WINCH, Humphrey (1622-1703), of Hawnes, Beds. and Harleyford, Great Marlow, Bucks.

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

Constituency

Dates

Mar. 1679
Oct. 1679 - 21 Dec. 1680
30 Dec. 1680

Family and Education

bap. 3 Jan. 1622, 1st Onslow Winch, counsellor at law, of Everton, Beds. and Lincoln’s Inn by Judith, da. of Roger Burgoyne of Sutton, Beds. educ. travelled abroad 1639-?46; Leyden 1643. m. Rebecca (d. 3 Mar. 1713), da. of Martin Browne, Barber-Surgeon, of Billingsgate, London, 2da. suc. fa. by 1658; cr. Bt. 9 June 1660.1

Offices Held

J.p. Beds. Mar. 1660-?89, Bedford Sept. 1660, 1661, 1662, Bucks. 1669-?89, Westminster 1689-d.; commr. for militia, Beds. Mar. 1660; freeman, Bedford Mar. 1660; dep. lt. Beds. c. Aug. 1660-?69, Bucks. by 1670-?86; commr. for assessment, Beds. Aug. 1660-80, Lincs. 1661-3, 1664-80, Bucks. 1673-80, Westminster 1689-90, loyal and indigent officers, Beds. 1662, capt. of militia horse by 1665-?69, commr. for recusants 1675.2

Commr. for plantations 1670-2, trade and plantations 1672-4; ld. of the Admiralty 1679-84.

Biography

Winch came of a legal family. His grandfather sat for Bedford from 1593 until raised to the bench by James I, and bought Everton in 1615. His father served on the county committee during the Civil War, and continued to hold local office during the Interregnum. Winch himself avoided political commitment in early life; but his sister was married to the son of the Parliamentarian Sir Samuel Luke, and he himself went to live on Luke property at Hawnes after selling Everton in 1659, and doubtless owed his election for Bedford in 1660 to this connexion. He left no trace on the records of the Convention, but he was given a baronetcy in June, and the Earl of Cleveland, a leading Cavalier, could recommend him for the lieutenancy as ‘a Member of the House of Commons, and a perfect honest gentleman, acting there with all sincerity for your Majesty’s service as he engaged to me to perform before he was chosen’.3

Winch was also on terms of friendship with Robert, Lord Bruce, with whom he was chosen to represent the county in 1661. A moderately active Member of the Cavalier Parliament, he served on 162 committees, acted four times as chairman and four times as teller, and made fourteen recorded speeches. Lord Wharton listed him as a friend to be managed by Edmund Petty, and he took no part in the Clarendon Code; but he was among those instructed on 21 Nov. to attend the King with an address for the disarming and removal from London of all who had served in the parliamentary army, and four days later he was appointed to the committee for the execution of those under attainder. He served on the committee for the bill to improve Watling Street in Bedfordshire and took the chair for the bill to link the Hampshire Avon and the Thames. He was one of the public accounts commissioners named in the abortive bill of 1666. On the fall of Clarendon he was among those ordered to bring in a public accounts bill, and to inquire into the miscarriages of the war and the sale of Dunkirk. On 4 Dec. 1667 he proposed that Clarendon’s defence of his conduct should be burned by the common hangman, and he supported the proposal of Sir Robert Howard to insert in the prologue to the banishment bill a phrase reflecting on the delay in the Lords over the impeachment, which had enabled the fallen minister to escape abroad. In the debate on supply on 21 Feb. 1668, he moved to inquire what proportion of the taxes voted for the war had been used for that purpose, and, together with Sir Charles Harbord and Arthur Spry, reported five days later from the committee. He attacked the paying of seamen by ticket, declaring that an Act was necessary to punish offenders and ensure a fairer system in future. In ecclesiastical affairs, Winch opposed toleration, but favoured comprehension. In the debate of 11 Mar. 1668 he compared the outward piety and good behaviour of the nonconformists with the loose living of some Anglicans, and denounced the practices of the ecclesiastical courts. He twice acted as teller in the debate on 6 Apr. on the preservation of timber in the Forest of Dean, and five days later supported the proposal for a bill to reduce the rate of interest. He was chairman of the committees to consider the estate bill of Richard Taylor and the drainage of Deeping fen in the same session, and was also among those ordered to attend the King with an address for the wearing of English manufactures, to consider the bill for preventing the refusal of habeas corpus, and to deliver the articles of the impeachment of (Sir) William Penn. About this time Sir George Carteret bought Hawnes, and Winch moved to Harleyford, two miles from Great Marlow. When Carteret was accused of financial irregularities by the public accounts commission in 1669, Winch said that he should be heard in his own defence only on matters of fact. In 1670 he served on the committee for the second conventicles bill, and helped to prepare reasons for a conference. His name appears on both lists of the court party at this time as a friend of Ormonde and a Member who had usually voted for supply, and he was rewarded with a seat on the board of plantations. He was also promised that he should be made a Privy Councillor, according to Flagellum Parliamentarium. His salary of £500 p.a. may have helped him to strengthen his interest at Marlow by the purchase of the manor; but his activity in the House declined. In June 1675 he was summoned with Sir John Napier as a witness in a case before the Lords concerning the Ouse Navigation Act; but in view of the bad feeling between the Houses, he wisely sought the permission of the Commons before attending. Secretary Coventry had written to him to attend the spring session, but he was now out of office and did not receive the government whip in the autumn. After the session, Sir Richard Wiseman, described him as ‘my particular friend and acquaintance’, but doubted his reliability.

