DUNCOMBE, Francis (c.1653-1720), of Broughton, Newport Pagnell, Bucks.
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Family and Education
b. c.1653, 1st s. of Thomas Duncombe of Broughton by 1st w. Mary, da. of Charles Edmonds of Preston, Northants. m. (1) 26 Apr. 1683, Mary (d. 1686), da. of Sir Anthony Chester, 3rd Bt.†, of Chicheley, Bucks., 1da. d.v.p.; (2) lic. 13 Feb. 1688, aged about 34, Frances, da. of James Baron, linen-draper and alderman of London, 1s. 1da. suc. fa. 1672.1
Duncombe’s family was well established in Buckinghamshire, having acquired the manor of Broughton in 1572. Duncombe himself first appeared as a deputy-lieutenant and j.p. of the county in 1684. There may have been a hiatus in his service in local office consequent upon his refusal to agree to the first two of James II’s ‘three questions’, but this is unclear. His name regularly appears in the quarter sessions records until after the Hanoverian succession. In August 1702 his wife and two children inherited £2,200 from her uncle Arthur Baron (London common councilman, merchant, and uncle to Gilbert Heathcote*), and he himself, as one of the four executors, received two-thirds of the residue of the estate after numerous bequests had been paid. It seems likely that at least some of this windfall was laid out in land, for around this time Duncombe acquired the manor of North Crawley, near Newport Pagnell. His enhanced wealth may also explain his candidature for the county in the Tory interest in the by-election of November 1704, which ended in defeat.2
Returned for Amersham in the general election of 1708, Duncombe was classed as a Tory on a list of early 1708, amended to take account of the elections. His career in the Commons is almost impossible to disentangle from that of Edward Duncombe and, after May 1711, that of Thomas Duncombe (formerly Browne). However, ‘Francis Duncombe’ was named on 23 Dec. 1708 to the drafting committee on the bill for the more effectual recruitment of the army. In the following session he was almost certainly responsible for managing through the House a local bill from the Lords relating to a Buckinghamshire estate. He also voted against the impeachment of Dr Sacheverell.
Re-elected in 1710, Duncombe was classed as a Tory in the ‘Hanover list’. In the first session of the new Parliament, he may have been the ‘Mr Duncombe’ who managed a bill for the relief of insolvent debtors through all its stages in the Commons. Politically, in the 1710–11 session Duncombe was listed as a ‘Tory patriot’ who opposed the continuation of the war, a ‘worthy patriot’ who helped to detect the mismanagements of the previous administration, and a member of the October Club. His name also appears on a canvassing list, probably relating to the attack in January 1712 on the Duke of Marlborough (John Churchill†), as one to be spoken to by William Lowndes*, secretary to the Treasury, but, more important in this instance, a Buckinghamshire landowner. In August 1712 William Wotton, rector of nearby Milton, proffered the view that ‘whatever his [Duncombe’s] skill for speaking may be in the House of Commons, his reputation for integrity is very great in this country’.3
In the 1713 session Duncombe was almost certainly the Member who told on 2 May in favour of introducing a bill suspending the duties on French wines, an essential prerequisite for the French commerce bill for which he voted on 18 June. Also in May 1713, he presented to the Queen the Amersham address on the ‘glorious peace’. His interest in commercial matters in this session may indicate that he acted as a teller again, on 8 June, against a bill to open up the African trade. Duncombe did not stand at the 1713 election, but was still accounted ‘of the right side’ by the Tory, Sir Thomas Cave, 3rd Bt.*4
In September 1714, preparatory to the expected general election, Duncombe was one of the signatories to an agreement to split the county representation between a Whig and a Tory. He was reported to have been omitted from the Buckinghamshire bench in February 1716. He died on 31 Jan. 1720 in his 70th year. In his will he left charitable bequests, providing for the Church catechism to be taught and for cleaning the parish church. He was succeeded by his son, also Francis (d. 1747), the last of the family.5
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Authors: Eveline Cruickshanks / Stuart Handley
- 1. PCC 43 Pye; Lipscomb, Bucks. iv. 82–83; Mar. Lic. Vicar-Gen. (Harl Soc. xxxi.), 46; J. R. Woodhead, Rulers of London (London and Mdx. Arch. Soc.), 24–25.
- 2. Lipscomb, 79, 82; CSP Dom. 1683–4, p. 358; Bucks. Session Recs. ii. 509; iii. 454; iv. 210; Duckett, Penal Laws and Test Act (1883), 148; PCC 133 Herne.
- 3. Add. 70331, canvassing list; Huntington Lib. Stowe mss 58(12), p. 9.
- 4. London Gazette, 12–16 May 1713; Verney Letters 18th Cent. i. 244.
- 5. Verney Letters 18th Cent. 317; ii. 38; Lipscomb, 82; London Mag. 1747, p. 149.