TOLLEMACHE, Lionel, Lord Huntingtower (1649-1727), of Helmingham, Suff.

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



Mar. 1679
Feb. 1701
Dec. 1701
1705 - 1 May 1707

Family and Education

b. 30 Jan. 1649, 1st surv. s. of Sir Lionel Tollemache, 3rd Bt., of Helmingham by Lady Elizabeth Murray, s.j. Countess of Dysart [S], da. and coh. of William Murray, 1st Earl of Dysart; bro. of Hon. Thomas Tollemache. educ. Queens’, Camb. 1665. m. 30 Sept. 1680, Grace, da. and coh. of Sir Thomas Wilbraham, 3rd Bt., of Weston-under-Lizard, Staffs., 1s. d.v.p. 4da. styled Lord Huntingtower c.1654; suc. fa. 1669, mother as 3rd Earl of Dysart [S] 5 June 1698.1

Offices Held

J.p. Suff. 1673-?d., Northants. 1678-?d., Norf. by 1701-?d.; freeman, Eye 1675; commr. for assessment, Suff. and Surr. 1677-80, Orford 1679-80, Suff. 1689-90; portman, Orford 1685-c.1709, mayor c. May-Oct. 1704; ld. lt. custos rot. and v.-adm. Suff. 1703-5.2


Lord Huntingtower was descended from a Suffolk gentry family that had held property in the county since the 13th century, and greatly increased their estate under the Tudors. His grandfather, who sat for Orford in 1621 and 1628, was the first of the family to enter Parliament. His father, who went abroad in 1643, was assessed at £3,000 by the committee for the advance of money in 1647, but no proceedings were taken against him. He held no office during the Interregnum, but Huntingtower’s mother, the daughter of Charles I’s most disastrous Scottish favourite, is said to have been on intimate terms with Cromwell. Nevertheless she was associated with the Sealed Knot, and involved with her husband in royalist conspiracy in East Anglia after the fall of the Protectorate.3

Huntingtower, ‘a very sensible man’, succeeded to an encumbered estate in 1669, and set himself to clear it of a vast debt. It is unlikely that his characteristic prudence and frugality would have allowed him to stand for the county as early as 1673, had it not been for his mother’s second marriage to the Duke of Lauderdale, who doubtless bore the expense. He was involved in a double return with the country candidate Sir Samuel Barnardiston, which was decided against him without his ever being allowed to sit. ‘A worthy, honest young gentleman’, according to Sir Thomas Browne, ‘he lost it ... because ... the people feared he would prove a mere courtier.’ He was returned for the family borough of Orford at the next general election, and classed as ‘base’ by Shaftesbury. An inactive Member of the first Exclusion Parliament, he was appointed only to the committee of elections and privileges and to the inquiry into the shipment of artillery. His speech in defence of his step-father on 6 May 1679 earned him ‘great applause for a speaker, but not for a convincer, gaining no proselytes’.

If you remove this person, you will bring Scotland into rebellion. None are against him there but factious persons.

He voted against exclusion, and introduced a petition from some of the Norfolk freeholders against the return of Sir John Hobart. He did not stand at the next two elections. About this time his mother was urging him to go to Newmarket to wait on the King.

The great matter of all to me is that by your constant attendance upon the King ... I shall be able to remove the misinterpretations which I do lie under by the subtleties of my enemies, who have made your not waiting on the King a contempt of mine.4

Huntingtower was named to the corporation of Orford in the new charter of 1685, and represented the borough in James II’s Parliament. Again inactive, he was appointed only to the committees for repealing part of the Bedford Level Act and for establishing the new parish of St. Anne, Soho. His name was included in Danby’s list of the Opposition, but in 1688 the King’s agents obviously still considered him loyal, since they reported that Orford was under his influence and would return him and any other candidate the King chose. In the event his interest in the borough was overthrown by the cancellation of the 1685 charter, and he did not stand again till his mother’s death and his own parsimony, not to say ‘stinginess’, had left him in easy circumstances. He then sat for Suffolk in five Parliaments from 1698 until disqualified under the Act of Union with Scotland. He remained a Tory, and in 1721 his name was sent to the Pretender as a Jacobite supporter. He died on 23 Feb. 1727 and was buried at Helmingham. His great-grandson, later 6th Earl of Dysart, was returned for Northampton in 1771.5

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Authors: Paula Watson / Basil Duke Henning


  • 1. Hist. Weston (Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. 1899), 143.
  • 2. E. Suff. RO, EE2/D5/1; CSP Dom. 1685, p. 46.
  • 3. Copinger, Suff. Manors, ii. 303, 310-11; vi. 9; N. and Q. cc. 296; Cal. Comm. Adv. Money, 766; Reresby Mems. 121; D. Underdown, Royalist Conspiracy, 269-70.
  • 4. Prideaux Letters (Cam. Soc. n.s. xv), 181-2; Works of Sir Thomas Browne ed. Wilkin, i. 231; CJ, ix. 261, 312; Grey, vii. 198; HMC Ormonde, n.s. v. 86; Add. 23247, ff. 47-48.
  • 5. Durham Univ. Jnl. n.s. xxii. 55; Prideaux Letters, 182, Stuart mss 65/16.