Peter Shakerley, MP

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Peter Shakerley, MP

Also Known As: "Shackerley"
Death: June 24, 1726 (71-80)
Immediate Family:

Son of Sir Geoffrey Shakerley, MP and Katherine Shakerley
Husband of Elizabeth Shakerley
Brother of Geoffrey Shakerley

Managed by: Leoné Gardner
Last Updated:

About Peter Shakerley, MP

Family and Education

b. c.1650, 1st s. of Sir Geoffrey Shakerley† of Hulme by his 1st w. Katherine, da. of William Pennington of Muncaster, Cumb. educ. Brasenose, Oxf. matric. 28 Mar. 1667, aged 17; I. Temple 1667. m. 12 Feb. 1678, Elizabeth (d. 1691), da. of Sir Thomas Mainwaring, 1st Bt.†, of Over Peover, Cheshire, sis. of Sir John Mainwaring, 2nd Bt.*, s.p. suc. fa. 1696.

Offices Held

Freeman, Preston 1662, 1682, Chester 1691; burgess, Wigan by 1684; sheriff, Lancs. 1685–6; alderman, Chester Aug.–Oct. 1688, 1691–8, Wigan 1690–1720 mayor, Wigan 1694–5.

Gov. of Chester 1682–9, 1702–5; capt. independent ft. coy. 1685, Sir Edward Hale, 3rd Bt.†’s ft. regt. (later 14 Ft.) 1687–8; storekeeper, Chester 1686–9.


Shakerley’s father had fought in the Royalist army in the 1640s, and Peter complained that Clarendon’s History of the Rebellion had ignored the crucial part his father had played at Rowton Moor in 1645, for which his family’s estates were sequestrated. He sought to rectify this omission by transmitting for posterity the full account his father had given him of the matter. Shakerley’s first recorded political activity came in the Cheshire election of 1681, when he signed the ‘loyal’ address presented by the supporters of the defeated Tory candidates to the two Whig MPs. In 1682 he succeeded his father as governor of Chester Castle, and in the coming years demonstrated his loyalty to the crown by gathering information concerning the Duke of Monmouth’s visit to Cheshire in September 1682. Three years later, in the aftermath of the Monmouth rebellion, he gathered evidence on individuals suspected of disaffection, some of which was used at the trial of Lord Delamer (Henry Booth†) in 1685. Shakerley was in high favour in the reign of James II, so much so that his cousin Sir Roger Bradshaigh, 2nd. Bt.†, described him as one of ‘the true Church of England men’ of whom ‘the King has been graciously pleased to give . . . a kind character’. At the Dutch invasion in October 1688 Shakerley prepared Chester to repel the invaders, and on 7 Dec. asked William Blathwayt* to assure James ‘of my fidelity, from which I shall never swerve’. By the 13th, however, Shakerley was expressing to Blathwayt the hope that ‘the loyalty and fidelity I paid to my King will not . . . be imputed to me a crime by the victorious Prince of Orange’. In the weeks after the Revolution Shakerley continually clashed with the Chester supporters of Lord Delamer, for example refusing requests for a 21-gun salute at Chester Castle on the reading of William’s declaration in the borough, and wrote to Blathwayt of ‘the sorrow I had . . . for the banishment, distress and misery of my King’. Shakerley made strenuous efforts to ingratiate himself with William in an attempt to remain governor of Chester, enlisting Blathwayt and Lord Dartmouth (George Legge†) to this end, but his efforts were in vain. Having travelled to London to further his cause he was arrested on 14 May 1689, it being alleged that ‘about him was found a bundle of proclamations from King James’, and by June Shakerley was imprisoned in the Tower. In September, however, a Cheshire Whig reported that Shakerley had secured the support of Lord Carmarthen (Sir Thomas Osborne†), and in November he was discharged on bail, together with Lord Preston (Sir Richard Grahme†) and Sir John Fenwick†.4

