Maurice Ashley (MP)

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The Honourable Maurice Ashley (14 April 1675 – 21 October 1726), of Bedford Row, Westminster, was an English Whig politician who sat in the English and British House of Commons between 1695 and 1713.

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.

Contents

Family

Ashley was born in 1675, the third son of Lord Ashley, MP, who succeeded as Earl of Shaftesbury in 1683. Maurice Ashley attended Winchester College from circa 1682 to 1689 but after seven years had little to show for his time there. His brother suggested he should spend some time at Utrecht under the guidance of a private tutor which did effect some improvement. [1]

Anthony Ashley-Cooper, 2nd Earl of Shaftesbury English politician and Earl

Anthony Ashley-Cooper, 2nd Earl of Shaftesbury Bt, known as Lord Ashley from 1672 to 1683, was an English peer and Member of Parliament.

Earl of Shaftesbury

Earl of Shaftesbury is a title in the Peerage of England. It was created in 1672 for Anthony Ashley-Cooper, 1st Baron Ashley, a prominent politician in the Cabal then dominating the policies of King Charles II. He had already succeeded his father as second Baronet of Rockbourne in 1631 and been created Baron Ashley, of Wimborne St Giles in the County of Dorset, in 1661, and he was made Baron Cooper, of Paulett in the County of Somerset, at the same time he was given the earldom.

Winchester College school in Winchester, Hampshire, England

Winchester College is an independent boarding school for boys in the British public school tradition, situated in Winchester, Hampshire. It has existed in its present location for over 600 years. It is the oldest of the original seven English public schools defined by the Clarendon Commission and regulated by the Public Schools Act 1868.

Political career

Although still a minor, Ashley was returned unopposed as Member of Parliament for Weymouth and Melcombe Regis on his father’s interest at the 1695 general election. He did not seek re-election at the 1698 English general election. [2] After his father's death, his brother the 3rd Earl of Shaftesbury settled on him an estate of £1,000 a year. [1]

In law, a minor is a person under a certain age, usually the age of majority, which legally demarcates childhood from adulthood. The age of majority depends upon jurisdiction and application, but it is generally 18. Minor may also be used in contexts that are unconnected to the overall age of majority. For example, the drinking age in the United States is usually 21, and younger people are sometimes called minors in the context of alcohol law, even if they are at least 18. The term underage often refers to those under the age of majority, but it may also refer to persons under a certain age limit, such as the drinking age, smoking age, age of consent, marriageable age, driving age, voting age, etc. Such age limits are often different from the age of majority

Weymouth and Melcombe Regis was a parliamentary borough in Dorset represented in the English House of Commons, later in that of Great Britain, and finally in the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It was formed by an Act of Parliament of 1570 which amalgamated the existing boroughs of Weymouth and Melcombe Regis. Until 1832, the combined borough continued to elect the four Members of Parliament (MPs) to which its constituent parts had previously been entitled; the Great Reform Act reduced its representation to two Members, and the constituency was abolished altogether in 1885, becoming part of the new South Dorset constituency.

The 1695 English general election was the first to be held under the terms of the Triennial Act of 1694, which required parliament to be dissolved and fresh elections called at least every three years. This measure helped to fuel partisan rivalry over the coming decades, with the electorate in a constant state of excitement and the Whigs and Tories continually trying to gain the upper hand. Despite the potential for manipulation of the electorate, as was seen under Robert Walpole and his successors, with general elections held an average of every other year, and local and central government positions frequently changing hands between parties, it was impossible for any party or government to be certain of electoral success in the period after 1694, and election results were consequently genuinely representative of the views of at least the section of the population able to vote.

Ashley was returned again as MP for Weymouth for Melcombe Regis, at the January 1701 general election. The next election took place later that year in November/December, when he was elected for two seats, Weymouth and Melcombe Regis and Wiltshire. On 20 January 1702 he chose to sit for Wiltshire, but a few months later was defeated at the 1702 English general election. Ashley and his brother were on bad terms by this time, mainly on account of Ashley's election expenses. [3]

Wiltshire was a constituency of the House of Commons of England from 1290 to 1707, of the House of Commons of Great Britain from 1707 to 1800 and of the House of Commons of the United Kingdom from 1801 to 1832. It was represented by two Members of Parliament (MPs), elected by the bloc vote system.

The 1702 English general election was the first to be held during the reign of Queen Anne, and was necessitated by the demise of William III. The new government dominated by the Tories gained ground in the election, with the Tory party winning a substantial majority over the Whigs, owing to the popularity of the new monarch and a burst of patriotism following the coronation. Despite this, the government found the new Parliament difficult to manage, as its leading figures Godolphin and Marlborough were not sympathetic to the more extreme Tories. Contests occurred in 89 constituencies in England and Wales.

