Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Blathwayt, William

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

BLATHWAYT, WILLIAM (1649?–1717), politician, the only son of William Blathwayt of St. Martin's-in-the-Fields, and a member of the Middle Temple, who married on 19 Oct. 1648 Anne, daughter of Justinian Povey, was born, it is believed, in 1649. His first appointment was as one of Sir William Temple's secretaries at the Hague in 1668, and his correspondence shows that he was engaged at Rome in some kind of public business in 1672. A few years later he seems to have been stationed at Stockholm and Copenhagen. In August 1683 he purchased from Matthew Locke the post of secretary-at-war, a position which before the revolution of 1688 seems to have been synonymous with a clerkship of a committee of council, and, according to Luttrell, he became clerk of the council in ordinary on 22 Oct. 1686, and clerk of the privy council February 1689. He was in attendance on the privy council when the seven bishops were called in, and he was one of the chief witnesses at their trial. As secretary-at-war he attended James II to Salisbury, November 1688. with his forces. From a memorandum drawn up by Lord Palmerston on the duties of that office, it appears that Blathwayt, whilst holding it, regulated almost the whole of the business connected with the army (Bulwer and Ashley's Lord Palmerston, i. 387-90). His skill in languages made him a great favourite with William III. He attended that monarch during his campaign in Flanders, and whilst abroad discharged the duties of secretary-at-state, his place at home being filled by a substitute. From May 1696 to 1706 he was a commissioner of trade, and he remained secretary-at-war until 1704. He represented the constituency of Newtown in the Isle of Wight from 1685 to 1687, and his re-election received royal sanction in September of the following year, but he was not a member of the Convention parliament of 1089. On 20 Nov. 1693 he was returned by the city of Bath, and sat for that constituency uninterruptedly until 1710. He had married on 28 Dec 1686 Mary, the only surviving daughter and heir of John Wynter of Dyrham, Gloucestershire, an estate which still belongs to his descendants. The present house of Dyrham Park, planned by Talmen, was completed at the cost of Blathwayt in 1098, and the gardens were at the same time laid out by Le Notre in the approved Dutch style. Views of it are in Campbell's 'Vitruvius Britannicus,' and in Sir R. Atkyns's 'Gloucestershire.' His house at Bath was fitted up for Queen Anne when she went to drink the waters in July 1702. It was rumoured in December 1700 that, 'in consideration of his services to his maiestie,' Blathwayt would have been created earl of Bristol, but he was never raised to the peerage. He was a strong whig in politics, and was pitted as the whig champion against Harley on the points of precedent which arose in parliamentary debate. He retired from active life in 1710, and died at Dyrham in August 1717, being buried in its parish church on 30 Aug. Numerous letters to and from him are preserved at Dyrham Park, among the manuscripts in the British Museum, at the Bodleian Library, and in many of the collections described among the reports of the Historical MSS. Commission.

[Narcissus Luttrell's Brief Relation. passim; Bigland's Gloucestershire, p. 533; Atkyn's Gloucestershire, 216; Macaulay's History, ii. 378-81; Pepys's Diary (ed. 1849), v. 331, 389, 453.]

W. P. C.