ANDREWS, Sir Matthew (c.1630-1711), of Ashley House, Walton-on-Thames, Surr. and Mere, Wilts.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Oct. 1679

Family and Education

b. c.1630, 1st s. of Matthew Andrews, Grocer, of Ironmonger Lane, London by Sarah, da. of Hugh Evance, Clothworker, of London. m. bef. 1669, Anne, 1s. 3da. suc. fa. c.1643; kntd. 16 Apr. 1675.1

Offices Held

Freeman, Clothworkers’ Co. 1652, E.I. Co. 1669, committee 1671-2, 1673-4, 1676-8, 1680-1; member, Hon. Artillery Co. 1667, treas. 1681-1703; j.p. Surr. and Wilts. 1670-87, Surr. by 1690-?d., Dorset and Wilts. by 1701-?d.; commr. for assessment, Surr. 1673-80, Wilts. 1679-80, Dorset, London, Mdx., Surr. and Wilts. 1689-90; sheriff, Wilts. 1676-7; elder brother, Trinity House 1680-d., master 1695-7, dep. master 1697-9; gov. Christ’s Hospital by 1687.2

Commr. for preventing export of wool 1689-92; gent. of privy chamber 1689-1702; commr. of public accounts 1691-4.3


Andrews’s father was colonel of the Yellow Regiment of the London trained bands at the outbreak of the Civil War. He left his affairs so involved that his executors refused to act, and Andrews may not have received the £200 portion intended for him. Still under age when his father’s will was proved in 1648, he was associated with Thomas Andrews the regicide (perhaps a kinsman) in the Assada adventure to West Africa in the following year, and through him doubtless obtained his first appointment in the East India Company, in which he rose to be president of the Surat factory. The committee at one time held his honesty and integrity in low regard, but they may have been misled, for on his return to England in 1663 arbitrators (who included Sir William Thompson and John Jolliffe) found that the Company owed him more than £12,000. Andrews continued to participate in the eastern trade; with the veteran financier Sir Martin Noel he was appointed agent for the Red Sea in 1664. But by 1670 trade had little more to offer him, and he consulted his neighbour, the astrologer Lilly, about buying the office of registrar in chancery, or alternatively a seat on the navy board. Apparently his stars were declared unfavourable to either project, and during the next decade he interested himself chiefly in shipping in association with William Wood, and encouraged by the statutory customs exemptions granted in 1662 and 1670. He had already built a ship in India; he seems to have built at least five more between 1673 and 1680, all three-deckers, heavily armed, and suitable for distant waters, and with his partners he owned a fleet of at least a dozen. In 1675 he was knighted on board one of his ships. As a Surrey magistrate he was equally energetic, personally apprehending two notorious highwaymen after a desperate struggle in which two of his own followers were shot and wounded. His interest in the west country seems to date from 1665, when he took over a duchy of Cornwall lease at Mere from Robert Phelips, and from 1672, when he bought Woodlands, he may have resided for part of the year in Wiltshire, possibly finding the neighbourhood more congenial than Surrey. ‘Nobody loves the fellow, and that vexeth him,’ Lilly had written in the previous year, and Andrews himself is said to have complained of ‘everyone sneering at him, and nobody taking notice of him’.4

Andrews first stood for Shaftesbury, six miles from Woodlands, in February 1679. According to an apparently official poll taken by Thomas Bennett, he outvoted Henry Whitaker by 95 to 75. Nevertheless the mayor declared Whitaker elected. Andrews, not unnaturally, petitioned, but no report was ever made. As Bennett and Whitaker both voted for exclusion, it may be presumed that the petition was stifled because Andrews was reckoned a court supporter. But at the next election Andrews finished at the top of the poll with 268 votes, and no attempt was made to prevent his taking his seat. He was named to two committees in the second Exclusion Parliament, both of personal interest to him; one for the better regulating of elections, the other for review of the poor laws, which he complained were especially burdensome on his Mere property. But his constituency had no reason to complain of his inactivity; every week he sent the mayor an account of parliamentary proceedings.5

Andrews intended to contest the 1681 election in person, but he was detained in London by the meeting of the Artillery Company on 9 Feb., when he made a speech in the court interest urging the members not to insist on their right of electing a leader. Two days later he was returned for Shaftesbury at half a crown a vote; but there was the possibility of a petition from the virtuous Whitaker, who had refused to spend a farthing and finished bottom of the poll. Andrews wisely got his name down for the committee of elections and privileges, but there is no other evidence for his attendance at Oxford.6

