WYNDHAM, Edmund (c.1600-81), of Kentsford, St. Decuman's, Som. and Pall Mall, Westminster.
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Family and Education
b. c.1600, 1st s. of Sir Thomas Wyndham of Kentsford by Elizabeth, da. of Richard Coningsby; bro. of Francis Wyndham. educ. Wadham, Oxf. matric. 16 Apr. 1619, aged 18; L. Inn 1620. m. (1) 19 Aug. 1623, Christabella (d.1658), da. of Hugh Pyne of Cathanger, Som. and coh. to her bro. Arthur Pyne, 6s. (4 d.v.p.) 4da.; (2) lic. 23 Nov. 1669, Elizabeth, wid. of Francis Savage, s.p. suc. fa. 1635; kntd. c. Aug. 1667.1
Searcher of soap 1632-7; clerk of errors, K.b. 1633-41, ?1661-d.; gent. of privy chamber by 1635-46, June 1660-67; commr. for wine licences 1662-?8; kt. marshal 1667-d.; commr. for accounts [I] 1668, accounts loyal and indigent officers 1671.2
Capt. of horse 1639-42, col. (royalist) 1642-5; gov. of Bridgwater 1643-5.3
Commr. of array, Som. 1642, sheriff 1642-3; j.p. Som. 1643-6, July 1660-d., Mdx., Westminster and Surr. 1667-d., dep. lt. Som. July 1660-d., commr. for sewers Dec. 1660, assessment 1661-80, the Household 1671, Mdx. 1673-9, Surr. and Westminster 1673-4, loyal and indigent officers, Som. 1662; sub-commr. for prizes, London 1665-6; commr. for recusants, Som. 1675.4
Wyndham came from a cadet branch of the Orchard family living in the same parish. He either inherited or acquired by his first marriage lands worth £2,500 p.a. He began his parliamentary career in opposition, but became a courtier when his wife was appointed governess to the infant Prince Charles. The errors office brought him an additional £500 p.a., but he lost heavily over other projects, particularly in respect of fenland development, and he had begun to mortgage his property before the Civil War. Expelled from the Long Parliament as a monopolist, he was among the first to take up arms for the King. He was imprisoned after the fall of Bridgwater, but escaped in 1649, and joined Charles II in Jersey. A proposal to make him secretary of state was killed by ridicule, and he had to content himself with handling the prizes brought in by the royalist fleet and engaging in theological discussions with the bishop of Boulogne, who, he claimed, would have joined the Anglican communion if he had not died before the Restoration. In 1653 Wyndham played a minor part in charging Sir Edward Hyde with the receipt of a pension from Cromwell.5
At the Restoration, Wyndham’s income had been reduced by half, and what remained was heavily encumbered. He was returned for Bridgwater for the third time at the general election of 1661, and became a very active Member. He may have served on as many as 350 committees in the Cavalier Parliament, acting as teller in seven divisions, carrying three addresses to the King, and delivering 18 recorded speeches. He took part in all the measures of the Clarendon Code, and was appointed to consider the bill of pains and penalties in the first session. He served on the committee to consider the plight of the loyal and indigent officers in 1663, and on 4 Apr. was ordered to present an address to the King for their relief. In that year and again in 1666 he was selected to ask two eminent clergymen to preach to the Commons, and afterwards to thank them for their sermons. His name had already appeared on the list of court dependants; but, after much petitioning for compensation for his losses in the war, estimated at £73,560, he was made knight marshal in 1667, which he reckoned to be worth not above £1,200 a year. He took part in the principal committees of the autumn session of 1667, helped to draw up the heads of the charges against Clarendon, and spoke twice in favour of his impeachment. After the Christmas recess he was appointed to the committee to consider the accounts of war expenditure. On 4 Mar. 1668 he urged that the lieutenancy should be purged of those who favoured dissenters, and he was one of four Members chosen to thank the King for promising to issue a proclamation for enforcing the laws against conventicles. But when Secretary Coventry deprecated the services of the Irish adventurers, Wyndham, who had been granted a forfeited estate in Co. Wexford, was so incensed that he transgressed the rules of debate. He was again sent to the King with an address urging the wearing of English manufactures on 23 Apr. On the next day he was appointed to the committee on habeas corpus, and he acted as teller against an amendment to the supply bill.6
