Thomas Strangways (1643–1713) of Melbury House in Melbury Sampford near Evershot, Dorsetwas an English landowner and Tory politician who sat in the English and British House of Commons between 1673 and 1713. As a militia colonel he was active in opposing the Monmouth rebellion. For his last nine years in Parliament, he was the longest sitting member of the House of Commons (Father of the House).
Strangways was born in 1643, the fourth but second surviving son of Giles Strangways (1615-1675), MP of Melbury Sampford and his wife Susanna Edwards, daughter of Thomas Edwards, Mercer, of London and Fair Crouch, Wadhurst, Dorset. He matriculated at Wadham College, Oxford on 6 June 1660.He was Captain of the Dorset foot militia by 1671 and became colonel in 1675. On 19 January 1675 he married Susan Ridout, daughter and heiress of John Ridout of Frome, Somerset. He succeeded his brother John in 1676, inheriting the Melbury Sampford estate, where he extended Melbury House.
Strangways’ father obtained the reversion of the post of Clerk of the Pells, an Exchequer sinecure for him in 1673 and nominated him as Country party candidate at by-elections for Weymouth and Melcombe Regis on 31 January 1673 and for Poole on 3 February 1673. Strangways was defeated in both by-elections, but was returned as Member of Parliament for Poole at another by-election on 3 March 1673 through an electoral bargain with Lord Chancellor Shaftesbury. At the 1679 general elections, he was returned as MP for Dorset his family's pocket borough and was also successful in returning supporters at four other Dorset constituencies. He was returned again at the general elections in 1681 and 1685.
After the Duke of Monmouth landed at Lyme, Strangways' militia regiment was engaged by the rebels at Bridport and his brother, Wadham Strangways, was killed in the skirmish. His regiment rendered useful service during the rebellion, but King James was unwilling to reward him with the Clerkship of the Pells for the support, which made him uneasy. His concerns increased in the light of the King's religious policy and from his responses to the repeal of the Test Act and Penal Laws, he lost his local offices, and King James agents were seeking to replace him in Parliament. Nevertheless he was slow to take sides with William of Orange until the Prince arrived in the country when he was one of the Dorset leaders to welcome him. He was returned to the Convention at the 1689 English general election and served on the elections committee.
Strangways was a leader of the Tories in Dorset, and was returned unopposed at the 1690 English general election. Though generally acting with the Country party, he was sometimes seen as a Court Tory. He took several leaves of absence during the Parliament. Returned again at the 1695 English general election, he refused to sign the Association in February 1696 and voted against fixing the price of guineas at 22s in March. He voted against the attainder of Sir John Fenwick on 25 November 1696. In 1698 he tried to claim the post of Clerk of the Pells for which his father had purchased the reversion, but was unsuccessful. He was returned as a Tory at the 1698 English general election and was expected to oppose the standing army in October. He was returned again at the two general elections in 1701 and was blacklisted for opposing preparations for war with France. On 26 February 1702 he supported the motion to vindicate the Commons’ proceedings in impeaching William III’s ministers in the previous session.
Strangways was returned again at the 1702 English general election and voted on 13 February 1703 against the Lords’ amendments to the bill regarding the time to take the oath of abjuration. He also voted for the tack on 28 November 1704, in spite of lobbying by Robert Harley. He was returned at the 1705 English general election and voted against the Court candidate for Speaker on 25 October 1705. He seconded a motion to make further provision for the Duke of Marlborough, and was appointed to the committee to bring in a bill for settling on the Duke a pension of £5,000 p.a.
For his last nine in Parliament, Strangways was the Father of the House being the longest serving member. At the 1708 British general election, he was returned as a Tory and voted against the impeachment of Dr Sacheverell in 1710. After the 1710 British general election, he was classed as a Hanoverian Tory and was a member of the October Club. He was one of the ‘worthy patriots’ who detected the mismanagements of the previous administration. He obtained leave of absence on the grounds of ill-health on 8 April 1712 and stood down at the 1713 British general election in favour of his son Thomas.
Strangways died on 21 December 1713. By his wife Susan, he had five sons (three of whom predeceased him) and four daughters. His children included:
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Melbury House in the parish of Melbury Sampford near Evershot, Dorset, has been the seat of the Strangways family of Dorset since the estate was acquired in 1500 from William Browning by Sir Henry Strangways (c.1465-1504) who had married his widow. The mediaeval manor house of the Browning family was rebuilt after 1546 by Henry's great-grandson Sir Giles Strangways (1528-1562) using ham stone from a quarry nine miles away. Though Sir Giles lived extravagantly and encumbered his considerable estate with debts at his premature death, at Melbury he built a conservative house, "a courtyard with no frills", as Mark Girouard described it, "apart from the one gesture of its tower". This remarkable feature, a hexagonal tower, rises near the intersection of three ranges of buildings, filled above the level of adjoining roofbeams with banks of tall arched windows of many leaded panes that offer views in every direction over the rolling landscape of the park and the countryside beyond. Its roof has mock battlements.
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|Parliament of England|
(Sir) John Morton
| Member of Parliament for Poole |
With: (Sir) John Morton
| Member of Parliament for Dorset |
With: Thomas Freke 1679-1701
Thomas Trenchard 1701-1702
Thomas Chafin 1702-1707
Parliament of Great Britain
Sir Christopher Musgrave, 4th Baronet
| Father of the House |
Final Father of the House of the Parliament of England
|Parliament of Great Britain|
Parliament of England
| Member of Parliament for Dorset |
With: Thomas Chafin 1707-1711
Richard Bingham 1711-1713
Thomas Strangways II
First Father of the House of the Parliament of Great Britain
| Father of the House |
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