ASHBURNHAM, Denny (c.1628-97), of Broomham Park, Guestling, Suss.

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



Family and Education

b. c.1628, 1st s. of Lawrence Ashburnham of Broomham Park by 2nd w. Bridget, da. of Sir George Fleetwood of The Vache, Chalfont St. Giles, Bucks. m. (1) bef. 1650, Frances, da. of John Ashburnham I of Ashburnham, Suss., 4s. d.v.p. 2da.; (2) lic. 4 Sept. 1675, Anne (d.1729), da. of Sir David Watkins of The Piazza, Covent Garden, Westminster, 3s. (1 d.v.p.) 1da. suc. fa. 1648; cr. Bt. 15 May 1661.1

Offices Held

Commr. for militia, Suss. Mar. 1660, assessment, Hastings, Aug. 1660-1, Suss. Aug. 1660-80, 1689-90, Westminster 1689; j.p. Suss. Mar. 1660-July 1688, Nov. 1688-9, col. of militia horse Apr. 1660-74; commr. for sewers, Wittersham marshes Dec. 1660; freeman, Rye 1662-d.; dep. lt. Suss. 1670-Apr. 1688, London 1687-Oct. 1688; mayor, Hastings 1685-6.2

Commr. for excise 1665-8, 1678-89; jt. victualler of the navy Sept.-Dec. 1671, 1673-7, Tangier 1677-8; commr. for hearth-tax 1683-9.3


Ashburnham was descended from a cadet branch of the family which had acquired Broomham, four miles from Hastings, in the 15th century. His father was appointed to two parliamentary committees for Sussex in 1643, but was discharged by order of the House of Commons. Ashburnham himself was described in the patent for his baronetcy as ‘a person of known loyalty’, though he made no display of it during the Interregnum. He seems to have lived quietly on his estate, and probably owed, at least in the first place, his title, his seat at Hastings and his offices to his first wife’s father.4

In the Convention, Ashburnham was named only to the committee for the attainder bill. He was reelected to the Cavalier Parliament, but was again inactive, serving on the committees for the corporations and uniformity bills and 25 others. He was noted as a court dependant in 1664, no doubt in anticipation of the seat on the excise commission that came his way in the following year. In 1667 he was named to the committee to consider the petition charging his father-in-law with corruption. Although he lost his appointment in an administrative reform in 1668, together with Francis Finch, he was granted a pension of £250 p.a., repeated efforts were made to find him a lucrative appointment either in the central or local administration, and his name appears on both lists of the court party in 1669-71, though he was included among the defaulters in attendance in the latter year. He was in office again from 1673 to the Revolution; in A Seasonable Argument he was credited with gains of £10,000 and in Flagellum Parliamentarium with eight times as much, though he was probably involved in the financial difficulties which beset his partner in the victualling contract, Sir Dennis Gauden. His name appeared again on the Paston list, on the list of officials in the House in 1675, on the working lists and on Wiseman’s account. He was marked ‘doubly vile’ by Shaftesbury in 1677, and again appeared on both lists of the court party in the following year.5

At the height of the hysteria over the Popish Plot, Ashburnham was approached by the sister of one of the Jesuits charged with high treason by Titus Oates to give evidence for the defence. At the trial on 17 Dec. 1678, he was clearly a reluctant witness, but produ