I know him to have good inclinations for the service of the King, and he is one that I will use my endeavours withal to get to attend and to be every way as I am myself in the King’s service.

He was accordingly included on the working lists at the head of those ‘to be remembered’, and given £125 from the excise on 17 Mar. 1677, perhaps one quarter’s payment of a pension, as suggested by the author of A Seasonable Argument. Shaftesbury marked him ‘doubly vile’, and he was included in the list of government speakers, though he scarcely fulfilled expectations in this capacity. When a discriminatory tax on all crown lands alienated by the Stuarts was proposed in a debate on supply on 20 Feb. 1678, he pointed out that the yield would be very low. After expressing concern on 16 Mar. over the information that some Quakers convicted as recusants had forfeited two-thirds of their estate, he was among those appointed to the committee of inquiry. Though his name was included in both lists of court party supporters in 1678, he was twice appointed to committees to bring in bills to secure the Protestant religion.4

Winch transferred to Marlow for the general elections of 1679, and Shaftesbury again marked him ‘vile’. Though he was appointed to the new Admiralty commission in May, he made no speeches in the first Exclusion Parliament and sat on no committees, but he voted against the bill. He defeated the exclusionist Thomas Hoby in August after a turbulent campaign in which he was nearly drowned by a boisterous bargeman. His membership of the elections committee could not save his own election from being declared void; but he repeated his success nine days later. The result was reversed at the general election of 1681; but Winch regained his seat in 1685, and became a moderately active Member of James II’s Parliament. His four committees included those to peruse expiring laws and to estimate the yield of a duty on French wines. The ‘great portions’ which he gave his daughters, who married Sir Humphrey Forster and Thomas Lawley, may have straitened him, for in 1686 he sold Great Marlow to Lord Falkland (Anthony Carey). Though he still had property in five counties, he retired to the London suburbs and never stood again. He died in December 1703 and was buried at Branston, on the Lincolnshire estate which he had settled on his brother Richard. No later member of the family sat in Parliament.5

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Authors: Leonard Naylor / Geoffrey Jaggar

Notes

  • 1. Vis. Beds. (Harl. Soc. xix), 199; PC Reg. v. 92; PCC 121 Wootton.
  • 2. Min. Bk. Bedford Corp. (Beds. Hist. Rec. Soc. xxvi), 137; SP 29/143/107.
  • 3. VCH Beds.