MORETON, Matthew Ducie (1663-1735), of Tortworth, Glos. and Moreton, Staffs.
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Family and Education
bap. 17 Mar. 1663, 1st s. of Edward Moreton of Moreton and Engleton, Staffs. by Elizabeth, da. and h. of Robert Ducie of Little Aston, Staffs., niece and h. of William Ducie, 1st Visct. Downe [I], of Tortworth. educ. Queens’, Camb. 1681, MA 1682. m. 11 Jan. 1690, Arabella (d. 1750), da. and coh. of Sir Thomas Prestwick, 2nd Bt., of Holme, Lancs., 3s. 4da. suc. fa. 1687; cr. Baron Ducie 9 June 1720.
Cornet, Ld. Grey’s indep. tp. of horse 1685; cornet 3 Drag. Gds. 1687, capt. by Sept. 1689, maj. 1690, lt.-col. 1694– by 1702.
Sheriff, Staffs. 1704–5, Glos. 1705–6; freeman, Gloucester 1705.1
Vice-treasurer [I] Apr.–May 1717, jt. May 1717–June 1720; PC [I] 22 Aug. 1717.2
Moreton was descended from a family which had been established in Staffordshire since the 13th century. Through his mother he inherited the Gloucestershire estates of the Ducie family which gave him a substantial stake in that county. He began his career in the army, obtaining his first commission in 1685 in one of the independent troops of horse raised at the time of the Monmouth rebellion. These were disbanded after the battle of Sedgmoor, but two years later he transferred to a dragoon regiment with which he served throughout King William’s reign, taking part in the campaign in Flanders. Sometime after the end of the war in 1697 he resigned his commission: he was certainly out of the army by 1702. He turned his attention to local affairs, apparently dividing time between his interests in Staffordshire and Gloucestershire, and in successive years he served as sheriff of both counties. In 1707 he put himself in the running to stand for Gloucestershire at the next election, and in the 1708 contest fought a successful campaign on the Whig interest, having turned down an earlier invitation to stand at Tewkesbury.3
Moreton was classed as a Whig shortly after the election. He was teller on three occasions in the first session, twice on the Whig side in disputed election cases, and the third time on 12 Mar. 1709 against a Tory motion for the printing of previously laid papers concerning the attempted invasion of Scotland. The following session, on 25 Jan. 1710, he was teller in favour of a bill regulating the manufacture of buttons, was added to the sponsors of a bill to regulate the Birdlip–Gloucester turnpike, and was involved in a legislative attempt to curtail the period allowed for public mournings. During these sessions he followed his party line on the naturalization of the Palatines and on the impeachment of Dr Sacheverell. The 1710 election produced a bitterly partisan contest in Gloucestershire in which Moreton endangered his chances by making severe reflections on the Church of England, and he was understood to have scraped through only ‘by the foul practice of splitting freeholds’.4
Moreton was classed as a Whig in the ‘Hanover list’ of the new Parliament, and voted for the motion of ‘No Peace without Spain’ on 7 Dec. 1711. On 30 May 1712 he surprised the ministry, momentarily, with a motion to throw out the money bill, which the House was then debating, his premise being that with peace allegedly so close at hand, there was no necessity for another year’s heavy taxation. Although seen as an example of Whig restlessness, it passed by without incurring a division. He was a teller on 16 May 1713 in favour of modifying a hostile motion against his friend Lord Wharton (Thomas*), and on 18 June voted against the French commerce bill. In the autumn election he was narrowly defeated in Gloucestershire, a development which, according to one correspondent, was greeted with pleasure throughout the county by ‘all but Dissenters and violent Whigs’. Some of his former constituents pressed him ‘to accept of a burgess place’ instead, and in April 1714 Wharton tried to coax him into accepting a vacancy at Cricklade, ‘knowing that your personal interest there is such that you cannot fail’, and urged him ‘to remember that your country wants your service’. However, Moreton, who had become a Wiltshire j.p. in 1708, declined the invitation, and did not return to the Commons until after the accession of George I. He was rewarded with a lucrative Irish sinecure in 1717, and on being removed in 1720 was compensated with a peerage. He died on 2 May 1735.5
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Authors: Paula Watson / Andrew A. Hanham
- 1. IGI, Staffs.; Gloucester Freemen (Glos. Rec. Ser. iv), 62.
- 2. SP 63/362/11.
- 3. Add. 70259, Nathaniel Stephens to Robert Harley*, 13 Dec. 1707; Beaufort mss at Badminton House, Coventry pprs. 503, Moreton to Duke of Beaufort, 4 Apr. 1708.
- 4. Christ Church, Oxf. Wake mss 23, f. 209.
- 5. BL, Trumbull Add. mss 134, Thomas Bateman to Sir William Trumbull*, 30 May 1712; Bodl. Ballard mss 31, f. 118; G. Holmes, Pol. in Age of Anne, 165; Glos. RO, Ducie mss D340a/C22/6, Wharton to Moreton, 24 Apr. 1714; D340a/C22/9, Edmund Bray*, 2 May 1714; L. K. J. Glassey, Appt. JPs, 184.