Since 1687 Shakerley had been trustee for, and guardian of, his nephew Sir Roger Bradshaigh, 3rd Bt.* At the general election of 1690 Shakerley exploited the Bradshaigh interest at Wigan to secure his own return and was classed as a Tory by Carmarthen. In a debate on the abjuration bill on 26 Apr. 1690 he defended Sir Thomas Grosvenor, 3rd Bt.*, against the charge of making Jacobite statements during the Chester election of 1690, Shakerley noting that the evidence came from a man of ill-repute who had refused to take the Test. Three days later he was appointed to the drafting committee on the bill to secure the government from King James. In the following session Shakerley was teller against an amendment which would have ordered all election petitions to be heard at the bar (27 Dec. 1690), and in the 1691–2 session he was appointed, on 31 Oct., to prepare a bill to secure the rights of corporations. In the committee of the whole of 3 Feb. 1692 on the poll tax Shakerley spoke in favour of taxing Dissenting teachers at the same rate as Anglican clergyman, and this hostility towards Dissenters is also underlined by his tellership, on 22 Feb., against the Quaker affirmation bill. His care for the well-being of the Established Church was also evident in the 1692–3 session, in his involvement in the early stages of preparing a ‘bill . . . for explaining the Toleration Act’, although no such measure came before the House. Instead, Shakerley’s main concern in this session was the passage of a bill to prevent disputes concerning royal mines, a measure intended in large part to assist the attempts of the Welsh Tory Sir Carbery Pryse, 4th Bt.*, to secure the profits of lead and silver ore discovered upon Pryse’s Cardiganshire estate. Having moved for this bill on 14 Dec., Shakerley presented it a week later. When he reported the bill to the House on 16 Jan. 1693 the attorney-general moved that King’s counsel be heard, the measure being one where ‘the King’s prerogative was so highly concerned’. But although King’s counsel was heard against the bill the measure passed and was delivered to the Lords by Shakerley on 27 Jan., though it was subsequently refused the Royal Assent. During this session Shakerley also told on two occasions: against an amendment to the bill to prevent the decay of trade in towns and cities which would have excluded the wool trade from the bill’s provisions (15 Feb.), and for an amendment to a lotteries bill (6 Mar.).

Shakerley returned to the issue of the royal mines in the 1693–4 session, managing another bill on this subject through the Commons and carrying it to the Lords on 25 Jan. 1694. This time the bill received the Royal Assent. His assiduous parliamentary attendance at this time is apparent from his report to Roger Kenyon* of the heated debates on naval mismanagements, in which he stated that ‘the House had sat till so dark, we could not see each other: few stayed in’. Shakerley’s behaviour throughout this session clearly illustrates his Country Tory loyalties. His support for the triennial bill was made clear on 28 Nov. 1693 when he told in favour of a clause requiring regular sessions of Parliament, and on 6 Jan. 1694 he told against the motion that the Whig Thomas Papillon should chair the debate on the East India Company. In a letter written the same month he expressed his disgust at the King’s refusal to give Royal Assent to the place bill. Following one of the sittings of the ways and means committee, at which several new taxes had been proposed, Shakerley noted that these would ‘create a great number of officers, which would make so many dependencies’ upon the Court, and when in February duties were proposed on both leather and periwigs he recorded that one Member exclaimed that ‘we were taxing the subject from head to foot’. He expressed his own dissatisfaction with the management of the national finances when he noted pointedly that on a day in which the Commons had considered duties on paper and parchment, ‘there is a great ball at court this night, no sign of poverty there’. His political stance was evident when he told on the Tory side in the divisions disputed elections at Worcester (7 Feb.) and Arundel (22 Feb.), and in his telling against supply measures on 13 and 17 Mar. During this session Shakerley also told in favour of an estate act (2 Feb.); against the committee of the whole considering a bill on London orphans (7 Mar.); and against the Lords’ amendments to the mutiny bill (29 Mar.).

