BRISTOW, Robert II (1687-1737), of Micheldever, Hants, and Coleman Street, London

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



20 Dec. 1708 - 3 Nov. 1737

Family and Education

bap. 20 Oct. 1687, 2nd but 1st surv. s. of Robert Bristow I*; bro. of John Bristow†.  m. 1 Dec. 1709, Sarah, da. of (Sir) John Ward II* of Squerryes, Kent, 4s.  suc. fa. 1706, gdfa. 1707.1

Offices Held

Freeman, Winchelsea 1708.2

Dir. Bank of Eng. 1713–20 (with statutory intervals), E.I. Co. 1716–18; commr. stating army debts 1716–21; clerk of Bd. of Green Cloth 1720–d.3

Gov. St. Thomas’ Hosp. by 1719.4


Bristow’s involvement in City financial circles began soon after he came of age. He had the twin advantages of belonging to a respected City dynasty and of wealth recently inherited from both his father and grandfather. Under the latter’s will he received the Virginian lands which had formed the basis of the family fortune. Encouragement to maintain the family’s interests in the City no doubt came additionally from his father-in-law John Ward II, an influential City figure who had been governor of the Bank in the early 1700s when Bristow’s father was serving as a director. Bristow’s Bank stockholding amounted to some £2,000 by March 1710, and within a few years his reputation among the Bank’s investors was to earn him a place on its directorate. In December 1708, at the age of just 21, he was brought into Parliament for Winchelsea after the sitting Member George Dodington chose to make his election for Bridgwater. Bristow was presumably elected on what had been the family’s old interest in the town which, despite his father’s dying wish, had not been sold off, though his return may not have been possible without Dodington’s nomination. It is quite likely that Dodington, with manifold government and business interests of his own in the City, had been acquainted with Bristow’s father and grandfather and could vouch for him as a suitable successor in the seat.5

As his recorded votes show, and as later analyses of the House confirm, Bristow was a committed Whig, though never conspicuous in parliamentary proceedings. He performed his first substantive task on 20 Apr. 1709 as a teller in favour of amendments made by the Lords to a bill for preventing fire risks. During February and March 1709 he followed his party line in registering support for the naturalization of the Palatines, and in February and March 1710 voted in support of the impeachment proceedings against Dr Sacheverell. Despite these unequivocal demonstrations of Whiggery, his political identity eluded the compiler of the ‘Hanover list’ of the 1710 Parliament, who classed him as ‘doubtful’. But his Whig outlook is clearly substantiated by a series of other recorded votes. On 7 Dec. 1711 he supported the ‘No Peace without Spain’ motion, while on 24 Jan. 1712, during the censure proceedings against the Duke of Marlborough (John Churchill†), he was a teller for the Whig minority on the central motion that the Duke had illegally accepted money from bread contractors during his command in the Low Countries. On 18 June he voted against the French commerce bill, and on 14 Mar. 1714 against the expulsion of Richard Steele. Other lists of the Commons compiled in 1713 and 1715, including the Worsley list, also consistently identify Bristow as a Whig.

Bristow was among the earliest to demonstrate his support for George I in taking his place among the signatories to the proclamation at St. James’s Palace on 1 Aug. 1714. He continued to represent Winchelsea and was actively involved in the City until 1720. Appointed that year to the Board of Green Cloth, he was for the rest of his life an unswerving adherent of Whig government. He died on 3 Nov. 1737.6

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: Andrew A. Hanham


  • 1. Misc. Gen. et Her. (ser. 5), vii. 5–7; St. Dunstan-in-the-East (Harl. Soc. Reg. lxxxiv–lxxxv), 37; IGI, London.
  • 2. E. Suss. RO, Winchelsea ct. bk. WIN 60, p. 123.
  • 3. Info. from Prof. H. G. Horwitz.
  • 4. J. Aubrey, Surr. (1719), v. 311.
  • 5. Misc. Gen. et Her. 5–7, 51–53; Egerton 3359 (unfol.).
  • 6. Boyer, Pol. State, viii. 118; Gent. Mag. 1737, p. 701.