FELTON, Sir Henry, 2nd Bt. (1619-90), of Playford, Suff.
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Family and Education
b. 27 July 1619, 1st s. of Sir Henry Felton, 1st Bt., of Playford by Dorothy, da. of Sir Nicholas Bacon, 1st Bt., of Redgrave, wid. of Sir Bassingbourne Gawdy of West Harling, Norf. m. 19 Dec. 1637, Susanna, da. of Sir Lionel Tollemache, 2nd Bt.†, of Helmingham, Suff., 12s. (7 d.v.p.) 3da. suc. fa. 18 Sept. 1624.2
J.p. Suff. 1657-July 1671, Dec. 1671-July 1688, 1689-d.; commr. for assessment, Suff. 1657, Jan. 1660-80, 1689-d., Ipswich 1663-4, sewers, Norf., Suff., Lincs. and Northants. 1658-9, militia Suff. 1659, Mar. 1660; col. of militia horse, Suff. Apr. 1660, by 1676-at least 1680, capt. by 1664-at least 1671; freeman, Ipswich June 1660, Dunwich 1678; commr. for oyer and terminer, Norfolk circuit July 1660; dep. lt. Suff. c. Aug. 1660-?July 1688, 1689-d., commr. for loyal and indigent officers 1662, v.-adm. 1663-83, commr. for recusants 1675; bailiff, Ipswich 1684-5, portman 1685-July 1688.3
Felton was descended from a merchant who acquired the manor of Shotley by marriage early in the 15th century. His own estate, exclusive of his grandmother’s jointure, was valued at £797 p.a. on his marriage in 1637. He took no part in the Civil War, but in 1656 he became the first of the family to be elected to Parliament, and he held county office under the Protectorate. By the summer of 1659 he had become an active Royalist. In January 1660 he presented the Suffolk petition for a free Parliament to George Monck, and his arrest was ordered by the Council of State.4
Felton was re-elected to the Convention as knight of the shire, and marked as a friend by Lord Wharton. An inactive Member, he was named only to the committee of elections and privileges and the committee on the bill for confirming parliamentary privilege. At a gentry meeting he was approved for re-election, and invited to choose his colleague. Elected for the county for the fourth time in 1661, he was no more active in the Cavalier Parliament, in which he was appointed to only 19 committees, including the elections committee in seven sessions, and acted as teller in six divisions. In the opening session he was among those to whom the bill to prevent mischief from Quakers was committed, and was teller against a proviso to the militia bill. As ‘a person of great integrity and loyalty’ he was granted custody of the hundreds of Bosmere, Claydon and Samford. In 1663 he was teller in three divisions on important measures: the bills against Popery and to settle a revenue on the Duke of York and the bill against conventicles, in which he favoured excusing from local office those who refused the sacramental test. On 11 Dec. 1667 he claimed that his cattle had been distrained by the servant of his cousin Anthony Gawdy; but he failed to attend the committee of privileges either in person or by counsel, and (Sir) Job Charlton reported that the distraint was to recover rent due from his second son Thomas, one of the royal pages. Thomas Waldegrave was desired to give Felton notice of the report, and a fortnight later the House resolved that his privilege had been infringed; but the servant was released, nevertheless. He acted as teller for the Opposition on supply on 1 Dec. 1670, but was included in a list of the court party at the end of the session. This may be connected with an obscure incident that caused Felton’s temporary removal from the bench. In September, however, the attorney-general was directed not to prosecute him for certain words which ‘his Majesty is pleased to pardon’, presumably because his son was now a groom of the bedchamber.5
Felton’s only recorded speech was on 18 Feb. 1673, when he sought to obtain a reduction in taxes for his constituency. His name appeared on the Paston list, and on 19 Feb. 1673 he was teller against the return as his colleague for Suffolk of Sir Samuel Barnardiston, the country candidate who had narrowly defeated his wife’s nephew Lord Huntingtower (Lionel Tollemache). Felton’s name was included in the working lists, but Sir Richard Wiseman noted that he had been absent during the autumn session of 1675, and queried his reliability. Shaftesbury marked him ‘doubly vile’, and in A Seasonable Argument he was described as ‘a pensioner, and his son a bedchamber man’. He was on both lists of the court party in 1678.6
As one of the ‘unanimous club’, Felton did not stand again. An opponent of exclusion, he presented the Suffolk address approving the dissolution of Parliament in 1681, and was nominated bailiff of Ipswich in the new charter. In April 1688 the royal electoral agents reported that he might regain his seat at the next election, ‘though he be an infirm man’. They hoped that he might ‘go right’ on the repeal of the Test Act and Penal Laws, though he had ‘answered wrong to the Lord Dover’, the Roman Catholic lord lieutenant. But he was removed as portman of Ipswich in July. He accepted county office after the Revolution, but died soon afterwards, being buried at Playford on 20 Oct. 1690. His eldest son, the third baronet, who had stood unsuccessfully for Thetford in 1689, was returned for Orford as a Whig in 1695, while Thomas sat for Orford and Bury St. Edmunds with one short interval from 1690 to 1709.7
Ref Volumes: 1660-1690
Author: Paula Watson
- 1. Excluded.
- 2. Suff. Inst. Arch. Procs. iv. 33-34, 54 -56.
- 3. C181/6/291, 341, 342, 360, 381; Merc. Pub. 26 Apr. 1660, Add. 39246, ff. 4, 23; East Anglian n.s. vi. 316; HMC Var. vii. 102; Ind. 24557; R. Canning, Principal Charters of Ipswich, 51-52.
- 4. Suff. Inst. Arch. Procs. iv. 29; D. Underdown, Royalist Conspiracy, 269; Suff. and the Great Rebellion (Suff. Rec. Soc. iii), 129; CSP Dom. 1659-60, p. 568.
- 5. Add. 32324, f. 53v; CJ, viii. 304, 477, 502, 509; ix. 56, 66; CSP Dom. 1661-2, pp. 321, 344, 402; 1671, p. 477; Milward, 198, 224; Cal. Treas. Bks. i. 669; iii. 934.