BOYNTON, Sir Matthew, 1st Bt. (1592-1647), of Barmston, Yorks.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



25 Oct. 1645 - 5 Mar. 1647

Family and Education

bap. 26 Feb. 1592, o. surv. s. of Sir Francis Boynton of Barmston and Dorothy, da. and coh. of Christopher Place of Halnaby, Yorks.1 educ. St. John’s, Camb. 1606; L. Inn 1609.2 m. (1) settlement 27 Sept. 1613 (with £2,000) Frances (d. 3 July 1634), da. of Sir Henry Griffith of Burton Agnes, Yorks., 9s. (2 d.v.p.), 5da. (1 d.v.p.);3 (2) lic. 11 May 1636, Katherine (d. 23 Feb. 1667), da. of Sir Thomas Fairfax II* of Gilling and Walton, Yorks., wid. of Robert Stapleton* of Wighill, Yorks., 2s. (at least 1 d.v.p.), 2da. (1 d.v.p.).4 suc. fa. 1617;5 kntd. 9 May 1618;6 cr. bt. 15 May 1618.7 d. 5 Mar. 1647.8 sig. Matt[hew] Boynton.

Offices Held

J.p. Yorks. (E. Riding) 1622-c.37, N. Riding 1622;9 commr. sewers E. Riding, 1621-34, N. Riding 1623, oyer and terminer, Northern circ. 1624-c.37;10 dep. lt., E. Riding 1629-38;11 collector, Privy Seal loans, E. Riding 1625-6;12 col. militia ft., E. Riding by 1626-38;13 commr. Forced Loan, E. Riding 1626-7;14 sheriff, Yorks. 1628-9, Dec. 1643-Oct. 1645;15 commr. swans, Midlands and North 1629, repair of St. Paul’s cathedral, E. Riding 1633, charitable uses 1633, martial law, Hull, Yorks. June 1643, assessment E. Riding 1643-d., levying and sequestration money, N. Riding 1643, Northern Assoc. Yorks. 1645-6;16 freeman, Scarborough, Yorks. 1645.17

Col. of ft. (parl.) 1642-6.18

Commr. to reside with Scottish army 1644.19


The Boyntons, from a village of the same name near Bridlington, traced their ancestry back to the twelfth century. Sir Henry Boynton lost both lands and life in Hotspur’s rebellion against Henry IV, but most of his estates were regranted to his second son. Barmston, on the Yorkshire coast, came to the family by marriage towards the end of the fifteenth century. Two Boyntons served as knights for Yorkshire in the fourteenth century, but no other member of the family sat in Parliament until Boynton’s grandfather was returned for Boroughbridge in 1571 and Cumberland in 1572.20 Boynton’s father, Sir Francis, married an heiress and went to Scotland in 1589 for James VI’s abortive marriage festivities. A godly sympathizer, he probably appointed the controversial puritan William Crashawe to a curacy at Bridlington, where he owned the rectory. He was certainly present at the East Riding sessions at Epiphany 1615, when Sir Thomas Hoby* antagonized many of the bench by suggesting that they forgo their lunch to consider his presentment of 300 Catholics: Sir Francis was one of the handful who volunteered to stay and hear Hoby’s bill. However, unlike Hoby, he remained on civil terms with his Catholic neighbours, joining with Sir Henry Constable and Sir Michael Warton in a subscription for an annual horse race at Warter only a few years later.21

Boynton, an only son, succeeded his father in 1617. In May 1618 he purchased a baronetcy, perhaps in emulation of his neighbours and contemporaries Sir William Constable* and Sir John Hotham*, who also acquired baronetcies shortly after inheriting their estates. Hotham later described Boynton as a gentleman of ‘prime rank’ in the East Riding, and in November 1620 Sir Thomas Wentworth*, canvassing for votes at the county election, recalled ‘the ancient and near acquaintance that hath been betwixt us [and] causeth me to rank you in the number of my friends’. While probably not then well acquainted with Wentworth, Boynton presumably supported him, as he attested Wentworth’s return.22 Boynton’s election for Hedon at the same time was probably intended to reinforce his local standing: he had no legislation to promote, and left no trace on the records of the session. While not closely linked to Hedon’s chief electoral patron, Sir Henry Constable, now Viscount Dunbar, he seized the opportunity created by the return of his most likely rival, Sir Christopher Hildyard, at Beverley, having probably been recommended by Henry Alured, a cousin by marriage, who owned property on the outskirts of the borough. There is no evidence that he stood for re-election in 1624, when Hildyard was returned in his place.23

