ST. QUINTIN, William (c.1662-1723), of Harpham, Yorks.

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



1695 - 30 June 1723

Family and Education

b. c.1662 (aged three in 1665), 2nd but 1st surv. s. of William St. Quintin, of Muston, Yorks. by Elizabeth, da. of Sir William Strickland, 1st Bt.†, of Boynton, Yorks., sis. of Sir Thomas Strickland, 2nd Bt.†. unmsuc. fa. Nov. 1695; gdfa. as 3rd Bt. Nov. 1695.1

Offices Held

Chamberlain, Hull 1689, mayor 1700, 1715.2

Commr. customs Sept. 1698–Nov. 1701, revenue [I] 1706–Jan. 1713, alienations office 1717; ld. of Treasury 1714–17; PC [I] 30 Sept. 1714; jt. vice-treasurer [I] 1720–d.3

Commr. taking subscriptions to S. Sea Co. 1711.4


St. Quintin was a member of one of the leading merchant families in the area, as well as being an active member of the corporation. Despite being implicated in a petition to Parliament on 19 Apr. 1695 about the illegal exaction of money from local inn-keepers in 1693–4, St. Quintin was elected for Hull in 1695. In a forecast for the division on the proposed council of trade on 31 Jan. 1696, he was listed as likely to support the government. He signed the Association promptly in February, voted for fixing the price of guineas at 22s. in March, and on 25 Nov. voted for the attainder of Sir John Fenwick†. His increasing activity is indicated by his appointment to a significant number of committees on revenue and trade matters, a pattern which continued. Having presented the bill for securing debts and establishing credit on 19 Jan. 1697, he told for the bill’s commitment on 10 Feb. His association with revenue affairs was highlighted by his election as a commissioner of accounts on the 11th, though the bill was subsequently lost. His constituency’s interests seem to have been a prime consideration on the 15th when he was a teller in favour of committing the bill to admit all merchants to the freedom of the Russia Company, a provision which would have been highly beneficial to Hull merchants. In addition, he was successful in securing the disposal of much local patronage. During 1697 he managed to procure appointments to a customs place at Hull and two positions as surveyors of glass windows in the East Riding, as well as getting the commissioners of customs to exempt two Hull merchants, who were also aldermen, from the prohibition on a cargo of whalebone which they had imported. In addition, he secured the appointment of William Bernard, a client of his, as recorder of Hull.5

On 10 Dec. 1697 St. Quintin was one of a number of Members who supported Harley’s motion that the army be reduced to its pre-1680 size, despite his being normally considered ‘firm to the government’. In keeping with his obligations to his corporation, he reported parliamentary proceedings to them, writing on 30 Dec.:

we can go upon no business until the committee have gone through the deficiencies and the debts to the army, no hammered money is to be a tender either to the King or any person after the 10th of June. In a small time I shall write you further my thoughts of the Act of Parliament for better provision for the poor.

In January 1698 he was given leave to bring in bills for preserving enclosures, for encouraging trade to Russia, and for the better payment of inland bills of exchange, and was also named at the preparatory stage of the Aire and Calder navigation bill. Later that month he proposed a successful motion that the forthcoming examination of all crown grants since December 1696 be extended to include all grants since the Revolution, and on 16 Feb., when the Irish forfeitures grant to Charles Montagu* was debated, St. Quintin defended him and carried a motion that ‘Mr Montagu for his services to the government deserved his Majesty’s favour’. Constituency issues re-emerged later in the session, and on 27 Apr. he and his fellow Member Charles Osborne were given leave to bring in a bill for erecting workhouses and houses of correction for the poor of Hull. Although the measure was initiated by Hull corporation, the two MPs were obliged to meet all the costs involved. In May St. Quintin’s attention was focused upon revenue matters, and in a debate on supply on the 19th, he proposed

that the duty upon sugar might be considered again. For though they had put a negative upon the lesser sum that was proposed, yet he hoped it would not be irregular to proceed to the bigger sum, which he would likewise moderate, and therefore moved that three farthings per pound should be laid on brown sugar and nine farthings on white.6