During the 1694 recess Shakerley’s activity was focused upon the Lancashire Plot. Allegations that Shakerley had intended to furnish the plotters with arms did not lead to any charges, and he assisted Kenyon’s attempts to undermine the informers who were crucial to the crown’s case. After the acquittal of the accused in October, the Commons commenced its own examination of the plot, and on 22 Nov. Shakerley was among those Members who alleged that the accused had been ‘very ill treated’ by the authorities, being forced into long marches and kept without sleep the day before their trial by Dutch sentinels ‘smoking, swearing and singing’ all night. On the same day he told against a motion that John Lunt, the leading informer, be summoned to the bar of the House next day to give evidence about the Lancashire trials. In a speech, perhaps delivered in the debate on the plot on 6 Feb. 1695, Shakerley detailed the injustices faced by those accused in the Lancashire Plot. When the jury was impanelled, ‘ten gentlemen of quality, some of them Members of this House, some of them deputy lieutenants, but all of them justices of the peace for that county, were all excepted against by the King’s counsel without cause shown’, so that ‘no gentleman of note’ was allowed to serve. The judge acted ‘with a side blow at the Church of England’, saying that Protestants and papists mingled together ‘as the iron and clay in the feet of Nebuchadnezzar’s image’. ‘Gentlemen of the best estates in England’ were arraigned on the evidence of professional perjurers seeking a share in those estates, men who could not even recognize the persons they claimed intimacy with. Shakerley’s righteous indignation on this occasion was underlined in his acting as teller against the motion that there had been a Jacobite plot in Lancashire. His views on the related issue of oaths were demonstrated on 11 Mar. when he told against a motion to impose additional oaths. During this session Shakerley was also a teller in favour of an amendment to the tonnage and poundage bill (20 Dec. 1694), and in favour of a bill concerned with Lancashire fishing rights (26 Mar. 1695).

Though Shakerley had maintained his interest at Wigan, controversially being elected mayor in 1694–5 (see WIGAN, Lancs.), his return for the borough in 1695 was bitterly contested by (Sir) Alexander Rigby*. Shakerley noted in January 1696 that Rigby’s election petition against his election was ‘very dark’, alleging Jacobite activity on Shakerley’s part. Although a friend expressed the belief that such accusations ‘cannot . . . make an election void’, Shakerley decided that discretion was the better part of valour and in February agreed not to stand again at Wigan, in return for Rigby dropping his petition, claiming that he was ‘resolved not to come into another Parliament, for I find my health very much impaired by the constant attendance’. Shakerley remained hostile to the Court, praising Robert Price’s speech of 14 Jan. 1696 against the royal grants of Welsh estates to Lord Portland as leaving ‘nothing unsaid’, and he was forecast as likely to oppose the ministry in the divisions of the 31st upon the council of trade. He subsequently reported to Kenyon the success of those Members, including himself, who had opposed the attempt to impose an abjuration oath on members of the proposed new council. He was also among those who at first refused to sign the Association. In addition, Shakerley and his fellow Wigan MP Bradshaigh, now of age, refused to present the Association Rolls of their borough, and in Shakerley’s case this led to his removal from the Lancashire bench the following September.

Despite the distraction of Rigby’s election petition and the need to maintain a low profile in the aftermath of his refusal to sign the Association, Shakerley continued to take a keen interest in parliamentary proceedings, taking great delight in the success of the Country party in carrying the election of all seven places on the commission of accounts. In March he voted against the fixing of the price of guineas at 22s. He continued in opposition in the 1696–7 session, voting on 25 Nov. against the attainder of Sir John Fenwick†. Shakerley’s parliamentary activity increased notably in this session. In January 1697 he was appointed to draft, and subsequently presented, a Cheshire estate bill, while in February and March he assisted in the management of another estate bill. On 1 Mar. he reported on a naturalization bill, carrying the bill to the Lords the following day. His Country sympathies were evident on 6 Mar. when he attended the debate on a bill for enclosing commons and forests, Shakerley fearing that it would create lands ‘out of which large estates might have been carved for foreigners’. He told on four occasions during this session: against the exclusion of excise officers from the land tax commission (26 Jan.); on the Tory side in a dispute over the franchise at Tavistock (4 Feb.); against granting leave for a bill to allow Exeter to import Irish wool (24 Feb.); and against levying a duty upon wool, silk and hair goods (3 Mar.). Shakerley continued to feature regularly in the records of the following session. In addition to reporting and carrying to the Lords a Lancashire estate bill in February 1698, he was again active as a teller: against an estate bill (20 Jan.); against the bill for the preservation of salmon fisheries (9 Mar.); in favour of excusing Simon Harcourt I for being absent when the House was called (4 Apr.); against the bill for the prevention of coin counterfeiting (27 Apr.); against the encouragement of Ledingham’s hand pump (28 May); and against applying estates previously designed for superstitious uses to the support of Greenwich Hospital (17 June).

