BURNABY, Anthony (d. 1708), of the Middle Temple

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



Dec. 1701 - 1705

Family and Education

1st s. of William Burnaby (d. 1693) of St. Clement Danes, Mdx. by his w. Isabella.  educ. M. Temple 1695.  m. 1s.1

Offices Held

Sec. to prize office 1702–d.2


The son of a London brewer, Burnaby was probably intended for the law, but never qualified. Having received his share of his patrimony during his father’s life-time, he was left only £600 in his father’s will with instructions that this was not to be placed at his own disposal, but was to be used to purchase a settlement approved by his mother, to whom everything else had been left. When she died shortly afterwards, she left the brewhouse and other properties to her younger sons and only £100 to Burnaby. With little money and no career, he hoped to make his fortune in government service and set about obtaining office by exposing abuses, beginning in July 1695, when he sent in a list of proposals for discovering and preventing the excise frauds of the brewers. The following March he suggested a bill to amend defects in the Excise Acts, and in May 1697 recommended the substitution of riding commissioners for supervisors to detect frauds in the excise, at the same time suggesting the appointment of an additional commissioner of excise for which post ‘he humbly thinks himself qualified’. Unsuccessful in these efforts, he turned his attention to Parliament. He unsuccessfully contested Wilton in February 1701, but was returned for Stockbridge in December of that year, and was classed as a Tory in an analysis of the new Parliament by Robert Harley*. On 27 Jan. 1702 a petition was presented to the House asking for his parliamentary privilege to be set aside to enable the petitioners to proceed with a case against him concerning a disputed estate, but no action was taken before the end of the session. When the informer William Fuller was censured by the House on 5 Feb., Burnaby proposed a motion that a bill be brought in for having Fuller whipped ‘in every coun[ty] town in England’. However, no one seconded the motion. In the same month Burnaby was included in the ‘white list’ of those Members who favoured the motion for vindicating the Commons’ proceedings on the impeachments of the King’s ministers in the previous Parliament. In April–May he managed a private bill through the House relating to the Irish forfeitures.3

In June 1702 Burnaby was appointed secretary to the prize commissioners with a salary of £400 p.a. for himself and his clerks, and the following month he was returned for Stockbridge in the general election. By the autumn of 1703 he found himself in trouble at the prize office. The commissioners, discovering ‘the business was in great confusion and Mr Burnaby had not application equal to the employment’, had appointed an extra clerk to take the minutes and answer letters. In response Burnaby had seized the new clerk’s books, refusing to surrender them until the Board withdrew an order abolishing his fees. In May 1704 the Board applied to the lord treasurer for the return of the books, but despite the criticisms of the commissioners Burnaby kept his office and in 1705 even managed to secure employment for his brother, William, as sub-commissioner of prizes at Hull, who showed his gratitude by leaving Anthony 1s. in his will. Although inactive in Parliament, at the beginning of the 1704–5 session Burnaby was noted as a probable opponent of the Tack, and did not vote for it on 28 Nov. 1704. He stood for election again at Stockbridge in 1705, but was defeated. In June 1708 a former clerk in the prize office, James Gibbon, petitioned for his arrears of salary, which he claimed Burnaby had received from the Treasury but had not passed on. Burnaby’s inglorious career in the prize office ended with his death on 14 Aug. 1708.4

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Authors: Paula Watson / Ivar McGrath


  • 1. PCC 41, 136 Coker.
  • 2. Cal. Treas. Bks. xvii. 250; xxiii. 105.
  • 3. Cal. Treas. Bks. x. 1392, 1438; xii. 20, 187; Cal. Treas. Pprs. 1697–1702, p. 30; T 1/44/55; Cocks Diary, 200–1.
  • 4. Cal. Treas. Bks. xvii. 250; xx. 219, 422; xxii. 283; Cal. Treas. Pprs. 1702–7, p. 266; T 1/90/103; Folger Shakespeare Lib. Newdigate newsletter 17 Aug. 1708.