HILLERSDEN, William (1676-1725), of Elstow, Beds.

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



15 Dec. 1707 - 1710
1715 - 1722

Family and Education

bap. 24 Apr. 1676, 1st s. of Thomas Hillersden*.  educ. Wadham, Oxf. 1693; I. Temple 1693.  m. by 1705, Elizabeth (d. 1709), da. of William Farrer*, 1s. 3da. (1 d.v.p.).  suc. fa. 1698.1

Offices Held

Burgess, Bedford 1698; sheriff, Beds. 1700–2.2


Hillersden joined his father-in-law as Member for Bedford at a by-election in 1707 in which he was returned unopposed. Despite the acknowledgment of his status in the county in 1700–1 that was implicit in his appointment first as sheriff and then as a deputy-lieutenant, he had not previously been at the forefront in local elections. He had, however, voted for both Whig candidates for the county in the 1705 general election, and in two parliamentary lists of 1708 he was classed as a Whig. It is likely that he was very much under his father-in-law’s influence and that he owed his return more than anything else to the interest that Farrer had built up in the town, bolstered perhaps by the support of the Duke of Bedford. Although he possessed a substantial estate at nearby Elstow he was in need of cash and had already sold one outlying manor to the Bedfords for around £4,000. Re-elected unopposed with Farrer in 1708, he supported the naturalization of the Palatines in 1709 and the following year voted for the impeachment of Dr Sacheverell. He did not stand in the 1710 election though he remained an active j.p., one of the stalwarts of the local bench, and was returned as knight of the shire after the Hanoverian succession, being listed as a Whig in a comparative analysis of the 1713 and 1715 Parliaments. He sat as a Court Whig from 1715 until his defeat by a Tory in 1722.3

Hillersden died at Elstow on 6 Apr. 1725, and was buried there. With the death of his only son, unmarried, some three years later, the property passed to a daughter, Elizabeth, who had married her distant cousin Dennis Farrer of Cold Brayfield, Buckinghamshire. Their second son, Dennis, in due course inherited Elstow and assumed the additional name of Hillersden.4

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: D. W. Hayton


  • 1. Beds. Hist. Rec. Soc. v. 90–91; F. A. Blaydes, Genealogia Bedfordiensis, 237; Beds. Par. Reg. i (Elstow), 26, 85.
  • 2. Bedford Bor. Council, Bedford bor. recs. B2/3, corp. act bk. 1688–1718, f. 51.
  • 3. CSP Dom. 1700–2, p. 294; Beds. RO, OR 1823, Beds. pollbk. 1705; Bull. IHR, xxxvii. 34; VCH Beds. iii. 376; J. Godber, Hist. Beds. 370.
  • 4. Boyer, Pol. State, xxix. 399; Beds. Par. Reg. 87; Beds. N. and Q. iii. 240; VCH Beds. 281, 304; VCH Bucks. iv. 325.