Thompson, William (1678-1739) (DNB00)

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THOMPSON or THOMSON, Sir WILLIAM (1678–1739), judge, second son of Sir William Thompson (d. 1695), serjeant-at-law (a scion of the Thompsons of Scotton or Shotton, Durham), was admitted in 1688 a student at the Middle Temple, where he was called to the bar in 1698. He was returned to parliament, 4 May 1708, for Orford, Suffolk, but, having taken an active part in the impeachment of Sacheverell and the prosecution of his riotous supporters, Dammaree, Willis, and Purchase (March-April 1709-10), lost his seat at the general election of the ensuing autumn. Returned for Ipswich, 3 Sept. 1713, he was unseated on petition, 1 April 1714; but regained the seat on 28 Jan. 1714-15, and retained it until his elevation to the exchequer bench.

On 3 March 1714-15 Thompson was elected recorder of London, and soon after was knighted. He took part in the impeachment of the Jacobite George Seton, fifth earl of Wintoun [q. v.], 15-19 March 1715-16, Appointed to the solicitor-generalship, 24 Jan. 1716-17, he was dismissed from that office, 17 March 1719-20, for bringing an unfounded charge of corrupt practices against attorney-general Nicholas Lechmere (1675-1727) [q. v.] Retaining the recordership, he was accorded in 1724 precedence in all courts after the solicitor-general. On 23 May 1726 he was appointed cursitor baron, and on 27 Nov. 1729 he succeeded Sir Bernard Hale [q. v.] as puisne baron of the exchequer, having first been called to the degree of serjeant-at-law (17 Nov.) This office with the recordership he retained until his death at Bath, 27 Oct. 1739. His portrait by Seeman, his own bequest to the corporation of London, with a ring for each of the aldermen, is at Guildhall. A print of it is at Lincoln's Inn.

Thompson married twice: (1) by license dated 16 July 1701, Mrs. Joyce Brent, widow; (2) in 1711, Julia, daughter of Sir Christopher Conyers, bart., of Horden, Durham, relict of Sir William Blacket, bart., of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. It does not appear that he had issue by either wife.

[Le Neve's Pedigrees of Knights (Harl. Soc.), p. 429; Chester's London Marr. Licences; Stowe MSS. 748 f. 124, 780 f. 163; Gent. Mag. 1739, p. 554; Cat. of Sculpture, &c., at Guildhall; Woolrych's Serjeants-at-Law, i. 451; Luttrell's Relation of State Affairs, iii. 430; Lists of Members of Parliament (official); Comm. Journ. xvii. 528; Parl. Hist. vii. 643; Howell's State Trials, xv. 157, 549,616; Buyer's Political State, ix. 239; Wynne's Serjeant-at- Law; Haydn's Book of Dignities, ed. Ockerby; Foss's Lives of the Judges; Recorders of London (official list); Surtees's Durham, i. pt. ii. 23, 29; Wotton's Baronetage, vol. iii. pt. ii. 552.]

J. M. R.