BROMLEY, William (?1663-1732), of Baginton, Warws.
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Family and Education
b. ?1663, 1st s. of Sir William Bromley of Baginton by Ursula, da. of Thomas Leigh, M.P., 1st Baron Leigh, of Stoneleigh. educ. Ch. Ch. Oxf. 12 Apr. 1679, aged 15; M. Temple 1683. m. (1) Catherine, da. and coh. of Sir John Clobery of Westminster, 1s.;1 (2) lic. 12 Jan. 1698, Elizabeth, da. of Ralph Stawell, M.P., 1st Baron Stawell, of Somerton, Som., 2s. 2da.
Speaker of the House of Commons 1710-13; sec. of state 1713-14.
At George I’s accession Bromley lost his post of secretary of state, declining an offer of a tellership of the Exchequer unless he could have it for life; ‘but others assigned another reason, apprehension of losing his seat at Oxford if he accepted a place at court’. He opposed the Address on 23 Mar. 1715, asked for particulars of royal expenses in the debate on the civil list on 13 May, and defended Harley, Lord Oxford, against the charge of high treason on 7 July. In April 1716 he was one of the principal Tory speakers against the septennial bill. He collected money for the plot to restore the Stuarts with the help of Sweden (see Caesar, Charles), for which the Pretender was advised to write him a letter of thanks, opposed the vote of credit for measures against the threat from Sweden in April 1717; and in December that year supported a motion to reduce the army.2
In February 1718 Bromley fell dangerously ill but, attended by Dr. John Freind, recovered by the summer of 1719. In December 1719 it was reported that Lord Harcourt, a Tory who had gone over to the Government, had ‘assurance of being employed if he could prevail with any number of Tories to come in with him. ... He was very early at Mr Bromley’s lodgings and called there several times, but the other would never be seen’. In December 1720 he opposed the Address and spoke against the army. Next summer, when Sunderland was making overtures to the Tories, Bromley told Lord Oxford:
I had a great deal at second hand of the project then pretended to be carrying on, but wanting faith, I absolutely declined the opportunities offered and pressed upon me of receiving all possible assurances. ... Promises were made to me so extravagantly large, that it was affronting me to imagine I could think them sincere, and be imposed upon by them.3
In the winter Bromley tried to regroup the dissidents in the party, including Sir William Wyndham, under Oxford, but the attempt came to nothing. After the discovery of the Atterbury plot, he opposed the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act in October 1722. On 11 Mar. 1723 he declared there was no cause to proceed against Atterbury for high treason, two days later opposing the imprisonment of Dr. Freind on the same charge. He spoke against the army in January 1724, moved, on 23 Jan. 1727, for papers relating to the treaty of Hanover, and on 5 Feb. 1729 supported a motion for an address asking what demands had been made on our allies under that treaty. In February 1730 when Pulteney demanded that the originals of papers relating to Denmark be produced,
Mr. Bromley then said he had once the honour to be secretary of state, and it was certainly true that secretaries of state do take such papers away with them as the King does not think fit to give a discharge for, though he did not himself stand upon it when he went out of office, but surrendered them all. He did not believe gentlemen would insist upon having the originals of those papers from which extracts were only taken.
In February 1732 Hearne, the antiquary, records
a warm debate in the Parliament House ... about a standing army where the Rt. Hon. Mr. Bromley, one of the burgesses for the University of Oxford, was present, but went ill out of the House, and died two or three days after [13 Feb.], which is a great loss he being an honest man, and he is reckoned by some to have died a martyr in the service of our university.4
Ref Volumes: 1715-1754
Author: Eveline Cruickshanks
- 1. Vivian, Vis. Devon, 201.
- 2. Pol. State viii. 330-1; Sir Geo. Beaumont to Sir Thos. Cave, Oct. 1714, Braye mss, City of Leicester Mus. 23D57/2890; HMC Portland, v. 522; HMC Stuart, ii. 464; iv. 453, 482; v. 301.
- 3. HMC Portland, v. 557, 625; vii. 235, 258, 266.
- 4. Ibid. vii. 309; Knatchbull Diary; HMC Egmont Diary, i. 54; iii. 345; Hearne, Colls. (Oxf. Hist. Soc.), xi. 32-33.