Thomas Willoughby, 1st Baron Middleton

Last updated

Thomas Willoughby, 1st Baron Middleton (9 April 1672 – 2 April 1729), was a Tory politician who sat in the English and British House of Commons between 1698 and 1711 when he was raised to the peerage as Baron Middleton.

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.

Baron Middleton title in the peerage of England since 1711, held by the Willoughby family

Baron Middleton, of Middleton in the County of Warwick, is a title in the Peerage of Great Britain. It was created in 1711 for Sir Thomas Willoughby, 2nd Baronet, who had previously represented Nottinghamshire and Newark in Parliament. The Willoughby Baronetcy, of Wollaton in the County of Nottingham, had been created in the Baronetage of England in 1677, for his elder brother Francis Willoughby, with special remainder to the latter's only brother Thomas, who succeeded him in 1688. Lord Middleton was succeeded by his eldest son, the second Baron. He sat as Member of Parliament for Nottinghamshire and Tamworth. On the death of his younger son, the fourth Baron, the line of the eldest son of the first Baron failed. He was succeeded by his cousin Henry Middleton, the fifth Baron. He was the son of the Hon. Thomas Willoughby, second son of the first Baron. On the death of his son, the sixth Baron, this line of the family also failed.


Early life

Old part of Mirrleton Hall Middleton Hall 04.jpg
Old part of Mirrleton Hall

Willoughby was born at Middleton Hall, Middleton, Warwickshire, the second son of Francis Willughby and his wife Emma Barnard, daughter of Sir Henry Barnard, merchant, of London and Bridgnorth, Shropshire. His father, who preferred to use this aberrant spelling of the family name, was a mathematician and naturalist but died shortly after his son's birth. [1]

Middleton Hall, Warwickshire

Middleton Hall is a Grade II* listed building dating back to medieval times. It is situated in the North Warwickshire district of the county of Warwickshire in England, south of Fazeley and Tamworth and on the opposite side of the A4091 road to Middleton village.

Middleton, Warwickshire village in the United Kingdom

Middleton is a small village in the North Warwickshire district of the county of Warwickshire, England. The population of the civil parish at the 2011 census was 630. At the time of the Domesday Book Middleton was under a Norman Overlord Hugh de Grandmesnil who had several holdings in Warwickshire. When he died it passed to the Marmions of Tamworth. In 1291 the estate was divided into three and Middleton was held by the de Frevilles. In the mid 15th century Sir Richard Bingham married Margaret Freville of Nottinghamshire. There is a brass memorial to Sir Richard in the Parish Church. When Margaret died in 1493 she left the estate to her grandson Sir Henry Willughby.

Francis Willughby English ornithologist and ichthyologist

Francis Willughby FRS was an English ornithologist and ichthyologist, and an early student of linguistics and games. He was born and raised at Middleton Hall, Warwickshire, the only son of an affluent country family. He was a student at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he was tutored by the mathematician and naturalist John Ray, who became a lifetime friend and colleague, and lived with Willughby after 1662 when he lost his livelihood through his refusal to sign the Act of Uniformity. Willughby was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1661, then aged 27.

In August 1676, Willoughby's mother married Sir Josiah Child, 1st Baronet, MP, and the family moved to Wanstead in Essex. His elder brother, Francis, decided Willoughby should go to Cambridge and he was admitted at St Catharine's College, Cambridge on 10 July 1683. He subsequently transferred to Jesus College, Cambridge on 4 May 1685, [2] where he was under the tutorship of Dr Man. In 1688 on the early death of his brother, Francis, he succeeded to the baronetcy, and inherited the estates at Middleton, Warwickshire and at Wollaton Hall, Nottinghamshire. [3]

Josiah Child English merchant and politician

Sir Josiah Child, 1st Baronet,, was an English merchant and politician. He was an economist proponent of mercantilism and governor of the East India Company.

St Catharines College, Cambridge college of the University of Cambridge

St Catharine's College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge. Founded in 1473 as Katharine Hall, it adopted its current name in 1860. The college is nicknamed "Catz". The college is located in the historic city-centre of Cambridge, and lies just south of King's College and across the street from Corpus Christi College. The college is notable for its open court that faces towards Trumpington Street.