Though Shakerley had involved himself in a dispute over the appointment of Wigan’s recorder in 1697–8, causing Lord Macclesfield (Charles Gerard*) to exclaim that Shakerley ‘has spoken words of his Majesty for which he ought to be shot through the head’, he honoured the letter of his agreement with Rigby and did not stand for the borough at the 1698 election. He did, however, assist Bradshaigh and Orlando Bridgeman* in their successful opposition to Rigby at this election. Shakerley’s expressed desire to leave Parliament proved to be little more than a rationalization of his need for compromise with Rigby. Shakerley had kept up his contacts in the corporation of Chester, supporting the Tory side in the contest for control of the corporation in the early 1690s, so that when Tory dominance at Chester was achieved in 1696 and 1697 he was well placed to secure his own return for the borough. Moreover, he enhanced his personal standing at Chester early in 1698 by his attempts to gain reimbursement from the government for the quartering of invalids in the city, and at the election later that year he was returned unopposed.

In the aftermath of the election Shakerley was classed as a Country supporter, and shortly before the Parliament commenced he was forecast as a likely opponent of a standing army. By now an experienced Member, Shakerley was a regular committee nominee. In light of events which were to follow in the next session, his most notable committee duty came on 3 Jan. 1699, when he was appointed to prepare a bill for the navigation of the Dee. His continued hostility to placemen was evident on 14 Feb. when he told in favour of the expulsion of Samuel Atkinson for contravening a clause in the 1694 Lottery Act. On 6 Mar. he told against calling over the House, and on the 17th was nominated to a committee concerned with the reform of salt duty, an appointment which was to herald a prolonged interest in this industry, prompted by his friendship with Cheshire’s brine salt producers and their struggle with the recently developed Cheshire rock salt works. His tellership on 25 Mar. in support of the petition of Chester’s felt-makers’ company for a bill to oblige women servants to wear felt hats indicates another area of concern with his constituency’s economy. On 14 Apr. he told against a motion of censure against Henry Chivers*, and later in the session he told in favour of hearing a petition on trade with Spain (26 Apr.) and for a motion to encourage the Newfoundland trade (1 May). During the 1699–1700 session the concern for local interests which Shakerley had previously demonstrated became the defining theme of his parliamentary activity. Having been appointed on 5 Dec. to prepare another bill for the navigation of the Dee, Shakerley presented it the following day. Though Sir Joseph Jekyll managed this measure through committee, Shakerley continued to work for the interests of his constituency in the matter of the money owed to Chester for the maintenance of invalids quartered upon them in the 1690s, his endeavours leading to a full settlement of the debt in September 1700. He also continued to assist Cheshire’s brine salt industry: when rock salt producers attempted to introduce a bill to make the Weaver navigable as far as their works in Northwich, Shakerley was one of the main architects of the successful opposition to this measure. In early 1700 he reported and carried to the Lords two private bills concerned with Lancashire and Cheshire estates. He also told on three occasions on amendments to Irish forfeited estates bills, and on 5 Apr. told against a motion to delay the hearing of election petitions.

