DUTTON, Sir Ralph, 1st Bt. (c.1645-1721), of Sherborne, Glos.

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.1645, 2nd s. of Sir Ralph Dutton of Standish by Mary, da. and coh. of William Duncombe, Haberdasher, of London. m. (1) settlement 13 Aug. 1674, Grizel (d.1678), da. of Sir Edward Poole of Kemble, Wilts., 1da.; (2) 14 Jan. 1679 (with £10,000), Mary, da. and h. of Peter Barwick of Westminster, physician to King Charles II, 4s. (3 d.v.p.) 4da. suc. bro. 1675; cr. Bt. 22 June 1678.1

Offices Held

Commr. for assessment, Glos. 1677-80, 1689-90, j.p. and dep. lt. 1689-?1710, col. of militia ft. by 1697-?1710.2


Dutton’s great-grandfather, a younger son of a Cheshire family, bought the former monastic estate of Sherborne in 1551. Although the family enjoyed a reputation for opulence, Dutton’s uncle was the first to enter Parliament, representing the county until disabled for royalism in 1644. Dutton’s father was also a Royalist; as commissioner of array, he raised a regiment for the King in 1642, and went into exile in 1646, but is said to have died on the voyage.3

Dutton himself was notable chiefly as an enthusiastic follower of greyhound coursing, to the serious embarrassment of his estate. He was returned for the county to the Exclusion Parliaments, and marked ‘honest’ by Shaftesbury. He was appointed to three committees in 1679, of which the most important was for the better regulation of elections, and voted for the bill. He was re-elected, though not without opposition, in August, and again named to three committees in the second Exclusion Parliament, including that for repealing part of the Severn Fishing Act. At the general election of 1681 he was accused of a change of heart over exclusion, and in the Oxford Parliament he was named only to the committee of elections and privileges. He remained an exclusionist after the dissolution, entertaining the Duke of Monmouth at his home in November.4

Although Dutton was not actively opposed to James II he was compelled to pay £1,100 for his baronetcy, and it was reported that the title to his property was to be queried. With Henry Bertie he helped to rescue John Lovelace in December 1688, and was elected to the Convention in the following month. An active Member, he was named to 37 committees and acted as teller in four divisions. He was appointed to the committees to inquire into the authors and advisers of grievances and to draw up the address promising assistance for a war with France. On 30 Apr. 1689 he gave information to the House of a case of treasonable words, and was thanked for causing the culprit to be arrested. He was appointed to the committee on the bill for restoring corporations. His only recorded speech was on the indemnity bill on 4 June, when he proposed ironically: ‘It seems, by the silence of the House, nobody is in fault; therefore, pray let us go home’. On 12 June he was among those instructed to inspect the Journals of both Houses regarding the Popish Plot. He acted as teller for the adjournment of the debate on the Wye and Lugg navigation on 4 July, against going into committee on supply on 30 July, and on 20 Aug. against an amendment concerning the adulteration of wine to the bill prohibiting trade with France. In the second session, he served on three important committees, those to inquire into the miscarriages of the war, to consider the second mutiny bill, and to examine the state of the revenue. He obtained leave for a fortnight on 18 Dec., but was listed as a supporter of the disabling clause in the bill to restore corporations. He remained a Whig under William III, but lost his seat in 1698. He made over his estate to his son in 1710, and took refuge from his creditors in Ireland, where he died between 12 Oct. 1720 and 21 Mar. 1721. His son was returned for Gloucestershire in 1727 as a Whig.5

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: John. P. Ferris


  • 1. B. Morgan, Dutton Fam. 246-7.
  • 2. Eg. 1626, f. 16.
  • 3. Cal. Sherborne Muns. 4, 243-4; Keeler, Long Parl. 162-3; Morgan, 158.
  • 4. CSP Dom. 1680-1, p. 561; 1690-1, p. 548; Morgan, 223; HMC Ormonde, n.s. vi. 8.
  • 5. R. Morrice, Entering Bk. 1, p. 562; Cal. Treas. Bks. viii. 746; Univ. Intell. 11 Dec. 1688; Grey, ix. 281; Cal. Sherborne Muns. 29.