BYERLEY, Robert (1660-1714), of Middridge Grange, Heighington, co. Dur. and Goldsborough, Yorks.

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

bap. 27 Mar. 1660, 4th but 2nd surv. s. of Anthony Byerley (d.1667) of Middridge Grange by Anne, da. and coh. of Sir Richard Hutton of Goldsborough. educ. Queen’s, Oxf. 1677. m. 17 Mar. 1692, Mary (d. 26 Feb. 1727), da. and h. of Philip Wharton, warden of the Mint 1680-5, of Edlington, Yorks., div. w. of James Campbell of Burnbank, Lanarkshire, 2s. 3da. suc. bro. 1674.1

Offices Held

Freeman, Durham 1680; j.p. co. Dur. 1680-Apr. 1688, Yorks. (W. Riding) 1684-?Sept. 1688, co. Durham and W. Riding 1689-96, 1700-d., (E. and N. Ridings) 1702-d.; commr. for assessment, (W. Riding) 1689-90; c.-in-c. of militia, co. Durham 1689; dep. lt. (W. Riding), York and Ainsty 1700-d., (N. Riding) 1701-d.2

Capt. indep. tp. 1685, Queen Dowager’s Horse (later 6 Dgn. Gds.) 1685-7, lt.-col. 1689, col. 1689-92.3

Commr. for privy seal 1711-13.


Byerley’s great-great-grandfather bought half the manor of Pickhill in the North Riding in 1559, but the family had resided chiefly in county Durham since Jacobean times. His grandfather, ‘a great money-man’, and his father were both Royalists, the latter serving as commissioner of array and colonel of a regiment under the Marquess of Newcastle. They compounded for £4,261 in 1649, but when Byerley’s father was recommended for the order of the Royal Oak after the Restoration, his estate was reckoned at only £600 p.a.4

Byerley was returned for county Durham in 1685, unopposed, and was appointed to two committees in James II’s Parliament, those for preventing rapine in the north and rebuilding St. Paul’s. He was listed among the Opposition, but as a churchman and a Tory, he raised a troop of horse during Monmouth’s invasion, and was commissioned as a regular after Sedgemoor. He was closeted in 1687, but neither the King nor Bishop Crew could convince him of the necessity of repealing the Test Act and Penal Laws; he sent in his papers, and was removed from the Durham commission of the peace. He was nevertheless re-elected at the abortive election of December 1688, and again a month later. According to Anthony Rowe he voted to agree with the Lords that the throne was not vacant. But he was given a pass for Durham on 16 Mar. 1689 and played no further part in the Convention, being on active service in Ireland. He was promoted colonel on Schomberg’s recommendation at the end of the year, but sold out in 1692 on his marriage to an heiress. ‘A leading figure among the High Church gentry in Yorkshire’, he remained a consistent Tory, refusing the Association in 1696 until brought before the King’s bench. He was buried at Goldsborough on 3 May 1714, the only member of his family to sit in Parliament.5

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: Gillian Hampson


  • 1. Surtees, Dur. iii. 313; Scots Peerage, i. 367; Luttrell, ii. 394.
  • 2. Surtees, iv. pt. 2, p. 22; HMC Lords, i. 178; HMC Le Fleming, 210; Add. 29674, f. 160; SP44/165/194.
  • 3. CSP Dom. 1686-7, p. 374; 1691-2, p. 117; Luttrell, ii. 4.
  • 4. VCH Yorks. N. Riding, i. 379; Cal. Comm. Comp. 875-6.
  • 5. Reresby Mems. 445; R. Morrice, Entering Bk. 2, p. 63; The Gen. n.s. xxii. 21; Hutchinson, Dur. i. 549; CSP Dom. 1689-90, pp. 27, 347; Luttrell, iv. 60; G. Holmes, British Pols. in the Age of Anne, 278.