Jesus College, Cambridge constituent college of the University of Cambridge, England

Jesus College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge, England. The college's full name is The College of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Saint John the Evangelist and the glorious Virgin Saint Radegund, near Cambridge. Its common name comes from the name of its chapel, Jesus Chapel.

Willoughby was living in London in the winter of 1688 to 1689, where he contracted smallpox. On recovery, he decided to live at Wollaton Hall and continued there his studies under Dr Man. He was added to the Nottinghamshire commission of the peace in April 1689. In 1690 the Earl of Danby, warden of Sherwood Forest, appointed him to the post of Chief forester and keeper of the walk of Langton Arbor, Sherwood Forest. [1] On 9 April 1691, he married Elizabeth Rothwell, daughter of Sir Richard Rothwell, 1st Baronet. [3] In 1692 he became Deputy Lieutenant of Nottinghamshire. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society on 30 November 1693. [4]

Wollaton Hall historic house museum in Nottingham, England

Wollaton Hall is an Elizabethan country house of the 1580s standing on a small but prominent hill in Wollaton Park, Nottingham, England. The house is now Nottingham Natural History Museum, with Nottingham Industrial Museum in the outbuildings. The surrounding parkland has a herd of deer, and is regularly used for large-scale outdoor events such as rock concerts, sporting events and festivals.

Peregrine Osborne, 2nd Duke of Leeds Royal Navy admiral

Vice-Admiral Peregrine Osborne, 2nd Duke of Leeds, styled Viscount Osborne between 1673 and 1689, Earl of Danby between 1689 and 1694 and Marquess of Carmarthen between 1694 and 1712, was an English Tory politician.

Sherwood Forest Royal forest in Nottinghamshire, England

Sherwood Forest is a royal forest in Nottinghamshire, England, famous by its historic association with the legend of Robin Hood.


Wollaton Hall A view of Wollaton Hall west front, Nottingham, England 01.jpg
Wollaton Hall

Willoughby became a person of great influence, and in 1695 was High Sheriff of Nottinghamshire. At the 1698 English general election, he stood with Gervase Eyre at Nottinghamshire to turn out the sitting members, and was returned as Member of Parliament by a large margin. He extended his influence to Lincolnshire in 1699 when he was High Sheriff of Lincolnshire and appointed Deputy Lieutenant. He was returned again for Nottinghamshire at the two general elections of 1701. At the 1702 English general election he refused to stand for parliament, but received several hundred votes nevertheless. He was returned unopposed as Tory MP for Nottinghamshire at the 1705 English general election through an electoral pact with the Whig John Thornhagh. He was absent from the vote on the new speaker, and hardly left his mark in the Parliament, although he was named to draft a bill concerning the Trent navigation on 20 November 1705. He had been petitioning Queen Anne for the title of High steward, and the profits of, the honor of Peveril, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire which included valuable coal mines and stone quarries, and eventually in 1706, he was awarded the title, but not the profits. The electoral pact held and he was returned again unopposed at the 1708 British general election. For much of the parliament, both MPs were caught up in a dispute with the Duke of Newcastle over depredations of royal deer in Sherwood Forest. [1]

The High Sheriff is the oldest secular office under the Crown. Formerly the High Sheriff was the principal law enforcement officer in the county but over the centuries most of the responsibilities associated with the post have been transferred elsewhere or are now defunct, so that its functions are now largely ceremonial. The High Sheriff changes every March.

After the conclusion of the 1698 English general election the government led by the Whig Junto believed it had held its ground against the opposition. Over the previous few years, divisions had emerged within the Whig party between the 'court' supporters of the junto and the 'country' faction, who disliked the royal prerogative, were concerned about governmental corruption, and opposed a standing army. Some contests were therefore between candidates representing 'court' and 'country', rather than Whig and Tory. The Whigs made gains in the counties and in small boroughs, but not in the larger urban constituencies.

Gervase Eyre was an English MP for Nottinghamshire.

