WHITLOCK, (WHITELOCKE), Sir William (1636-1717), of Phyllis Court, Henley, Oxon.

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. 27 Dec. 1636, 2nd s. of Bulstrode Whitelocke (d.1675) of Fawley Court, Bucks., being 1st s. by 2nd w. Frances, da. of William, 3rd Baron Willoughby of Parham; half-bro. of James Whitelocke. educ. M. Temple, entered 1647, called 1655. m. 1671, Mary (bur. 7 June 1711), da. of Sir Thomas Overbury of Bourton on the Hill, Glos., 5s. d.v.p. 8da. Kntd. 10 Apr. 1689.1

Offices Held

Bencher, M. Temple 1671, reader 1676, treas. 1680-1; commr. for assessment, Oxon. 1679-80, Berks. and Oxon. 1689-90, M. Temple 1690; j.p. Oxon. by 1680-7, 1689-96, 1700-d., dep. lt. 1689-96, 1702-?14.

KC 1689-96, QC 1702-14.2


Whitlock’s ancestors can be traced back in Berkshire to the 15th century, but his branch of the family rose by the law. His grandfather, Sir James Whitelocke, who sat for Woodstock in three Jacobean Parliaments, purchased Fawley in 1616 and Phyllis Court in 1622. His father was one of the most controversial figures of the Civil War and Interregnum, and Whitlock himself, according to the high Tory Hearne, ‘in the former part of his life [shared] much the same principles with his father’. Although he had sat in Richard Cromwell’s Parliament, he did not stand again until after the Revolution, but devoted himself to his legal practice. Phyllis Court was settled on him in 1672, but the total value of his estate did not exceed £700 p a. He joined the Green Ribbon Club during the exclusion crisis, but he was so obscure that he was not removed from local office until 1687. He entertained William of Orange on his march towards London in December 1688, took silk, and became one of the first knights of the new reign. A follower of Lord Lovelace (John Lovelace), he represented Marlow, seven miles downstream from Henley, for the last few weeks of the Convention. He was appointed to only three committees, including that to grant indemnity for persons helping to bring in the new regime, and did not vote for the disabling clause in the bill to restore corporations. In his two recorded speeches he demanded adequate time for hearing those accused of the judicial murder of Sir Thomas Armstrong, though he did not condone the execution, and claimed for Sir Robert Sawyers the credit of saving Lovelace’s life. He broke with his patron at the next general election, and ‘turned absolute Tory’. He refused the Association in 1696, voted consistently as a Tory under Anne, and became a Jacobite. He died on 22 Nov. 1717 and was buried at Fawley, the last of his family to sit in Parliament.3

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Authors: Leonard Naylor / Geoffrey Jaggar


  • 1. J. S. Burn, Henley, 248; Le Neve’s Knights (Harl. Soc. viii), 421.
  • 2. Luttrell, iv. 27; v. 362.
  • 3. R. Spalding, Improbable Puritan, 30; Burn, 251-2, 272, 279; Hearne’s Colls. (Oxf. Hist. Soc. xliii), 109; PCC 48 Tenison; Grey, ix. 531, 537; Bodl. Carte 79, f. 702; Ballard 22, f. 51; R. Morrice, Entering Bk. 3, p. 126.