In 1625 Boynton was one of the East Riding gentry ordered to assist the Hull corporation in billeting 2,000 recruits awaiting shipment to the Low Countries. He served as collector for the Privy Seal loans of 1626, remitting £270 of his quota of £760 to the Exchequer on 15 June, the day the king dissolved Parliament. This disappointing performance hints that he disapproved of the extra-parliamentary courses which followed, and when he and John Legard* were ordered to raise a Benevolence from the subsidymen of Dickering wapentake in lieu of the subsidies lost, their response was hardly energetic:

we have been answered only with good words and humble excuses, and from some few only (being indeed for their paucity not a considerable number) we have with much ado got only a proffer or promise of half a subsidy, which being so short of that which we expected, and so contemptible a sum of itself, we forbear to collect till we have received further directions ...24

While Boynton was selected as a Forced Loan commissioner, he was apparently not involved with its collection, which was handled by Dunbar’s clique in the East Riding. His stance was probably influenced by a quarrel over three ships which ran ashore at Barmston on 3 Oct. 1626. Dunbar promptly dispatched the East Riding deputy lieutenants Sir Thomas Metham and Sir William Alford*, ostensibly to deal with any enemy privateers who might be on board, but really to profit from the salvage of the cargoes. In a letter to lord admiral Buckingham, Dunbar asked for an Admiralty commission ‘to employ all my best services to conserve the goods for your lordship’s use’, on the understanding that he would have first refusal at any sale. He accused Boynton, ‘one that wholly sides with Hotham and Constable, who in all things are opposed to your grace’, of having seized goods and a large sum of cash, and claimed that his servants had been obstructed by Francis Gargrave, deputy vice-admiral for Yorkshire, who ‘joined with Sir Matthew Boynton in the seizure’. This partisan account concealed the fact that Boynton was acting under a commission from the York Admiralty Court, as Metham and Alford eventually admitted; Boynton was thus quickly able to clear his name.25

In February 1628 Boynton was canvassed by Hotham to support Wentworth at the forthcoming general election; he almost certainly backed the latter against Dunbar’s ally Sir John Savile*. This paid dividends in the following year, when Hotham advised Wentworth, newly appointed lord president, to removed the Catholic Dunbar as a deputy lieutenant and replace him with Boynton and Constable, ‘in respect of their undoubted affection to religion’. However, Wentworth could not save Boynton from being pricked as sheriff in November 1628, although his removal would have been difficult to arrange, as he had been shortlisted for the office three times previously. There is no evidence that Boynton attempted to use his position to dissuade Sir Henry Savile* from standing against Wentworth’s candidate at the Yorkshire by-election of February 1629.26

A godly man like his father, Boynton named one of his sons Gustavus, after the king of Sweden, and disapproved of the efforts of Archbishop Neile to bring godly clergy to conformity. A member of the prayer circle led by John Birchall, chaplain to Alderman Thomas Hoyle* of York, who was regularly harried in the diocesan courts until his death in 1640, he also invited other controversial ministers to Barmston: Francis Pecke, chaplain to Sir Richard Darley, preached under a licence which was only valid for the archbishopric of Canterbury; while Henry Jacie, ejected as a curate for refusing to use the prayer book, preached both there and at his manor of Roxby, near Whitby. In 1634 the Barmston churchwardens were ordered not to admit visiting preachers without an episcopal licence.27 This ruling, which coincided with the death of Boynton’s first wife, may have persuaded him to move his family to London in 1635. He remarried there in the following year, and moved to ‘Hedgeley House near Uxbridge’, presumably situated on the Buckinghamshire estates of Henry Bulstrode*. The house was ‘five miles from the parish church’, which meant that Jacie, now Boynton’s chaplain, enjoyed ‘great freedom’ from ecclesiastical supervision.28