At the 1710 British general election, Willoughby virtually handed over his seat at Nottinghamshire to William Levinz, and was returned as Tory MP for Newark. He was listed as a ‘worthy patriot’ who had detected the mismanagements of the previous ministry. He was not listed as a member of the October Club, but eventually became a member of the drinking club ‘Board of Brothers’. In 1711, when the post of Warden of Sherwood Forest became vacant, Willoughby applied to Robert Harley, but Harley took the post for himself. However Harley raised Willoughby to the Peerage as Baron Middleton in on 1 January 1712 to increase Tory support in the House of Lords, and WIlloughby and vacated his seat in the House of Commons. [1]

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".

William Levinz of Grove Hall and Bilby, Nottinghamshire was a British lawyer and Tory politician who sat in the English and British House of Commons between 1702 and 1734. He fought a duel with an opposing Whig agent.

Newark (UK Parliament constituency) Parliamentary constituency in the United Kingdom, 1885 onwards

Newark is a constituency in Nottinghamshire, England. It is currently represented by Robert Jenrick of the Conservative Party who won the seat in a by-election on 5 June 2014, following the resignation of Patrick Mercer in April 2014.

Middleton continued to be at the centre of Tory politics in Nottinghamshire and was an effective political agent. He supported the election of his eldest son in 1713. In 1714, he was appointed High Steward of the Royal Town of Sutton Coldfield. In 1728 he was listed as one of the subscribers to the Cyclopaedia of Ephraim Chambers. [5]

Death and legacy

Middleton died on 7 April 1729 and was buried at Middleton. [3] He left two sons: [6]

His widow died in 1736.

Related Research Articles

Sir Gilbert Heathcote, 1st Baronet was a British merchant and Whig politician who sat in the English and British House of Commons between 1701 and 1733. He was a Governor of the Bank of England and was Lord Mayor of London in 1711.

Sir Charles Hilton Seely, 2nd Baronet, VD, KGStJ was a British industrialist, landowner and Liberal Unionist politician who served as Member of Parliament (MP) for Lincoln from 1895 to 1906 and for Mansfield from 1916 to 1918. He was a Justice of the Peace for Hampshire and Nottinghamshire and the Deputy Lieutenant for Nottinghamshire. He was also a Knight of Grace of the Order of St John.

Henry Hyde, 4th Earl of Clarendon and 2nd Earl of Rochester, PC, styled Lord Hyde from 1682 to 1711, was an English Army officer and Tory politician who sat in the English and British House of Commons from 1692 until 1711 when he succeeded to the peerage as Earl of Rochester.

Francis Godolphin, 2nd Earl of Godolphin British politician

Francis Godolphin, 2nd Earl of Godolphin,, styled Viscount Rialton from 1706 to 1712, was an English courtier and politician who sat in the English and British House of Commons between 1695 and 1712, when he succeeded to the peerage as Earl of Godolphin. Initially a Tory, he modified his views when his father headed the Administration in 1702, and was eventually a Whig. He was a philanthropist and one of the founding governors of the Foundling Hospital in 1739.

Percival Willoughby English politician

Sir Percival Willoughby of Wollaton Hall, Nottinghamshire was a prominent land owner, businessman, and entrepreneur involved during his lifetime variously in mining, iron smelting, and glass making enterprises in Nottinghamshire. He was also an important investor in the Newfoundland Company.

Francis Willoughby, 2nd Baron Middleton British politician

Francis Willoughby, 2nd Baron Middleton, was a British politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1713 to 1727. He succeeded to a barony in the Peerage of Great Britain.

Thomas Willoughby (MP) British politician

Thomas Willoughby was an English landowner and Tory politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1720 to 1734.

Thomas Willoughby, 4th Baron Middleton British Baron

Thomas Willoughby, 4th Baron Middleton was a British politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1762 to 1774, when he succeeded to the peerage as Baron Middleton.

Henry Willoughby, 8th Baron Middleton was an English peer.

Sir James Long, 5th Baronet was an English landowner and Tory politician who sat in the English and British House of Commons between 1695 and 1729.

