BERKELEY, Edward (c.1644-1707), of Pylle, Som.

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

Constituency

Dates

Mar. 1679
Oct. 1679 - 27 Nov. 1680
1685
1689
1690
1695
1698

Family and Education

b. c.1644, 1st s. of Edward Berkeley of Pylle by Phillippa, da. of George Speke of White Lackington. educ. Wadham, Oxf. matric. 12 July 1661, aged 17; L. Inn 1665. m. c.1680, Elizabeth, da. and coh. of John Ryves of Ranston, Dorset, 3s. (1 d.v.p.) 3da. suc. fa. 1669.1

Offices Held

Commr. for assessment, Som. 1673-80, Wells 1690; col. of militia ft. Som. by 1679-?87, ?1689-d., j.p. 1680-Feb. 1688, Oct. 1688-d., dep. lt. 1680-7, 1689-?d.2

Biography

Berkeley came from a cadet branch of the family which had been established at Pylle, six miles from Wells, for three generations. Berkeley’s grandfather during the Civil War served as a colonel in the King’s army. His father was nominated a knight of the Royal Oak in 1660 when his estimated income was £1,000 p.a.3

Berkeley himself was first returned to Parliament in 1679. Shaftesbury classed him as ‘base’ in spite of his country connexions: George Speke was his uncle and John Speke his cousin. In fact, perhaps under their influence, Berkeley voted for the exclusion bill, the only activity recorded of him in the first Exclusion Parliament. He was returned again for Wells at the autumn election, and by this time had become reconciled to the Court, being connected through his wife with Ralph Stawell, the leader of the Court party in Somerset. When the second Exclusion Parliament met he gave up his seat to John Hall of the country party to prevent any decision by the House in favour of a scot and lot franchise. In March 1682 Secretary Jenkins regarded him as one of the most reliable deputy lieutenants in the county.4

Berkeley regained his seat in James II’s Parliament after another contest, but he was again inactive. In succeeding years his disillusion with the King’s policy became apparent. In 1687 he desired time to consider the repeal of the Test and Penal Laws and was dismissed from the lieutenancy. He rallied to William of Orange at the Revolution, signing the declaration of support at Crewkerne on 15 Nov. 1688. Re-elected to the Convention, he voted to agree with the Lords that the throne was not vacant. Apart from a complaint of breach of privilege, he was completely inactive. He was a Tory under William III, refusing the Association in 1696, and died in 1707. His son Maurice sat for Wells in 1705-8 and 1715-16, and his younger son inherited the estates of Henry Seymour II and founded the Berkeley Portman family.5

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: Irene Cassidy

Notes