Arms of Erle: Gules, three escallops
argent a bordure engrailed of the last
|Died||23 July 1720 (aged 70)|
|Other work||Deputy Lieutenant of Dorset, Governor of Portsmouth, MP, Commander-in-Chief (Ireland), Lord Justice (Ireland), PC|
Lieutenant-General Thomas Erle PC (1650 – 23 July 1720) of Charborough, Dorset was an English army general and politician who sat in the House of Commons of England and of Great Britain from 1678 to 1718. He was Governor of Portsmouth and a Lieutenant-General of the Ordnance.
Erle was born in 1650, the second son of Thomas Erle and his wife Susanna Fiennes) daughter of William Fiennes, 1st Viscount Saye and Sele of Charborough. He matriculated at Trinity College, Oxford on 12 July 1667, aged 17 and was admitted at Middle Temple in 1669. In 1675, he married Elizabeth Wyndham (died 1710), daughter of Sir William Wyndham, 1st Baronet of Orchard Wyndham, Somerset.
He succeeded his elder brother before 1665 and his grandfather to Charborough in 1665.
In February 1679 Erle was returned unopposed as a Member of Parliament (MP) for Wareham (a pocket borough controlled by his family). He was returned unopposed in further elections in 1679, 1681, 1685 and 1689. On 27 May 1685 he was made Deputy Lieutenant of Dorset.
In 1686 he hosted a group of conspirators who met at Charborough House to plan the overthrow of "the tyrant race of Stuarts". This meeting lead to the Invitation to William, signed by the Immortal seven, and resulting in the Glorious Revolution.
In 1690 he took part in the Battle of the Boyne, the Siege of Limerick, and, the following year, the Battle of Aughrim. In 1692 he took part in an expedition to Flanders and on 3 August 1692 was Colonel of the former Luttrell's Regiment at the Battle of Steenkerque. Henceforth the regiment he raised in 1689 became the 2nd Battalion of the former Luttrell's Regiment, later the Green Howards. In 1693 Thomas Erle was promoted to Brigadier-General, fighting in the Battle of Landen on 22 March 1693.
In 1694 Erle returned home as Governor of Portsmouth, a position which he held until 1712. He was elected MP for Wareham in a contest in 1690 and was returned unopposed in 1695. In 1696 he was made a Major-General. In 1698 he was returned unopposed as MP for Portsmouth.
In 1699 Erle returned to Ireland as second in command to Lord Galway, In 1700 he was Commander-in-Chief of Ireland. He was returned again as MP for Portsmouth in the two elections of 1701. However at the second election of that year, he was also returned as MP for Wareham and chose to sit there. He stood again at both seats in 1702 but chose to sit for Wareham each time.
In 1702 Erle was made a Lord Justice of Ireland and was MP for Wareham for a second time, then promoted to Lieutenant-General. In 1703, he became MP for Cork City in the Irish Parliament and held this seat until 1713. In 1705 Erle was made Lieutenant-General of the Ordnance, a post which he held until 1712. He was also returned again as MP for Wareham in 1705.
In January 1707 Erle took part in an expedition to Spain, fighting in the Battle of Almanza on 23 April 1707 — some reports state that he lost his right hand. In 1708 he was sent on an expedition to France. He then returned home, and at the 1708 general election was returned for Wareham and Portsmouth and sat for Wareham. He was returned at Wareham again in 1710 and 1713. In 1714, following the death of Queen Anne, Erle was appointed Lieutenant-General of the Ordnance for a second time. The same year he was also made Governor of Portsmouth, replacing Lord North and Grey, whose loyalty to the new king was in doubt. He was returned as MP for Wareham at the 1715 general election. From 1715 until 1718 he was Father of the House. He was forced to resign all his posts and his seat in Parliament in March 1718 and received in return a pension of £1,200 a year.
Erle died on 23 July 1720 and was buried at Charborough. He left a daughter Frances, who married Edward Ernle and died 14 May 1728. Charborough House thus passed to the Ernle family.
- Pole, Sir William (d.1635), Collections Towards a Description of the County of Devon, Sir John-William de la Pole (ed.), London, 1791, p.481; Sir William Pole (d.1635) of Shute, Devon, author of this work, was the uncle of Col. Sir Walter Erle (1586-1665) of Charborough, the son of his sister Dorothy Pole
- Foster, Joseph. "Eade-Eyton in Alumni Oxonienses 1500-1714 pp. 440-479". British History Online. Retrieved 31 December 2018.
- "ERLE, Thomas (c.1650-1720), of Charborough, Dorset". History of Parliament Online (1660-1690). Retrieved 7 September 2018.
- "ERLE, Thomas (c.1650-1720), of Charborough, Dorset". History of Parliament Online (1690-1715). Retrieved 7 September 2018.
- "ERLE, Thomas (?1650-1720), of Charborough, nr. Wareham, Dorset". History of Parliament Online (1715-1754). Retrieved 7 September 2018.