LEAR, Sir Thomas, 1st Bt. (c.1672-1705), of Lindridge, Devon
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Family and Education
b. c.1672, 1st s. of Thomas Lear of Lindridge. educ. matric. Wadham, Oxf. 2 July 1687, aged 15. m. lic. 17 Mar. 1690, Isabella, da. of Sir William Courtenay, 1st Bt.†, of Powderham Castle, Devon, s.p. cr. Bt. 2 Aug. 1683; suc. uncle Sir Peter Lear, 1st Bt. 1683.
Lear’s father was described by the 17th-century herald Le Neve as of ‘very mean’ social status, a mere ‘farmer of Devon’. His uncle, Peter Lear, had by contrast done spectacularly well, going to Barbados, first as a servant, then becoming a scrivener, and then a commissioner of prizes in 1655, before finally becoming one of the most considerable planters on the island, and rewarded with a baronetcy in 1663. As the heir to Sir Peter’s property, Thomas Lear inherited 336 acres of land and many slaves in Barbados and was himself created a baronet in the year of Sir Peter’s death. In December 1699 he petitioned with his father-in-law, Sir William Courtenay, for a bill to be brought in to break the entail on the estates of John Clobery* who was married to another of Sir William’s daughters. He was added to the Devon lieutenancy in March 1701 and was returned for Ashburton in December, being classed as a ‘loss’ by Lord Spencer (Charles*) and as a Tory by Robert Harley*. Inactive in proceedings, he voted on 26 Feb. 1702 in favour of the motion vindicating the Commons’ proceedings over the impeachment of the King’s Whig ministers, and obtained leave of absence on 7 Mar. In the first Parliament of Queen Anne he voted on 13 Feb. 1703 against agreeing with the Whig Lords’ amendments to the bill for enlarging the time for taking the oath of abjuration. He was granted leave to recuperate from illness on 11 Feb. 1704, was regarded as a probable supporter of the Tack in October but did not vote in its favour in the division on 28 Nov. He did not stand in 1705, possibly on account of further ill-health, and died in December.1
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Authors: Eveline Cruickshanks / Andrew A. Hanham
- 1. Caribbeana, i. 167, 249; v. 129; HMC Lords, n.s. iii. 57; CSP Dom. 1700–2, p. 251.