FOLEY, Richard (1681-1732), of Lincoln’s Inn

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



18 July 1711 - 27 Mar. 1732

Family and Education

b. 19 Feb. 1681, 3rd s. of Thomas Foley I*, and bro. of Edward Foley* and Thomas Foley III*.  educ. L. Inn 1695, called 1702, bencher 1726. unm.1

Offices Held

Clerk of judgments, c.p. by 1702, 2nd prothonotary 1702–d.

Freeman, Bewdley 1706.2

FRS 1708.3


Entered like his brothers at Lincoln’s Inn, but at a much younger age, Foley took his legal training seriously and made the law a career. After he had begun as a clerk in the prothonotary’s office in the court of common pleas, and risen to be clerk of the judgments, his family’s financial resources enabled him to purchase for £7,000 the place of second prothonotary (at a salary of £400 p.a.) when it became vacant in 1702, though he required the assistance of his brother-in-law Robert Harley* to persuade Lord Chief Justice Trevor (Sir John*) to admit one so young into the post. In consequence, he did not stand in need of any preferment at Harley’s hands when he succeeded in 1711 to the parliamentary seat at Droitwich that was his family’s preserve. None the less, he appears to have been a loyal, not to say enthusiastic, supporter of Harley’s administration. In October 1712, encountering the bishop of Worcester at Droitwich, he expressed his full confidence that ‘we had now great hopes of a very good and lasting peace’ and, when the Whig bishop ventured to demur, repeated that ‘such a peace there would be, he had reason to believe, for he had it from very good hands’, namely Harley himself. He was marked as a Tory in the Worsley list and again in a list of the Members re-elected in 1715.4

Foley retained his seat at Droitwich for the rest of his days. Although it is impossible, for the most part, to separate his parliamentary activity from that of his several namesakes in the House, it would be fair to say that he was never an especially active Member. Certainly, by 1729 his colleague in the constituency ascribed his non-attendance at the House to a combination of ‘idleness and family affairs’. A staunch Tory, he does not seem to have been implicated at any time in Jacobite correspondence or intrigues; nor was he ever reckoned by the Jacobites as a likely adherent in the event of an invasion, but in his will he left an annuity of £100 to his ‘friend’, the avowedly pro-Jacobite MP William Shippen, which some contemporaries reported to be a reward ‘for services done his country’. He also made elaborate arrangements for the preservation of his ‘parliamentary manuscripts’, as family ‘heirlooms’, that is to say ‘all my manuscripts of the rolls and journals of both Houses of Parliament’ together with all ‘office-books, votes, law-books and manuscripts’. Besides a further £2,000 in legacies to his nephews, the remainder of his ‘very considerable estate’ passed to his elder brother, Edward. Foley died on 27 Mar. 1732.5

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: D. W. Hayton


  • 1. Nash, Worcs. ii. 464, 468.
  • 2. Birmingham Univ. Hist. Jnl. i. 125.
  • 3. Rec. R. Soc. (1940), 391
  • 4. Add. 70225, Foley to Harley, 29 Sept., 8 Oct. 1702; Luttrell, Brief Relation, v. 226; HMC Portland, v. 128.
  • 5. Add. 51396, f. 50; PCC 106 Bedford; Gent. Mag. 1732, p. 679; Hearne Colls. xi. 48.