The Throckmortons at Home and Abroad, 1680–1800
The Throckmortons during these years remind us that there is no such thing as a typical recusant family. While Catholic kinship networks still remained important, and provided members of the family with a facility for investing in a degree of social intercourse and economic prosperity, the Throckmortons were never a hermetically sealed Catholic family; Protestant Throckmorton branches continued to flourish. If the Throckmortons in the long eighteenth century were no longer prominent in national political affairs as they had been in the past, they nevertheless maintained an equivalent position offering patronage and influence in other spheres. But what is particularly striking about the family in these years is how it broke free of its recusant constraints and produced a line of liberal grandees whose standing in the English establishment caused them to exploit all that was on offer, but whose Catholicism drove them to demand further civil and religious liberties. This striking commingling of recusancy and reform among members of this family has led them to be viewed as ‘the lay heirs of Erasmus’.1 How they achieved such distinctive celebrity status in this respect is the story of much of what follows.