STARKEY, Samuel (1649-1717), of Windsor, Berks.

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



5 Apr. 1679
4 Nov. 1680

Family and Education

bap. 11 Sept. 1649, 3rd but o. surv. s. of George Starkey of Windsor and Gray’s Inn by Ellen, da. of William Woolley of Warrington, Lancs. educ. St. Edmund Hall, Oxf. 1663; G. Inn 1664, called 1671, ancient 1687. m. lic. 4 Nov. 1672, Alice, da. and h. of Lawrence Chambers, merchant, of Crutched Friars, London and Eltham, Kent. suc. fa. 1676.1

Offices Held

Town counsel, Windsor 1676-9 freeman 1679; commr. for assessment, Berks. 1679-80.2


Starkey’s grandfather and father were both lawyers practising in Windsor, where they lived in a large house near the castle. His father sat for the borough in Richard Cromwell’s Parliament. He gave damaging evidence against John Cook and Hugh Peter in the regicide trials, and, very conveniently for the Court, ‘mislaid’ the records required by the opposition candidates for their election petition in 1661. Nevertheless he was imprisoned in the castle during the second Dutch war as ‘a person of dangerous principles’. Starkey himself was expelled from Gray’s Inn in 1670 for behaving ‘in a factious, riotous and seditious manner’ towards the benchers, but re-admitted on payment of a modest fine, and allowed to qualify as a barrister. He stood as a country candidate for Windsor in the three Exclusion elections with strong popular support. He was seated in 1679 on petition, the House setting aside the return of two court supporters by the corporation in favour of an inhabitant franchise. His only committee was to inspect the poor laws, and he was given leave on 1 May, but he returned to vote for the exclusion bill. In the autumn election the exclusionists were defeated by the votes of the castle servants, but the House altered the franchise to scot and lot payers only, and Starkey was again declared elected. He was appointed to only two committees in the second Exclusion Parliament, those to ascertain fines for misdemeanours and to consider a petition against the Royal Africa Company, but on 4 Jan. 1681 he defaulted on a call of the House. He was re-elected, but left no trace on the records of the Oxford Parliament.3

Starkey became a government informer after the Rye House Plot, and was sent down to Buckinghamshire to search for suspects. Here he committed ‘enormities’ in searching the houses of respectable Whigs, such as Lord Paget and Sir Roger Hill. Sunderland, who thought him a rogue, allowed him to be prosecuted at the assizes, and he was fined £100 for trespass. He was unable to raise even half this sum, and was imprisoned until May 1686. He stood again for Windsor at a by-election in 1689, but the House now decided in favour of the corporation franchise, and his petition was dismissed. A warrant was issued for his arrest in 1693, but it does not seem to have been executed, and Starkey returned to obscurity. He was buried at Windsor on 20 Mar. 1717.4

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: Leonard Naylor


  • 1. New Windsor par. reg.; Chester Mar. Lic. (Lancs. and Cheshire Rec. Soc. lxi), 13; PCC 136 Grey, 102 Duke, 72 Bence; Guildhall Lib. mss 10091/28.
  • 2. First hall bk. (Windsor Hist. Recs. i), 28-29, 32, 34.
  • 3. Berks. N. and Q. i. 110; G. Inn Pens. Bk. ii. 12, 13; CSP Dom. 1665-6, p. 237; 1680-1, p. 432.
  • 4. CSP Dom. July-Sept. 1683, pp. 41, 86, 267, 277; 1683-4, p. 282; 1686-7, p. 137; 1693, p. 171; HMC Ormonde n.s. vi. 59; New Windsor par. reg.