FOLEY, Paul II (1688-1739), of Lincoln’s Inn and Newport, Herefs.

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



1713 - 1715
1 Feb. - 18 June 1715

Family and Education

b. 8 Aug. 1688, 3rd but 2nd surv. s. of Paul Foley I*, and bro. of Thomas Foley II*.  educ. I. Temple 1693; L. Inn 1706, called 1708; re-adm. I. Temple 1734, bencher 1738.  m. (1) Susannah, da. of Sir William Massingberd, 2nd Bt., of Bratoft Hall, Gunby, Lincs., sis. of Sir William Massingberd, 3rd Bt.†, s.p.; (2) lic. 13 Dec. 1722, Susannah, da. of Henry Hoare, banker, of Fleet Street, London and Stourton Castle, Wilts., sis. of Henry Hoare†, s.p.1

Offices Held


Even though admitted to the Inner Temple at the age of five, presumably as a compliment to his father, Foley was not at that point destined for a legal career. Indeed, while he was still at school in 1702 his mother confessed herself at a loss as to what might be done with him. She feared the moral dangers that lay in wait at university or an inn of court, or in the company of ‘prentices’, and favoured sending him to Holland to ‘improve’ himself and to ‘fix him in the way of holiness’. His teachers commended his sobriety, and although he was evidently a lazy pupil they considered him to be potentially ‘a much better scholar than he pretends to be’. Eventually (it may have been on the advice of his cousin’s husband, Robert Harley*) he entered Lincoln’s Inn and embarked upon the study of law. Foley was an active barrister, having to make the time from a busy circuit in July 1713 to begin his electoral campaign at Aldborough, where he was obliged to engage in a public disputation with his opponents in order to contradict the various calumnies which, he alleged, were being spread about him. Potentially the most damaging was that he did not possess enough freehold land to qualify him to sit in the Commons under the terms of the Landed Qualification Act. In the event he was able to take the statutory oath, though it is possible that his brother Thomas had come to his rescue with a temporary conveyance. He stood at Aldborough on the Newcastle interest, at that time under the control of the dowager Duchess, to whom Foley had been recommended by Harley. Since the death of Foley’s father, Harley had shown an avuncular concern for the family of his old mentor and parliamentary colleague, and since acquiring the leadership of the ministry in 1710 he had taken on the role of a patron to all the Foleys. In the summer of 1713 he was negotiating a marriage between his own son and the Newcastle heiress, and had thus acquired some influence over the Duchess. Not only did she nominate Foley as her candidate, she seems to have entrusted him with the disposal of her interest: applicants for her electoral favour were required to approach Foley first. There was even talk that she intended to appoint him as her steward, though this does not seem to have come to pass. At any rate, Foley was able to report to her in October that ‘by the management of what your grace gave me when I went out of town with a considerable addition of my own, being a very expensive election on all sides, I have fixed the interest there in my own power’. After a fierce contest he and his Tory colleague defeated their Whig opponents. With his legal experience, albeit of only a few years, Foley’s arrival in the House probably represented a useful addition to the ranks of Harley’s followers. It is, however, impossible to isolate his particular role in Commons business (because of the presence there also of his brother and of his cousin Richard) with the exception of a speech on 18 Mar. 1714, in the debate over the expulsion of Richard Steele, when he joined several Tories in arguing that Steele be obliged to withdraw before the charges were discussed. Classed as a Tory in the Worsley list, and in another list from 1715, he was evidently a loyal supporter of Harley, to judge by his comments after the lord treasurer’s dismissal. Writing to Harley on 2 Aug. 1714 from Shrewsbury (where he may have been on circuit), he suggested that

were I to consider your private interest only, I ought to congratulate your deliverance from the heavy burden you have endured for the good of your country, which I am satisfied was the chief end of all your actions; but when I consider the consequences that may attend this remove, and that it may be the alarm bell to the Protestant religion, to the liberties of our country, and to the Protestant succession in the House of Hanover, both myself and others cannot but be under the greatest concern, and ought to join heartily with your lordship in such measures as you shall think proper.2

By the time of the 1715 general election the Harleys and the Duchess of Newcastle had fallen out, and control over her proprietorial interest at Aldborough was in other hands. Foley tried his luck in a constituency nearer home, the notoriously venal borough of Weobley, but after securing his return was unseated on petition on 18 June 1715. He canvassed there again in 1727, and actually contested a by-election in 1732, without success. His inherited wealth, the fruits of his legal practice, and a second marriage into a prosperous banking family had combined to make him a rich man, ‘worth above £60,000’ if common rumour is to be believed. After his death, on 28 Nov. 1739, administration of the estate was granted to his great-nephew Thomas Foley†, his brother’s grandson.3

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: D. W. Hayton


  • 1. Northumb. RO, Blackett mss, Sir Edward Blackett, 2nd Bt.*, to Foley, 4 Oct. 1713; Add.70114, Paul Foley I to Sir Edward Harley*, 8 Aug. 1688; Nash, Worcs. ii. 464; MI, Stoke Edith par. ch. (Paul Foley I); London Mar. Lic. ed. Foster, 496; H. P. R. Hoare, Hoare’s Bank, 32–34.
  • 2. Add. 70225, Mary Foley to Robert Harley, 1 Oct. 1702; 70331, acct. of ‘some northern elections’, 27 July 1713; 70280, Foley to Duchess of Newcastle, 20 July 1713; T. Lawson-Tancred, Recs. of a Yorks. Manor, 247–8, 252, 258–9, 261–2; HMC Portland, v. 328, 441; HMC Bath, i. 241; G. Holmes, Pol. in Age of Anne, 181, 487; Douglas diary (Hist. Parl. trans.), 18 Mar. 1714.
  • 3. Prob. 6/116, f. 17.