John Birch (died 1735)

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John Birch (c. 1666–1735) of Garnstone manor, Herefordshire, was an English lawyer and Whig politician who sat in the English and British House of Commons between 1701 and 1735.

House of Commons of Great Britain historic British lower house of Parliament

The House of Commons of Great Britain was the lower house of the Parliament of Great Britain between 1707 and 1801. In 1707, as a result of the Acts of Union of that year, it replaced the House of Commons of England and the third estate of the Parliament of Scotland, as one of the most significant changes brought about by the Union of the kingdoms of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain.

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Early life and family

Birch was the second son. of Rev. Thomas Birch, rector of Hampton Bishop, Herefordshire and his wife Mary. He was admitted at Gray’s Inn in 1682, at Middle Temple in 1687 and called to the bar in 1687. His uncle Colonel John Birch, MP died in May 1691, leaving his property of Garnstone to his youngest daughter Sarah provided she married Birch, which she did a short time later. She died in 1702, leaving Birch in possession of the estate of Garnstone, which was a mile from Weobley. He married secondly Letitia Hampden, daughter of John Hampden, MP of Great Hampden, Buckinghamshire on 26 January 1704. [1]

Hampton Bishop village in United Kingdom

Hampton Bishop is a village and civil parish south-east of Hereford, in Herefordshire, England. The population of the civil parish at the 2011 Census was 505. The village itself is on a wedge between the River Wye and the River Lugg, not far from where the River Frome meets the Lugg.

Middle Temple one of the four Inns of Court in London, England

The Honourable Society of the Middle Temple, commonly known simply as Middle Temple, is one of the four Inns of Court exclusively entitled to call their members to the English Bar as barristers, the others being the Inner Temple, Gray's Inn and Lincoln's Inn. It is located in the wider Temple area of London, near the Royal Courts of Justice, and within the City of London.

John Birch (soldier) British politician

Colonel John Birch was an English politician who sat in the House of Commons at various times between 1646 and 1691. He fought for the Parliamentary cause in the English civil war.

Career

Birch first stood for Parliament at Weobley at the by-election in 1691 on the death of his uncle who was former MP, but lost out in a double return. He was appointed Attorney-general of Brecknock, Glamorgan and Radnor in 1695. He stood again at the 1698 general election, and again lost out in a double return. However at the first general election of 1701 he was returned successfully as Member of Parliament for Weobley. He was returned at the second general election of the year but was defeated at the 1702 general election. In 1705 he was appointed serjeant-at-law and at the 1705 general election was returned again as MP for Weobley. He was returned again in 1708 and in 1710 as a Whig. In 1712 he was promoted to Queen's Serjeant. He was returned unopposed again at the 1713 general election. [1]

Weobley was a parliamentary borough in Herefordshire, which elected two Members of Parliament (MPs) to the House of Commons in 1295 and from 1628 until 1832, when the borough was abolished by the Great Reform Act.

Serjeant-at-law Member of an order of barristers at the English bar

A Serjeant-at-Law (SL), commonly known simply as a Serjeant, was a member of an order of barristers at the English and Irish bar. The position of Serjeant-at-Law, or Sergeant-Counter, was centuries old; there are writs dating to 1300 which identify them as descended from figures in France before the Norman Conquest. The Serjeants were the oldest formally created order in England, having been brought into existence as a body by Henry II. The order rose during the 16th century as a small, elite group of lawyers who took much of the work in the central common law courts. With the creation of Queen's Counsel during the reign of Elizabeth I, the order gradually began to decline, with each monarch opting to create more King's or Queen's Counsel. The Serjeants' exclusive jurisdictions were ended during the 19th century and, with the Judicature Act 1873 coming into force in 1875, it was felt that there was no need to have such figures, and no more were created. The last appointed was Nathaniel Lindley, later a Law Lord, who retired in 1905 and died in 1921. The number of Irish Serjeants-at-law was limited to three. The last appointment was A. M. Sullivan in 1912; after his 1921 relocation to the English bar he remained "Serjeant Sullivan" as a courtesy title.

1705 English general election

The 1705 English general election saw contests in 110 constituencies in England and Wales, roughly 41% of the total. The election was fiercely fought, with mob violence and cries of "Church in Danger" occurring in several boroughs. During the previous session of Parliament the Tories had become increasingly unpopular, and their position was therefore somewhat weakened by the election, particularly by the Tackers controversy. Due to the uncertain loyalty of a group of 'moderate' Tories led by Robert Harley, the parties were roughly balanced in the House of Commons following the election, encouraging the Whigs to demand a greater share in the government led by Marlborough

At the 1715 general election Birch was defeated at Weobley, but was seated on petition on 18 June 1715. In January 1716 he was named as added to a secret committee appointed to prepare the impeachment of Jacobite rebel lords. In June 1716 was appointed Commissioner for forfeited estates. with a tax free salary of £1,000 per annum. He was re-elected as MP for Weobley in 1722 and 1727. In 1728 he was appointed cursitor baron of the Exchequer.