St. Quintin was appointed a commissioner of customs in September 1698, on account of ‘the particular concern the Treasury had to do something immediately’ for him. In fact, he was said to have owed his place to his warm defence of Montagu. Unopposed at Hull at the 1698 election, he was classed as a placeman and Court supporter. His activity in Parliament appeared to decrease during the 1698–9 session; he was nominated to fewer committees than formerly, and appears to have been absent from the division on the disbanding bill on 18 Jan. 1699. In March he quarrelled with Francis Scobell in the elections committee, and was challenged to a duel by him, but the difference between them was composed. During the following session St. Quintin was informed, on 2 Oct., that he had been elected mayor of Hull for the ensuing year ‘by a great appearance of the burgesses’. The following month he was instructed by the corporation to assist a petition from Rye for the repair of the harbour there, which, it was felt, would be beneficial to trade in general. However, the combination of his work as customs commissioner and his obligations as mayor appear to have continued to restrain his parliamentary activity during the next few years, though he may also have been hindered by illness, as in December 1700 he was reported to be lying ‘dangerously ill of a fever’. In an analysis of the Commons in early 1700 he was included under the Junto interest.7

Re-elected to the first 1701 Parliament along with a fellow Whig and Hull merchant, William Maister, with whom he was returned unopposed in the next six general elections, St. Quintin was noted by Sir Richard Cocks, 2nd Bt.*, in mid-April as one of the few Whig placemen prepared to oppose the impeachment of the Junto Lords. On 9 June he declared in the debate on the articles of impeachment against Lord Halifax (Montagu), when Halifax was accused of furthering the Partition Treaty, that he did not oppose these articles as they were to ‘this lord’s, or noble lord’s, eternal honour and reputation’. According to Cocks, St. Quintin had stated that ‘considering the great places of honour and trust that the said Lord had been in, it would turn to his honour to have the world see what small and little things he could be accused of’. However, such views ensured that St. Quintin

was in the heat and fury of the angry party called to the bar and after more heat and warm words in his place he explained himself what he said was not, as was suggested, mentioned with the least intention to reflect on or to arraign the justice of the House, only that he thought that lord could easily vindicate himself and that upon his trial he would be acquitted.

Accordingly, St. Quintin’s explanation was deemed satisfactory by the House.8

In November St. Quintin resigned as commissioner of customs in order to stand for re-election, the recent Place Act having made such office-holders ineligible for Parliament. However, although he told on 16 Apr. for a motion to bring in a bill for the relief of Sir John Dillon in relation to the Irish forfeitures, he continued to be relatively inactive for the next couple of years. In the 1702–3 session he voted for agreeing with the Lords’ amendments to the bill for enlarging the time for taking the oath of abjuration (13 Feb. 1703). Before the 1704–5 session St. Quintin had the first of several disagreements with the corporation. On 24 Oct. 1704 he wrote to the mayor explaining that his recent departure from Hull, although unexpected, had been due to a summons to be in London ‘before the sitting of the Parliament’. This was ‘my duty to the corporation and the public’, and therefore he did not have time to call upon them before leaving Hull. He went on to state that

I have attended as much as I could at all times and . . . will do, so long as I have the honour to serve you, and therefore I did not expect so sharp a letter from you and sure I know not what I have done to deserve so great a rebuke, which gives me no small uneasiness.

In November he was forecast as a probable opponent of the Tack, and he did not vote for it on the 28th.9

St. Quintin fell foul of the corporation once more early in 1705, when he sided with the Duke of Newcastle (John Holles†) in a dispute over the appointment of a town clerk. The corporation nevertheless supported St. Quintin’s candidature in the 1705 election, following which he was classed as ‘Low Church’ in an analysis of the new Parliament. On 25 Oct. he voted for the Court candidate as Speaker. In January 1706 he was noted, along with ‘most of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Members’, as being in favour of a bill for enlarging the harbour at Parton in Cumberland, and on 4 Feb. was first-named on the committee following the second reading. On the 18th he supported the Court in the proceedings on the ‘place clause’ in the regency bill. In April he was appointed a commissioner of the Irish revenue, and thereafter spent a good deal of time in Ireland, but returned to attend the House whenever he could. In the 1706–7 session he was named to the committee to prepare the bill for union with Scotland (11 Feb. 1707).10

