YONGE, Sir Walter, 3rd Bt. (1653-1731), of Colyton and Escott, Devon.
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Family and Education
bap. 8 Sept. 1653, and but 1st surv. s. of Walter Yonge. educ. Exeter, Oxf. 1670. m. (1) lic. 19 Apr. 1677, Gertrude, da. of William Morice II of Werrington, Devon, 1da.; (2) 18 June 1691, Gwen, da. and coh. of Sir Robert Williams, 2nd Bt., of Penrhyn, Caern., 1s. 3da. suc. fa. as 3rd Bt. 21 Nov. 1670.1
Commr. for assessment, Devon 1677-80, 1689-90; freeman, Lyme Regis 1680, Plymouth 1696; commr. for inquiry into recusancy fines, Dorset, Devon and Cornw. Mar. j.p. and dep. lt. Devon June 1688-?d., col. of militia ft. by 1697-?d.2
Commr. of customs 1694-1701, 1714-d.
Yonge first stood for Parliament at a by-election for the Cornish constituency of Newport in 1678, no doubt on the Morice interest. He was defeated at the poll, and in spite of repeated petitions failed to secure the seat. His wife and her infant daughter died on 13 Jan. 1679, thereby severing his connexion with Newport, and in the Exclusion Parliaments he sat for his own family borough of Honiton. Although himself described as a ‘fanatic’, he was warmly supported by the Presbyterians, who praised his ‘sober conversation’ and his invariable attendance at family prayers twice a day. An intimate acquaintance of John Hampden, he was noted by Shaftesbury as ‘honest’ and joined the Green Ribbon Club. He was moderately active in the first Exclusion Parliament, sitting on ten committees, including those which prepared the bills imposing a test on members of convocation and securing the King and the country against the growth of Popery. He voted for the exclusion bill, but made no speeches.3
Yonge was again returned for Honiton in October 1679, though not without a contest. On 30 Aug. 1680 he entertained Monmouth at Colyton during his western progress. But he was less active in the second Exclusion Parliament, sitting only on the committee for the relief of the subject from arbitrary fines. He led a deputation of west-country Members which presented to the King a petition of protest against the dissolution. In the Oxford Parliament he left no trace apart from being named to the committee of elections and privileges. Lord Russell (Hon. William Russell) found Yonge as ‘forward’ as himself in extra-parliamentary action, and Lord Howard of Escrick (Hon. William Howard) deposed in 1683 that the ‘Council of Six’ had hopes of him.4
It is not known whether Yonge stood in 1685. The agent who sounded him on Monmouth’s behalf about this time found him ‘very cool in the matter; which we wondered at, who knew how active he had been in my Lord Russell’s time’. Nevertheless, the Government was sufficiently suspicious to issue a warrant for his arrest on 19 May, and he was out of harm’s way when Monmouth landed at Lyme, only a few miles from his home, in the following month. Released in November, he did not scruple to distrain on three of his tenants who had been involved in the rebellion. In the following year, while his new house at Escott was building, he took a trip to the Netherlands, accompanied by his brother-in-law Richard Duke. He visited Locke, and it is likely that their conversation was not confined to the choice of books for Yonge’s new library.5
Yonge appears to have given James II’s agents satisfaction in 1688, and as a Whig collaborator he was added to the lieutenancy and the commission of the peace. It was stated that the dissenting majority in Honiton were ‘unanimous to choose right men’, and they proposed Yonge as one. But after James’s flight, it was reported that his constituents had rejected him, and at the general election of 1689 he was returned for Ashburton on Duke’s interest. A very active Member of the Convention, he was named to 65 committees, acted as teller in four divisions, and made four recorded speeches. In the first session, he was teller for committing the bill for regulating the forces (21 May). He was also named to the committees for amending the coronation oath, restoring corporations and granting toleration to Protestant dissenters. He took part in conferences with the Lords on disarming Papists and redress for Titus Oates, and in drawing up addresses on relief for Irish Protestants and on inspecting Privy Council orders for Ireland. On 15 June he demanded reprisals for innocent blood shed in previous reigns. A fortnight later he attacked Lord Nottingham (Daniel Finch) for breach of privilege over the arrest of Lord Danby (Peregrine Osborne). On 1 July he was among those entrusted with considering the Lords’ proviso on the succession. In the second session he was appointed to the committee of inquiry into the miscarriages of the war. He was teller for inquiring into the appointment of Commissary Shales, and helped to draw up the address. He opposed recommending Members for service in Ireland, and was among those ordered to report on the state of the revenue. He supported the disabling clause in the bill to restore corporations:
When a clause is as fair as this, none can be against it but such as approve of all the villanies of the surrenderers. Those who would have brought in Popery and slavery, if they had power, would do the same again.
He was appointed to the committee to bring in a general oath of allegiance, and continued to sit in Parliament as a court Whig under William III and Anne. He died on 18 July 1731, and was buried at Colyton. His son, the fourth baronet, sat for Honiton from 1715 to 1754.6
Ref Volumes: 1660-1690
Author: John. P. Ferris
- 1. Vivian, Vis. Devon, 840-1.
- 2. Lyme Regis mss B6/11, f. 32; CSP Dom. 1687-9, p. 199; 1696, p. 424; Cal. Treas. Bks. viii. 1804; Trans. Devon Assoc. lxvi. 262; Eg. 1626, f. 11.
- 3. Cal. Treas. Bks. x. 739; xvi. 111; xxix. 145; CJ, ix. 444, 483, 521; D. R. Lacey, Dissent and Parl. Pols. 459.
- 4. Hist. and Biog. Tracts ed. Smeaton, 32; CSP Dom. 1680-1, pp. 137-8; July-Sept. 1683, p. 80; Ford Grey, Secret Hist. 7.
- 5. Ford Grey, 122; CSP Dom. 1685, p. 157; R. Morrice, Entering Bk. 1, p. 502; Cal. Treas. Bks. viii. 1829; M. Cranston, John Locke, 257.
- 6. Erle-Drax mss (Churchill Coll. Camb), Henry Florey to Thomas Erle, 21 Dec. 1688; CJ, x. 124, 137, 204, 214; Grey, ix. 325, 375, 511.