It was at this time that Boynton and his erstwhile neighbour Sir William Constable made plans to emigrate to the Saybrook colony established on the Connecticut river by John Winthrop junior. They were encouraged by Henry Darley*, who was closely associated with the venture’s patrons, Viscount Saye and Sele and Robert Greville*, 2nd Baron Brooke, on the committee of the Providence Island Company. Constable restricted himself to general expressions of interest, but Boynton corresponded about the practicalities of settlement in the wilderness, and dispatched consignments of livestock and two servants.29 He also settled his affairs in England, marrying his heir to one of Saye’s daughters, and selling lands: his mother’s manor of Halnaby found no buyers; but in 1637 he sold Bridlington rectory and Acklam manor. Later the same year he consigned the bulk of his estate to six trustees, clearly as a preliminary to emigration.30 Despite efforts to keep his plans secret, in 1635 Winthrop was told that two northern gentlemen (clearly Boynton and Constable) had returned home to find ‘the country full of reports of their going now’. Boynton subsequently hoped ‘that my own breast may be the sole cabinet of my affairs’, while his secrecy apparently lost him a buyer for Halnaby, as he resolved ‘rather to lose part of the value than that it should be publicly spoken of’.31

Although he sounded positive in his letters to Winthrop, Boynton clearly had qualms at the prospect of emigration, being ‘a stranger in your country, and to those that are there’; he may also have been worried about his safety after the outbreak of hostilities with the Pequot tribe in 1636. Finally, he fell foul of the Proclamation of 30 Apr. 1637 which forbade any subsidyman to emigrate to the colonies without licence from the commissioners for plantations. Two weeks before this Proclamation was issued, he asked Winthrop to pay off his servants and sell his livestock, vaguely citing ‘many difficulties which I daily meet withal’; the disappointment prompted Jacie to leave him for an Independent congregation in Southwark.32 Boynton had no intention of returning to Yorkshire: in 1638 vice-president Sir Edward Osborne*, noting that Boynton ‘lives altogether out of the country, and I think ever will’, removed him from the lieutenantcy. By the end of the year he had joined Constable at Haarlem, and in 1640 the two men and Sir Richard Saltonstall, another frustrated Saybrooke colonist, had joined the Independent congregation of Philip Nye and Thomas Goodwin at Arnhem.33

Boynton had returned to England by July 1641, when he assigned part of his estate to raise portions for his younger children. He and his second son Matthew served with the parliamentarian forces in Yorkshire, and he was returned as a Recruiter MP for Scarborough in 1645, but he had little impact in the Commons before his death on 5 Mar. 1647.34 His will provided for his youngest son, who was born after the 1641 settlement, but this child never enjoyed his portion, as he died underage. His wife was assigned £767 towards his children’s education, and his son Matthew £2,376; the two were made executors, and the overseers of the will included John Anlaby, who succeeded Boynton as MP for Scarborough. Boynton’s wife quickly remarried, taking as her new husband Sir Arthur Ingram junior, while his son Matthew declared for the royalists in 1648, and was killed at Wigan in 1651. The heir kept out of politics, but his son William, the next MP in the family, represented Hedon in two of the Exclusion parliaments.35

