BURRELL, Merrick (1699-1787), of West Grinstead Park, Suss.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1754-1790, ed. L. Namier, J. Brooke., 1964
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1747 - 1754
1754 - 1768
11 May 1774 - 1780
1780 - 1784

Family and Education

b. 3 Apr. 1699, 4th s. of Peter Burrell of Beckenham, Kent; yr. bro. of Peter Burrell I. educ. Merchant Taylors’ 1713-14. unm. cr. Bt. 15 July 1766, with sp. rem. to his nephew Peter Burrell II.

Offices Held

Director, Bank of England 1742-56, dep. gov. 1756-8, gov. 1758-60, director 1760-4.


Burrell was a very considerable merchant, a financier much consulted by the Treasury, and a steady Government supporter. Together with Thomas Walpole and the two Fonnereaus he held since 1752 a victualling contract for Gibraltar. In 1754, he was put up by Pelham1 at Grampound on the interest of Lord Edgcumbe, who demanded £3,000 for the two seats. While the other candidate, Simon Fanshawe, had been promised ‘an easy election’, Burrell told John Roberts that he was willing ‘to pay £1500 without dispute’—‘but’, added Newcastle’s minute of 18 Mar.2, ‘on account of his late employment [i.e. his contract], he was not to boggle at £1800 or £2000.’ In the end £1600 was paid by him,3 £1000 by Fanshawe and the rest from secret service money.

In 1761, after Grampound had placed itself under Edward Eliot and William Trevanion, Burrell was re-elected, presumably paying to the new patrons £2000 (as was done by Fanshawe).4 In December 1762 he was marked by Fox as favourable to the peace preliminaries. Only once in all the years is he known to have voted against any Government: on 15 Feb. 1764 over general warrants. In the summer of 1765 Rockingham classed him as ‘doubtful’, but he must have supported the Rockingham Administration as his baronetcy, which appears in the warrant book under date of 26 June 1766,5 was clearly their creation. Next he followed Chatham; in all the managerial lists of 1767 he is classed as a Government supporter, voting with them even on the land tax. In the House he was an infrequent speaker, and even the few occasions when he may have spoken are difficult to fix, as ‘Mr. Burrell’ in Harris’s reports, 1761-5, may also denote his nephew Peter.

Merrick Burrell apparently did not stand for Parliament in 1768—possibly he felt too old at 69. Nevertheless he succeeded William Burrell in May 1774 on the family interest at Haslemere, where he was re-elected after a contest at the general election in October. When present, he again supported the Government; but over the contractors bill, 12 Feb. 1779, he is listed by Robinson as ‘pro, absent’; and similarly he was absent from four out of six important divisions, between 3 Mar. 1779 and 24 Apr. 1780. By September 1780 the control of Haslemere had passed to Sir James Lowther, but Burrell secured his return for Great Bedwyn on Lord Ailesbury’s interest. In the new Parliament he is not known ever to have voted, either before or after the fall of the North Administration: ‘attends but little’, Robinson wrote about Burrell in his electoral survey of August 1782;6 and in the list of March 1783 places him among those ‘ill or cannot attend’. In the list of 19 Mar. 1784, covering the preceding three months, Burrell again appears as ‘absent’. He did not stand in 1784. There is no certain record of his having spoken during his second term in the House.7 One may well wonder why he ever returned to it at the age of 75—presumably for the distinction conferred by its Membership.

The victualling contract for Gibraltar was renewed to Burrell and Fonnereau in 1763 and 1765,8 and was terminated in 1778.9 In the 1760s Burrell held at times considerable amounts of Government stock;10 but both as merchant and financier he was much less active after 1768.

He died 6 Apr. 1787.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: Sir Lewis Namier


  • 1. See Pelham’s ‘Election Papers. Persons to be provided for’, Add. 32995, f. 90; also f. 122.
  • 2. Ibid. f. 98.
  • 3. Ibid. f. 116.
  • 4. Add. 32917, f. 359.
  • 5. Cal. Home Office Pprs. 1766-9, p. 111.
  • 6. Laprade, 46.
  • 7. The only reference on 7 June 1781, Debrett, iii. 491, is to a ‘Mr. Burrell’, 15 years after he had been made a baronet; but as there was no other Burrell in Parliament at that date, a mistake in the names seems probable.
  • 8. T54/39/200-205; T29/37/25-26.
  • 9. T29/47/3.
  • 10. Bank of England recs.