Hartley, Travers (1723–96), merchant and MP, was born in Dublin, eldest son of James Hartley (a younger scion of the family of Hartley of Beech Park, Clonsilla, Co. Dublin) and his wife Alice, daughter of the Rev. Elias Travers. Prospering in city business from the 1750s, and operating the firm of Travers & Son from 89 Bride St., he was the first merchants’ guild representative placed on committee in Dublin corporation (1762). By the mid 1760s he was active on the Dublin committee of merchants, a business lobby focused on tax reduction and the regulation of city guilds. He was continuously involved in corporation politics. In late February 1782 he was elected MP for Dublin city, taking a stand as the popular, ‘Volunteer’ candidate, having been supported at the hustings by Henry Flood (qv). Whatever his true outlook, it appears that he saw his parliamentary role, in the radical manner, as a constituency delegate. In early March he intervened in the commons during the initial debates on the proposed establishment of a Bank of Ireland, presenting a petition from the committee of merchants calling for the vote to be postponed, to allow business opinion on the bank project to be ‘calmly collected and certainly known’ (Hall, 33). It is likely this anodyne formulation had been overseen by Hartley, who clearly supported the project, but may have been obliged to take account of a querulous minority on the committee. Soon after the bill was passed (late April 1782) by an overwhelming majority, his appointment as one of the original directors to the Bank of Ireland was made known. He ultimately belonged to the board of directors 1783–91.
During the acrimonious debates in the summer of 1782 on the demand by Flood for British ‘renunciation’ of constitutional jurisdiction over the Irish legislature, Hartley refused to back his mentor and ally. Hartley was returned again as MP for Dublin city in 1783, serving until 1790. He was a leading figure in the transformation of the twenty‐one‐man committee of merchants into the temporarily radical first Dublin chamber of commerce on 18 March 1783. Having chaired the crucial meeting on 10 February preliminary to its organisation, he was elected president of the forty‐one‐man council of the chamber of commerce (22 March). Though membership dwindled from 1784, he and his brother, James Hartley, attended until its demise in the early 1790s. During March 1784 he was one of a number of Patriot MPs to call unsuccessfully for a decrease in postal charges, though later unwilling to back the campaign of Henry Grattan (qv) for revenue reform. As merchant discontent with the administrative failure to resolve the contemporary Portuguese embargo on Irish exports simmered in the early summer of 1784, he called for government aid for Irish manufacturers who were at risk of insolvency. By 1785 he was recognised as ‘a great advocate for protective duties’ (Johnston, 184). He stepped in, before Grattan showed hostility to the ‘commercial propositions’ bill of February 1785, to try (without success) to persuade a confused commons to delay the progress of the bill to committee. In the event he was one of the influential non‐Grattanite opposition members effectively to defeat the bill in August that year. His parliamentary career became more subdued in the later 1780s. On 29 March 1788 he presided at a chamber of commerce meeting called to endorse early moves in Britain towards the cessation of the slave trade. Throughout his adult life he was an active member of the presbyterian congregation at Strand St., Dublin. By 1790, when he retired from parliament, he was regarded as ‘the grand old man of Dublin city politics’ (HIP, iv, 375). During the 1790s he grew increasingly concerned at the possibility of public meetings sparking disorder and opposed Grattan's suggestion for an anti‐Defenderism meeting in Dublin. He died 28 March 1796 and was buried in St John's churchyard. His funeral was one of the last great civic occasions in Dublin before the 1798 rebellion.
He married first (1747) Anne Spence. After her death without issue, he married secondly (1752) Anne Gibton or Sibton; they had two daughters and one son. William Lewery Blackley (qv), the anglican divine, was a grandson.