such a petition and you may let in the rest.

His name appeared on the Paston list of court supporters in 1673-4.4

As one of the executors of the will of Thomas Rich, Dolman was appointed to the committee to confirm his son’s marriage settlement. After the Abingdon by-election in 1675 he assured Sir Richard Wiseman that Sir John Stonhouse would vote for the Court, and he received the government whip from Secretary Coventry. After the autumn session, however, Wiseman wrote of Dolman that it ‘goes against his mind if he votes ill, and if he does do so, I am sure he is deluded by promises’. On the working lists, therefore, he was included among those ‘to be remembered’, and when Parliament reassembled after the long recess he was granted one of the Privy Council clerkships, valued in A Seasonable Argument at £500 p.a. The author of Flagellum Parliamentarium alleged that he was ‘flattered with belief of being made secretary of state’, and Shaftesbury marked him ‘thrice vile’. Among his committees in the 1677 session were those on the bills for preventing illegal exactions, and for educating the children of the royal family as Protestants. Although (Sir) Joseph Williamson included him among the government speakers, he made only two more speeches in the House, and neither was helpful to the Government. On 1 Feb. 1678, he advocated sending the court supporter Thomas Wancklyn. to the Tower for issuing fraudulent protections. He was more reliable as a teller, opposing that part of the address of 10 May 1678 which called for the removal of evil counsellors, and supporting compensation to the crown for the loss of customs revenue arising from the prohibition of imports from France. During the last session of the Parliament he was appointed to the committees to inquire into the Popish Plot, to translate Coleman’s letters and to search Langhorne’s papers. As clerk to the Council he was present when Coleman’s letters were shown to Oates, and on 2 Nov. he said that ‘Mr Oates saw but one line of these letters, and he told us presently whose hands they were’. His acceptance of the Popish Plot no doubt accounts for his exclusion from the ‘unanimous club’ of court supporters, though his name is first in the government list of 1678. But he did not stand again.5

Dolman surrendered his clerkship to William Bridgeman in January 1685, though retaining the profits. Shortly afterwards, he petitioned for over four years’ arrears of salary. Apparently opposed to James II’s policies, he was removed from the bench in 1687. William of Orange stayed a night at Shaw on his way to London in December 1688, but Dolman’s attitude to the Revolution is not known. He died on 18 July 1697 and was buried at Shaw, the only member of his family to sit in Parliament.6

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Authors: Leonard Naylor / Geoffrey Jaggar


  • 1. Reading Univ. mss, H. C. Cherry, Bercherienses Prosapiae, I, p. 479, Vis. Berks. (Harl. Soc. lvi), 193, VCH Berks. iv. 90; PCC 138 Pyne; VCH Warws. v. 80.
  • 2. Berks. RO Reading corp. diary, 6 Apr. 1661; CSP Dom. 1685, p. 38.
  • 3. Carlisle, Privy Chamber, 190; CSP Dom. 1676-7, p. 570; 1684-5, p. 284; PC2/65/231, 486.
  • 4. VCH Berks. i. 389-90; iv. 89-90; W. Money, Battles of Newbury, 216; HMC Portland, iii. 250; Salisbury Cathedral Lib., Bp. Seth Ward, Liber Notitiae, f. 53; CF, ix. 212; Grey, i. 272, ii. 8-9, 39, 362; Dering, III.
  • 5. Grey, v. 56; vi. 165; CJ, ix. 479, 500; HMC Lords, i. 10, 15.
  • 6. CSP Dom. 1684-5, pp. 282, 284; Cal. Treas. Bks. viii. 705; HMC 14th Rep. IX, 452; Money, 23.