Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


William Blathwayt (?1649-1717) served five monarchs in as many as five posts at one time, from the wholly clerical to the semi-ministerial. The career of such a prodigious and durable pluralist in a period hardly noted for its political stability raises several interesting questions. The most substantial study of Blathwayt, by Gertrude Jacobsen, was written at a time when the leading interpretations of late seventeenth century English history was substantially Whig and the changes wrought by the Glorious Revolution seemed its most compelling feature. Since the 1930s, other historians have suggested that the main emphasis of studies of 1688-9 should be on continuity, a continuity which, superficially, seems admirably illustrated by the career of William Blathwayt. In recent years, the historiographical wheel has come full circle and the emphasis has again been placed on the contrast between pre- and post-revolution England.;Blathwayt's main posts, Secretary at War (1683-1704), acting Secretary at State (1692-1701), Secretary to the plantations committee (1679-1696) and then member of the Board of Trade (1696-1707), Auditor General of plantation revenues (1680-1717) and clerk of the Privy Council (1678-1717) put him at the centre of the English administrative system. His career can serve as a test case. His success as client and patron, his views on parliament and prerogative and on colonial administration, his contribution whether as policy-maker, co-ordinator of the policies of others, or plain clerical assistant, can help us reach conclusions concerning the precise significance of the Glorious Revolution. If the personality of the man fails to impress, the dimensions of his bureaucratic empire do, and so also do the spoils of that empire in the form of his palatial country house, Dyrham Park near Bath. How did the dimensions of that empire change over time, how far were the offices which Blathwayt held integrated and what aid does this give in our interpretation of politics and administration, both at home and in the colonies, in the last three decades of the seventeenth century and the first decade of the eighteenth?;An essentially narrative and biographical approach to Blathwayt does not seem suitable, particularly in view of the existing Jacobsen study. Instead a combined thematic and chronological approach is used; the tripartite division of the thesis reflects the nature of the conclusions reached. . . . (Author's abstract exceeds stipulated maximum length. Discontinued here with permission of school.) UMI



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