TOLLEMACHE, Lionel, 3rd Earl of Dysart [S] (1649-1727), of Helmingham, Suff.

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



Mar. 1679 - Mar. 1681
1685 - 1687
1698 - 1 May 1707

Family and Education

b. 30 Jan. 1649, 1st surv. s. of Sir Lionel Tollemache, 3rd Bt., of Helmingham by Lady Elizabeth, suo jure Countess of Dysart, da. and coh. of William Murray†, 1st Earl of Dysart; bro. of Hon. Thomas Tollemache*.  educ. Queens’, Camb. 1665.  m. 30 Sept. 1680, Grace, da. and coh. of Sir Thomas Wilbraham, 3rd Bt.† (d. 1692) of Weston-under-Lizard, Staffs., 1s. d.v.p. 4da.  Styled Ld. Huntingtower c.1654–1698; suc. fa. 1669; mother as 3rd Earl of Dysart 5 June 1698.1

Offices Held

Freeman, Eye 1675, Dunwich 1702–16; portman, Orford 1685–c.1709, mayor c.May–Oct. 1704; high steward, Ipswich 1703–d.; ld. lt., custos rot. and v.-adm. Suff. 1703–5.2


In 1696 Humphrey Prideaux wrote of Tollemache (then styled Lord Huntingtower) that he was

a very sensible man, and with great prudence manageth all affairs that he puts his hand unto; only, having come to an encumbered estate, that frugality and sparing way of living which his circumstances at first made necessary hath habituated him to that which, now he is out of those circumstances, is downright stinginess. For he, having now cleared his estate of the vast debt which he found upon it, may very well afford to live according to his quality. After his mother, the Duchess of Lauderdale, and his mother-in-law, Lady Wilbraham, he will have better than £3,000 per annum.

His mother died in June 1698, and Huntingtower became the 3rd Earl of Dysart (his mother-in-law lived until 1703). A Tory, he was returned for Suffolk at the 1698 election. Classed as a supporter of the Country party in about September, the following month he was listed as a probable opponent of a standing army. He spoke on 26 Mar. 1700 in a debate on the county commissions of the peace, complaining about recent changes to the Suffolk bench. He carried up two private estate bills on 7 Feb. and 2 Mar.3

Dysart was forecast in February 1701 as likely to support the Court over continuing the ‘Great Mortgage’. In this session he assisted in the parliamentary management of four private bills, including one to set up a court of requests at Norwich. On 17 June 1701 he was sent with a message to the Lords concerning the impeachments. He appeared in the ‘black list’ of those who had opposed making preparations for war and was also classed as a Tory by Robert Harley* in a list of the 1701–2 Parliament. Dysart himself proposed Harley for the Speakership on 30 Dec. He was appointed on 6 May to draw up reasons for disagreeing with the Lords’ amendments to the oath of abjuration. In this session he successfully sponsored a bill for the building of hospitals and workhouses at Sudbury. Appointed in March 1703 as lord lieutenant and custos of Suffolk, he quickly embarked upon a purge of ‘moderate Churchmen’ from the lieutenancy, replacing them with more zealous Tories. On 3 Apr. 1704 he reported from a conference on the Lords’ amendments to the public accounts bill. In March he was listed as a supporter of Lord Nottingham (Daniel Finch†) over the Scotch Plot. First-named to the committee on the Address at the start of the next session (24 Oct.), he was forecast as a likely supporter of the Tack, and indeed voted for it on 28 Nov. On 1 Feb. 1705 he reported the Stour navigation bill, carrying it up to the Lords six days later. On 26 Feb. he reported the Aylesbury election case, and on the 28th was one of the managers at a conference on this issue. At about this time he was described by one observer as ‘a principal Member of the House of Commons of the Church interest’. He was removed as lord lieutenant of Suffolk, presumably as punishment for having supported the Tack, and was replaced in April by a Whig.4

Dysart and a fellow Tacker, Sir Robert Davers, 2nd Bt., were returned for the county in 1705 after an election in which the Tack was the principal issue, and in a list of the new Parliament Dysart was classed as ‘True Church’. He proposed the High Tory candidate for the Speakership, William Bromley II*, on 25 Oct. 1705. In January and February 1706 he managed a bill to regulate coal duties at Great Yarmouth. Classed as a Tory in a list of early 1708, he had in fact already lost his seat, having become a peer of Great Britain as a consequence of the Union. His enforced retirement does not appear to have distressed him, for he wrote in February 1708 from Helmingham to a former parliamentary colleague, ‘I do not envy you gentlemen of the House of Commons, while I am at liberty to enjoy my friend over a bottle of wine’. He remained a Tory, and in 1721 his name was sent to the Pretender as a possible supporter in the event of a rising.5

Dysart died on 23 Feb. 1727 and was buried at Helmingham, where his monument recorded his services in Parliament, ‘being much for the prerogative of the crown and ever for the liberty of his country’.6

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: D. W. Hayton


  • 1. Hist. Weston (Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. 1899), 143.
  • 2. Suff. RO (Ipswich), Dunwich bor. recs. EE6/1144/14; Suff. RO (Bury St. Edmunds), Bury St. Edmunds bor. recs. EE2/D5/1; CSP Dom. 1685, p. 46; W. Suss. RO, Shillinglee mss Ac.454/901, 973, 1159, 1160, 890, 1082, Edward Pratt to Sir Edward Turnor*, 14 Apr. 1692, Nathaniel Gooding to same, 18 July 1698, Thomas Palmer to same, 8, 26 May 1704, [–] to same, Sept. [1704], John Hooke to same, 15 Sept. 1709; HMC Var. iv. 271; vii. 108; G. R. Clarke, Ipswich, 437.
  • 3. Prideaux Letters (Cam. Soc. n.s. xv), 181–2; Shillinglee mss Ac.454/972, Gooding to Turnor, 11 July 1698; Northants. RO, Montagu (Boughton) mss 48/50, James Vernon I* to Shrewsbury, 26 Mar. 1699[–1700].
  • 4. Luttrell, Brief Relation, v. 276, 536; Add. 17677 WWW, f. 317; HMC Portland, iv. 165.
  • 5. W. A. Speck, Tory and Whig, 104; Cobbett, Parlty. Hist. vi. 450; Shillinglee mss Ac.454/857, Dysart to Turnor, 6 Feb. 1707–8; P. S. Fritz, Ministers and Jacobitism 1715–45, p. 151.
  • 6. E. D. H. Tollemache, Tollemaches of Helmingham, 98–99.