St. Quintin was classed as a Whig in two lists in 1708, and in 1709 voted for the naturalization of the Palatines. In the following session, he managed a bill through the House to empower Hull’s corporation of the poor to raise more funds. He also supported the impeachment of Dr Sacheverell. Classed as a Whig in the ‘Hanover list’ of 1710, he was even less active after the fall of the Marlborough–Godolphin administration, though despite rumours of his imminent dismissal in December 1710, he retained his revenue post in Ireland. His decision to side with a hard core of Whigs in opposition to the administration, when he voted against the amendment to the South Sea bill on 25 May 1711, might have put his Irish post in danger, but a greater threat to his position arose when he disobliged both Sir Constantine Phipps, the Tory lord chancellor of Ireland, and the Duke of Ormond, the lord lieutenant, by refusing a place to Phipps’s son. Knowing that his job was in danger, he wrote to Lord Oxford (Harley) from Dublin on 25 Nov. 1711:

according to my promise to your lordship I made a very little stay in Yorkshire, but hastened hither to my business, which . . . I believe none can say, but I discharge faithfully and diligently and I am sure with as much care and frugality as if I were acting in my own affairs . . . [yet] for giving my opinion and not complying to do a thing desired in the revenue I suspect I have disobliged a great man here . . . but as I have done nothing in my station but my duty, I do not doubt of your lordship’s protection.

Though it was known as early as July 1712 that he would be removed, he was not actually replaced until January 1713. In the 1713 session he voted on 18 June against the French commerce bill. Classed as a Whig on this occasion, as also in the Worsley list, he voted on 18 Mar. 1714 against the expulsion of Richard Steele. Re-elected in 1715, St. Quintin rose to high office after the Hanoverian succession, and continued to sit for Hull until his death on 30 June 1723. His estate was inherited by his nephew, William St. Quintin†, who became 4th baronet.11

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Authors: Eveline Cruickshanks / Ivar McGrath


  • 1. Dugdale’s Vis. Yorks. ed. Clay, iii. 191.
  • 2. T. Gent, Hull, 191–2; J. J. Sheahan, Hull, 300, 315.
  • 3. Cal. Treas. Bks. xiv. 121; xx. 70; xxxi. 270; Add. 7078, f. 55; Liber Munerum Publicorum Hiberniae ed. Lascelles, i(2), 47, 134; SP 63/262/10–11.
  • 4. Pittis, Present Parl. 351.
  • 5. W. J. Davies, ‘A description of trade and shipping of Hull during 17th Cent.’ (Cardiff Univ. M.A. thesis, 1937), 62; G. Jackson, Hull in the 18th century, 302; R. C. Ward, ‘Pol. corresp. relating to Kingston-upon-Hull, 1678–1835’ (Leeds Univ. Ph.D. thesis, 1989), 46, 110; Quinn thesis, 62; Cal. Treas. Bks. xi. 344; xii. 23, 73, 288; CSP Dom. 1697, p. 405.
  • 6. CSP Dom. 1697, p. 506; 1698, pp. 38, 95, 258; Hull City Archs. Hull corp. recs. L.1173; Cal. Hull Corp. Recs. 287–8, 293; Tickell, Hull, 772.
  • 7. Cal. Treas. Bks. xiv. 121; CSP Dom. 1698, p. 379; Vernon–Shrewsbury Letters, ii. 162; Add. 40772, f. 47; Cocks Diary, 53; Luttrell, Brief Relation, iv. 490, 721; Ward, 46; Hull corp. recs. L.1192–3.
  • 8. Quinn, 63; Ward, 48; Cocks Diary, 95, 168–9; Add. 7074, f. 29; Ralph, Hist. Eng. ii. 960.
  • 9. Cal. Treas. Bks. xvi. 111; Luttrell, v. 109; Add. 7078, f. 55; Post Man, 13–15 Nov. 1701; Cal. Hull Corp. Recs. 289; Hull corp. recs. L.1195; Quinn, 65; Ward, 48.
  • 10. Cal. Hull Corp. Recs. 290–1; Quinn, 65; Ward, 48; Cumbria RO (Carlisle), Lonsdale mss D/Lons/W2/1/39, James Lowther* to [William Gilpin], 12 Jan. 1705[–6]; Liber Munerum Publicorum Hiberniae, 134; Coxe, Walpole, ii. 5.
  • 11. Swift Stella ed. Davis, 116; Add. 28934, ff. 217–18; 28935, f. 6; 70252, Phipps to Oxford, 15 Dec. 1711; 70256, St. Quintin to Oxford, 25 Nov. 1711; EHR, lxxxii. 483; Hist. Jnl. iv. 197, 199, 201; The Gen. n.s. vi. 22; Clay, 191.