Nuthall, Thomas (DNB00)


NUTHALL, THOMAS (d. 1775), politician and public official, was a native of the county of Norfolk. He became a solicitor, and held the appointments of registrar of warrants in the excise office (1740), and receiver-general for hackney coaches (1749). From a letter written by him from Crosby Square, London, on 30 May 1749, to Lord Townshend, it appears that he transacted that peer's legal business. He was also solicitor to the East India Company; on the retirement in July 1765 of Philip Carteret Webb he was appointed solicitor to the treasury; and he succeeded Webb in 1766, when Lord Northington ceased to be lord chancellor, in the post of secretary of bankrupts. Nuthall had been for many years intimately acquainted with Pitt, whose marriage settlements he had drawn up in 1754, and he attributed his promotions to the friendship of Pitt, his ‘great benefactor and patron.’ He added that he would resign his offices when called upon to ‘do anything that I can even surmise to be repugnant to your generous and constitutional principles.’ Many letters to and from him are in the ‘Chatham Correspondence’ (ii. 166 et seq.); he was addressed as ‘dear Nuthall,’ and he was the medium of the communications with Lord Rockingham in February 1766 for the restoration of Pitt to power. In 1772, however, in consequence of some errors in their private business, probably due to the multiplication of his official duties, Nuthall fell under the censure of that statesman and of Lord Temple, the latter of whom, when writing to Pitt, dubbed him ‘that facetious man of business in so many departments, Mr. Thomas Nuthall, whose fellow is not easily to be met with; witness your marriage-settlements not witnessed.’

Nuthall seems to have been in partnership with a solicitor called Skirrow at Lincoln's Inn in 1766. In the same year, as ranger of Enfield Chase, he devised a plan for saving its oak-woods for the construction of the navy which met with the commendation of Pitt; but an act was passed in 1777 for dividing the chase, and it was disafforested. On returning from Bath he was attacked on Hounslow Heath by a single highwayman, who fired into the carriage, but no one was injured. Nuthall returned the fire, and the man hastily decamped. At the inn at Hounslow he wrote a description of the fellow to Sir John Fielding, and ‘had scarce closed his letter when he suddenly expired,’ 7 March 1775. He had married in 1757 the relict of Hambleton Costance of Ringland, in Norfolk. A passage in Horace Walpole's ‘Letters,’ 27 Oct. 1775, shows that his widow received a pension from the state.

Nuthall's portrait, by Gainsborough, was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1771, and his signature is reproduced in plate xiv. of facsimiles of autographs in the ‘Chatham Correspondence,’ vol. ii. Numerous letters and references to him are in the ‘Home Office Papers,’ 1760–72.

[Gent. Mag. 1740 p. 93, 1749 p. 189, 1757 p. 531, 1765 p. 348, 1766 p. 391, 1775 p. 148; Nichols's Lit. Anecdotes, iv. 338; Chatham Correspondence, ii. 166, 325, 397; Grenville Papers, i. 128, iv. 537–46; Fulcher's Gainsborough, ed. 1856, p. 186.]

W. P. C.