Shakerley’s concern to maintain regular communication with his locality can be seen in his complaint to the Post Office that his letters had not reached him, and the response that he was allowing his privilege of franking letters to be abused, particularly for communicating newsletters. Shakerley was evidently sending newsletters to Cheshire to keep his friends and constituents informed of public news. Important though this was to his interest at Chester, the Post Office informed Shakerley that ‘no such thing was allowed as parliamentary privilege in the last 40 years’. Such careful nursing of his interest at Chester had its reward in the first election of 1701. In September 1700 his stepmother assured him that he would be returned, which proved to be an accurate assessment as Shakerley was returned with his fellow Tory Sir Henry Bunbury, 3rd Bt. That other Members had developed a respect for Shakerley’s parliamentary experience and knowledge is suggested by (Sir) Robert Burdett’s (3rd Bt.*) seeking his help early in the 1701 session for exemption from the bill resuming all crown grants since 1684 of a lease held under the duchy of Lancaster. On 18 Mar. he was appointed to draft, and ten days later presented, a bill to regulate new provincial mints. His concern for the Cheshire brine salt manufacturers was again seen in his appointment on 11 Apr. to the committee required to draft legislation to prevent frauds and abuses in the collection of salt duties; on 6 May he presented the resultant bill to the House. He also carried a Lancashire estate bill to the Lords (9 June), and twice acted as teller in this Parliament: in favour of the bill for preventing the translation of bishops (23 Apr.), and against an amendment to a supply bill (3 June). Shakerley’s support for the remodelled ministry is suggested by his inclusion in February on a forecast of those likely to support the Court over the ‘Great Mortgage’, but the continued strength of his Tory sympathies is also evident from his inclusion on the black list of those who had voted against preparations for the war with France. Although challenged at the Chester election that December, Shakerley nevertheless headed the poll, and having been classed by Robert Harley* as a Tory in an assessment of the 1701–2 Parliament, he voted for the motion of 26 Feb. 1702 vindicating the Commons’ proceedings against the King’s former ministers. On 16 Mar. he petitioned the Commons on behalf of the corporation of Chester to recover a debt of £250 due to them from Sir Thomas Stanley, 3rd Bt., of Aldersay, as a bill was now pending to settle Stanley’s estate for his family’s benefit. Of Shakerley’s three tellerships in this Parliament the most important were in favour of an amendment to the bill to prevent frauds in the collection of salt duties (13 May), and for rejecting an amendment to a bill for the relief of Protestant tenants of Irish forfeitures (19 May).

The accession of Anne led to a resurgence in Shakerley’s fortunes, with his reappointment as governor of Chester Castle and restoration to the commission of the peace in both Lancashire and Cheshire. He was returned unopposed for Chester in 1702, his concern for local interests obviously reaping its reward, and he campaigned for the Tory candidates in the county election. It seems likely that his duties as governor of Chester limited his contribution to the first two sessions of the 1702 Parliament. In March 1704 he was included upon Lord Nottingham’s (Daniel Finch†) forecast of support over his handling of the Scotch Plot. At the beginning of the 1704–5 session Shakerley was forecast as a probable opponent of the Tack, but on 28 Nov. 1704 voted in favour of this measure. He was appointed to draft a bill allowing a Cheshire resident to compound with the Treasury (14 Dec. 1704), piloted a Cheshire estate bill through the House between December 1704 and February 1705, and on 21 Feb. told in favour of a clause in the bill levying duties on goods re-exported to Ireland.

Shakerley’s support for the Tack led to his dismissal in March 1705 as governor of Chester Castle, and to his removal from the bench in both Lancashire and Cheshire. But despite these marks of official disfavour he was re-elected for Chester unopposed. Classed as ‘True Church’ in an analysis of the 1705 Parliament, he was active in summoning the northern Members to come up early for the Speakership contest, sending out the following ‘whip’: ‘There are great endeavours to get [John] Smith [I] in the Chair against our friend [William] Bromley [II], but if all our staunch friends appear, we shall have a majority. Therefore I pray do you get to London speedily.’ Naturally he voted on 25 Oct. against the Court candidate, Smith, for Speaker. That his attention was not entirely focused at this time on matters of national politics is clear from his management, in January and February 1706, of the Whitchurch to Chester road bill, and his support during February for the renewed efforts of Cheshire’s brine salt proprietors to end what they saw as the preferential treatment accorded to rock salt producers in the payment of duties. Shakerley told on five occasions during this session: against the motion that the Tory John Gape was not duly elected for St. Albans (25 Nov. 1705); against an amendment to the land tax bill (17 Dec.); in favour of the Newcastle-under-Lyme election petition being delayed (16 Feb. 1706); against a bill for the better regulation of trade with the American colonies (2 Mar.); and against agreeing with a Lords’ amendment to an estate bill (11 Mar.).

