BETTS, William (d. 1738), of Epsom, Surr.

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



1710 - 17 Mar. 1711
18 Apr. - 22 May 1711
1713 - 3 June 1714

Family and Education


Offices Held

Dir. E.I. Co. 1709–11.


Nothing has been discovered of Betts’s parentage. He was raised by the family of George Dodington* of Eastbury in Dorset. The reason for this circumstance, however, remains unclear. In adulthood Betts became a highly successful London merchant and financier. He was invited by local Whigs to contest Weymouth in 1710 and was returned after a contest, being classed in the ‘Hanover list’ as ‘doubtful’, although he was certainly a Whig. On 8 Feb. 1711 he told in the disputed election for Aberdeen Burghs. His own election was declared void on 17 Mar., following allegations of bribery and treating. He fought the ensuing by-election and came top of the poll, only to be unseated on petition. The same month he was one of the victorious Whig candidates in the elections to the directorate of the East India Company, and by this time held some £4,000 worth of Bank of England stock. In 1713 he contested Weymouth for the third time, being again elected at the poll and unseated on petition (3 June 1714). He had shown his party colours by voting against the expulsion of Richard Steele on 18 Mar. 1714. Classed as a Whig in the Worsley list and two other comparative analyses of the 1713 and 1715 Parliaments, Betts continued to represent Weymouth until 1730, when he lost his seat on a technicality. He died on 14 Mar. 1738, leaving £5,000 to George Bubb Dodington† and £2,000 to Thomas Wyndham of Tale, both of whom were nephews of George Dodington, and a further £1,000 to one of Dodington’s closest political allies, John Tucker†.1

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: Paula Watson


  • 1. Hist. Reg. Chron. 1738, p. 11; Cal. Treas. Bks. xiv. 59; xx. 572; xxv. 614; Egerton 3357 (unfol).; PCC 56 Brodrepp.