The reduced electorate under the new charter did not deter Andrews from standing in 1685; he was defeated at the poll and again, as in 1679, no report was made on his petition. Perhaps as a result he became suspect to the Court; but when he was removed from the Surrey and Wiltshire commissions of the peace, he asked the lord chief justice how he had offended his Majesty, and vainly hoped that Samuel Pepys would be able to procure his restoration. On 19 Apr. 1688 James II’s electoral agents considered him likely to carry the next election at Shaftesbury and hoped ‘to have full satisfaction’ of him. But they must have been disappointed, for in September they described the constituency as ‘doubtful’. They also noted that Andrews controlled 50 out of 120 votes at Hindon.7

Andrews was duly elected to the 1689 Convention, in which he was an active Member, with 49 committees, and was given a post at Court. He was in dispute with his Popish landlady over the rent of Ashley House, and on 26 Mar. he wrote to her steward in a bullying and illiterate manner: ‘I will but mind you of two Acts of Parliament now passing the House which may concern her honour to lighten the burden’. Lady Portland (foundress of an English nunnery in the Low Countries) hastened to offer an abatement, at the same time forwarding copies of the correspondence to her brother-in-law, (Sir) Joseph Williamson.8

Andrews was most concerned in the House with economic affairs. He was named to the committees to consider trade with France and complaints against the East India Company, in which he held £1,000. On 22 May he reported on James’s investments in this and other stock. He was appointed to the committees to inspect the Journals for references to the Popish Plot, to consider new oaths for army officers, and to reform the bankruptcy laws. On 10 July he carried to the Lords the bill fixing import duties on tea, coffee and chocolate. After the recess he served on committees to restrain election expenses, to restore corporations, to consider the East India trade, and to inquire into war expenditure. He also helped to consider the second mutiny bill and the illegal detention of shipping. He was one of four Members ordered to inspect the papers of Brent, the ‘popish solicitor’. In the debate on restoring corporations, he acted as teller with Paul Foley for retaining the new Hereford charter, and supported the disabling clause.9

Andrews remained a Court Whig under William III, signing the Association in 1696. He died on 6 Mar. 1711 and was buried at Mere, where he had founded a school. His unmarried daughters were provided with portions of £2,300 each in his will. The first of the ‘nabobs’ in Parliament, Andrews was a collector of Dutch pictures and of china. His charitable activities covered a wide field and he appears to have had a genuine concern for education. His son, who sold Woodlands, apparently cherished no political ambitions.10

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: John. P. Ferris


  • 1. Soc. of Genealogists, Boyd’s London Units, 19529; PCC 32 Pile, 48 Young; N. and Q. (ser. 10), v. 289; Le Neve’s Knights (Harl. Soc. viii), 298.
  • 2. Cal. Ct. Mins. E.I. Co. ed. Sainsbury, vi. 228; viii. 138, 209; ix. 30, 225; x. 302; xi. 40; W. R. Chaplin, Trinity House, 58; G. A. Raikes, Hist. Hon. Artillery Co. ii. 477; Cal. Treas. Bks. ix. 1080, x. 601; information from Prof. H. Horwitz.
  • 3. Carlisle, Privy Chamber, 203.
  • 4. Cal. Ct. Mins. E.I. Co. iii, p. xxii; iv. 25; v. 210; vi. 228, 233, 350; viii. 151; ix. 269, 289; xi. 230; Cal. Treas. Bks. iv. 107; v. 204, 958; vii. 1064; x. 300-1; CSP Dom. 1664-5, p. 124; 1670, p. 330; Bodl. Ashmole 240, f. 212; Hoare, Wilts. Mere, 24; C. H. Josten, Elias Ashmole, 1181-2, 1223, 1229.
  • 5. Wilts. RO, 413/435; CJ, ix. 570; Cal. Treas. Bks. x. 300; Pythouse Pprs. ed. Day, 100.
  • 6. Pythouse Pprs. 88, 95, 99-100; Raikes, i. 203.
  • 7. R. Morrice, Entering Bk. 2, pp. 47-48; Bryant, Pepys, iii. 197.
  • 8. SP32/1/10.
  • 9. CJ, x. 144, 212, 299, 322; Add. 22185, f. 14.
  • 10. Hoare, 19; PCC 48 Young; Cal. Treas. Bks. iv. 656.