At the 1705 English general election Ashley was returned successfully as a Whig MP for Weymouth and Melcombe Regis. He voted for the Court candidate as Speaker on 25 October 1705 but was otherwise an inactive Member. Ashley and his brother continued on bad terms, particularly as Ashley's hot temperament, was becoming an embarrassment and a threat to Shaftesbury's political aspirations. He was re-elected as a Whig at the 1708 British general election and supported the naturalization of the Palatines in 1709 and voted for the impeachment of Dr Sacheverell in 1710. He was returned again at the 1710 British general election . and voted for the motion of ‘No Peace without Spain’ on 7 December 1711 and against the French commerce bill on 18 June 1713. He stood down at the 1713 British general election. [2]

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

1708 British general election

The 1708 British general election was the first general election to be held after the Acts of Union had united the Parliaments of England and Scotland.

1710 British general election

The 1710 British general election produced a landslide victory for the Tories in the wake of the prosecution of Henry Sacheverell and the collapse of the previous Whig government led by Godolphin and the Whig Junto. In November 1709 the clergyman Henry Sacheverell had delivered a sermon fiercely criticising the government's policy of toleration for Protestant dissenters and attacking the personal conduct of the ministers. The government had Sacherevell impeached, and he was narrowly found guilty but received only a light sentence, making the government appear weak and vindictive; the trial enraged a large section of the population, and riots in London led to attacks on dissenting places of worship and cries of "Church in Danger".

Ashley married Catherine Popple, daughter of the merchant William Popple in 1709. She died without issue in 1721. He died in 1726 and was buried at Purton, Wiltshire. [1]

William Popple (1638–1708) was an English Unitarian merchant, the translator of John Locke's A Letter Concerning Toleration.

Purton village in Wiltshire, United Kingdom

Purton is a large village and civil parish in Wiltshire, England, about 4 miles (6 km) northwest of the centre of Swindon. The parish includes the village of Purton Stoke and the hamlets of Bentham, Hayes Knoll, Purton Common, Restrop, the Fox and Widham. The River Key, a tributary of the Thames, crosses the parish near Purton Stoke.

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References

  1. 1 2 3 "ASHLEY, Hon. Maurice (c.1675-1726), of Bedford Row, Westminster". History of Parliament Online. Retrieved 16 September 2016.
  2. 1 2 "Weymouth and Melcombe Regis, 1690 - 1715". The History of Parliament . Retrieved 16 September 2016.
  3. "Wiltshire, 1690 - 1715". The History of Parliament . Retrieved 16 September 2016.
Parliament of England
Preceded by
Sir John Morton, Bt
Michael Harvey
Thomas Freke
Henry Henning
Member of Parliament for Weymouth and Melcombe Regis
16951698
With: Michael Harvey
Thomas Freke
John Knight (1695–98)
Philip Taylor (1698)
Succeeded by
Philip Taylor
Arthur Shallett
Michael Harvey
Thomas Freke
Preceded by
Philip Taylor
Arthur Shallett
Michael Harvey
Thomas Freke
Member of Parliament for Weymouth and Melcombe Regis
17011702
With: The Hon. Henry Thynne (1701)
Michael Harvey (1701)
Charles Churchill
George St Lo (1701–02)
Sir Christopher Wren (1701–02)
Succeeded by
Charles Churchill
George St Lo
Sir Christopher Wren
Anthony Henley
Preceded by
Sir George Hungerford
Richard Grobham Howe
Member of Parliament for Wiltshire
17011702
With: William Ashe
Succeeded by
Richard Grobham Howe
Robert Hyde
Preceded by
The Hon. Henry Thynne
Anthony Henley
Charles Churchill
George St Lo
Member of Parliament for Weymouth and Melcombe Regis
17051707
With: Charles Churchill
Anthony Henley
The Hon. Henry Thynne
Succeeded by
Parliament of Great Britain
Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
Parliament of England
Member of Parliament for Weymouth and Melcombe Regis
17071713
With: Charles Churchill (1707–10)
Anthony Henley (1707–11)
The Hon. Henry Thynne (1707–08)
Edward Clavell (1709–10)
William Betts (1710–11)
James Littleton (1710–11)
Sir Thomas Hardy (1711–13)
William Harvey (1711–13)
Reginald Marriott (1711–13)
Succeeded by
John Baker
James Littleton
Daniel Harvey
William Betts