At the start of the 1706–7 session the Speaker wrote to the mayor and sheriffs of Chester requiring the attendance of their two Members in January, but the mayor replied that Shakerley was already attending, as is indicated by his appointment to inquiry committees on 11 and 21 Dec. On 8 Jan. 1707 Shakerley was the first-named Member appointed to draft a bill to encourage charity schools, and his only tellership of the session occurred the following month when, on the 27th, he told in favour of an amendment to repeal the prohibition on imported foreign lace. In March he guided through the Commons a bill for a customs’ clerk to compound with the Treasury. On 15 Feb. 1707 Lord Haversham (Sir John Thompson, 1st Bt.*) made a speech in the Lords against the Union with Scotland in the course of which he attacked the policies of Charles II and James II, prompting Shakerley to write that I am sorry there should be any cause for making such severe reflections on the ingratitude of the family of Stuarts and wish it had been less apparent. And though there is so much truth in it . . . it will I fear make the overthrow of the monarchy too easy wherever (and God knows how soon) it may be attempted; and under pretence of securing it, it is to be feared that a standing army will be always kept up.

The most notable aspect of Shakerley’s activity during the 1706–7 session, however, was his concern during the passage of the Union to protect Chester’s interests. The prospect of Union had led a number of London merchants to re-export large quantities of goods to Scotland, claiming drawback of the import duties previously paid on these goods, with the intention to bring them back to England after the Union took effect on 1 May 1707, at which time all import duties on goods shipped from Scotland would be abolished. Other merchants had imported large quantities of goods from France and Portugal into Scotland, paying a lower rate of import tariff, also intending to bring them into England after 1 May. Merchants involved in such practices would then be able to undercut those who had failed to anticipate this loophole. When other merchants, including a number based in Chester, discovered this sharp practice an attempt was made to close the loophole. Throughout February, March and April 1707 Shakerley made strenuous attempts in the Commons on their behalf, speaking in five Commons debates on the matter, and after finding fault with the proposal introduced by William Lowndes* he was active in promoting an unsuccessful bill in the Commons to prevent what many saw as an example of the ‘notorious frauds’ which the Union would allow. His contribution to the first session of the British Parliament was less substantial. Of the four significant committees to which Shakerley was appointed, the most noteworthy was his nomination on 23 Mar. 1708 to draft a bill to secure the payment of duties on rock salt, demonstrating his continued concern for the interests of Cheshire’s brine salt industry. He presented the measure on the 24th, the same day on which he was a teller in favour of a clause that naval officers should not be involved in the election of Scottish peers. In early 1708 an analysis of the Commons listed Shakerley as a Tory, and it appears from a letter dated 1710 that he was one of the High Tories approached by Harley in the course of his attempt during this session to displace Lord Treasurer Godolphin (Sidney†).

Tory setbacks at the general election of 1708 made no impression at Chester where Shakerley was returned unopposed, and on 21 Oct. (Sir) Thomas Hanmer II* (4th Bt.), wrote informing him that ‘some matters of great moment are likely to be offered at the first opening of the session’, and requested that Shakerley ensure a good attendance of ‘friends of ours in your neighbourhood’. Thereupon Shakerley asked his brother to send copies of Hanmer’s letter to Sir Richard Myddelton, 3rd Bt.*, who I hope will take effectual care to communicate it forthwith by special messengers to all the Members (our friends) in Denbighshire, Flintshire, Caernarvonshire, Carmarthenshire, Montgomeryshire, Anglesey and Shropshire. This day I write to our friends in Staffordshire and Warwickshire, and I shall write to-morrow to those in Lancashire.

Shortly before the opening of the new Parliament Shakerley also wrote to Chester, detailing a scheme to ensure that the citizenry of Chester were fully consulted on commercial legislation. He promised to send to the mayor all the Commons votes and abstracts of bills before the House concerned with trade and commerce. The mayor would put these documents on public display, and Shakerley recommended that you should depute one of each of your companies in your several trades to peruse them and report the particulars to his respective company; and that the company should then write to your representative in Parliament (by that of a deputy, next post) their pleasures thereupon. This is the best method I can think of for your information and service.

