WALLER, Sir William I (1598-I668), of Osterley Park, Mdx.

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

Constituency

Dates

Apr. 1640
3 May 1642

Family and Education

bap. 3 Dec. 1598, 1st s. of Sir Thomas Waller of Groombridge, Kent by Margaret, da. of Sampson Lennard of Knole, Kent. educ. Magdalen Hall, Oxf. 1612; travelled abroad (France, Italy). m. (1) 12 Aug. 1622, Jane (d. May 1633), da. and h. of Sir Richard Reynell of Ford House, Newton Abbot, Devon, 1s. d.v.p. 1da.; (2) May 1638, Lady Anne Finch (d.1652), da. of Thomas Finch, 2nd Earl of Winchilsea, 1s. 1da.; (3) 13 Apr. 1652, Anne (d. Oct. 1661), da. of William, 5th Lord Paget. wid. of Sir Simon Harcourt of Stanton Harcourt, Oxon., 1s. suc. fa. 1613; kntd. 30 June 1622.2

Offices Held

Prizer and butler of wine imports 1619-52, Sept. 1660-d.; member, committee of both kingdoms 1644-8; trustee for the Elector Palatine 1645; commr. for exclusion from sacrament 1646, foreign plantations 1646-8, indemnity 1647-8, scandalous offences 1648; Councillor of State 25 Feb.-31 May 1660.3

Col. of horse (parliamentary) 1642-3, maj.-gen. 1643-5.4

J.p. Devon 1625-33, Hants by 1647-?48, Mdx. Westminster and Oxon. Mar. 1660-d.; commr. for levying money, Hants 1643, courts martial, London 1644; freeman, Portsmouth 1644, Winchester by 1647; commr. for execution of ordinances, Hants 1645, assessment, Hants 1647, Mdx., Westminster and Oxon, Aug. 1660-d., militia, Hants 1648, Hants, Mdx., Westminster and Oxon. Mar. 1660, oyer and terminer, Mdx. July 1660; dep. lt. Mdx. c. Aug. 1660-d.5

Biography

Waller’s family acquired Groombridge in the reign of Henry IV and produced several Members of Parliament in the fifteenth century. They failed to weather the economic storms of Tudor times, and by 1608 Groombridge had been sold to the Earl of Dorset. Waller inherited nothing but a lease of the prizage and butlerage at an annual rent of £500, and became a soldier of fortune, first in the Venetian service and then under Sir Horace Vere. He married a Devonshire heiress, and obtained a grant of Winchester Castle, representing Andover in both the Short and Long Parliaments. A zealous Puritan, he took up arms against the King in the Civil War, and achieved early successes over inexperienced opponents. But his army disintegrated after two crushing defeats, and he was removed from command by the self-denying ordinance. One of the leading Presbyterians in the House, he was imprisoned after Pride’s Purge. He vigorously denied charges of making a fortune out of the war, claiming that he had lost £30,000 by the destruction of Winchester Castle and otherwise; but in 1654 he was able to buy Osterley.6

Waller was in touch with the Royalists as early as 1655, and was imprisoned again in 1659 for complicity in the rising of Sir George Booth. Appointed to the Council of State on the return of the secluded Members, he stood for Middlesex at the general election. He was described to Sir Edward Hyde as ‘most cordial and active for the King, ... and makes no doubt but that the King will be recalled upon honourable conditions’. He was returned after a contest, marked as a friend by Lord Wharton, and doubtless voted with the Presbyterian Opposition. A moderately active Member of the Convention, he was named to 16 committees, including the committee of elections and privileges and the drafting committee. He was among those ordered to prepare instructions for the messengers to the King, to confer with the Lords about his reception, and to make recommendations for the disposal of the wounded soldiers in Ely House and the Savoy. After the Restoration he helped to administer the oaths to Members. He was appointed to the committee to consider the petition from the intruded dons at Oxford, and on 30 July to those for settling ecclesiastical livings and enabling Booth to sever the entail on his estate. He was also among those who were instructed to assess the effect of the Lords’ amendments to the indemnity bill (17 Aug.) and to consider the bill for disbanding the army (1 Sept.). He was not recorded as speaking, and took no known part in the second session.7

Waller recovered his lease of the prizage, with arrears from 1652, but received no other reward. He stood for Honiton in 1661 on the interest of his son-in-law Sir William Courtenay, but without success. He was reported among the congregation of a fashionable London conventicle in January 1664. He died on 19 Sept. 1668, and was buried at Tothill Street Chapel in Westminster.8