STERNE, Richard (c.1641-1716), of South Kilvington, Yorks.

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



Mar. 1679
Oct. 1679

Family and Education

b. c.1641, 1st s. of Richard Sterne, abp. of York 1664-83, by Elizabeth, da. of Edward Dickinson of Farnborough, Hants. educ. Trinity Hall, Camb. BA 1661. m. lic. 11 Feb. 1667, aged 26, Mary (d.1724), da. of Joseph Loveland, prebendary of Norwich and York, s.p. suc. fa. 1683.1

Offices Held

Judge, prerogative court of York 1673-?d.; j.p. liberty of Ripon 1674-?87; commr. for assessment, Yorks. (N. and W. Ridings) 1679-80, 1689.2


Sterne’s grandfather settled at Mansfield in Nottinghamshire in the 16th century. His father, formerly chaplain to Laud, was a devoted supporter of the royalist cause during the Civil Wars, and became archbishop of York after the Restoration. Sterne was returned for Ripon to the Exclusion Parliaments on his father’s interest. Classed as ‘base’ by Shaftesbury, he intervened in the debate on Danby’s pardon of 22 Mar. 1679 to say:

Everyone knows the King’s power of pardoning, cases of appeal only excepted; but if you will have a bill to restrain the powers in them, that may prevent it for the future. All laws that are made are to restrain the unlimited power in the King, for, without those laws, all power is in the King.

But according to Anchitell Grey ‘he was out, and could proceed no further, and Mr [Edward] Seymour pulled him down’. A moderately active Member of the first Exclusion Parliament, he was appointed to the committees for the convocation bill, to inspect the laws against swearing and drunkenness, for security against Popery, and to examine abuses in the Post Office. According to the list in the state papers he voted against the committal of the exclusion bill, but Roger Morrice put him down as an absentee. He was again moderately active in the second Exclusion Parliament, in which he was named to the committees to draw up an address for a general fast, to consider the bill for religious comprehension, and to prepare the impeachment of the Bristol clergyman Thompson. On 23 Dec. 1680 he wrote to Peter Legh: ‘The truth is, neither House is so right as they should be, but I hope we shall keep out Popery, and the Lords toleration’. In 1681 he travelled to Oxford with two country Members, Henry, Lord Fairfax and Sir John Hewley, but he played no known part in the third Exclusion Parliament. The nonconformist antiquary, Thoresby, meeting him by chance at an inn, found him ‘very good company, [and] not so hot as I feared, being the archbishop’s son’. But he did not stand again, though he must have been moderately prosperous with £2,300 in East India stock at the Revolution. He was buried in York Minster on 29 Jan. 1716, the only member of the family to sit in the Lower House.3

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: P. A. Bolton


  • 1. Yorks. Arch. Jnl. xxi. 94-95.
  • 2. Information from Dr W. J. Sheils, Borthwick Institute.
  • 3. Grey, vii. 24; State Trials, viii. 655; Evelyn Legh, Lady Newton, Lyme Letters, 83-84; Thoresby Diary, i. 154; Add. 22185, f. 14.