Once the session had started, Shakerley’s main concern was assisting Bradshaigh’s attempts to procure an estate Act to relieve the financial pressure on his affairs. On 12 Jan. 1709 Shakerley was the first-named Member appointed to draft the bill, and though he did not manage the measure through the Commons he played a significant role in redrafting and amending the original bill. His other concern this session was the promotion of a bill, resulting from a petition of debtors held in Chester Castle, for the ease of insolvent debtors, which he presented on 11 Feb. and reported from committee on 23 Mar. He was also a teller, against a bill for a register of Middlesex deeds, conveyances and wills (16 Apr.). His contribution to the 1709–10 session was less substantial. He was the first-named Member appointed to draft two bills, but managed neither through the Commons. His energies were focused chiefly upon the campaign to oppose the proposal of Cheshire’s rock salt proprietors for a bill to make the Weaver navigable, which he characterized as a ‘pernicious self-ended project’. His organization of opposition to the scheme on behalf of the county’s brine salt proprietors during the 1709–10 session forced its proponents to drop the project. However, his attempt to block the Liverpool dock bill, introduced in the same session by one of the north-west’s major rock salt proprietors (Sir) Thomas Johnson*, was unsuccessful. On matters of less parochial concern Shakerley confirmed his Tory sympathies in the spring of 1710 by voting against the impeachment of Dr Sacheverell.

Shakerley was again returned unopposed for Chester in 1710 and was duly classed as a Tory in the ‘Hanover list’. He was soon endeavouring to take advantage of the recent ministerial changes, as in November Harley presented to the Queen Shakerley’s petition that a place at Chester Castle be granted to a friend. Harley’s assistance had been gained through the agency of William Bromley II, who assured Harley that ‘Mr. Shakerley shall know the obligation he has to you’. Having been appointed during the 1710–11 session to three committees examining the alleged abuses of the previous ministry, Shakerley was duly classed as a ‘worthy patriot’ who during this session had pursued such mismanagements. He was also listed among the ‘Tory patriots’ who had opposed the continuation of the war, and was listed as a member of the October Club. His only tellership of the session was in favour of an amendment to the bill to establish the Post Office in the dominions (18 Apr.). Shakerley’s concern to pursue local interests was again evident in this session. On 27 Feb. 1711 leave had been granted to introduce another Weaver navigation bill, but on 7 Mar. Shakerley noticed that its main proponent, Johnson, was in the House and had the bill with him, and that the attendance of Johnson’s friends was sparse. Shakerley promptly moved that the bill be given its first reading, and secured its outright rejection. Later the same month Shakerley again found himself called upon to defend local economic interests, on this occasion Chester’s tanners. Having heard of plans to levy a leather duty, the tanners wrote to Shakerley in February 1711 requesting guidance on how their interests might be protected. A bill imposing a leather duty was introduced in March, and Shakerley, with his customary diligence, supplied regular reports on the bill’s progress, spoke against the measure on 19 Mar., and subsequently moved clauses in committee, on 21 and 24 Apr., to ameliorate the bill’s effects on Chester’s leather industry, an exercise in which he achieved some success.

A significant area of Shakerley’s political concerns during the 1712–13 session is indicated in his inclusion on the four-man committee authorized on 8 Feb. 1712 to prepare a place bill. Otherwise, it was his continuing care to protect local interests that was uppermost in his concerns. When it was proposed, during the committee of ways and means on 29 Feb., that the leather duty be increased, Shakerley promptly spoke out against such a suggestion, and continued to watch for measures which threatened the interests of the Chester tanners. On 14 May, for example, he secured the rejection of a motion that a petition be heard calling for an end to the drawback allowed upon exported tanned calfskins. When later the same month a new leather bill was introduced, Shakerley reported to the Chester tanners that he had gained, ‘without any help or assistance from anybody whatsoever’, a reduction in the proposed rate of the duty. However, several other amendments proposed by Shakerley during the bill’s passage were unsuccessful. His concern for local issues had also been prominent on 15 Apr. during the debate on the bill for regulating elections, when Shakerley told in favour of an amendment requiring the Cheshire sheriff to have made, at the expense of the candidates, tables at which county polls could be taken. Later the same month, prompted by a letter from the braziers of Wigan, he opposed the petition of Bristol merchants for an additional import duty on Dutch brass. As an alderman of the borough, Shakerley felt obliged to take an interest, attending the relevant committee and, on 29 Apr., telling against the proposed duty on 29 Apr.

