ONSLOW, Denzil (c.1642-1721), of Pyrford, Surr.

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



11 Nov. 1680
Feb. 1701
Dec. 1701
12 Mar. 1714
1715 - 10 Dec. 1717

Family and Education

b. c.1642, 7th s. of Sir Richard Onslow, and bro. of Arthur Onslow. educ. I. Temple 1663. m. (1) aft. 1671, Sarah (d.1705), da. and coh. of Sir Thomas Foote, 1st Bt., ld mayor of London 1649-50, wid. of Sir John Lewis, 1st Bt., of Ledston, Yorks., s.p.; (2) Jane, da. of Henry Weston of Ockham, Surr., wid. of Robert Yard of Westminster, under-sec. of state 1694-1702, s.p.1

Offices Held

Commr. for assessment, Surr. 1673-80, Yorks. (W. Riding) 1679-80, Surr. and W. Riding 1689-90, Norf. 1690, freeman, Guildford 1676; j.p. Surr. 1678-80, 1686-?d.; out-ranger, Windsor forest 1686-?1711, 1717-d., dep. lt. Surr. 1702-d.2

Commr. for victualling 1706-11, 1714-d.


Onslow began life as ‘a younger brother, with a scanty provision, bred to no business, having soon left that he was designed for, with very moderate abilities of any kind’. But after marriage to a wealthy City widow he was able to buy the Pyrford estate in 1677, build up an annual income estimated at £2,000, and live ‘in a fashion equal almost to any man in the country’. When Evelyn visited Pyrford in 1681 he was overwhelmed with ‘such an extraordinary feast as I had hardly ever seen at any country gentleman’s table in my whole life’.3

At the second general election of 1679, Onslow topped the poll at Haslemere with a fellow exclusionist, Francis Dorrington; a double return with the court supporter James Gresham was resolved in his favour. He probably served on no committees in the second Exclusion Parliament, for even after 40 years in the Commons, according to his great-nephew, he ‘knew no more of the business there than one who had been but of the standing of a session’. Onslow and Dorrington were not returned in 1681, and the Oxford Parliament was dissolved before their petition could be reported. In July, however, he recovered £50 damages from the bailiff for a false return.4

Onslow regained his seat in 1689. An inactive Member of the Convention, he was appointed by full name only to the committee of elections and privileges, and to that to consider the bill to allow surgeons to administer physic. He supported the disabling clause in the bill to restore corporations, and remained a court Whig for the rest of his life. He died on 27 June 1721. Speaker Onslow paid tribute to his great-uncle’s personal charm and influence, despite his general impression that Onslow ‘had no true goodness of nature at the bottom’, saying that his neighbours

would at any time have preferred him to the ablest man that could have stood against him, and he always, by his own interest, at every county election brought in the greatest body of freeholders that appeared there.5

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: J. S. Crossette


  • 1. Manning and Bray, Surr. i. 157; Mar. Lic. (Harl. Soc. xxx), 76.
  • 2. Add. 6167, f. 208.
  • 3. CSP Dom. 1686-7, p. 315; 1702-3, p. 393.
  • 4. Evelyn Diary, iv. 255; HMC 14th Rep. IX, 495.
  • 5. HMC 14th Rep. IX, 495; Somers Tracts, viii. 490-3.