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William Bromley.

Sir William Bromley (1663 – 13 February 1732) was an English Tory politician. He was Speaker of the British House of Commons 1710–1713 and Secretary of State for the Northern Department 1713–1714.

Bromley was a member of an old Staffordshire family, which by the time of his birth was settled in Warwickshire. He was the son of Sir William Bromley (died 1682) and his wife Ursula (daughter of the 1st Baron Leigh of Stoneleigh). He was born at the family seat at Baginton, Warwickshire and was baptised on 31 August 1663.

He attended Christ Church, a college of the University of Oxford from 1679 and received a BA degree in 1681.

Political career

Bromley missed the Glorious Revolution because he was travelling in France and Italy, following the death of his first wife in 1688 (he eventually married four times). Upon his return to England he embarked on a political career. Throughout his time in public life Bromley was a staunch high church Tory with a reputation for honesty and extreme partisanship. His political rivals sometimes found it useful to allege Jacobite sympathies and refer to Bromley's travel memoirs Remarks on the Grand Tour of France and Italy to support the allegation.

In 1690 Bromley was elected to represent the county constituency of Warwickshire in the English House of Commons. An able debater, his reputation rose rapidly; particularly amongst the Tory squires who shared similar prejudices. In 1696 Bromley refused to take an oath that William III was the rightful and lawful King. As a result he was incapacitated from serving in Parliament and was not re-elected for Warwickshire in 1698.

Bromley returned to Parliament, representing the strongly High Tory constituency of Oxford University, following a by-election in March 1701, after which Bromley was a leading figure in the Tory ranks. He continued to hold the university seat for the rest of his life.

Bromley was a strong opponent of occasional conformity by religious dissenters, who attended Church of England services often enough to avoid the legal penalties imposed by the Test and Corporation Acts. Bromley promoted several bills to strengthen the law, but they were not adopted.

From 1702 to 1705 Bromley was the Chairman of the Committee of Privileges and Elections of the House of Commons. In 1705 he was a candidate for the Speakership. On this occasion a new edition of Bromley's travel memoirs was produced by his political enemies (with an added table pointing the reader to the alleged pro-Catholic and Jacobite passages in the book). Bromley did not become Speaker in 1705.

Following the 1710 election there was a large Tory majority in the House of Commons. On 25 November 1710 Bromley was elected Speaker, without opposition. He was sworn in as a member of the Privy Council in 1711.

In his position as Speaker in 1713, Bromley responded to questions from a Scottish MP with the infamous reply that "they had catcht hold of Scotland, they wou'd keep her fast.", thereby given credence to the widely held belief in Scotland that Union was a means for England to assert her dominance over Scotland. Lockhart Papers

In 1713 Bromley left the chair of the House to join the administration as Secretary of State for the Northern Department. He lost that office in 1714, when the new King George I installed a Whig ministry. Bromley never held government office again, but he remained the generally recognised leading Tory in the House of Commons until his health declined in the 1720s. Bromley remained an MP until his death in 1732.

References

  • The Dictionary of National Biography, Volume II (1908 re-issue), edited by Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee
  • The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Volume 7, edited by H.C.G. Mathew and Brian Harrison (Oxford University Press 2004)
Political offices
Preceded by
Richard Onslow
Speaker of the House of Commons of Great Britain
1710–1713
Succeeded by
Sir Thomas Hanmer, Bt
Preceded by
Henry St John, 1st Viscount Bolingbroke
Secretary of State for the Northern Department
1713–1714
Succeeded by
Charles Townshend, 2nd Viscount Townshend
Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
first MPs after the Union
Member of Parliament for Oxford University
with Sir William Whitlock 1707-1717
George Clarke 1717-1732

1707–1732
Succeeded by
George Clarke
Viscount Cornbury
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