STOCKDALE (formerly WALTERS), Christopher (c.1665-1713), of Bilton Park, nr. Knaresborough, 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



21 Apr. 1693 - Oct. 1713

Family and Education

b. c.1665, 2nd s. of Robert Walters of Cundall, Yorks. by Lettice, da. of Thomas Stockdale of Bilton Park.  m. lic. 22 June 1695 (aged 30), Elizabeth Lyddell of St. Clement Danes, Mdx., 1s.  suc. uncle William Stockdale* 1693 and assumed name of Stockdale.1

Offices Held

Jt. under-searcher, Port of London at Gravesend 1689–1701; commr. Alienation Office 1707–11.2


In view of Walters’ background, it was not surprising that he was considered to be a Whig throughout his political career. His father had been one of the principal figures in the Anabaptist conspiracy in Yorkshire in 1663, while his uncle, who sat for Knaresborough for 33 years without interruption, had acted consistently with the opposition, and also had been considered a Whig. In 1693 Walters inherited his uncle’s estate at Bilton Park, and with it a strong electoral interest at Knaresborough, on condition that he assumed the name of Stockdale. He was allowed to assume the name and coat of arms of Stockdale by royal licence, the King ordering the earl marshal to record the grant in the College of Arms in February 1695. However, Walters appears to have been known by the surname Stockdale at the time of his election for Knaresborough in April 1693. He was added to Robert Harley’s* parliamentary analysis from 1691 under the name Stockdale, though it is not evident whether he was considered to be a Court or Country supporter. Even though at the time of his election in 1693 Stockdale had been returned unopposed, he further consolidated his interest at Knaresborough during the years that followed, increasing his holding of burgages from a dozen to 38.3

In January 1696 Stockdale was classed as likely to support the Court on the proposed council of trade. He was an enthusiastic supporter of the Association, writing to Viscount Irwin (Arthur Ingram*) on 4 Apr.:

yesterday we attended the King with our Association, signed or consented to be signed by 418 Members, 95 having only refused, for yesterday Sir Marmaduke Wyvill and three more came in and signed it. His Majesty was very well pleased and returned us a very pretty acceptable answer . . . I hope your honour will drink our royal associator’s health.

He also informed Lord Irwin of the execution of Sir John Friend† and Sir William Perkyns, two Jacobite conspirators, and about the ‘brave vote’ that ‘whoever shall assert our entering into this Association is illegal shall be deemed a promoter of the interest of the late King James, and enemies of the laws and liberties of England’. He voted with the Court for fixing the price of guineas at 22s. in March, while in a committee of the whole on supply on 3 Apr. he told against a question for an amendment to the land bank bill. In August he wrote to Lord Irwin again, commenting on the nimbleness of John Smith I* in borrowing £30,000 ‘of[f] the Jews’, thereby pre-empting the negotiation of a similar loan by Paul Foley I* and the land bank. Stockdale also hoped that a temporary peace might be made with France so that England might be in a condition to undertake a vigorous prosecution of the war in another five years’ time. Of more immediate concern, he informed Irwin that the affairs of the land bank, the Bank of England, and the loss of money caused by the recent devaluation of coin, made him certain that ‘these proceedings will occasion great heats in St Stephen’s Chapel next winter, and if we do not stand to it like men of mettle I shall dread the consequences’. In the 1696–7 session he voted for the attainder of Sir John Fenwick† on 25 Nov. In the following session, in May 1698, he drafted and presented a private bill for vesting in trustees the copper works on the estate of the late Robert Mascall.4

Following the 1698 election, Stockdale was classed as a Court supporter in a comparative analysis of the old and new Houses. He voted against the third reading of the disbanding bill on 18 Jan. 1699, and was given leave of absence on 21 Mar. owing to family illness. The following year, he was noted as an adherent of the Junto. He was forecast in February 1701 as likely to support the Court in agreeing with the supply committee’s resolution to continue the ‘Great Mortgage’. However, he fell so seriously ill in September 1701 that he was thought beyond hope of recovery, though he survived, and was returned once more for Knaresborough in the second 1701 election. At the same time he resigned as under-searcher because of the place legislation excluding customs officers from sitting in Parliament.5

The accession of Queen Anne and her favour to the Tories filled Stockdale with foreboding, as he rightly foresaw great changes at court and that the commissions of the peace and the lieutenancies would be purged of many Whigs. He voted on 13 Feb. 1703 for agreeing with the Lords’ amendments to the bill for enlarging the time for taking the oath of abjuration. At the beginning of the 1704–5 session he was classed as a probable opponent of the Tack, and did not vote for it on 28 Nov. 1704. Following his re-election for Knaresborough in 1705, Stockdale was classed as a ‘Churchman’ in an analysis of the new Parliament. He was absent from the division on the Speaker on 25 Oct., but supported the Court in the proceedings on 18 Feb. 1706 on the ‘place clause’ of the regency bill. His steady support of the Court was rewarded in April 1707, when he was made a commissioner of the Alienation Office. In 1708 he was classed as a Whig in two separate analyses of Parliament. He supported the naturalization of the Palatines in 1709, and the following year voted for the impeachment of Dr Sacheverell. He was dismissed from the Alienation Office by the new Tory government in 1711. Returned for Knaresborough once more in September 1713, he was classed as a Whig in the Worsley list, but died the following month. His son William sold Bilton Park in 1742.6

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Authors: Eveline Cruickshanks / Ivar McGrath


  • 1. Dugdale’s Vis. Yorks. ed. Clay, i. 277–8; Grantees of Arms (Harl. Soc. lxvi), 243; London Mar. Lic. ed. Foster, 1289.
  • 2. Cal. Treas. Bks. ix. 88, 148–9; xvi. 408; xxi. 251; xxv. 295; xxvi. 357; Luttrell, Brief Relation, vi. 166.
  • 3. CSP Dom. 1694–5, p. 393; Grantees of Arms, 243; Quinn thesis, 178.
  • 4. HMC Var. viii. 81–83; Harl. 1274, f. 133.
  • 5. Luttrell, v. 94; Cal. Treas. Bks. xvi. 408; xxvi. 357.
  • 6. West Yorks. Archs. (Leeds), Temple Newsam mss, TN/C9/241, Stockdale to Ld. Irwin, 28 Apr. 1702; HMC Var. 85–86; Bull. IHR, xxxvii. 24; Luttrell, vi. 166; Cal. Treas. Bks. xxi. 251; xxv. 295; Clay, 278.