WORSLEY, James (1672-1756), of Pylewell Park, Hants.

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 - Dec. 1701
1705 - 1722
1727 - 25 Apr. 1729
1734 - 1741

Family and Education

bap. 28 May 1672, 1st s. of Sir James Worsley of Pylewell Park by Mary, da. of Sir Nicholas Steward, 1st Bt.†, of Hartley Mauditt, Hants.  educ. New Coll. Oxf. 1688; M. Temple 1691.  m. 25 Feb. 1714, Rachel, da. of Thomas Merrick of St. Margaret’s, Westminster, 1s.  suc. fa. 1695; cos. Sir Robert Worsley, 4th Bt.†, as 5th Bt. 29 July 1747.1

Offices Held

Woodward of New Forest 1710–15.2


Worsley’s father, a younger son of Sir Henry Worsley, 2nd Bt.†, of Appuldurcombe in the Isle of Wight, had settled on the mainland at Pylewell Park near Lymington. He himself was returned in 1695 for Newtown in the Isle of Wight on the interest of his cousin the 4th baronet. In his first Parliament Worsley seems to have begun by supporting the opposition. He was noted in January 1696 as ‘doubtful’ in a forecast of the division on the proposed council of trade, and voted against the administration on fixing the price of guineas at 22s. in March, though the previous month he had promptly subscribed the Association. Not an active Member, he was granted leave of absence in March 1696, March 1697, and January and May 1698. Again returned for Newtown in 1698 he was queried as a Court supporter in about September that year, but was not listed as voting against the disbanding bill on 18 Jan. 1699, and in early 1700 an analysis of the House classed him as doubtful or possibly of the opposition. In this Parliament he was joined by Thomas Worsley I who was probably the ‘Mr Worsley’ given leave of absence on 21 Mar. 1699. Nothing is known of Worsley’s political allegiance in the February 1701 Parliament.

Worsley did not stand in either November 1701 or 1702, but was returned for Newtown again in 1705. Although his election was classed as a ‘gain’ for the Whigs by Lord Sunderland (Charles, Lord Spencer*), both he and his cousin Henry Worsley (fellow MP for Newtown from this date) spent the remainder of the reign supporting whatever administration was in office, regardless of its party complexion. Classed as a ‘Churchman’ in a list of the new Parliament, he voted for the Court candidate as Speaker on 25 Oct. 1705. The presence in the House of his cousin Henry from this point on makes Worsley’s other parliamentary activity difficult to ascertain. In the first session, one of them managed a private estate bill, and on 14 Dec. 1705 was teller in favour of giving a second reading to the report on a conference with the Lords on their resolution that anyone insisting that the Church was in danger was an enemy to the Queen and kingdom. On 22 Jan. 1706, ‘Mr Worsley’ was again a teller, with Lord William Powlett, against adjourning consideration of alleged corrupt practices at the election of the Tory Sir John Cotton, 4th Bt., for Huntingdon. In two parliamentary listings of 1708 he was classed as a Tory, though in 1709 he voted for the naturalization the Palatines, and in 1710 for the impeachment of Dr Sacheverell. He was almost certainly the ‘Mr Worsley’ who managed the private estate bill of his brother-in-law, Peter Bettesworth*, in the 1709–10 session.

By December 1710, following the change of administration, Worsley had reorientated his party allegiance towards the Tory administration, and as a reward was appointed to office as woodward of the New Forest with a salary of £150 p.a. Classed as a Tory in the ‘Hanover list’ of this Parliament, he was listed as one of the ‘worthy patriots’ who detected the mismanagements of the previous administration in 1711, and was even named as a member of the High Tory October Club. From June 1711 he was joined in the House by Thomas Worsley II, but it was either he or Henry who on 15 Apr. 1712 told against committing the bill to prevent adjournments of the poll for Hampshire elections from Winchester to the Isle of Wight. He voted for the French commerce bill on 18 June 1713, and was classed as a Tory who sometimes voted as a ‘whimsical’ Whig in another list of this Parliament, and as a Tory in a comparative analysis of the 1713 and 1715 Parliaments. After 1715 he lost his office, and although continuing to sit for Newtown, he voted consistently against the Whig administrations. He died on 12 June 1756. It was his grandson Sir Richard Worsley, 7th Bt.†, an antiquarian and collector, who came into possession of the analysis of the 1713 and 1715 Parliaments, compiled probably for George I by his private secretary Jean Robethon, which has subsequently become known as ‘the Worsley list’.3

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: Paula Watson


  • 1. IGI, Hants.
  • 2. Cal. Treas. Bks. xxiv. 547; xxix. 373.
  • 3. Cal. Treas. Pprs. 1702–7, p. 411; The Commons 1715–54, i. 162–3.