Thomas Potter (died 1759)

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Thomas Potter (1718–1759) was a British politician who sat as a Member of Parliament for Aylesbury, Okehampton and St Germans in Cornwall.

Potter was the second son of John Potter, Archbishop of Canterbury. He was born in 1718. He acquired a law degree at Christ Church, Oxford, and was admitted to the Middle Temple.[1] Through his father's interest, he was able to secure the Recordership of Bath, a lucrative office. Originally a member for St Germans, in 1754 he was elected as MP for Aylesbury, a seat controlled by the powerful Grenville family with whom he was associated from then on. In 1756 he became a Vice-Treasurer of Ireland, another lucrative post, which did not require him to move to Ireland.[2]

Potter acquired a reputation as a leading rake. Potter was a friend of John Wilkes, who he considered as something of a protégé. He was later accused of corrupting Wilkes who had been relatively innocent until that point.[3] Politically he was aligned with William Pitt who he was a devoted follower of. He was a staunch supporter of Britain's participation in the Seven Years War.

Potter was in ill health for a long time, suffering in particular from gout.[4] In 1759 he died at Bath at the age of forty one.[5][6]

He was believed to be the author of Essay on Woman, a crude parody of Alexander Pope's Essay on Man. The authorship of this was later attributed to John Wilkes, when it was read out in the House of Lords, during his expulsion from parliament in 1764.

He was a recognised member of the Hellfire Club, in Buckinghamshire, founded by Francis Dashwood, 11th Baron le Despencer.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Brown, Peter Douglas. William Pitt, Earl of Chatham: The Great Commoner. George Allen & Unwin, 1978.
  • Cash, Arthur H. John Wilkes: The Scandalous Father of Civil Liberty. Yale University Press, 2006.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Alumni oxonienses: the members of the University of Oxford, 1715-1886, vol.3". 
  2. ^ Cash p.44
  3. ^ Cash p.29-36
  4. ^ Brown p.125
  5. ^ Brown p.188
  6. ^ Cash p.55
Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
John Hynde Cotton
James Newsham
Member of Parliament for St Germans
1747–1754
With: Richard Eliot 1747–48
Edward Craggs-Eliot 1748–54
Succeeded by
Edward Craggs-Eliot
Anthony Champion
Preceded by
The Earl of Inchiquin
Edward Willes
Member of Parliament for Aylesbury
1754–1757
With: John Willes
Succeeded by
John Willes
John Wilkes
Preceded by
Robert Vyner
William Pitt
Member of Parliament for Okehampton
1757–1759
With: Robert Vyner
Succeeded by
Robert Vyner
George Brydges Rodney