BRACEBRIDGE, Samuel (1673-1735), of Lindley Hall and Fenny Drayton, Leics.
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Family and Education
b. 4 Apr. 1673, 1st s. of Abraham Bracebridge of Atherstone, Warws. by Mary, da. and coh. of Thomas Charnell of Snarestone, Leics. educ. Brasenose, Oxf. 1691; I. Temple 1690, called 1699, bencher 1721, reader 1731, treasurer 1734. m. Anne, da. of Thomas Savage of Malvern and Elmley Castle, Worcs., 6s. (2 d.v.p.) 3da. suc. fa. 1694.1
The Bracebridge estates were concentrated on the Warwickshire–Leicestershire border at Atherstone and Lindley. After succeeding his father (a former sheriff of Warwickshire), and embarking upon a legal career, Bracebridge rebuilt Lindley Hall in 1701 and purchased the adjacent manor of Fenny Drayton in 1706. Very little is known of his early life except for his involvement in local affairs as an active justice in Warwickshire in Anne’s reign, and an interest in the parliamentary representation of nearby Tamworth dating back as far as January 1704 when it was reported that he was willing to stand there, although not in opposition to any ‘honest country gentlemen’. According to Viscount Weymouth’s (Thomas Thynne†) election agent ‘the honest gentlemen of the county say he is an ingenious men, and of good principles, though his father had very ill ones’. Bracebridge does not seem to have taken his interest further until the highly propitious circumstances of 1710, when he was returned with his colleague from the Inner Temple, Joseph Girdler* (both had been called to the bar on the same day in June 1699).2
Once inside the House, Bracebridge proved to be a prime example of a lawyer-Member, relishing the work of legislation. His political perspective was clearly that of a Tory. He was classed as such on the ‘Hanover list’ of 1710, and was also noted as one of the ‘worthy patriots’ who during the 1710–11 session helped to detect the mismanagements of the previous administration. His views were given more personal expression in a letter he wrote in February 1711 to Sir Thomas Cave, 3rd Bt.*, encouraging him to stand in the forthcoming by-election for Leicestershire. It was couched in party terms, the main message being that if Cave ‘should fail to stand a candidate it will be very fatal to the Church interest’. During the first session of the 1710 Parliament Bracebridge was involved in the management of at least four bills through the Commons. The first derived from his local connexions, as it concerned an estate bill to allow Viscount Cullen to sell a Leicestershire manor. Bracebridge presented the bill on 17 Feb. and, after a hiatus caused by a grant of leave for a month on 26 Feb., reported it from committee on 5 May. He also reported the bill for the better preservation of the fisheries on the river Thames (19 May), despite being omitted from the initial round of appointments to the second-reading committee and only being added on 30 Apr. In the case of the Brideoaks estate bill, concerning land in Oxfordshire, he reported on 26 May, despite having no discernible connexion with anyone directly involved. Finally, he seems to have been instrumental in reviving proceedings on the bill to alter the standard of plate, which was languishing until his name was added to the committee on 22 May. Eight days later he reported it to the House and the bill passed on 1 June.3
Bracebridge continued to be an active Member in the following session. He managed through the House a bill to make it easier for sheriffs to pass their accounts at the Exchequer, carrying it up to the Lords on 1 Mar. 1712. Following a fortnight’s leave granted on the 24th, he returned to report twice from the committee dealing with the petition of two London wine merchants who wished to be excused the duty on Portuguese wine which they had accidentally sold retail instead of wholesale, and also from the committee dealing with a bill from the Lords involving the Warwickshire estate of Thomas Vyner. Bracebridge also acted as a teller on 24 May against a successful adjournment motion.
In the final session of the 1710 Parliament, Bracebridge continued to be active. He reported from committee two private bills dealing with bankruptcy and naturalization, and also on 3 July reported on the bill to explain the legislation licensing hackney chairs. He acted as a teller on 11 June 1713 in favour of giving a second reading to a bill allowing two prize ships to import cargoes into Britain. Continued loyalty to the Tory ministry is shown by his vote on 18 June 1713 for the French commerce bill.
Re-elected unopposed in 1713, Bracebridge was named to four drafting committees in the 1714 session, but only undertook the management of a naturalization bill, which he reported to the House on 7 May. His political views remained unaltered, for on the Worsley list and on two lists analysing the returns for 1715 through a comparison with the 1713 Parliament he was classed as a Tory. Bracebridge continued to represent Tamworth as a Tory until unseated on petition following the 1722 election. He appears to have been out of sympathy with the new regime, apparently prosecuting as rioters some people celebrating George I’s coronation in November 1714. This may explain why he was left out of the Leicestershire commission of the peace on the Duke of Rutland’s (John Manners*) recommendation in January 1715. In July 1715, he launched an attack on Lord Chancellor Cowper (William*) over the failure of local justices to put down riots in Wolverhampton, which probably explains why he was then removed from the Warwickshire bench as well in October 1715. Despite such personal setbacks, Bracebridge flourished financially, being obliged to add a codicil to his will in October 1718 because of his increasing fortune, estimated at £1,000 p.a. at his death. He was buried at Fenny Drayton on 11 Nov. 1735.4
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Author: Stuart Handley
- 1. Nichols, Leics. iii. 1146.
- 2. Ibid.; Leics. Arch. Soc. xiv. 94; Add. 70213, Bracebridge to [Robert Harley*], 8 July 1704; Bath mss at Longleat House, Thynne pprs. 28, ff. 328–9; Cal. I. T. Recs. iii. 346.
- 3. Leics. RO, Braye mss 2850, Bracebridge to Cave, 6 Feb. 1710–11.
- 4. L. K. J. Glassey, Appt. JPs, 233, 238, 251; PCC 23 Derby; Gent. Mag. 1735, p. 682.