MICHELL, Robert (1653-1729), of Petersfield, Hants.
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Family and Education
b. 11 Apr. 1653, 3rd s. of Edward Michell of Stammerham, Suss. by Mary, da. of Richard Middleton of Horsham, Suss. m. (1) 12 Aug. 1675, Margaret (d. 1679), da. of Thomas White, attorney, of Horsham, 2s. (1 d.v.p.); (2) by 1689, Jane, da. and h. of Arthur Bold† of Petersfield, s.p.; (3) bef. 1695, Theodosia (d. 1718), da. of Hon. George Montagu† of Horton, Northants., sis. of Charles*, Irby* and James Montagu I*, 1da.1
Bailiff, Horsham 1676–7; sheriff, Suss. 1683–4; asst. Winchester by 1688–Aug. 1688, Nov. 1688–d.; commr. Portsmouth and Sheet turnpike trust, 1711–d.; trustee, Churcher’s college 1723–d.2
Michell came from an ancient and extensive Sussex family. He retained his property in that county and held local office there until at least 1689, being commissioner for assessing the money due from Horsham for aid to William and Mary in that year. Through his second marriage Michell had acquired property and an electoral interest in Petersfield and he was returned for the borough for the second time in 1690, whereupon he was listed as a Whig and probable Court supporter by Lord Carmarthen (Sir Thomas Osborne†). Robert Harley’s* list of April 1691 classed him as a Country supporter, but in Grascome’s list of spring 1693 he was again classed as a Court supporter. The presence of John Michel I and II in the Commons in this and the next reign makes positive identification of Michell’s parliamentary activity difficult, although it is clear that he was an inactive Member. By 1695 he had married the sister of one of the leading Whigs, Charles Montagu*, and it was probably to him that Montagu wrote before the general election that year expressing the Whigs’ hope that, ‘if we have a good Parliament the world is our own, and the French king will despair’. In the next Parliament Michell was forecast as likely to support the Court in the division on the proposed council of trade on 31 Jan. 1696 and signed the Association in February, but he was absent from the divisions on the price of guineas in March 1696 and on the attainder of Sir John Fenwick† in November.3
After the 1698 election Michell was listed as a Court supporter in a comparative analysis of the old and new Parliaments. His lack of parliamentary activity (including his absence from the important division on the standing army, 8 Jan. 1699) may account for his classification as doubtful or, possibly, as opposition in an analysis of the House into ‘interests’ in 1700. He did not stand in February 1701, but was returned in December 1701, when he was classed as a Whig in Harley’s list, and was re-elected in 1702. He voted for agreeing with the Lords’ amendments to the abjuration bill on 13 Feb. 1703. In the next session he was noted as absent from the House on 22 Nov. He was forecast in October 1704 as a probable opponent of the Tack and voted against it (or was absent) on 28 Nov. Other activities of ‘Mr Mitchell’ in this session (25 Oct., 6 Nov. 1704, 25 Feb. 1705) indicate a Tory interest and may be ascribed to John Michel II. Michell retired from parliamentary life in 1705 but voted for Whig candidates in the 1710 and 1713 Hampshire elections. He should not be confused with the London merchant of the same name, a director of the East India Company, who came to public attention when he was called on 7 May 1713 to give evidence to the House of corruption by the commissioner for the sick and wounded, William Churchill*. Michell died on 1 Aug. 1729, leaving property in Horsham to his son, but the bulk of his estate, including lands in Petersfield, the manors of Denton and North Stoke in Sussex, and a fine collection of books and political pamphlets, went to his daughter, Catherine, who married John Jolliffe†.4
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Authors: Paula Watson / Sonya Wynne
- 1. J. Comber, Suss. Gen. Horsham, 242–3; Som. RO, Hylton mss DD HY box 21, ‘a list of Edward Michell’s children’; VCH Hants, iii. 116n.
- 2. Suss. Arch. Colls. lxix. 145; CSP Dom. 1687–9, pp. 257, 338–9; Portsmouth and Sheet Turnpike Commrs. Min. Bk. (Portsmouth Rec. Ser. ii), 169; [R. S. Atcheson], Churcher’s College, pp. v–vii.
- 3. Comber, 242–3; Suss. Arch. Colls. 131–2, 136, 146–7; HMC Var. viii. 80.
- 4. Hants Poll Bks. 1710, p. 68; 1713, p. 22; info. from Prof. H. Horwitz; PCC 251 Abbott; H. G. H. Jolliffe, Jolliffes of Staffs. 29–30.