BYNG, William (1586-by 1669), of Wrotham, Kent; later of Deal Castle, Kent

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



23 Sept. 1610

Family and Education

bap. 28 Aug. 1586, 5th but 3rd surv. s. of Robert Byng† (d.1595) of Wrotham, being 2nd s. with his 2nd w. Mary, da. of William Maynard; 1 half-bro. of George†. educ. G. Inn 1612.2 unm. sig. Will[iam] Byng.

Offices Held

Servant to Henry Howard, earl of Northampton by 1607-14;3 capt. Deal Castle 1611-42.4


Settled at Wrotham, in Kent,5 Byng’s father entered Parliament for Steyning in 1555 and his elder step-brother George sat for Rochester in 1584. Byng himself entered the service of Henry Howard, subsequently earl of Northampton and lord warden of the Cinque Ports, perhaps on the recommendation of his uncle Thomas, Regius Professor of Civil Law at Cambridge and master of Clare from 1571 until his death in 1599. Recommended by Northampton as town clerk to the corporation of Winchelsea in 1607, Byng declared himself unable to accept ‘by reason of his attendance on the lord warden’.6 In the following year, however, he was granted the reversion to the captaincy of Deal Castle.7 When a vacancy occurred in the representation of New Romney in August 1610, Northampton testified to ‘the long experience I have had both of his discreet carriage and sufficiency’.8 Byng was subsequently elected to the first Jacobean Parliament, but left no trace on the scanty records of its final session. Soon after the dissolution his reversion fell in, and he was appointed captain of Deal Castle. In August 1612 he was admitted to Gray’s Inn, presumably in an honorary capacity, and was described as being of Wrotham. When Northampton nominated him as Member for Winchelsea in 1614, the corporation accepted him, but resolved that he should ‘take his oath for the maintenance of the Ports ... and that he serve gratis ... without wages’.9 He left no clear trace on the records of the Addled Parliament - there was more than one Member serving with his surname - but he may have been the ‘Mr. Byng’ who moved, on 19 Apr., for the rule barring mayors from returning themselves to be upheld.10 Following the dissolution he apparently never sought re-election.

As one of Northampton’s executors Byng was left 500 marks on the earl’s death in June 1614.11 In 1618 he was given a pass to travel in the Low Countries.124 During the 1620s Byng frequently complained about the condition of the defences of Deal Castle, which were so dilapidated that they would ‘no longer defend the coasts from ... attacks of ships of war’.13 He nevertheless opened fired several times on French and Dutch vessels which failed to strike their flags in salute.14 In the spring of 1640 he promised support for Sir Edward Dering* for the county.15 The 2nd earl of Warwick (Sir Robert Rich*) ‘sent for troops out of London and the country’ and expelled him from Deal Castle in 1642 as a suspected royalist ‘by the falseness of some of his own people’. Later claiming to have ‘suffered very much for his loyal affection’, Byng compounded for his estate in 1646 at £77 6s.16 It was alleged in 1650, apparently without foundation, that he was in command of one of the royalist ships under Prince Rupert.17 At the Restoration he petitioned to be restored to the captaincy of Deal Castle, but if he was ever granted the place he lost it again in May 1661.18 He seems to have spent the last years of his long life with his niece Elizabeth Polhill at Otford, drafting his will there on 28 Sept. 1654. Unmarried and childless, he left what little property he owned, in Tonbridge, to one of his nephews. His will was proved on 7 May 1669.19

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: Peter Lefevre / Andrew Thrush


  • 1. Vis. Kent (Harl. Soc. xlii), 27-8; Cent. Kent. Stud. Wrotham par. reg.
  • 2. GI Admiss.
  • 3. Top. and Gen. ii. 451, 455; Archaeologia, xlii. 377.
  • 4. SP29/6/48.
  • 5. E. Hasted, Kent, v. 11.
  • 6. E. Suss. RO, WIN 55 , ff. 114v, 117, 143.
  • 7. C66/1761.
  • 8. E. Kent Archives Cent. NR/AZ/32/9.
  • 9. E. Suss. RO, WIN 55, f. 190.
  • 10. Procs. 1614 (Commons), 102.
  • 11. Archaeologia, xlii. 377.
  • 12. CSP Dom. 1611-18, p. 522.
  • 13. CSP Dom. 1619-23, p. 370; 1625-6, p. 321.
  • 14. Ibid. 1625-6, pp. 366, 397; 1627-8, p. 34; J. Laker, Hist. Deal, 140-2.
  • 15. A. Everitt, Kent and Gt. Rebellion, 78.
  • 16. SP29/6/48; CCC, 1643-60, p. 1456.
  • 17. CCAM, 1227.
  • 18. CSP Dom. 1660-1, pp. 88, 598.
  • 19. PROB 11/329, f. 395.