HERBERT, James II (1688-1721), of Tythrop House, Kingsey, Bucks.

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



1710 - 1713
19 Mar. 1714 - 1715
25 May 1715 - 25 Apr. 1721

Family and Education

bap. 28 Oct. 1688, 2nd s. of James Herbert I*.  m. 15 Sept. 1710 (with £10,000), Maria, da. of Sir James Hallet of Bloomsbury Square and Edgware, Mdx., 5s. (2 d.v.p.) 3da.  suc. bro. 1709.1

Offices Held

Ent. RN 1706, 2nd lt. 1707, commander Aug. 1709, capt. Oct. 1709.2

Freeman and bailiff, Oxford 1715.3


After the death of his father, Herbert came under the guardianship of his grandfather, the Duke of Leeds (Sir Thomas Osborne†). Unlike his sickly elder brother, Thomas, Herbert was put under the tutelage of Peregrine Bertie, a naval captain, and sent to sea in April 1706. Evidently he took to this career, for in March 1707 Leeds approached the Duke of Marlborough (John Churchill†) to expedite Herbert’s promotion:

he has addicted himself wholly to the sea, and profited so well in that knowledge, that he hath passed all his examinations to the satisfaction of the Navy Board, and hath both his captains, and their certificates, of being fitly qualified for the place of lieutenant, but he wants eight or nine months of that time which is required by the establishment for his being admitted to that employment.

Having obtained his lieutenancy in June 1707 he set sail for Lisbon. The death of his brother in August 1709 saw him inherit the much-encumbered Herbert estates, meticulously cared for by Leeds. Almost simultaneously, his second cousin, Lord Pembroke (Thomas Herbert†), the lord high admiral, gave him his captain’s commission. However, his first foray into electoral politics ended in defeat at the Aylesbury by-election of December 1709. In April 1710 Herbert contracted smallpox, but recovered and in September made a favourable marriage with the daughter of a goldsmith, receiving £8,000 of a £10,000 portion at once (although Leeds took £6,500 of that sum).4

Herbert revived the family’s traditional interest at Queenborough in 1710, based on local estates, including land in Minster parish near Sheerness, and no doubt helped by his naval connexions. He was classed as doubtful in the ‘Hanover list’, but was later included among the ‘worthy patriots’ who detected the mismanagements of the previous administration. Significantly, Robert Harley* was sure of his political allegiance, placing Herbert with the Tories in a list of naval captains compiled in August 1711. In the following session he acted as a teller on 20 Mar. 1712 for his kinsman Hon. Philip Bertie* in the Boston election. On 18 June 1713 he voted for the French commerce bill.5

Herbert was defeated at Queenborough in the 1713 election. Meanwhile, the Leeds connexion was still working on his behalf, as his cousin Lord Carmarthen (the eldest son of the 2nd Duke) wrote in December to his own father-in-law, Lord Treasurer Oxford, to solicit the place of ‘surveyor-general of the Queen’s forests south of the Trent’ for Herbert, the incumbent, John Manley* (in fact the surveyor-general of crown lands), having died the previous day. Herbert’s petition against Charles Fotherby’s return for Queenborough was withdrawn on 6 Mar., no doubt because a vacancy had occurred at Amersham, where he was ‘unanimously chosen’ later that month. In December 1714, Herbert threatened to upset the delicate compromise worked out in Buckinghamshire between Whig and Tory, whereby each party would take one county seat, by contesting the forthcoming shire election. In the event he did not stand, but re-entered Parliament for Oxfordshire at a by-election in May 1715. Herbert died on 25 Apr. 1721 after apparently suffering an attack of apoplexy while crossing a bridge on his way to Thame and drowning ‘in a pond near his seat’.6

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Authors: Eveline Cruickshanks / Stuart Handley


  • 1. IGI, London; Add. 28041, ff. 20, 25, 35; Top. and Gen. iii. 379; F. G. Lee, Hist. Thame Church, 668; PCC 110 Buckingham.
  • 2. Add. 28041, ff. 9, 14, 20.
  • 3. Oxford Council Acts (Oxford Hist. Soc. n.s. x), 91.
  • 4. Add. 28041, ff. 6, 9, 14, 20, 23, 25; 61589, f. 73; Le Neve Knights (Harl. Soc. viii), 496.
  • 5. Hasted, Kent, vi. 175–6, 226, 245, 252; Add. 70310, list of capts. Aug. 1711.
  • 6. Add. 70250, Carmarthen to [Oxford], 17 Dec. 1713; Boyer, Pol. State, vii. 265; Verney Letters 18th Cent. i. 320, 325; The Gen. n.s. iii. 140; HMC Portland, vii. 296.