WYNDHAM, Francis (c.1670-1716), of Clearwell Court, Glos.
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Family and Education
b. c.1670, 3rd s. of John Wyndham of Dunraven, Glam. by June, da. of William Strode of Barrington, Som. educ. Wadham, Oxf. matric. 17 July 1686, aged 16, scholar 1687. m. by 1696 (with £7,000), Mercy (d. 1719), da. of Edward Strode*, 1s. suc. bro. 1708.1
Member, SPCK 1702.2
Verderer, Forest of Dean 1703–?d.; sheriff, Glos. 1706–7; freeman, Gloucester 1707.3
Wyndham was descended from a cadet branch of the Wyndhams of Orchard Wyndham, Somerset. His marriage to one of his Strode cousins, also of Somerset, provided him with £7,000 which enabled him to purchase an estate at Clearwell in Gloucestershire. However, he was forced on 21 Nov. 1696 to petition the Commons for permission to prosecute the banker, Sir Stephen Evance*, for refusing to repay £3,000 of this sum which had been entrusted on a bond requiring repayment within three months after notice. The House proved unhelpful, however, as consideration of the matter was twice adjourned, and afterwards forgotten. In 1699 he was among those who stood bail for Lord Mohun at his trial for killing Richard Coote. Early in 1702 he was elected a member of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, having been recommended by Maynard Colchester*. His activities for the Society included the establishment of a school in his parish, the distribution of sermons in both his own locale and his elder brother’s in Glamorgan, and the publication of a Welsh version of the Book of Common Prayer and 39 Articles. In April 1703 he was elected ‘with a great majority’ to a vacancy among the four verdererships of the Forest of Dean. The contest had escalated into a pitched party battle between Lord Berkeley (Sir Charles Berkeley†), who supported Wyndham, and the Duke of Beaufort, but he was reckoned ‘the properest man for it’ in view of the location of his estate within the forest. In 1708 he succeeded to his family’s estate in Glamorgan, though portions amounting to some £15,000 were to be raised from it for his elder brother’s children and consequently he ceased to use it as a residence.4
In December 1709 Wyndham was put up as the Whig candidate in the by-election at Gloucester, and largely through the machinations of the dean, Dr Knightley Chetwode, ‘who could not be persuaded from being a violent partisan in this brutish quarrel’, was successful. Wyndham’s name appears in the list of supporters of the Palatines bill debated during February–March 1709, even though at the time he was not a Member of the House. Early in 1710 he voted for the impeachment of Dr Sacheverell, ignoring Dr Chetwode’s request to oppose it. He supported an initiative for a bill for the relief of insolvent debtors, and on 20 Feb. was added to its drafting committee. At the Gloucester election later in the year, Wyndham solicited the dean’s support, but it was quickly apparent that Chetwode had completely withdrawn his support and instead devoted considerable effort towards engineering the Whig defeat. To the delight of the dean, Wyndham, coming bottom of the poll, ‘lost it by very near the same number by which he got it, before he had declared himself in a manner so little to my satisfaction’. He made no attempt to regain his seat in 1713, by which time he described himself as ‘very much indisposed in my health’, offering this and his absenteeism as excuses to Lord Treasurer Oxford (Robert Harley*) for wishing to avoid serving as sheriff of Glamorgan. He died on 23 Sept. 1716, aged 46, and was buried near Clearwell at Newland. His only son died without issue in 1725, whereupon the estates passed to the family of his niece Jane (d. 1723), daughter and heiress of Wyndham’s elder brother William. She had married her kinsman, Thomas Wyndham† of Cromer, Norfolk, thereby uniting the estates of Cromer, Dunraven and Clearwell.5