ARCHER, Henry (1700-68), of Hale, Hants.
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Family and Education
bap. 18 Nov. 1700, 2nd s. of Andrew Archer. educ. Eton c.1716; Trinity, Oxf. 1718; M. Temple 1718; I. Temple 1723, called 1726. m. 22 Dec. 1743, Lady Elizabeth Montagu, da. of George Montagu, M.P., 1st Earl of Halifax, s.p. suc. to estates of uncle Thomas Archer including the manor of Hale and £100,000, 1743.
Henry Archer, a practising lawyer, was an active and independent member of the board of trustees set up in 1732 to establish and administer the new colony of Georgia. Though reputed ‘the best of any of them with Sir Robert Walpole and indeed much in his confidence’, he strongly opposed Walpole’s plan to avoid war with Spain by giving up Georgia. When pressed by Walpole to second the Address at the opening of Parliament in Feb. 1739 he refused, on the ground that it might ‘tie up his mouth from supporting Georgia if it should be understood by the House that part of his Majesty’s measures is to give it up to the Spaniards’. He subsequently told Walpole that ‘the gentlemen of the trust were unanimous to keep it out of the Spaniards’ hands and that if they have not satisfaction on that point they would vote against the convention’. On the moving of the address approving the convention, Archer claimed to have been responsible for the insertion of the word ‘possessions’ in the passage referring to the preservation of British rights in America, by warning Walpole that if this were not done it would be moved for by the anti-Government section of the trustees.1
After moving the Address at the opening of the next session, Archer was asked by the trustees to arrange with Walpole for them to submit evidence to the House of Commons as to the utility of Georgia to Great Britain. He refused ‘because he intends to vote for the place bill, and Sir Robert Walpole is so teasing with him to vote against it that he designs not to see him till that affair is over’. Following an unsatisfactory debate in the Commons, who refused to hear evidence, he was put up by the trustees to make the following statement:
The trustees for Georgia are very uneasy at the treatment they received yesterday, as if the execution of the trust was a chimerical project. They are still more uneasy, that when they had their evidence ready to produce to show the contrary, an opportunity was not given them. I won’t trouble the House with any motion now, but only desire as one of that body, in the name of the whole, to have an opportunity, when the House shall please, to examine into the utility of the province, and if the House should then differ with them in opinion, to have leave to surrender their charter.
On being asked by Walpole ‘why I expressed so much concern for the colony when I saw how little the House thought of it, and must expect that at a peace it will be given up’, he replied: ‘Sir Robert, you will not find it too easy a matter to give up the colony in Parliament, for the trustees will think it their duty to oppose it, and I for one’. Thenceforth he declined intervening with Walpole on behalf of Georgia, observing: ‘how can I go ... to ask Sir Robert for anything that tends to support the colony, after he had owned to me his design to destroy it?’2
On the opening of the new Parliament in December 1741 Archer voted with Walpole on the chairman of the elections committee but deserted him on the Westminster election.3 After Walpole’s fall he was included in the Cockpit list of ministerial supporters but was absent from the division on the Hanoverians in December 1742, voting against them in 1744. In December 1744 he moved unsuccessfully to double the tax on places and pensions to ease the landed interest. He voted for the Hanoverians in 1746, when he was classed as Old Whig. In 1747 he was classed as a government supporter. He died 16 Mar. 1768.