SKIPWITH, Thomas (c.1620-94), of Metheringham, Lincs. and Lincoln's Inn Fields, Mdx.

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. c.1620, 2nd but 1st surv. s. of Edward Skipwith of Grantham, Lincs. by Elizabeth, da. of Sir John Hatcher of Careby, Lincs. educ. Sleaford and Grantham g.s.; Sidney Sussex, Camb. adm. 27 May 1635, aged 16; G. Inn 1638, called 1645. m. (1) lic. 11 June 1647, Mary, da. and h. of Ralph Lathom of Upminster, Essex, wid. of John Fleming of Warley, Essex, 1s. 1da.; (2) 30 Apr. 1673, Elizabeth, da. and coh. of Sir John Rea of Richmond, Surr., wid. of Edward Maddison of Caistor, Lincs., s.p. suc. fa. 1666; kntd. 29 May 1673; cr. Bt. 27 July 1678.1

Offices Held

Commr. fair survey, Sherwood Forest 1657, sewers, Lincs. 1659, assessment Jan. 1660, 1664-80, 1689-90, (Kesteven) 1663-4, militia Mar. 166O; j.p. (Kesteven) Mar. 1660-Feb. 1688, (Holland) 1664-Feb. 1688, (Kesteven and Holland) Oct. 1688-d.; commr. for sewers, Lincs. Aug. 1660; bencher, G. Inn 1668, reader 1670.2

Counsel to Princess Mary of Orange Sept.-Dec. 1660; serjeant-at-law 1675, King’s serjeant 1685-9.3


Skipwith was descended from an illegitimate branch of an old Lincolnshire family established in Elizabethan times. His father served on the eastern association committee and was indicted for treason at Grantham assizes in 1643, but held no office between the execution of Charles I and the recall of the Rump in 1659. Skipwith himself, a lawyer, took no part in the Civil War, but became the first of this branch to sit when he was returned for Grantham, and (as he recalled many years later) spoke ‘with very great applause’ in Richard Cromwell’s Parliament in fayour of restoring the monarchy.4

Skipwith was re-elected in 1660, and marked as a friend on Lord Wharton’s list. There was a double return, but his name appeared on both indentures, and he took his seat at once. A moderately active Member of the Convention, he was named to nineteen committees, including the committee of elections and privileges and those to examine the Journals every week, to consider the bill for continuing judicial proceedings, and to bring in a bill for celebrating the anniversary of the Restoration. He proposed the name of Edmund Ludlow for total exception from the indemnity bill, but failed to find a seconder. After serving on the committee for recovering the queen mother’s jointure, he claimed to have reminded the House of her necessities and procured an advance of £20,000. He took a keen interest in the problem of tithes in sequestrated rectories, helping to amend an order for temporarily confirming intruders, to examine the papers of the commonwealth trustees, and to draft a proviso to the indemnity bill. On the third reading of the bill confirming parliamentary privileges he proposed to insert a reference to the law about the sale of offices, but again failed to find a seconder. He opposed excepting the Protector’s lawyers from the indemnity bill. He was appointed to the committees on the bills to enable William Wray to sever the entail on his estate, and for reparations to the royalist Marquess of Winchester, though he had opposed it on first reading ‘because there are so many in the same condition and will desire recompense’. He was rewarded with the post of counsel to the King’s sister when she came to England to settle her portion, but she died soon afterwards. Wharton sent him copies of the case for modified episcopacy with objections and some circumstances, but he did not intervene in the debates on the Worcester House declaration. He was named to the committees to consider the bills for draining the fens and endowing vicarages, and to examine the rules for disbanding the army and paying off the navy.5

Skipwith was replaced by Sir William Thorold at the general election and apparently returned to his not very distinguished legal practice. He owed his advancement to the coif to William of Orange’s gratitude for his services to his mother and grandmother. He was appointed counsel for Lord Belasyse during the Popish Plot, and Lord Ossory (Thomas Butler) recommended him for a judgeship, but found the King pre-engaged for William Gregory. After detailing his services on the accession of James II he was made King’s serjeant, but he presumably opposed the new King’s ecclesiastical policy as he was not reappointed to the bench in February 1688. He died at his house in Lincoln’s Inn Fields on 2 June 1694 and was buried at Upminster. His son was elected for Malmesbury in 1696.6

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Authors: M. W. Helms / J. S. Crossette


  • 1. Lincs. Peds. (Harl. Soc. lii), 893; Vis. Essex (Harl. Soc. xiv), 398, 570; London Mar. Lic. ed. Foster, 1233.
  • 2. C181/6/391; Kesteven Q. Sess. Mins. (Lincs. Rec. Soc. xxv), p. cxliii.
  • 3. Bodl. Carte 77, f. 659.
  • 4. Lincs. Peds. 893; Carte 77, f. 659.
  • 5. CJ, viii. 59, 134; Voyce from the Watch Tower, 159; Carte 77, f. 659; Bowman diary, ff. 47, 57v, 129.
  • 6. Carte 77, f. 659; HMC Lords, i. 126.