BRISCOE, William (c.1606-88), of Lincoln's Inn and Crofton, Cumb.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. c.1606, 3rd but 1st surv. s. of John Briscoe of Crofton by Mary, da. of Sir Thomas Braithwaite of Burneshead, Westmld. educ. Queen’s, Oxf. matric. 12 Dec. 1623, aged 17; L. Inn 1626, called 1634. m. (1) 26 Nov. 1635, Susanna, da. of Sir Randal Cranfield of London and Sutton-at-Hone, Kent, 1s. d.v.p.; (2) bef. 12 May 1643, Susanna, da. of Francis Brown, Haberdasher, of London, 3s. 5da. suc. fa. 1632.1

Offices Held

J.p. Cumb. 1642-62, commr. for assessment 1643-52, 1657, Jan. 1660-3, 1679-80, sequestrations 1643, levying of money 1643, northern assoc. 1645, militia 1648, 1659, Mar. 1660, sheriff 1650-1, commr. for poor prisoners 1653, scandalous ministers, Cumb., co. Dur., Northumb. and Westmld. 1654, oyer and terminer, Yorks., Northumb. and co. Dur. 1655, security [S] 1656; member of merchants’ guild, Carlisle 1658.2


Briscoe’s family had been established by the 13th century on the manor from which they took their name and which they subsequently alienated to the Church. But they acquired Crofton, some ten miles from Carlisle, and began to represent the city in the reign of Richard II. Briscoe himself, a professional lawyer, acted as steward to the 4th Lord Wharton and became one of the staunchest Parliamentarians in the county. He bought back Briscoe at the sale of capitular lands, and represented Cumberland in the Protectorate Parliaments.3

Briscoe was returned for Carlisle at the general election of 1660. He was classed as a friend by his employer, whose religious proclivities he doubtless shared and received a copy of the case for modified episcopacy with objections and answers. On 4 July he spoke against an amendment to the indemnity bill to compel Cromwellian officials to refund their salaries. ‘Such rigours’, he said, ‘would confound men, whereas mercy would convert them’. But he was not active in the Convention; his only committees were on the bills for the confirmation of college leases (8 Aug.), the endowment of vicarages (7 Nov.), and the supply of defects in the Poll Act (3 Dec.). He was obliged to relinquish his purchase, and never stood again, withdrawing from public life in 1662. He died on 25 Feb. 1688, the last of the family to sit in Parliament.4

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Authors: M. W. Helms / Eveline Cruickshanks


  • 1. Vis. Cumb. and Westmld. ed. Foster, 21; Soc. of Genealogists, St. Stephen Coleman Street par. reg.; PCC 114 Rivers.
  • 2. HMC Portland, i. 186; CSP Dom. 1655, p. 116; Mun. Recs. Carlisle (Cumb. and Westmld. Antiq. Soc. extra ser. iv), 91.
  • 3. Cumb. and Westmld. Antiq. Soc. Trans. xl. 50; Northern Hist. v. 46.
  • 4. Bowman diary, f. 51v; Account of Cumb. (Cumb. and Westmld. Antiq. Soc. Tracts, ii), 86.