STRANGWAYS, Thomas I (1643-1713), of Melbury Sampford, Dorset

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



3 Mar. 1673 - Jan. 1679
Mar. 1679 - Mar. 1681
1685 - 1687
1689 - 1713

Family and Education

b. 1643, 4th but 2nd surv. s. of Giles Strangways† of Melbury Sampford by Susanna, da. and coh. of Thomas Edwards, Mercer, of London and Fair Crouch, Wadhurst, Dorset; bro. of John† and Wadham Strangways†.  educ. Wadham, Oxf. 1660–3.  m. 19 Jan. 1675, Susan, da. and h. of John Ridout of Frome, Som., 5s. (3 d.v.p.) 4da.  suc. bro. 1676.1

Offices Held

Freeman, Poole 1671; steward, manors of Fordington and Rhyme 1676–d.; common councilman, Bridport 1677–85, Oct. 1688–d., high steward 1677–d., freeman 1685–Jan. 1688; commr. inquiring into customs frauds, Lyme Regis 1678, forfeited estates, Dorset 1686; v.-adm. Dorset and Poole 1702–d.; steward, manor of Long Bredy, Dorset to 1704.2


Colonel Strangways, so called because of his militia commission, was the leader of the Dorset Tories and represented the county for more than 30 years without a single contested election. He was listed in 1690 by Lord Carmarthen (Sir Thomas Osborne†) as a Tory supporter of the Court, and as one who would defend Carmarthen from parliamentary attack. However, in April 1691 Robert Harley* classified him as a supporter of the Country party. Strangways obtained leave of absence on 8 Jan. 1692, 3 Feb. 1693 and 28 Feb. 1694, and, following the last occasion, was sent for in custody as a defaulter on a call of the House on 14 Mar. Forecast in January 1696 as an opponent of the Court on the proposed council of trade, he refused to sign the Association in February and the following month opposed the Court in voting against fixing the price of guineas at 22s. On 25 Nov. he voted against the attainder of Sir John Fenwick†. He received another grant of absence on 1 Apr. 1698. In the same year he made an unsuccessful attempt to claim the vacant clerkship of the pells, his father having purchased the reversion of this office from Charles II. The Treasury lords maintained, however, that the office was not in the royal gift and granted it instead to Henry Pelham*. In September Strangways was listed as a member of the Country party, and it was forecast in October that he would oppose the standing army. On 3 Feb. 1699 he was granted further leave of absence. In an analysis of the House into interests and factions in 1700 his name was marked with a query, although early in the first 1701 Parliament he was expected to support the Court over the ‘Great Mortgage’. He received leave on 14 May 1701, but was later blacklisted for opposing the preparations for war with France. Classed as a Tory by Harley in December, he voted on 26 Feb. 1702 for the motion vindicating the Commons’ proceedings in the impeachments of William III’s ministers in the previous session.3

Strangways obtained three weeks’ leave of absence on 16 Jan. 1703, but returned to vote on 13 Feb. against the Lords’ amendments to the bill for extending the time for taking the oath of abjuration. The following year he was listed as a probable supporter of the Tack, and despite being lobbied by Harley to change his mind, duly voted for it on 28 Nov. 1704. Earlier, Strangways had been mentioned by the Earl of Ailesbury (Thomas Bruce†) to the Duke of Marlborough (John Churchill†) as one of ‘about eight overgrown commoners of vast estates’ who should be elevated to the peerage to render the Lords more manageable. The suggestion was not taken up and Strangways remained in the Commons in the 1705 Parliament, being classed as ‘True Church’ and voting against the Court candidate for Speaker on 25 Oct. On 4 Jan. 1707 Lord Godolphin (Sidney†) informed Harley that ‘Strangways is very desirous of the honour of seconding Lord Granby [John Manners*]’ over the motion for a further provision for the Duke of Marlborough, and ‘will take it ill if anybody should be appointed before him’. He duly seconded Granby’s motion on 7 Jan. and two days later was appointed to the committee to bring in a bill for settling a pension of £5,000 p.a. on the Duke. Classed as a Tory in 1708, he voted against the impeachment of Dr Sacheverell in 1710. A Tory in the ‘Hanover list’ compiled after the 1710 election, and a member of the October Club, he was also one of the ‘worthy patriots’ who detected the mismanagements of the previous administration. He obtained leave of absence on the grounds of ill-health on 8 Apr. 1712. Standing down in favour of his son at the 1713 election, Strangways died shortly afterwards on 21 Dec.4

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: Paula Watson


  • 1. Hutchins, Dorset, ii. 662–3, 678, 680–1; Dorset RO, Melbury Sampford par. reg.
  • 2. Poole Archs. B17; Cal. Treas. Bks. ix. 527, 556; xvii. 339; xix. 281; Hutchins, 8; Dorset RO, Bridport mss B3/H1, p. 509.
  • 3. CSP Dom. 1698, pp. 46, 64; Cal. Treas. Bks. xiii. 58; Luttrell, Brief Relation, iv. 335–6; Add. 28086, f. 16.
  • 4. HMC Bath, i. 152; Luttrell, vi. 124; Cobbett, Parlty. Hist. vi. 550; Ailesbury Mems. ii. 562.