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BERTIE, Hon. Henry I (c.1656-1734), of Chesterton, Oxon.
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Family and Education
b. c.1656, 8th s. of Montagu Bertie†, 2nd Earl of Lindsey, being 3rd s. by his 2nd w. Bridget, suo jure Baroness Norreys, da. and h. of Edward Wray of Rycote, groom of the bedchamber, wid. of Hon. Edward Sackville; half-bro. of Hon. Charles I* and Hon. Peregrine I*. educ. Padua 1674. m. (1) bef. 23 May 1687, Philadelphia, da. and coh. of Sir Edward Norreys*, 2s. (1 d.v.p.) 3da.; (2) Catherine (d. 1736), da. of Sir Heneage Fetherston, 1st Bt., of Stanford-le-Hope, Essex, s.p.1
Capt. Lord Gerard’s Horse 1678–9; indep. tp. June–Dec. 1685; dep. constable of the Tower 1702–5.
Freeman, Oxford 1681–June 1688, Oct. 1688–?d., Devizes ?–Mar. 1688.2
A Tory who had been unable to accept the pro-Catholic policies of James II, Bertie was returned for Oxford in 1690 on the interest of his brother, the 1st Earl of Abingdon. The continuing success of other family members at the polls hampers any attempt to determine his activity throughout his career at Westminster, and the Journals for the 1690 Parliament only specifically allude to him on the three occasions on which he was granted leave of absence. However, his politics are more certain, for at the outset of the first session he was cited by his kinsman, the Marquess of Carmarthen (Sir Thomas Osborne†) as a Tory and probable Court supporter, and Carmarthen listed him as an ally in December should he come under attack in the Commons. More equivocally, in April 1691 Robert Harley* tentatively identified him as a Country Member. The following September Carmarthen was still willing to render him assistance, petitioning the King on his behalf:
Sir Edmund Jennings* (who was a commissioner of prizes) is newly dead, and I know Lord Abingdon would take it as a favour to himself, if your Majesty would bestow that employment upon his brother, Mr Henry Bertie, who was at considerable expense in raising a troop of horse at your coming into England and nothing can be done more cheaply for him since it takes nothing out of your Exchequer; but it would be better for him if you would please to give him Mr [Robert] Ferguson’s place [housekeeper of the excise office], who I suppose you will not think fit to continue longer in your service, after so many informations concerning him.
Unfortunately for Bertie, the letter produced no result, and he remained politically inconspicuous, although his name did appear in a list compiled by Henry Guy* in the 1694–5 session as a likely opponent of attacks on Guy in the House. Bertie did not seek re-election in 1695, not altogether surprisingly given his frequent requests to depart from the House. He did not stand in 1698 and January 1701, although he assisted (Sir) John Verney* (2nd Bt., later Viscount Fermanagh [I]) on his campaigns for election in Buckinghamshire, where Bertie was lord of the manor of Nutley. He was back at Westminster in December 1701, having been returned for Westbury on the interest of his nephew the 2nd Earl of Abingdon (Montagu Venables Bertie*). Classed as a Tory by Harley, in February 1702 Bertie supported the resolution vindicating the Commons’ conduct in the impeachments of William III’s Whig ministers during the preceding Parliament.3
On the accession of Anne, Bertie was appointed Abingdon’s deputy as constable of the Tower. In the spring of 1703 he sought advancement at the Ordnance office, lobbying the Duke of Marlborough (John Churchill†) to become clerk of the deliveries. He was aided in this campaign by Abingdon, who thought Bertie’s ‘steadiness heretofore hath made it needless for anyone to answer for his truth and affection to this government’, but all their efforts were in vain. Having only regained his Westbury seat on petition, he was forecast in October 1704 as a probable supporter of the Tack. However, doubts surround his vote in the division of 28 Nov., for although his name appears on two lists of Tackers, on another he is bracketed with opponents of the High Tory measure. Despite this confusion, it is clear that his identification with the Tackers brought about his dismissal in May 1705 from his office at the Tower. The controversy did not undermine his interest at Westbury, and following an unopposed victory he was classed as a ‘Churchman’ by an analyst of the new Parliament. He predictably voted against the Court candidate for Speaker on 25 Oct., and in the latter stages of the Parliament was twice cited as a Tory. In its successor he voted against the impeachment of Dr Sacheverell.4
Following victory at Westbury in 1710, Bertie was classified as a Tory in the ‘Hanover list’, and the following year his name appeared on the list of ‘worthy patriots’ who in the 1710–11 session had sought to expose the mismanagements of the previous administration. Moreover, he was celebrated as a Tory ‘patriot’ for opposing the continuance of the war. Having demonstrated such loyalty to the government, in October 1712 he lobbied Harley (now Lord Oxford) to promote his son James, who already had gained preferment as a manager of the lottery. However, towards the end of this Parliament Bertie followed his nephew, Abingdon, into opposition by voting on 18 June 1713 against the French commerce bill. He may well have remained in the ranks of the Hanoverian Tories, since all members of Abingdon’s ‘interest’ were said to have opposed a motion on 15 Apr. 1714 that the Hanoverian succession was not in danger under the present ministry. On the other hand, he was later classed as a Tory tout court on the Worsley list. He did not put up in 1715, when his great-nephew Willoughby Bertie† contested Westbury, and retired from active politicking, despite having had his standing in Oxfordshire boosted by his wife’s inheritance of the manor of Weston-on-the-Green. He died on 4 Dec. 1734, and although his only son Charles Montagu Bertie did not emulate his parliamentary success, his grandson Norreys Bertie† sat during the 1740s and 1750s.5
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Authors: Paula Watson / Perry Gauci
- 1. PCC 258 Ockham; Collins, Peerage, iii. 629; HMC Rutland, ii. 114.
- 2. Oxford Council Acts (Oxford Hist. Soc. n.s. ii), 139; PC2/72, f. 632.
- 3. CSP Dom. 1690–1, pp. 516–17; Verney Letters 18th Cent. i. 161; VCH Bucks. iv. 42–43.
- 4. Add. 61283, f. 163; 61363, f. 57; Luttrell, Brief Relation, v. 164.
- 5. Add. 70279, Bertie to Oxford, 28 Oct. 1712; 47087, f. 69; VCH Oxon. vi. 349.