FREKE, Thomas I (c.1638-1701), of Shroton and Melcombe Horsey, Dorset

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



Mar. 1679 - Mar. 1681
1685 - 1687
1689 - Nov. 1701

Family and Education

b. c.1638, 3rd s. of John Freke† of Cerne Abbey, Dorset being 2nd s. by his 2nd w. Jane, da. and coh. of Sir John Shirley† of Isfield, Suss., wid. of Sir Walter Covert† of Slaugham, Suss.  educ. M. Temple 1655.  m. 19 Sept. 1669, Cicely, da. of Robert Hussey of Stourpaine, Dorset, s.psuc. bro. 1657.1

Offices Held

Freeman, Poole 1660, Lyme Regis 1666; sheriff, Dorset 1663–4; high sheriff, Dorchester 1679–d.2


Freke had inherited property in Dorset worth £4,000 p.a. in 1657, and by subsequent purchases considerably augmented his estate. He represented Dorset from 1679 and never faced a contest there. Initially, he was a follower of the 1st Earl of Shaftesbury (Sir Anthony Ashley Cooper†), but later joined the Court. After the 1690 election he was listed by Lord Carmarthen (Sir Thomas Osborne†) as one of the Court supporters who would probably defend him in the event of an attack in the Commons on his ministerial position. Robert Harley*, however, classified Freke with the Country party in April 1691. Although a Tory, Freke continued to enjoy the friendship of the Whig earls of Shaftesbury, whose electoral interests in various Dorset boroughs he bolstered in return. Thus a kinsman and namesake, Thomas II*, enjoyed Freke’s support at Weymouth, despite being a Country Whig. Between May 1691 and April 1700, their activities in the House are often indistinguishable, although it seems ‘Mr Freke’ was more active when Thomas II sat in the Commons, and most activity has been tentatively ascribed to him. Thomas I was forecast as a probable opponent of the Court in the division of 31 Jan. 1696 on the council of trade, and in February refused to sign the Association. In March 1696 he voted against the Court over fixing the price of guineas at 22s., and also opposed the attainder of Sir John Fenwick† on 25 Nov. He was granted leave of absence on 16 Feb. and 23 Dec. 1697. Listed as a member of the Country party in about September 1698, he was forecast as likely to oppose the standing army the following month. In an analysis of the House into interests in 1700 his name was marked with a query. In the first Parliament of 1701 he was thought likely to support the Court over the ‘Great Mortgage’, and was later blacklisted as having opposed preparations for war. Having been given leave of absence on 30 May 1701 owing to failing health he agreed to stand for re-election on the understanding that he would not actually attend the House. In fact he died on 5 Dec. 1701, shortly before the election. He left his estate to Elizabeth Freke, the wife of Thomas II, and her father Thomas Pile, with a reversion to the eldest son of George Pitt* in the event of her death without children.3

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: Paula Watson


  • 1. The Ancestor, x. 199; Hutchins, Dorset, iv. 86–87; Wards 5/11/1951.
  • 2. Hutchins, i. 32; C. H. Mayo, Dorchester Recs. 443; Dorset RO, Lyme Regis mss B6/11, p. 26.
  • 3. . Add. 28887, f. 403; Luttrell, Brief Relation, v. 114; PCC 5 Herne; CJ, xiv. 424.