FOXWIST, William (c.1610-73), of Caernarvon, Caern. and St. Albans, Herts.

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.1610,3rd but 1st surv. s. of Richard Foxwist of Caernarvon by Ellen, da. of Sir William Thomas of Aber, Caern. educ. Jesus, Oxf. matric. 25 Jan. 1628, aged 17; L. Inn 1629, called 1636. m. Mary, da. of John Pemberton, Grocer, of London and St. Albans, s.p. suc. fa. 1615.2

Offices Held

Commr. of array, Caern. 1642; recorder, St. Albans 1645-61; j.p. St. Albans borough 1645-Sept. 1660, liberty 1656-Sept. 1660, Caern. 1650-July 1660, Herts. 1651-July 1660; judge of Admiralty, N. Wales 1646; commr. for assessment, Herts. and St. Albans 1647-52, Caern. 1647, Herts., St. Albans and Caern. 1657, Jan. 1660, St. Albans Sept. 1660-1; commr. for militia, Herts. and Caern. 1648, Herts. and N. Wales Mar. 1660; commr. for N. Wales assoc. Caern. 1648; bencher, L. Inn 1648; second justice, Brecon circuit 1655-9, Chester circuit Mar.-Aug. 1660.3

Commr. for security 1656.


Foxwist came from a cadet branch of a 13th century family which took its name from a Cheshire manor. His ancestors had moved to Caernarvon in early Tudor times. Foxwist, a lawyer, took no active part in the Civil War, but began his long association with St. Albans by becoming recorder in 1645. He succeeded a royalist kinsman as Member for Caernarvon Boroughs in 1647 until Pride’s Purge, after which he did not sit. He was appointed a Welsh judge under the Protectorate and attended the funeral of Oliver Cromwell as one of the mourners.4

Foxwist was appointed second justice of Chester on the return of the secluded Members, and at the general election of 1660 defeated Col. Alban Cox at St. Albans. An inactive Member of the Convention, he was named in the first session only to the committee of elections and privileges, and to those for the indemnity bill and the bill to settle ecclesiastical livings. On 28 July he apparently committed a breach of privilege by testifying before the Lords on the subsidy and excise bills which the Commons were then debating. Two days later he moved that Sir Thomas Myddelton should be rewarded for assisting in Booth’s rising. After the recess he was appointed only to the committee on the bill for settling wine licences. Although, on behalf of his corporation, he congratulated the King ‘in a short and pithy speech’ on his Restoration, and presented him with £100 in gold, he was probably in opposition. He lost not only his judgeship but his position as a local magistrate, and he resigned as recorder in January 1661. He is not known to have stood again, confining himself to his legal practice, which does not seem to have been remunerative. In his will, dated 25 Mar. 1673 and proved on 14 Dec., he calculated that after sale of lands in Caernarvonshire and payment of £800 debt, his widow would enjoy an income of only £104 p.a. He was the only member of his family to sit in Parliament.5

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Authors: M. W. Helms / E. R. Edwards / Geoffrey Jaggar


  • 1. Did not sit after Pride’s Purge, 6 Dec. 1648, readmitted 21 Feb. 1660.
  • 2. W. R. Williams, Old Wales, i. 257, 378; Keeler, Long Parl. 360; Vis. Northants. (Harl. Soc. lxxxvii), 167.
  • 3. W. H. Jones, Old Karnarvon, 159; A. E. Gibbs, Corp. Recs. of St. Albans, 72-73, 76-77, 297, 298; W. R. Williams, Gt. Sessions in Wales, 60-61.
  • 4. Lancs. and Cheshire Rec. Soc. xiii. 43; W. H. Jones, op. cit. 62, 159; Trans. Caern. Hist. Soc. xiv. 26.
  • 5. CJ, viii. 39; Merc. Pub. 5 July 1660; Bowman diary, f. 105; Gt. Sessions, 61, Gibbs, 76; PCC 158 Pye.