Shakerley’s appointment on 10 Apr. 1713 to the committee examining the expiring laws, and his report on 28 May, led to his management of a sequence of bills through the Commons. On 5 June he presented a bill to continue the Act for encouraging the import of Scottish and American naval stores, a measure he subsequently managed through the House, chairing the committee of the whole on 20 and 22 June. During the same month he also presented, on the 8th, a bill to continue the Act for the prevention of theft on the Scottish border; reported, on the 27th, on the bill to make perpetual the Act for the better relief of the poor; and was nominated, on the 29th, to prepare the bill continuing the Act preventing false parliamentary returns. Shakerley guided this final measure through all its Commons stages.

On matters of political controversy Shakerley appears to have pursued an independent line. On 22 May he had proposed that the imposition on Scotland of the increased malt duty be delayed, a proposal broadly in line with the desires of the Court, yet he was far less well disposed to the ministry on the question of the French commercial treaty. This may well have been due in large part to the anxiety of Chester’s merchants concerning the low levels of duty imposed on French imports, particularly wine and brandy. Such worries were communicated to Shakerley, and during May he sent to the borough a copy of the French commerce bill. This appears only to have fanned merchant fears, for on 13 June the corporation, merchants and traders of Chester petitioned the Commons to retain the existing level of duties on French brandy, or to reduce the level of duty on domestic brandy. The worries of his constituency presumably weighed heavy with Shakerley, for on 18 June he voted against the bill, being classed in a printed copy of the division as a ‘whimsical’ Tory.

Shakerley had initially intended to stand aside at the 1713 election in favour of Chester’s recorder Roger Comberbach, but when this news reached Chester he was ‘reproached with the character of being turned Whig, by declining to serve your city again in the next Parliament’ and for having recommended Comberbach in his place. Such criticism led Shakerley to abandon his plans and to stand once more. His ‘whimsical’ tendencies were again to the fore on 18 Mar., when he voted against the expulsion of Richard Steele, which no doubt contributed to his being classed in the Worsley list as a Tory who occasionally voted with the Whigs. On a more parochial note, he was again engaged in safeguarding the interests of the tanners of Chester, organizing parliamentary opposition to several petitions requesting the withdrawal of drawback upon exported leather. Though Shakerley was noticeably less active in the 1714 session than in the previous one, he was appointed to draft, and subsequently carried to the Lords, the bill to continue the laws against vagrants. He also assisted in the management of a bill concerned with the marriage settlement of Viscount Massereene [I].

When Shakerley stood at Chester in the 1715 election he was defeated by the Tory Sir Richard Grosvenor, 4th Bt.† His support for a compromise in the county election between the Whigs and Tories allowed Grosvenor to portray him as ‘a traitor to the cause’, and he finished third in the poll. In reference to county elections Shakerley wrote, somewhat wearily, to the city of Chester that if those heats and divisions among gentlemen (and even among the freeholders also) have been in some measure forgotten, yet at the end of three years another Parliament being then by the Triennial Act to be called they have broke out again with greater violence and everybody suffered by them, except only the cunning, crafty self-designing persons who improve those divisions to their own advantage.

Shakerley’s defeat at Chester and apparent disillusionment with politics led to his withdrawal altogether from the local political scene. When a new Weaver navigation scheme was proposed in 1715 he refused to manage the opposition of the brine salt proprietors, and London lawyers had to be employed instead. He was also unwilling to act in his capacity as j.p. in Cheshire in 1715 when requested to deliver the oaths to Catholics and suspected Jacobites, pointing out to the lord lieutenant in November that the wisest course of action was to continue ‘the same mild and gentle methods’ that had preserved the county’s peace up to that point, perhaps feeling that the new dynasty should not search for enemies at a time when many were presenting themselves without any prompting. This unwillingness to act in 1715 was probably not motivated by any Jacobite sympathies, as in September 1719 he advised the government that arms were being sent to Scotland, for which he was thanked for ‘his zeal and care for the King’s service’. In later life he lived quietly on his Cheshire estates, spending most of his time planning and building a house, chapel and park at Somerford, Cheshire, property which he settled upon his nephew George on the latter’s marriage early in 1726. Shakerley died later the same year, on 24 June, and was buried at Lower Peover, Cheshire, though his remains were later removed to Somerford. His remaining Lancashire and Cheshire estates passed to his half-brother, the Jacobite George Shakerley.

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Peter Shakerley, MP's Timeline

June 24, 1726
Age 76