DUNCOMBE, William (c.1647-1704), of Battlesden, Beds.

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



10 Feb. 1673

Family and Education

b. c.1647, 1st s. of Sir John Duncombe. educ. travelled abroad 1666. m. settlement 30 May 1672, Jane (bur. 17 Feb. 1701), da. of Sir Frederick Cornwallis, 1st Baron Cornwallis, 2s. (1 d.v.p.) 3da. suc. fa. 1687.1

Offices Held

Commr. for assessment, Beds., Suff. and Bury St. Edmunds 1673-80, Beds. 1689-90, recusants, Suff. 1675; j.p. Beds. 1680-bef. 1683, Feb. 1688-d.; freeman, Eye by 1681; dep. lt. Beds. Feb. 1688-d.2

Envoy to Sweden 1689-92; one of the lds. justices [I] 1693-5; comptroller of army accounts 1703-d.3


Duncombe joined his father as MP for Bury St. Edmunds after a by-election in 1673. Inactive in the Cavalier Parliament, he made no recorded speeches and was appointed to only four committees. He was named with his father on the Paston list and the list of King’s servants in the House, but Sir Richard Wiseman doubted his reliability. In the working lists he was noted among those to be ‘fixed’, but he is not known to have received any personal gratification. After Danby had ousted his father from the Exchequer in 1676, Shaftesbury marked him ‘worthy’, but later changed his classification to ‘vile’, perhaps on learning of his father’s pension. In April 1677, he acted as teller against a proviso to the bill to prevent abuses in the import of Irish cattle, and in 1678 he was appointed to the committee to translate Coleman’s letters.

Duncombe is not known to have stood during the exclusion crisis, but his removal from the commission of the peace suggests Whiggish sympathies, and in the Bedfordshire election of 1685 he gave one of his votes to the Hon. Edward Russell. He may have been a Whig collaborator, for he was appointed a deputy lieutenant in February 1688. Returned for Bedfordshire in 1689 he was inactive in the Convention, making no recorded speeches and serving only on the committees for the new oaths of supremacy and allegiance, and for the relief of Huguenot refugees. In April he was appointed envoy to Sweden and had arrived in Stockholm by 16 July. He was listed as a supporter of the disabling clause in the bill to restore corporations, but his despatches prove that he was still en poste during the debates of January 1690. Though something of a ‘trimmer’, he signed the Association in 1696. Duncombe died of smallpox on 13 Apr. 1704 and was buried at Battlesden, the last of his family to sit in Parliament. The estate was sold in 1706.4

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Authors: Leonard Naylor / Geoffrey Jaggar


  • 1. Beds. N. and Q. ii. 46; CSP Dom. 1665-6, p. 540; F. A. Blaydes, Gen. Bed. 344; Beds. Par. Regs. xxxvii (Battlesden), 2, 11, 13; Prob. 6/82/245.
  • 2. E. Suff. RO, EE2/D4/2.
  • 3. Cal. Treas. Bks. ix. 98; x. 122; xviii. 41; CSP Dom. 1693, pp. 134, 175; 1694-5, p. 471.
  • 4. Beds. RO, CH 15/1; SP 95/13/4, 81; 104/153/210; Luttrell, v. 413; Beds. Par. Regs. xxxvii. 13; VCH Beds. iii. 343.