BALE, Christopher (d. 1708), of Cathedral Close, Exeter

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
Available from Boydell and Brewer



4 June 1689 - 1695

Family and Education

1st s. of Paul Bale, fuller, of Exeter by Mary Hooper of Exeter.  m. (1) Margaret (d. 1675), da. of William Bruerton of Heavitree, Devon, 1s. d.v.p. 4da.; (2) lic. 21 Feb. 1677, Elizabeth, da. of William Stawell of Herebear, Bickington, Devon, 1s.  suc. fa. c.1677.1

Offices Held

Freeman, Exeter 1675, common councilman 1675–84, alderman 1684–7, Nov. 1688–d., mayor Dec. 1688–9, 1696–7; receiver, city revenues 1683–4; freeman, Salisbury 1681; receiver, land tax, Devon and Cornw. 1691–5.2


Bale was a leading member of Exeter’s governing merchant class and closely associated with Sir Edward Seymour, 4th Bt.* Restored as a Tory alderman in early November 1688, he joined the then mayor and other aldermen in remaining loyal to James II and refusing to recognize the Prince of Orange’s authority when the prince and his army entered Exeter in mid-November, an act of defiance resulting in his brief suspension; nor, in common with other members of the corporation, did he sign Seymour’s Exeter association. Although not elected to the Convention until a by-election in June, his name was included in the published ‘blacklist’ of those who in February had opposed the transfer of the crown. Bale was returned for Exeter, this time unopposed, again with Seymour in the 1690 general election, following which he was classed as a Tory by Lord Carmarthen (Sir Thomas Osborne†) in an analysis of the new House, and in another list as a Court supporter. In December Carmarthen noted Bale as a supporter in anticipation of an attack on him in the Commons. Robert Harley’s* list of around April 1691 also classified him as a Court supporter, and on his becoming a receiver of taxes, several later lists noted him as a placeman. This evidence of Bale’s pro-Court inclinations is further borne out by his having spoken on 28 Nov. 1691 in favour of the army estimates. As teller on 20 Feb. 1693 he signified his opposition to a motion to enable Plymouth and Bridgwater to import Irish woollens. On 6 Dec. he presented a petition from Exeter merchants complaining of excessive rates charged by the prize office for salvage of retaken vessels. In March 1695 he supervised a private bill concerning the estates of Henry Northleigh, the late MP for Okehampton.3

Standing down at the general election of 1695, Bale became mayor of Exeter a second time the following year, and continued his efforts to recover from the Treasury a debt of £345 which the corporation had spent on the King’s Dutch troops when they were quartered on the town in November 1688. In the later 1690s he led the corporation’s campaign against the of establishment a corporation of the poor in Exeter, partly because it was an autonomous institution outside the control of the corporate body, and partly as a Tory reaction against what was regarded as a likely forum for Whiggish and Dissenting reformers. Once the corporation had been founded in 1698, he continued to harass its proceedings. Bale died overseas between 16 June 1707, when his will was drawn up, and 2 Dec. 1708, when it was proved.4

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: Eveline Cruickshanks


  • 1. Trans. Devon Assoc. lxii. 210; J. L. Vivian, Exeter Mar. Lic. 120; PCC 61 Reeve; Soc. of Geneal., Exeter mar. lic.; G. D. Stawell, Quantock Fam. 175.
  • 2. Exeter Freemen (Devon and Cornw. Rec. Soc. extra ser. i), 167; Trans. Devon Assoc. 210; Hoare, Wilts. iv. 477; Cal. Treas. Bks. ix. 975; x. 465, 1299.
  • 3. Add. 41805, ff. 65, 118, 122, 129, 161, 168, 207; Luttrell Diary, 48.
  • 4. HMC Exeter, 219–21, 227; T. V. Hitchcock, ‘The English Workhouse . . . 1696–1750’ (Oxf. Univ. D.Phil. thesis, 1985), 61–62, 69; PCC 279 Barrett.