BERTIE, Hon. James (1674-1735), of Stanwell and Westminster, Mdx.

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



1695 - 1705
1710 - 1734

Family and Education

b. 13 Mar. 1674, 2nd s. of James Bertie, 1st Earl of Abingdon by 1st w.; bro. of Hon. Henry II*, Hon. Robert* and Montagu Venables-Bertie*, Lord Norreys.  m. (1) 5 Jan. 1692, Elizabeth (d. 1715), da. and event. h. of George, 7th Baron Willoughby of Parham, 10s. (5 d.v.p.) 4da. (3 d.v.p.); (2) Elizabeth, da. of Rev. George Calvert of Stanwell, s.p.1

Offices Held

Freeman and bailiff, Oxford 1695; freeman, Hertford 1704; commr. sewers, Tower Hamlets 1712, Trent navigation 1714; steward of Grosmont, Skenfrith and White Castle, duchy of Lancaster 1714–20.2

Commr. building 50 new churches 1711–15.3


Returned for New Woodstock on his father’s interest, Bertie remained a Country Tory throughout the 1695 Parliament. He was forecast in January 1696 as a probable opponent of the Court in connexion with the proposed council of trade, refused the Association the following month, and voted in March against fixing the price of guineas at 22s. Furthermore, in the second session he opposed the attainder of Sir John Fenwick†. The presence of several Berties in this and all subsequent Parliaments renders difficult any attempt to delineate his Commons activity. However, in the third session Bertie gained much prominence by bringing a case before the Lords concerning property bequeathed to his wife by her great-uncle, John Cary, on condition that she married Francis North, 2nd Lord Guildford; if she did not, the estate, valued at some £2,000 p.a. and including the manor of Stanwell, Middlesex, was to go to Cary’s great-nephew, the 6th Viscount Falkland. The case was heard in Chancery in February 1698 and a decree made in Falkland’s favour. Bertie appealed to the Lords, who on 17 Mar. 1698 decided to grant the lands to Mrs Bertie for life, with the reversion to Lord Falkland, thereby providing Bertie with a proprietorial interest in Middlesex. Some observers clearly thought he had been fortunate to gain this settlement, and he was also lucky to avoid censure for the libellous paper which his brother Robert* had circulated to advance the Bertie cause. He had no difficulty in retaining his seat at the election of 1698, after which he was listed as a Country supporter, and was probably forecast as likely to oppose a standing army. Moreover, in the course of the second session he was predictably identified as a follower of his kinsman, the Duke of Leeds (Sir Thomas Osborne†).4

In February 1701 Bertie was noted as likely to support the Court in agreeing with the committee of supply’s resolution to continue the ‘Great Mortgage’. Re-elected at the end of the year despite being blacklisted as an opponent of preparations for war with France, he voted on 26 Feb. 1702 in favour of the resolution vindicating the Commons’ proceedings in the impeachments of William III’s ministers in the preceding Parliament. Having topped the Woodstock poll of 1702, he was later forecast as a probable supporter of the Tack, and duly voted for it on 28 Nov. 1704. He did not stand in 1705, apparently content to allow his kinsman Hon. Charles Bertie II to take over his seat at Woodstock, but cast his vote for the Tory candidates at the Middlesex contest. An analyst of the new Parliament, mistakenly identifying James as one of the Members for Woodstock, cited him as ‘True Church’, possibly confusing him with Charles Bertie. James did not put up in 1708 either, probably cowed by the growing influence of the Duke of Marlborough (John Churchill†) in the Oxfordshire borough.5

At the general election of 1710 Bertie successfully contested Middlesex in the High Church interest, and also voted Tory at the Hertford contest. He was duly classed as a Tory in the ‘Hanover list’, and his name later appeared among the ‘worthy patriots’ who in the session of 1710–11 had detected the mismanagements of the previous administration. In addition, he was lauded as a Tory ‘patriot’ for having opposed the continuance of the war. Given his politics and constituency, he may also have been the ‘Mr Bertie’ who was first-named to the Tory-backed petition of Southwark inhabitants complaining of the influx of Palatine refugees into their neighbourhood. In the succeeding session he was appointed to the drafting committee on a bill to repair a highway in Middlesex, which argues for his identification as the main sponsor of the Stanmore highway bill. In February 1712 he was listed as a member of the October Club, but in 1713 followed his brother, the 2nd Earl of Abingdon (Montagu Venables-Bertie) in voting against the ministry over the French commerce bill.6

Despite such apostasy, Bertie stood in the Tory interest at the Middlesex election of 1713, and achieved an unopposed victory. With three other ‘Mr Berties’ in the House, it is again difficult to trace his activity, but in the second session he may well have assisted legislation concerning the capital and its environs. In particular, on 5 Mar. 1714 he possibly told against a motion to hear the petition of the losing Whig candidates for London. Local connexions may have led him to act as a teller in two other election contests, on 16 Mar. against the return of the Whig (Sir) Thomas Wheate (1st Bt.) at New Woodstock, and on 3 July against the election at Southwark of John Lade, a recent convert to Whig ranks. He may also have sponsored a Kensington highway bill, and chaired committees of the whole on the navigation of the Thames.

Following a third successive victory for Middlesex in 1715, he was classed on the Worsley list as a Tory who had sometimes voted against his party, no doubt in reference to his vote on the French commerce bill. However, two other parliamentary lists bracketed him with the Tories, and he continued to oppose Whig policies. Although he lost his Stanwell estate on his wife’s death in 1715, his personal interest in Middlesex was sufficiently strong to keep him at Westminster until the election before his death on 18 Oct. 1735. His heir, Willoughby, briefly sat for Westbury, and in 1743 succeeded as 3rd Earl of Abingdon.7

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Authors: Paula Watson / Perry Gauci


  • 1. F. G. Lee, Church of Thame, 445; Collins, Peerage, iii. 630; PCC 49 Derby; Lysons, Hist. Acct. Mdx. Parishes, 264–5.
  • 2. Oxford Council Acts (Oxford Hist. Soc. n.s. ii), 257; Herts. RO, Hertford bor. recs. 25/106; HMC Townshend, 211; HMC Lords, n.s. x. 366; Somerville, Duchy of Lancaster Official Lists, 233.
  • 3. London Rec. Soc. xxiii. 177.
  • 4. CSP Dom. 1698, pp. 149, 150–1, 161; Luttrell, Brief Relation, iv. 337, 341, 356; HMC Lords, n.s. iii. 92–96; The Gen. xxiii. 202–6; Northants. RO, Montagu (Boughton) mss 46/84, James Vernon I* to Duke of Shrewsbury, 17 Mar. 1698.
  • 5. Mdx. Poll of 1705.
  • 6. Hertford bor. recs. 23/392b.
  • 7. VCH Mdx. iii. 37.