Edward Foley was an English Tory politician who sat in the English and British House of Commons between 1701 and 1741.

Thomas Harley (c.1667–1738), of Kinsham Court, Herefordshire. was a British lawyer, diplomat and Tory politician who sat in the English and British House of Commons from 1698 to 1715. He was an ally of his cousin Robert Harley.

Sir James Montagu SL KC, of the Middle Temple, London, was an English lawyer and Whig politician, who sat in the House of Commons at various times between 1695 and 1713. He became a judge and also served as Solicitor General and Attorney General.

Richard Child, 1st Earl Tylney Member of Parliament

Richard Child, 1st Earl Tylney, was an English politician who sat in the House of Commons between 1708 and 1734. Initially a Tory, he switched to supporting the Whigs after 1715. He held no Office of State, nor any commercial directorship of significance, but is remembered chiefly as the builder of the now long-demolished Palladian "princely mansion" Wanstead House, one of the first in the style constructed in Britain. In the furnishing of his mansion Child became the main patron of the Flemish painter Old Nollekens. He died in March 1750 aged 70 at Aix-en-Provence, France, and was buried on 29 May 1750 at Wanstead.

John Thornhagh (1648–1723), of Fenton and Osberton, Nottinghamshire, was an English Whig politician who sat in the English and British House of Commons between 1689 and 1710.

Richard Bulkeley, 4th Viscount Bulkeley, of Baron Hill, Anglesey, was a Welsh Tory politician who sat in the House of Commons between 1704 and 1724. He was extremely hot-tempered and was involved in several personal and family disputes with local Whig leaders.

Sir Willoughby Hickman, 3rd Baronet English Member of Parliament (1659-1720)

Sir Willoughby Hickman, 3rd Baronet (1659–1720) of Gainsborough Old Hall, Lincolnshire was a British landowner and politician who sat in the English House of Commons between 1685 and 1706 and in the British House of Commons from 1713 to 1720.

Sir James Worsley, 5th Baronet English Member of Parliament (died 1756)

Sir James Worsley 5th Baronet (1672–1756) of Pylewell Park, Hampshire was a British landowner and politician who sat in the English and British House of Commons between 1696 and 1741. He tended to support whichever administration was in power.


  1. 1 2 3 4 "WILLOUGHBY, Sir Thomas, 2nd Bt. (1672-1729), of Wollaton, Notts. and Middleton, Warws". History of Parliament Online. Retrieved 2 July 2019.Cite web requires |website= (help)
  2. "Willoughby, Thomas (WLHY683T)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  3. 1 2 3 Cokayne, George Edward, ed. (1904), Complete Baronetage volume 4 (1665-1707), 4, Exeter: William Pollard and Co, retrieved 9 October 2018
  4. Complete List of Royal Society Fellows 1660-2007 in pdf format
  5. List of Subscribers to the Cyclopaedia at
  6. "Cracroft's Peerage Middleton, Baron (GB, 1711/2)" . Retrieved 28 July 2019.Cite web requires |website= (help)
Parliament of England
Preceded by
Sir Scrope Howe
John White
Member of Parliament for Nottinghamshire
With: Gervase Eyre 1698–1701
Sir Francis Molyneux, Bt 1701–1702
Succeeded by
Sir Francis Molyneux, Bt
Gervase Eyre
Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
Sir Francis Molyneux, Bt
John Thornhagh
Member of Parliament for Nottinghamshire
With: John Thornhagh
Succeeded by
Sir Scrope Howe
William Levinz
Preceded by
James Saunderson
Richard Sutton
Member of Parliament for Newark
With: Richard Newdigate
Succeeded by
Richard Newdigate
Richard Sutton
Honorary titles
Preceded by
The Viscount Weymouth
High Steward of Sutton Coldfield
Succeeded by
The Lord Middleton
Peerage of Great Britain
New creation Baron Middleton
Succeeded by
Francis Willoughby
Baronetage of England
Preceded by
Francis Willoughby
(of Wollaton)
Succeeded by
Francis Willoughby