FRANKLAND, Sir William, 1st Bt. (c.1640-97), of Thirkleby, nr. Thirsk, Yorks.

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



8 Feb. 1671
Mar. 1679
Oct. 1679

Family and Education

b. c.1640, o.s. of Sir Henry Frankland of Thirkleby by Anne, da. of Sir Arthur Herrys of Creeksea, Essex. m. by 1662, Arabella (d. 26 Feb. 1687), da. of Hon. Henry Belasyse of Newburgh Priory, Yorks., 6s. (2 d.v.p.) 2da. cr. Bt. 24 Dec. 1660; suc. fa. 1672.1

Offices Held

Commr. for assessment, Yorks. (N. Riding) Sept. 1660-80, (W. Riding) 1673-80, (N. and W. Ridings) 1689-90; dep. lt. (N. Riding) 1662-81, lt.-col. of militia ft. by 1665, col. ?1678-81; j.p. 1665-81, 1689-d.; receiver of hearth-tax W. Riding and York 1671-14; commr. for recusants (N. Riding) 1675.2


The Frankland estates in the North Riding were acquired by a London Clothworker in Elizabethan times. Frankland’s grandfather represented Thirsk, four miles from Thirkleby, in 1628-9 and in the Short Parliament. His father, although one of Strafford’s knights, fought for Parliament in the Civil War and served as assessment commissioner from 1647 to 1650, but he accommodated himself to the Restoration and sat on the North Riding bench till his death. Frankland himself received a baronetcy at the Restoration, and in 1668 was ordered by the Commons to investigate abuses in the hearth-tax in Yorkshire. Three years later he replaced one of the guilty officials, who had been dismissed. He had strengthened his interest at Thirsk by his marriage, and was returned unopposed to the Cavalier Parliament at a by-election. A moderately active Member, he was appointed to 26 committees. In 1674 he was added to those to consider the impeachment of Arlington and the general test bill, and in the next session he was named to those for preventing the growth of Popery and hindering Papists from sitting in Parliament. According to the working lists it was hoped that the influence of his brother-in-law, Lord Fauconberg, might win him over to the Court, but Shaftesbury was undoubtedly correct in marking him ‘worthy’ in 1677. He continued to lead the resistance of the Yorkshire magistrates to the hearth-tax, claiming in particular that smiths’ forges should be exempt, and on 31 Jan. 1678 he and (Sir) Metcalfe Robinson complained that one of the collectors had infringed their privilege by serving them with a summons during the session. On 18 Feb., in his only recorded speech, he urged a reduction of £400,000 in the £1,000,000 demanded for maintaining the war with France. He helped to prepare reasons for a conference on the growth of Popery on 29 Apr. and to draw up the address for the removal of counsellors on 7 May. During the summer he was named to the committee on the bill for the better collection of hearth-tax. In the final session he was among those appointed to consider the bill disabling Papists from sitting in Parliament and to translate Coleman’s letters.3

Frankland was re-elected to the Exclusion Parliaments, in which he was sometimes confused with Sir William Francklyn. In 1679 Shaftesbury again classed him as ‘worthy’ and he was moderately active. He voted for exclusion, and probably served on four committees, taking the chair on the hearthtax bill. His failure to attend the Duke of York on his way to Scotland in the autumn was neither unnoticed nor forgotten. He may again have served on four committees in the second Exclusion Parliament, but at Oxford he was named only to the elections committee. He intended to stand again after the Duke had succeeded to the throne in 1685, but withdrew in favour of his son when Fauconberg informed him that his candidature would be objectionable to the King, advising him further to send as soon as the election was over ‘a submissive letter particularly mentioning your great fit of the gout when his Majesty passed through these parts’. Frankland complied, writing that he had hoped, if elected,

to have repaired in some measure past errors and mistakes, which were rather of a passive than an active nature. I do not, however, wish to defend them, being much more inclined to give proofs of submission than to offer argument for my justification. Therefore when your lordship intimated that his Majesty did not approve of my standing, I disputed the thing no longer, thinking it better to serve his Majesty in his way rather than my own, and hoping it will be accepted as an earnest of that duty and loyalty of which my heart is full.

Fauconberg replied: ‘I this morning showed your letter to his Majesty, by whom it was very well received’. He was still reckoned among the Opposition in 1687, but he never stood again, suffering with ‘an admirable patience many years under the affliction of a most painful distemper’. He died on 2 Aug. 1697 and was buried at Thirkleby. His memorial inscription describes him as:

A true lover of his country, a constant assertor of its liberties, a promoter of its welfare and a defender of its laws in all capacities; as a representative in Parliament, a public magistrate, a friendly, courteous, and charitable neighbour, a prudent and indulgent father. Of a pleasant wit and agreeable conversation, of a sound judgment and unbiased integrity, and of a temper even, cheerful, happy to himself, and delightful to all who knew him. To complete all the rest, in his religion truly Christian, pious, and humble, of a comprehensive and charitable spirit, free from superstition and neglect.4

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Authors: P. A. Bolton / Geoffrey Jaggar


  • 1. Clay, Dugdale’s Vis. Yorks. ii. 244-5.
  • 2. H. B. M’Call, Fam. Wandesford, 291; Add. 41254, f.49v; HMC Var. ii. 165; N. Riding Recs. vi. 116; vii. 50, 93; Cal. Treas. Bks. iii. 731, 799.
  • 3. VCH Yorks. N. Riding, ii. 57; J. T. Cliffe, Yorks. Gentry, 359; CJ, ix. 66, 429; Cal. Treas. Bks. v. 417, 418.
  • 4. HMC Astley, 59-62; W. Grange, Vale of Mowbray, 196.