BAYNTUN, Edward (1618-79), of Spye Park, Bromham, Wilts.

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

Constituency

Dates

Apr. 1640
Nov. 1640 - 3 Sept. 1647
3 June - 6 Dec. 1648
1659
1660
20 Apr. 1675
Mar. 1679

Family and Education

bap. 2 Dec. 1618, 1st s. of Sir Edward Bayntun of Bromham by ist w. Elizabeth, da. of Sir Henry Maynard of Easton, Essex; bro. of Henry Bayntun I and half-bro. of Nicholas Bayntun. educ. St. John’s, Oxf. 1636; L. Inn 1638. m. lic. 29 May 1661, Stuarta, da. of Sir Thomas Thynne of Richmond, Surr., and coh. to her bro. Thomas Thynne II of Longleat, Wilts., 3s. 2da. suc. fa. 1657; KB 23 Apr. 1661.2

Offices Held

Capt. of horse (parliamentary) 1642, maj. by 1644.3

Commr. for assessment, Wilts. 1643-52, 1657, Jan. 1660-d., sequestration 1643, levying of money 1643, execution of ordinances 1644, defence 1644, courts martial, London and Westminster 1644, militia, Wilts. 1648, Mar. 1660; j.p. Wilts. 1650-4, Mar. 1660-77, Devizes 1669; capital burgess, Devizes by 1654-62, 1670-d.; col. of militia ft. Wilts. Apr. 1660-?d.; commr. for oyer and terminer, Western circuit July 1660; sheriff, Wilts. 1664-5.4

Commr. with the Scottish army 1645; trustee for the Elector Palatine 1645, commr. for exclusion from sacrament 1646, indemnity 1647-9, scandalous offences 1648.

Biography

Algernon Sidney, in his Discourses Concerning Government, selected the Bayntuns as one of the families ‘that are now called commoners who in antiquity and eminency are in no way inferior to the chiefs of the titular nobility. ... And if the tenures of their estates be considered, they have the same and as ancient as any of those that go under the name of duke or marquess.’ They took their name from a Yorkshire village, but had been seated in Wiltshire since the reign of Edward III, first representing the county in 1449. At the Reformation they greatly increased their estates by purchases of monastic land. The Wiltshire property alone brought in more than £2,000 p.a. in rents, and Bayntun’s income after succeeding to the estate was reckoned at double that figure. He was returned for Devizes to the Short and Long Parliaments, when his father sat for Chippenham. Both were members of the Presbyterian ‘war party’; but whereas the father conformed after Pride’s Purge, Bayntun, who had already been forced to withdraw by the army in 1647, did not sit. Nevertheless, he continued in local office and served in two of the Protectorate Parliaments.5

On the final dissolution of the Long Parliament, Bayntun contemplated standing for the county with the support of Edmund Ludlow. When Ludlow came down to Wiltshire before the election, however, Bayntun informed him ‘that having had a meeting with the gentlemen of the country at Devizes, he had resolved not to put his friends to the trouble of appearing for him, judging it the best way rather to swim with the stream than to be borne down by it’. He was returned for Calne, apparently without opposition, and was included in Lord Wharton’s list of friends. But he was named to only eight committees, including that for the continuance of Parliament. He took part in the conference on appointing commissioners for the great seal on 10 May 1660. He was named to the committees to prepare the excise bill and recommend proportions on the poll bill, helping to manage a conference later in the session. He spoke against reading the bill on religion introduced by William Prynne on 21 June, and in favour of reading the petitions from Sir Arthur Hesilrige, John Lambert and Daniel Axtel on 22 Aug. He was appointed to the committee to enable discharged soldiers to exercise trades without apprenticeship. In the second session he acted as teller for hearing a petition against certain militia officers, and, probably in consequence, had to endure some ‘reproachful and abusive language’ in the lobby. He spoke against the excise bill on 21 Nov. preferring to raise the money by a reformed court of wards.6

Bayntun stood unsuccessfully for Calne in 1661, and was out of the House for 14 years. He was returned for Devizes at a by-election, and almost immediately entered into the controversy between the two Houses occasioned by the case of John Fagg I, though on the whole with moderation. He spoke for the first time on 14 May 1675, urging a conference with the Lords on their ‘unparliamentary’ message. In the long and acrimonious debate on the next day he intervened three times, at once righteously indignant at the attitude of the Lords, rather contemptuous of the bishops, but fearful of the tendency of the Commons to go too far and themselves become ‘unparliamentary’. He advised giving ‘an unusual return to an unusual message, without harsh expressions, in order to a conference’. He was among those ordered to draw up reasons. The conflict between the Houses occupied most of the remainder of Bayntun’s first session. He was appointed to the committee on the bill to prevent the growth of Popery (27 May), but his energy was concentrated on arranging conferences between the two Houses and in inspecting the Lords’ Journals on the various points that arose. He continued to speak frequently, almost always to caution the House against rashness and to urge that traditional procedures be followed. But his own conduct hardly followed his precepts. He became increasingly critical of the behaviour of the serjeant-at-arms. He declared that he had not ‘heard one true word from your officers since he came into the House’, and two days later it was formerly moved that he should be called to the bar for repeated breaches of order. It is hardly surprising that his nomination to the lieutenancy was rejected by the King, and that he was later removed from the commission of the peace.7

When the House reconvened in October, Bayntun moved that only 20 warships should be built. His committee appointments reveal the extent of his opposition to the Court. He was appointed to the committees for the bills to declare that religion might not be altered except by Act of Parliament, to prevent illegal exactions, to hinder Papists from sitting in either House, to appropriate the customs to the use of the navy and to prevent the growth of Popery. In the debate on appropriation on 11 Nov. he interrupted the chancellor of the Exchequer, Sir John Duncombe, so rudely as to be called to order. His active membership in the Long Parliament was flung at him, but he defended himself by saying that he ‘came as fairly into the Long Parliament, and went as fairly out, as any man did’. He helped to manage a conference on the recall of British subjects from French service.8

When Parliament reassembled after the long prorogation, Bayntun was again appointed to the committee for recall from French service, and to two committees dealing with supply, that for redressing abuses in the collection of hearth money and that for implementing the bill for the expenses of the 20 ships. On 5 Mar. 1677 he spoke in favour of tacking an appropriation of the customs to the navy ‘that this money may not like the last go the way of all flesh’. His next recorded speeches were on 23 May during the debate on the King’s message. Charles had appealed for a larger supply without the guarantee of Protestant alliances, and Bayntun, along with the majority, insisted on alliances first. He spoke to this effect and urged that the House go into a grand committee so that ‘he would be informed by freedom of debate’. He was ‘for alliances first’ and advised the House ‘that the whole kingdom as one man may be against him that shall advise the contrary. He means "this House".' This touched off a heated debate in which one Member went so fas as to accuse Bayntun of sedition, but the matter was smoothed over, the House went into committee and he once more rose to insist upon the priority of alliances. It is no wonder that he was marked 'thrice worthy' by Shaftsbury, and named to the committee to prepare the address to the King. It was presented three days later, but Charles refused to act and ordered the House to adjourn. His last act to defiance was on 4 Feb. 1678, when he tried unsuccessfully to postpone the motion to go into committee to consider a supply, but shortly afterwards his health seems to have broken down. His name appears only once more in the Journals, when he was sent for in December as a defaulter. Nevertheless he was re-elected for Devizes after a contest and marked 'worthy' on Shaftsbury's list, but on 25 Apr. 1679 he was again se