Wyndham continued to take a strongly Anglican line. On 10 Nov. 1669 he told the House that he knew the King was not inclinable to conventicles, but feared that he was intimidated by some about him because of their number. He appears as a court dependant in both lists at this time. His affairs were becoming increasingly entangled, and before his second marriage it seems that he made over his Somerset estate to his son Sir Hugh. On 29 Mar. 1670 he was compelled to seek parliamentary privilege against a suit of outlawry, but on the next day he was appointed to the committee to consider union with Scotland. As a Middlesex magistrate, he suggested that the proceedings in the House over the assault on Sir John Coventry might hinder the prosecution of the offenders. On 6 Feb. 1671, he complained of the ‘horrible’ arrest of a debtor while actually receiving the sacrament, and was ordered to bring in a bill to restrict the activities of bailiffs to weekdays. In the stormy session of 1673 he expressed his confidence in the loyalty of the lord treasurer (Thomas Clifford) to the Church of England, while defending the Declaration of Indulgence as only ‘publishing a new law by proclamation, and no more’. It was alleged in an opposition pamphlet that he had received £5,000 in boons, ‘and yet pays no debts’, and he was included on the Paston list. In 1675 he defended Danby’s handling of naval accounts, and was appointed to the committee for appropriating the customs revenue to the use of the navy. In the debate on the same subject in the autumn session, he expressed surprise that ‘this House is not so much swayed by reason as club-law’. He was listed again as a court dependant and as a government speaker. In the 1677 session, he was comparatively inactive, his only important committee being to prevent the growth of Popery. He was marked ‘thrice vile’ by Shaftesbury. The bill for erecting a Westminster ‘court of conscience’ for small claims threatened his principal source of income as knight marshal, and he obtained the right to be heard by counsel. He continued to speak on the government side, though infrequently; on 30 Apr. 1678 he took exception to Sir John Coventry’s phrase ‘an imaginary war’. Even after 40 years, he had not given up hope that his fenland investments might still prove profitable; he was teller in favour of a motion for leave to bring in a bill for draining Lindsey level, and on 5 June he introduced it, but nothing was done. He was again reckoned a court supporter by both Government and Opposition. In the last session of the Parliament, he was appointed to the committee for the exclusion of Papists from both Houses. On 31 Oct. he reported on the search of the chambers of Robert Wright. He took some of the depositions against Coleman, and was added to the committee to examine his papers. His last appearance in Parliament was to demand the release of some of his property which had been detained by a creditor.7
Wyndham died ‘of the yellow jaundice’ on 2 Mar. 1681 at the house of his son Thomas Wyndham I within the precincts of Whitehall. His heir was his grandson Edmund, the last of the family to live at Kentsford; while his widow complained in 1690 that for want of a jointure she was in danger of starvation.8
Ref Volumes: 1660-1690
Author: Irene Cassidy
- 1. SP29/69/86; C142/568/120; C5/197/80; H. A. Wyndham, Fam. Hist. i. 177-8, 278-9; CSP Dom. 1657-8, p. 377; Cal. Treas. Bks. ii. 34, 119.
- 2. CSP Dom. 1635, p. 283; 1660-1, p. 464; 1661-2, p. 377; 1671, p. 255; 1675-6, p. 455; Wyndham, 179, 230, 248; Keeler, Long Parl. 396; Carlisle, Privy Chamber, 169; Eg. 2539, f. 254.
- 3. HMC 10th Rep. VI , 91; R. Hopton, Bellum Civile (Som. Rec. Soc. xviii), 48; Wyndham, 205; Collinson, Som. iii. 492.
- 4. CJ, ii. 745, C181/7/26; HMC 6th Rep. 338; Cal. Treas. Bks. iii. 842.
- 5. Wyndham, 217, 224, 248-9; S. E. Hoskins, Chas. II in the Channel Is. ii. 315; Clarendon, Rebellion, v. 52-55; Nicholas Pprs. (Cam. Soc. n.s. 1), 38.
- 6. CJ, viii. 482, 494, 627, 633; ix. 61, 88; Wyndham, 230, 263; Milward, 118, 129, 227; Grey, i. 103; CSP Ire. 1669-70, p. 265.
- 7. Grey, i. 161, 333; ii. 153, 164; iii. 83-84, 454; v. 287; C5/197/80; Harl. 7020, f. 38v; Dering, 70; CJ, ix. 188, 413, 482, 524, 559; HMC 13th Rep. VI, 139.
- 8. Luttrell, i. 69; Wyndham, 278; C5/197/80.