BRAMSTON, Thomas (c.1690-1765), of Skreens, nr. Maldon, Essex.
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Family and Education
b. c.1690, 1st surv. s. of Antony Bramston of Skreens by Catherine, da. and coh. of Sir Thomas Nutt of Mays, Suss. educ. M. Temple 1707, called 1714; Pembroke, Camb. 1708. m. (1) Diana (d. 10 Jan. 1726), da. of Edward Turner of Stoke, Lincs., wid. of Robert Ferne of Locke, Derbys., s.p.; (2) Jan.1733, Elizabeth, da. of Richard Berney, recorder of Norwich, 1s. 2da. suc. fa. 1722.
Bencher, M. Temple 1742; high steward of Maldon.
Bramston, a Tory lawyer, was the great-grandson of Sir John Bramston, lord chief justice, who purchased Skreens in 1635, and the grandson of Sir John Bramston, M.P. Essex 1660-1 and Maldon 1678-85. He had been over 16 years in Parliament before he made his first recorded speech opposing the Address on 7 May 1728. In the next session he again opposed the Address, 21 Jan. 1729. In an army debate on 31 Jan. the 1st Lord Egmont reported that
Mr. Bramston made a set speech ... He has a good memory, uses apt words, and speaks with gravity, but keeps too much to general topics and maxims, and while he acts the patriot, discovers too much affectation.
On 11 Mar. he moved for ‘an address to the King for a particular account of the £60,000 granted last year for to make good the engagements with foreign princes’, but Walpole ‘immediately moved for the orders of the day’ which took precedence, thus ‘getting rid of a popular question’. In the same year he carried a bill which resulted in the release of about 10,000 insolvent debtors. On 26 Jan. 1730 he seconded a motion calling for information as to any engagements entered into for the hire of foreign troops. He supported a place bill on 17 Feb. 1731, saying:
The best and clearest proof the House could give that it is uncorrupt, is to pass the bill. Gentlemen seem to mistake it, those who wish the Crown should have an influence over the House, will still have their wish, for the power of rewarding merit by gratuities and pensions is not taken away, only the Members so rewarded are to be made known, which may prove to the honour of those gentlemen if deserving, and to the honour of the Crown too, in letting the world see how merit is considered by our princes. That to infer from the incorruptness of the House that this is an improper time for such a bill is absurd, for only an incorrupt House can pass it, and he wondered any gentleman should say it weakened his Majesty’s support. What, is it by corruption that the King supports himself?1
In 1732 he moved ‘for regulating the qualification of justices of peace, it being complained that several of them had no fortunes, and some not able to write or read’. He secured the passing of an Act providing that ‘no person shall be capable of being a justice of the peace in any county ... who shall not have an estate of freehold or copyhold to and for his own use ... of the clear yearly value of one hundred pounds’. A year later, he carried a motion ‘for altering the method of mending the high roads by six days’ labour into payment of sixpence in the pound rate’, arguing that poor labourers could not afford six days’ labour, while the rich inhabitants, who were the main users, paid nothing; but the bill which he introduced was lost on its third reading. In a debate on the excise bill in 1733 he gave ‘an account of the several acts of oppression which to his knowledge the officers of the excise had been guilty of in his neighbourhood in the country’.2 On the mutiny bill in February 1741 he spoke against the practice of forcing householders and innkeepers to maintain the soldiers quartered on them. In February 1744 he was to have led a rising of the Essex Jacobites planned to coincide with a French invasion which did not materialize.3 In this connexion he was described to the French Government as a ‘gentilhomme d’un grand crédit dans la province d’Essex où les troupes doivent débarquer’. In the spring of 1745 he assisted in the passing of an Act for the stricter enforcement of his own Act of 1732, concerning justices of the peace.4
Bramston did not stand again. The 2nd Lord Egmont included him among Members whom it would be essential to bring back into the House on the Prince of Wales’s accession. He died 14 Nov. 1765.
Ref Volumes: 1715-1754
Author: Eveline Cruickshanks
- 1. HMC Egmont Diary, i. 136; iii. 330, 337; Knatchbull Diary, 21 Jan. 11 Mar. 1729 App. pp. 128, 143.
- 2. HMC Egmont Diary, i. 223, 338; Pickering, Statutes, xvi. 292-3; CJ, xii. 11-12, 39, 81; Stuart mss box 1/125.
- 3. See under BARRY, James.
- 4. AEM & D Angl. 82, ff. 149-57; Add. 35337, f. 98; CJ, xxiv. 725, 732, 808, 826.