STRINGER, Sir Thomas (c.1626-89), of Durrants, Enfield, Mdx.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Constituency

Dates

11 May 1675
Mar. 1679
Oct. 1679

Family and Education

b. c.1626, s. of Thomas Stringer of Snow Hill, London by w. Lydia. educ. Clare, Camb. 1641; G. Inn 1645, called 1652. m. (1) 2da.; (2) by 1663, Rebecca, da. of William Nelson, cursitor in Chancery, 2s. Kntd. 6 Dec. 1669.1

Offices Held

Gent. of the privy chamber June 1660-?85; steward, Tower court of record by 1669-d.; filazer of common pleas by 1671-d.; serjeant-at-law 1677, King’s serjeant 1679-87; j.K.b. 23 Oct. 1688-Feb. 1689.2

J.p. Mdx. 1661-89, Lancs. 1676-Apr. 1688; commr. for assessment, Mdx. 1667-80, 1689, Lancs. 1677-80; recorder, Clitheroe by 1669-84; bencher, G. Inn 1674; commr. for recusants, Mdx. 1675, oyer and terminer, Lancs. 1680; dep. lt. Mdx. 1680-9; freeman, Preston 1682; chairman of quarter sessions, Mdx. 1683-?7.3

Biography

Although Stringer adopted the arms of the Yorkshire family of that name, his ancestry is obscure. In A Seasonable Argument his father was alleged to have been a dancing master. If so, he must have been prosperous to afford his son so expensive an education. Stringer became a lawyer, for many years riding the Northern circuit. His intimacy with George Monck probably began early in life, for at the Restoration Stringer and his brother-in-law Abraham Nelson were appointed gentlemen of the privy chamber on the recommendation of Thomas Clarges. Presumably at the instance of Monck, who had been granted the honour of Clitheroe, Stringer became recorder of the borough. In 1673 he was able to buy Durrants for £8,900, and then or later he began to acquire burgages in Clitheroe, for which he was elected in 1675. Though no decision was ever reached on the repeated petitions of the other candidate, Sir Ralph Assheton I, Stringer took his seat and became an active Member, with 51 committee appointments. On 1 June he spoke in defence of the Four Lawyers and acted as teller against the motion for taking Serjeant Pemberton into custody. He received the government whip from Secretary Coventry for the autumn session. His name appeared on the working lists among those ‘to be fixed’, in the list of the court party prepared by Sir Richard Wiseman, and in the list of government speakers. From the other side, he was noted by Shaftesbury as ‘thrice vile’, and the author of A Seasonable Argument alleged that he had got £30,000 under the Duke of Albemarle (Christopher Monck). He was chairman for two estate bills, as well as for the bill to establish a registry of pawnbrokers, which he carried to the Lords on 1 July 1678. But he was not active in political issues until the Popish Plot, which he seems to have swallowed hook, line and sinker. He was named to the committees to inquire into the Plot, to consider the exclusion of Papists from Parliament and to impeach Lord Arundell of Wardour. He was added to the committee to examine Coleman and assisted Sir John Trevor in his search of Somerset House. He helped to draw up the addresses for disarming Popish recusants and arresting all suspected Papists. He had never fulfilled Williamson’s expectations of him as a government speaker, but on Dec. he spoke in favour of impeaching the five Popish lords, and he was named to the committee of secrecy. ‘I am sure,’ he told the House on 26 Dec., ‘that four Irish ruffians murdered Sir Edmund Berry Godfrey.’ It is, therefore, not surprising that Stringer’s name disappeared from the Opposition’s list of the court party in 1678.4

Stringer was re-elected without a contest to all three Exclusion Parliaments. In 1679, he was reclassified by Shaftesbury as ‘worthy’. A very active Member, he was named to 28 committees. He was again appointed to the committee of secrecy and took the examination of the informer Bedloe. He helped to draw up the summons to Danby to surrender himself. He informed the House that the lords in the Tower had been allowed copies of the Lords’ Journals, and acted as chairman of the committee of six Members to inspect them. He was named to the committee of both Houses to consider the trial of the Popish lords. To him was assigned the prosecution of Lord Belasyse. But he shrank from the final step into the ranks of the Opposition, and absented himself from the division on the exclusion bill.5

Stringer’s activity in the second Exclusion Parliament was only moderate. He was named to six committees, the most important being for the impeachment of Edward Seymour. He spoke against the discharge of Sheridan, and moved unsuccessfully that the words ‘the Duke being the presumptive heir to the crown’ should be inserted in the second exclusion bill. He left no trace on the records of the Oxford Parliament, and was probably already moving back towards the Court. In 1683, there was a complaint of his absence from quarter sessions when conventiclers were prosecuted, but in the following year he took part in the surrender of the charter of Clitheroe, though he was not reappointed recorder. Nor was he re-elected in 1685, in spite of Albemarle’s support, and in 1687 he was discharged as King’s serjeant. In the same year, however, his elder son married a daughter of Lord Chief Justice Jeffreys, and it was probably to this connexion that Stringer owed his appointment, in the last months of James II’s reign, to the King’s bench, from which he was dismissed after the Revolution. He died on 2 Oct. 1689, aged 63. According to Roger Morrice, who seems to have regarded him with special malevolence, he had resumed his practice on the Northern circuit, but presumably without taking the oaths to the new regime, until he received a hint from the judges to withdraw, whereupon he died ‘of mere fear and apprehension’. more tamely, reported the cause of his death as apoplexy. His will shows extensive property, including his father’s house in Snow Hill and another in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, three manors in Norfolk, burgages and other property in Clitheroe and lands in Yorkshire, county Durham, Hertfordshire, Surrey and Middlesex. A further indication of his wealth is that his younger daughter’s portion was estimated at £15,000. The Clitheroe burgages were left in trust to her husband Anthony Parker to be sold for the benefit of Stringer’s younger son Thomas, but as Parker and Thomas Stringer both represented the borough in turn, it is probable that this provision was not carried out.6

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: Irene Cassidy

Notes

  • 1. E179/252/10, f. 30; Le Neve’s Knights (Harl. Soc. viii), 228; Vis. Mdx. ed. Foster, 88.
  • 2. Carlisle, Privy Chamber , 171; J. Bayley, Tower of London, ii. p. cxxiv; Cal. Treas. Bks. viii. 533, 2102; PRO 30/53/8, f. 117; Luttrell, i. 402; Ellis Corresp. ii. 256.
  • 3. Lancs. RO, QSC 79-98; Westmld. RO, D/Ry 3190; W. S. Weeks, Clitheroe in the 17th Century, 13; CSP Dom. 1679-80, p. 411; Jan.-June 1683, p. 219; Preston Guild Rolls (Lancs. and Cheshire Rec. Soc. ix), 194.
  • 4. CSP Dom. 1659-60, p. 427; Lysons, Environs, ii. 301; HMC Kenyon, 100; Grey, iii. 223; vi. 322-3, 390, 391; CJ, ix. 414, 435, 505, 508.
  • 5. CJ, ix. 596; HMC 13th Rep. VI, 117; Grey, vii. 18, 106.
  • 6. Grey, vii. 432; viii. 221; CSP Dom. Jan.-June 1683, p. 219; Clitheroe bor. recs. 604, 605, 607; HMC Kenyon, 178-80; Luttrell, i. 402, 587; PRO 30/53/8, f. 117; R. Morrice, Entering Bk. 2, pp. 180, 614; PCC 36 Coker.

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