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Simon Healy


  • 1. Yorks. ERRO, PE6/1, p. 6; C142/125/70; Vis. Yorks. ed. Foster, 8; Clay, Dugdale’s Vis. Yorks. ii. 147-9.
  • 2. Al. Cant.; LI Admiss.
  • 3. Clay, Dugdale’s Vis. Yorks. ii. 147-8; C142/381/154; HUL, DDWB, box 24; M. Imrie, Manor Houses of Burton Agnes, 47, 52.
  • 4. London Mar. Lics. (Harl. Soc. xxvi), 227; Clay, Dugdale’s Vis. Yorks. ii. 147-8; Yorks. ERRO, PE185/1 (12 Feb. 1644); PROB 11/200, ff. 97-8; CSP Ire. (Adventurers), 1642-59, p. 187.
  • 5. C142/367/59.
  • 6. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 168.
  • 7. CB.
  • 8. Scarborough Recs. 1640-60 ed. M.Y. Ashcroft (N. Yorks. Co. RO, xlix), 94.
  • 9. C231/4, f. 139.
  • 10. C181/3, ff. 47v, 96, 110, 187; 181/4, f. 189v.
  • 11. SCL, Strafford Pprs. 12/50, 18/157.
  • 12. E401/2586, p. 289.
  • 13. Scarborough Recs. 1600-40, 174-5; Add. 28082, f. 80v.
  • 14. C193/12/2.
  • 15. List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 163-4.
  • 16. C181/3, f. 268; HUL, DDHA/18/35; C192/1, unfol.; Hull RO, Bench Bk. 5, f. 292; A. and O. i. 91, 112, 148, 230, 544, 644, 705-6.
  • 17. Scarborough Recs. 1640-60, 47.
  • 18. LJ, v. 494b.
  • 19. Ibid. vi. 704b.
  • 20. C.V. Collier, Boynton Fam. 1-11.
  • 21. C142/125/70; APC, 1589-90, pp. 89-90; VCH E. Riding, ii. 71; R.A. Marchant, Puritans and Church Cts. 241-2; STAC 8/175/4, f. 40; C8/89/160.
  • 22. SCL, Strafford Pprs. 12/50; Strafforde Letters (1739) ed. W. Knowler, i. 9; C219/37/321.
  • 23. Vis. Yorks. ed. Foster, 57-8, 120-1, 144; C142/452/42; VCH E. Riding, v. 188, 192.
  • 24. APC, 1625-6, pp. 58, 70, 369-70, 424-5; E401/2586, pp. 287-9, E401/1913, unfol. (15 June 1626); SP16/36/82.
  • 25. SP16/37/27-8; SP16/38/49; SP16/39/37.
  • 26. Wentworth Pprs. ed. J.P. Cooper (Cam. Soc. ser. 4. xii), 288-9, 312-14; SCL, Strafford Pprs. 12/50; J.T. Cliffe, Yorks. Gentry, 235, 238.
  • 27. Clay, Dugdale’s Vis. Yorks. ii. 148; Marchant, 52-8, 80-92, 122-4, 268; Life and Death of Mr. Henry Jessey (1671), pp. 6-7.
  • 28. Life and Death of Mr. Henry Jessey, 7; Winthrop Pprs. (Mass. Hist. Soc.), iii. 226-7, 247-8, 484-5.
  • 29. K.O. Kupperman, Providence Island, 300-3, 327-9, 357-8; Winthrop Pprs. iii. 226-7, 247-8, 269, 293, 366.
  • 30. Clay, Dugdale’s Vis. Yorks. ii. 148-9; SCL, Strafford Pprs. 17/8; VCH E. Riding, ii. 44; C54/3119/6; C54/3143/1; CP25/2/523/13Chas.I/Mich., pt. 3.
  • 31. Mass. Hist. Soc. Colls. (ser. 5), i. 213; Winthrop Pprs. iii. 226-7; SCL, Strafford Pprs. 17/8.
  • 32. Winthrop Pprs. iii. 248, 388-9, 484-5; Stuart Royal Procs. ed. J.F. Larkin and P.L. Hughes, ii. 555-6.
  • 33. Strafforde Letters, ii. 194; CSP Dom. 1638-9, p. 195; SCL, Strafford Pprs. 18/157; Saltonstall Pprs. ed. R.E. Moody (Mass. Hist. Soc., ser. 6. lxxx), 131; M. Tolmie, Triumph of the Saints, 44-5.
  • 34. PROB 11/200, f. 97v; B.N. Reckitt, Chas. I and Hull, 79-81; CSP Dom. 1644-5, p. 104; HMC Portland, i. 275-6, 279-80, 294; Scarborough Recs. 1640-10, pp. 42-50, 94; Clay, Dugdale’s Vis. Yorks. ii. 147.
  • 35. PROB 11/200, ff. 97-8; Clay, Dugdale’s Vis. Yorks. ii. 147-8.