BETTS, William (d.1738), of Epsom, Surr.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
Director, E.I. Co. 1709-11.
Betts, a merchant, was closely connected with George Dodington of Eastbury.1 According to his obituary notice he ‘had been educated in the Dodington family; and by directorships, purchasing navy bills etc. had gained a considerable fortune’.2 After being three times returned and unseated on petition for Weymouth, he sat for it unopposed as a Whig throughout the reign of George I on the Dodington-Tucker interest. He voted against the Administration on the septennial bill but with them on the repeal of the Occasional Conformity and Schism Acts. Classed as doubtful by Sunderland in 1719, to be spoken to by Craggs sen. on the peerage bill, he voted against it.
In 1727 Betts was again returned after a contest. He did not go to Weymouth for the election and on receiving a paper signed by four voters, including John Ward of Hackney, whose son, Knox Ward, was one of his opponents, demanding his qualifications, he took no notice of it, saying that ‘he never had anything to do with Mr Ward, and never would’. He did not vote in the division on the civil list arrears in 1729. In 1730 the House considered a petition from Knox Ward claiming that Betts’s election should be declared void on the ground of his ‘not having complied with the Act of Parliament which requires an oath of qualification, nor with the standing order of the House which requires a particular in writing of a qualification to be left with the clerk of the House’. Counsel for Betts admitted that the facts were as stated; said that his client was qualified, referring to his previous parliamentary service, but that he was ‘now grown infirm and unable to attend the service of the House; and insisted that the electors, being not apprised of this, ought to have an opportunity of making another choice’. The election was declared void and another election ordered, at which Betts did not stand.3
Betts died unmarried 14 Mar. 1738, leaving £5,000 to Bubb Dodington and £2,000 to Thomas Wyndham of Tale ‘in return for the great obligations I owed their uncle George Dodington’, and £1,000 to John Tucker.4