EYRE, Henry (1628-78), of Woodlands, Dorset.
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Family and Education
bap. 23 Oct. 1628, 10th but 6th surv. s. of Giles Eyre of Brickworth, Whiteparish, Wilts. by Jane, da. and h. of Ambrose Snelgrove of Redlynch, Wilts. educ. L. Inn 1647, called 1653; Jesus, Oxf. BA 1649, MA 1652. m. c.1658, Dorothy, da. of Sir George Hastings† of Woodlands, wid. of Christopher Dodington of Lincoln’s Inn and Horsington, Som., and coh. to her nephew Henry, s.p.1
Fellow of Jesus 1648-51, Merton 1651-?58; recorder, Salisbury 1656-June 1660; commr. for assessment, Wilts. 1657, Jan. 1660-1, 1677-d., Dorset 1664-9; j.p. Wilts. 1657-66, Dorset 1662-5, 1668-70, 1675-d.; commr. for recusants 1675.2
Eyre came from the cadet branch of a Wiltshire family which can be traced back to the reign of Edward II, though its parliamentary history begins only in the 16th century. His father was ‘much oppressed by public power for his laudable opposition to the measure taken in the reigns of James I and Charles I’, and was plundered by the Cavaliers in the Civil War. Eyre, a lawyer by profession, was re-elected for Salisbury, seven miles from the paternal home, in 1660, clearly as an opponent of the Restoration (which deprived him of his recordership). He was not an active committeeman, being appointed to the committee of elections and privileges and perhaps nine others, where he cannot be distinguished from his nephew Giles, and he made two recorded speeches. The first, in the supply debate, was harmless enough; he proposed as a compromise that £800,000 should be raised, half by excise, half by a land tax. But in the debate on the bill authorizing the corporation of London to raise money for celebrations, he asserted that:
the desire came from a few persons only and not from the major part; and moved to lay the bill aside, or else to read it tomorrow se’nnight (which was the next day after the rising of the House).3
Eyre is unlikely to have contested the general election of 1661, and little is heard of him for the next 14 years. One of his brothers, an Independent minister, was ejected from his Salisbury parish in 1662, but Eyre seems to have conformed, though his removal from the Dorset commission of the peace in May 1670 shows that he was hostile to the Conventicles Act. His mother’s property at Redlynch, one mile from Downton gave him an interest there which he strengthened by obtaining, together with the sitting Member Sir Joseph Ashe, the grant of two annual fairs. Returned at a by-election in 1675, he was a very active committeeman, serving on 95 committees in only three years in the Cavalier Parliament. Of these 18 were on legal matters, and he was chairman for five private bills. He lost no time in declaring himself an opponent of the Court, moving on 17 May that no new bills should be introduced till satisfaction had been given on the removal of counsellors and the formation of an anti-French alliance. He helped to prepare reasons for the conferences on Shirley v. Fagg and the Four Lawyers, and was named to two anti-Popish committees. In the autumn session he was appointed to the committees for appropriating the customs to the use of the navy and excluding Papists from Parliament. Sir Richard Wiseman listed him, by a natural confusion of residence and constituency, among the Dorset Members opposed to the Court, and Shaftesbury marked him ‘doubly worthy’. In 1677 he was nominated to the committees for recalling British subjects from French service, preserving the liberty of the subject and preventing the growth of Popery. On 9 Mar. he carried the estate bill of Sir Trevor Williams, which he had chaired, to the Lords. On 9 Feb. 1678 he acted as teller for continuing the debate on irregular adjournments. Eyre died on 18 July, and was buried at Whiteparish. On the death of his widow some years later the Hastings estate in Dorset was reunited and passed to Samuel Rolle.4
Ref Volumes: 1660-1690
Authors: M. W. Helms / John. P. Ferris
- 1. Hoare, Wilts. Frustfield, 56; H. N. Bell, Huntingdon Peerage, 96; Hants RO, 16M50/7; Coll. Top. et Gen. iv. 277-8.
- 2. Hoare, Wilts. Salisbury, 711.
- 3. Wilts. N. and Q. v. 98; Christie, Shaftesbury, i. pp. xxxvii, liv; Old Parl. Hist. xxiii. 12, 50.
- 4. A. G. Matthews, Calamy Revised, 187; Hoare, Wilts. Downton, 22; Dorset Hearth-Tax ed. Meekings, 33, 117; Grey, iii. 156; Hutchins, Dorset, iii. 155; Wilts. N. and Q. v. 99.