ELLYS, Sir William, 2nd Bt. (c.1654-1727), of Wyham and Nocton, Lincs.
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Family and Education
b. c.1654, 1st s. of Sir Thomas Ellys, 1st Bt. of Wyham by Anne, da. of Sir John Stanhope† of Elvaston, Derbys. educ. Lincoln, Oxf. matric 4 Nov. 1670, aged 16. m. 2 Oct. 1672, Isabella (d. 16 Jan. 1686), da. of Richard Hampden of Great Hampden, Bucks., 5s. (4 d.v.p.) 3da. suc. fa. c.1662, gt.-uncle William Ellys 1680.1
Commr. for assessment, Lincs. 1673-80, Leics. and Lincs. 1689-90; freeman, Grantham 1676; j.p. Lincs., Northants. and Rutland 1680-1, Lincs. ?1689-d. Leics. 1694-d.; commr. for inquiry into recusancy fines, Lincs., Notts. and Derbys. Mar. 1688.2
Ellys’s grandfather died on the eve of the Civil War. His father was too young to take part, but was appointed to the Lincolnshire militia committee in March 1660, and created a baronet at the Restoration, possibly as compensation for the grant to Ellys’s great-uncle which had failed to pass the seal before Cromwell’s death. ‘A drunken sot’, his name disappears from the assessment commission between 1661 and 1663, and Ellys himself was brought up by his bachelor great-uncle in a Presbyterian environment. With the support of Sir Robert Carr, a friend of the family, he began canvassing at Grantham in 1677 well ahead of the long-awaited death of the octogenarian Sir William Thorold. Described as ‘a disaffected person’ by Lord Lindsey (Robert Bertie I), who was at daggers drawn with Carr, Ellys was defeated by Sir Robert Markham, but petitioned. Lord Treasurer Danby, who was Lindsey’s brother-in-law, chose to regard the petition as a ‘trial of strength, and to decide the fate of the session’. Sir Thomas Meres reported from the elections committee on 10 June 1678 in Ellys’s favour, but the recommendation was reversed by the House under direct pressure from the King, though only by 12 votes. ‘In the debates of the House and committee there have been more loose expressions and calling the persons to account for the same than had happened in many years before.’3
Ellys was successful for Grantham at the next general election and held the seat with one interval until 1713. On his arrival in London he dined with Shaftesbury, who marked him ‘honest’, and joined the Green Ribbon Club. He was moderately active in the first Exclusion Parliament, in which he was appointed to five committees, including that on the bill for regulating elections. He duly voted for exclusion, and after re-election in August, like the rest of Carr’s followers, pointedly abstained from greeting the Duke of York when he passed through Lincolnshire.4
Ellys was an active Member of the second Exclusion Parliament, in which he served on 12 committees, including those to inquire into the conduct of Sir Robert Peyton, to petition for a full pardon for the informer Dangerfield, to give relief from arbitrary fines, and to promote the discovery of superstitious endowments. In the Oxford Parliament he was appointed only to the elections committee; but Lindsey expected him to stand for the county at the next election as head of the local Presbyterians, and could not believe that his brother-in-law John Hampden had failed to involve him in the Rye House Plot. At the 1685 election every effort was made to secure ‘the exclusion of the excluder’, and Ellys and (Sir) John Newton were defeated at Grantham by two Tories. In the list of the opposition to James II, he was noted as considerable both for interest and estate, his inheritance of Nocton having doubled his income and enabled him to live ‘like a prince’. His appointment to the local commission of inquiry into recusancy fines did not turn him into a Whig collaborator. He was again expected to stand for the county in 1688, but, as Lindsey recognized, his real political base was Grantham, where he possessed ‘such an influence that he will not only be chosen himself, but his interest will also choose any other’, and where he was indeed returned both at the abortive election in December and in the following month.5
Ellys was a moderately active Member of the Convention, though he was still no speaker at this stage of his career. He was appointed to 29 committees, including those to recommend the essentials for securing religion, law and liberty, to inquire into the authors and advisers of recent grievances, to draft new oaths of supremacy and allegiance, and to consider the toleration bill. After the recess he served on committees to inquire into war expenditure and to consider the second mutiny bill, and supported the disabling clause in the bill to restore corporations. He remained a country Whig under William III and Anne, equally zealous against placemen and the inflammatory Dr Sacheverell. He died on 6 Oct. 1727, and was succeeded by his son Richard, who had shared with him the representation of Grantham from 1701 to 1705 before sitting for Boston as an opposition Whig.6
Ref Volumes: 1660-1690
Author: J. S. Crossette
- 1. Lincs. Peds. (Harl. Soc. l), 326; Assoc. Arch. Socs. xxiv. 362; Lipscomb, Bucks, ii. 261.
- 2. Grantham corp. minute bk. 1, f. 632v; Cal. Treas. Bks. viii. 1806.
- 3. Her. and Gen. ii. 121; D. R. Lacey, Dissent and Parl. Pols. 389-90; E. Turner, Colls. Hist. Grantham, 13-14; CSP Dom. 1678, p. 205; Hatton Corresp. (Cam. Soc. n.s. xxii), 166; HMC Buccleuch, i. 328; HMC Rutland, ii. 44; HMC Ormonde, n.s. iv. 429, 431.
- 4. Sir George Sitwell, First Whig, 55; Lincs. N. and Q. xviii. 148-50.
- 5. CSP Dom. July-Sept. 1683, p. 180; HMC Rutland, ii. 88; HMC Portland, iii. 536.
- 6. F. Hill, Tudor and Stuart Lincoln, 187; G. A Holmes, Politics in the Age of Anne, 133, 223.