DENNYS, Sir Edward (c.1582-1641), of Shanklin, I.o.W.

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



Family and Education

b. c.1582, o.s. of Thomas Dennys of Shanklin and Mary, da. of German Richards of Yaverland, I.o.W.1 educ. L. Inn 1601.2 m. by 1614, Mary, da. of Anthony Dawley, attorney, of Winchester, Hants, 1s. 2da. d.v.p.3 suc. fa. 1606, aged 24;4 kntd. 20 July 1607.5 d. 8 July 1641.6

Offices Held

Commr. to survey Brading harbour, I.o.W. 1622;7 freeman, Newport I.o.W. 1623,8 Yarmouth I.o.W. 1625;9 j.p. Hants 1624-d.,10 dep. lt. 1625-d.;11 commr. Privy Seal loan, I.o.W. 1625, Forced Loan 1626-7;12 commr. impressment of soldiers, Hants and I.o.W. 1625, Hants 1626,13 survey of defences, I.o.W. 1626,14 oyer and terminer and martial law, Hants 1627, 1635, I.o.W. 1628;15 capt. of Cowes Castle, I.o.W. 1627-8;16 commr. piracy, Hants and I.o.W. 1635-6,17 maltsters, Hants 1636,18 sewers, Hants and Suss. 1638.19


Descended from the Dennys family of Devonshire, this Member’s great-grandfather acquired Shanklin and the advowson of Bonchurch in the Isle of Wight in the reign of Henry VIII.20 By 1625 Dennys was second in status among the island gentry only to Sir John Oglander*, his fellow deputy lieutenant, with whom he ‘ever agreed happily’. Oglander described Dennys as ‘a very honest gentleman and stout, but ... no great politician, being too open in discovering his intentions to all, yea, even to strangers’, and added that Dennys liked ‘much to hear himself talk, in which he was very tedious, and loved rather to talk of business than to be active in its execution’.21 Both men incurred much ill will in collecting the Forced Loan in 1626-7, which they sought to mitigate by unremitting efforts to free the island from billeting.22 After they protested twice to the Privy Council, Dennys was sacked as captain of Cowes Castle by the captain of the Isle of Wight, Viscount Conway (Sir Edward Conway I*), who replaced him with his own cousin, Sir Fulke Greville.

Dennys’ response to this snub was to stand for Parliament. Writing to Newport corporation on 6 Feb. 1628 he requested a seat, notwithstanding the captain’s nomination of his son, Sir Edward Conway II*.23 The borough did not oppose Dennys, but in the end re-elected its two previous representatives, leaving him to be returned for Yarmouth with Oglander as his junior colleague, to the exclusion of Greville and another of Conway’s cousins.24 A bolder man than Oglander, Dennys told the House in the debate of 8 Apr. on billeting ‘there can be no greater complaint than that of the Isle of Wight, for which I serve. The number oppresses us; we are but an eighth part of the shire and yet we have 1,500 Scots and redshanks. Without speedy help we can no longer have subsistence’.25 His objections were revealed as personal on 20 May, when he claimed privilege for one of his servants who had been arrested by two ‘redshanks’, as the bare-kneed Highlanders were called, allegedly acting on behalf of the rector of Bonchurch.26 A special committee was appointed to examine the case, chaired by William Coryton*, who reported in Dennys’ favour on 30 May.27 Dennys was named to two committees, for a bill to make the river Medway navigable (12 May), and to investigate the supply of powder and ordnance (4 June).28 On 6 June Dennys spoke again on the subject of billeting. Not only did the Isle lack arms to keep order, he warned, but the chief gentry had fled and the defences were decayed, leaving it ‘a dangerous place to let in an enemy’.29 During the recess he kept up the pressure, attending the king at Southwick with a petition.30 He was in London in January 1629, to put the island’s case to the Privy Council, but left no mark on the records of the second session.31

Dennys seems to have been less unwilling to cross the Solent than Oglander. In 1631 he claimed to have made no less than 11 journeys to London, each lasting at least three weeks, on behalf of the island, at a total cost of £230; but the lord treasurer (Sir Richard Weston*) awarded him only £100 in recompense.32 A fierce man by nature, he came to fisticuffs with Philip Fleming* in the public street in 1632, and on another occasion ‘too much braved’ the ineffectual (Sir) William Meux*.33 Dennys died intestate on 8 July 1641 at Warminster, the only member of the family to sit in Parliament.34

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: Virginia C.D. Moseley / Rosemary Sgroi


  • 1. W. Berry, Hants Gen. 271; Hants Field Club Procs. v. 80.
  • 2. LI Admiss.
  • 3. Vis. Hants (Harl. Soc. lxiv), 171.
  • 4. C142/300/176.
  • 5. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 143.
  • 6. C142/619/40.
  • 7. STAC 8/30/7.
  • 8. I.o.W. RO, NBC 45/2, f. 196v.
  • 9. Add. 5669, f. 69.
  • 10. C231/4, f. 170; I.o.W. RO, OG/BB/433.
  • 11. I.o.W. RO, OG/BB/66, 393.
  • 12. SP16/22/91; E401/2586, p. 174; APC, 1625-6, p. 380; T. Rymer, Foedera, viii. pt. 2, p. 145.
  • 13. APC, 1625-6, p. 180, 1626, p. 14.
  • 14. APC, 1625-6, p. 376.
  • 15. C181/3, f. 240v; APC, 1627-8, p. 318; CSP Dom. 1635, p. 319.
  • 16. CSP Dom. 1627-8, p. 23.
  • 17. C181/5, ff. 24, 58v.
  • 18. PC2/46, p. 273.
  • 19. C181/5, f. 115v.
  • 20. Vivian, Vis. Devon, 279; I.o.W. RO, OG/AA/16; Add. 39962, f. 180.
  • 21. Royalist’s Notebk. ed. F. Bamford, 110, 146.
  • 22. Royalist’s Notebk. 16; CSP Dom. 1627-8, pp. 173, 189, 556.
  • 23. I.o.W. RO, 16a/30, f. 225.
  • 24. Procs. 1628, vi. 173; Add. 5669, f. 75v.
  • 25. CD 1628, ii. 366.
  • 26. Ibid. iii. 491, 526.
  • 27. Ibid. 610, 614, iv. 22, 23, 59.
  • 28. CD 1628, iii. 367, iv. 83.
  • 29. CD 1628, iv. 147, 159.
  • 30. Royalist’s Notebk. 31.
  • 31. Ibid. 51.
  • 32. E351/286.
  • 33. Royalist’s Notebk. 87; Oglander Mems. ed. W.H. Long, 8.
  • 34. C142/619/40.