SELWYN, Edward (1638-1704), of Friston, Suss.

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



Family and Education

b. 19 Sept. 1638, 4th but 2nd surv. s. of Francis Selwyn (d.1661) of Friston by Penelope, da. of Sir George Shirley of Isfield House, m. lic. 26 Jan. 1681, Mary, da. of Sir Robert Smith, 1st Bt., of Upton, West Ham, Essex, wid. of Edward Garrett of London, 1s. 1da. suc. bro. 1677; kntd. 12 Apr. 1683.1

Offices Held

Commr. for assessment, Suss. 1679-80, 1689-90, j.p. 680-d., sheriff 1682-3; capt. of militia ft. Cinque Ports 1685-?89; dep. lt. Suss. June 1688-?1701.2


Selwyn came from a minor gentry family which acquired Friston under Henry VIII, but did not become armigerous till 1611. His father supported Parliament during the first Civil War and served on several local committees, but his uncle, Sir Nicholas Selwyn, was a Royalist. Selwyn stood for Seaford at the first general election after he succeeded to the Friston estate, some five miles to the east, but his petition against the return of Herbert Stapley was buried in committee. Successful in 1681, he does not appear by name in the Journal of the Oxford Parliament; but he was probably an opponent of exclusion, for Sir Leoline Jenkins praised his handling as sheriff of the Duke of Monmouth’s visit to Chichester in February during which he prevented the ‘fanatics’ from meeting in excessive numbers and used his authority to gather a counter-force of ‘loyal gentlemen’. In July, however, he was sharply criticized by the bishop of Chichester for staying in London ‘to attend his own business when he should have been in the country’. Had he been in Sussex, complained the bishop, he could have prevented Monmouth’s escape abroad with Lord Grey and other Rye House conspirators. Nevertheless he received the royal nomination for Seaford in 1685, and defeated Sir Nicholas Pelham, but he was again completely inactive in James II’s Parliament.3

To the lord lieutenant’s questions in 1688 Selwyn replied:

If he is chosen a Parliament man, and that the King does persist in giving liberty of conscience, provided his Majesty does give security for maintaining the Church of England, he shall not be against taking off the Penal Laws and Tests. ... He should never oppose the choice of any Member of Parliament that shall be for the taking off the Penal Laws and Tests during this King’s reign.

His answers gave satisfaction and he was added to the lieutenancy. He retained local office after the Revolution, but was noted in 1701 as one of the deputy lieutenants who refused to act. He died on 9 Dec. 1704, and was buried at Friston. His son survived him by only a few months, and no other member of the Sussex family entered Parliament.4

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: Basil Duke Henning


  • 1. Vis. Suss. (Harl. Soc. lxxxix), 97-98; Le Neve’s Knights (Harl. Soc. viii), 377; London Mar. Lic. ed. Foster, 530.
  • 2. CSP Dom. 1685, p. 246.
  • 3. Suss. Arch. Colls. vii. 109; xv. 211; Grantees of Arms (Harl. Soc. lxvi), 225; CJ, ix. 569; CSP Dom. Jan.-June 1683, pp. 34-35, 46; July-Sept. 1683, pp. 3, 26-27, 37; Kent AO, NR/AEp/5O.
  • 4. CSP Dom. 1700-2, p. 250; Horsfield, Suss. i. 283.