1715 British general election

The 1715 British general election returned members to serve in the House of Commons of the 5th Parliament of Great Britain to be held, after the merger of the Parliament of England and the Parliament of Scotland in 1707. In October 1714, soon after George I had arrived in London after ascending to the throne, he dismissed the Tory cabinet and replaced it with one almost entirely composed of Whigs, as they were responsible for securing his succession. The election of 1715 saw the Whigs win an overwhelming majority in the House of Commons, and afterwards virtually all Tories in central or local government were purged, leading to a period of Whig ascendancy lasting almost fifty years during which Tories were almost entirely excluded from office.

1722 British general election

The 1722 British general election elected members to serve in the House of Commons of the 6th Parliament of Great Britain. This was the fifth such election since the merger of the Parliament of England and the Parliament of Scotland in 1707. Thanks to the Septennial Act of 1715, which swept away the maximum three-year life of a parliament created by the Meeting of Parliament Act 1694, it followed some seven years after the previous election, that of 1715.

1727 British general election

The 1727 British general election returned members to serve in the House of Commons of the 7th Parliament of Great Britain to be summoned, after the merger of the Parliament of England and the Parliament of Scotland in 1707. The election was triggered by the death of King George I; at the time, it was the convention to hold new elections following the succession of a new monarch. The Tories, led in the House of Commons by William Wyndham, and under the direction of Bolingbroke, who had returned to the country in 1723 after being pardoned for his role in the Jacobite rising of 1715, lost further ground to the Whigs, rendering them ineffectual and largely irrelevant to practical politics. A group known as the Patriot Whigs, led by William Pulteney, who were disenchanted with Walpole's government and believed he was betraying Whig principles, had been formed prior to the election. Bolingbroke and Pulteney had not expected the next election to occur until 1729, and were consequently caught unprepared and failed to make any gains against the government party.

In 1731 Birch was exposed as being involved in a financial scandal. While on the Commission for forfeited lands, he had colluded with Denis Bond in the fraudulent sale of lands forfeited by the 3rd Earl of Derwentwater. They also acquired an annuity for the life of the real heir of the estate who was under age and expected to survive a full lifetime. When this heir died aged 18, the whole swindle came to light. A parliamentary inquiry was instituted by Lord Gage and as a result the sales were annulled. Bond and Birch were expelled from the House of Commons on 30 March 1732. At the ensuing by-election Birch stood but was defeated. He was elected at the 1734 general election, but the result was in dispute and this was not resolved until 1737, two years after his death. [2]

Denis Bond (1676–1747), of Creech Grange, Dorset, was English lawyer and Whig politician who sat in the House of Commons between 1709 and 1732, when he was expelled for financial misconduct.

James Radclyffe, 3rd Earl of Derwentwater English noble

James Radclyffe, 3rd Earl of Derwentwater was an English Jacobite, executed for treason.

Thomas Gage, 1st Viscount Gage member of the British Parliament representing Tewkesbury 1721 to 1754

Thomas Gage, 1st Viscount Gage of High Meadow, Gloucestershire and later Firle Place, Sussex, was a British landowner and politician who sat in the House of Commons for 33 years between 1717 and 1754.

Death and legacy

Birch died without issue by either wife on 6 October 1735.

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References

  1. 1 2 Hayton, D. W. (2002). "Birch, John II (c.1666–1735), of Garnstone Manor, Weobley, Herefs". In Hayton, David; Cruickshanks, Eveline; Handley, Stuart (eds.). The House of Commons 1690-1715. The History of Parliament Trust.
  2. Sedgwick, Romney R. (1970). "Birch, John (c.1666–1735), of Garnstone Manor, Weobley, Herefs". In Sedgwick, Romney (ed.). The House of Commons 1715-1754. The History of Parliament Trust.
Parliament of England
Preceded by
Thomas Foley
Robert Price
Member of Parliament for Weobley
British general election, 1701–1702 1702
With: Henry Cornewall 1701
Robert Price 1701-1702
Succeeded by
Robert Price
Henry Cornewall
Preceded by
Robert Price
Henry Cornewall
Member of Parliament for Weobley
17051708
With: Henry Cornewall
Succeeded by
Parliament of Great Britain
Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
Parliament of England
Member of Parliament for Weobley
1708– 1715
With: Henry Thynne 1708
Henry Gorges 1708-1710
Henry Cornewall 1710-1713
Uvedale Tomkins Price 1713-1715
Succeeded by
Paul Foley
Vice-Admiral Charles Cornewall
Preceded by
Paul Foley
Vice-Admiral Charles Cornewall
Member of Parliament for Weobley
1715–1732
With: Vice-Admiral Charles Cornewall 1715-1718
Nicholas Philpott 1718-1727
Uvedale Tomkins Price 1727-1732
Succeeded by
James Cornewall
Uvedale Tomkins Price
Preceded by
James Cornewall
Uvedale Tomkins Price
Member of Parliament for Weobley
1734–1735
With: Sir John Buckworth, Bt
Succeeded by
James Cornewall
Sir John Buckworth, Bt