FREWEN, Thomas (1630-1702), of Brickwell House, Northiam, Suss.

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



Mar. 1679
Oct. 1679
15 Jan. - 1 Apr. 1689
9 Feb. 1694

Family and Education

bap. 27 Sept. 1630, o.s. of Stephen Frewen, Skinner, of London and Northiam by 1st w. Katherine, da. and coh. of Thomas Scott of Northiam. educ. I. Temple, entered 1648, called 1656; Padua 1649; St. John’s, Oxf. BA 1650, MA 1653. m. (1) c.1656, Judith (d. 29 Sept. 1666), da. and h. of John Wolverstone, Fishmonger, of Fulham, Mdx., 2s. (1 d.v.p.) 1da.; (2) 1671, Bridget (d.1679), da. of Sir Thomas Layton of East Layton Hall, Stanwick St. John, Yorks. and coh. to her bro. Charles, 5s. (2 d.v.p.) 1da.; (3) lic. 15 Dec. 1681, Jane (d. 20 June 1718), da. of Sir Robert Cooke of Highnam, Glos., wid. of Sir Dawes Wymondsold of Putney, Surr., s.p. suc. fa. 1679.1

Offices Held

J.p. liberties of Ripon, Sutton and Marston, Yorks. 1662, Kent 1672-89, Suss. 1672-July 1688, Nov. 1688-d., liberty of Cawood, Yorks. 1685; commr. for assessment, Suss. 1673-80, 1690, Mdx. 1689, recusants, Kent 1675 ; freeman, Portsmouth 1675; dep. Lt. Suss. by 1701-d.2


John Frewyn sat for Shoreham in two Parliaments of Edward II, but Frewen’s grandfather, a zealous Puritan, was of Worcestershire origins. He was rector of Northiam, six miles north-west of Rye, from 1583 to 1628. Frewen’s uncle, Accepted, the eldest of a large family, became archbishop of York at the Restoration. A bachelor and a notorious misogynist, he bequeathed to Frewen’s father a considerable fortune, including 27,000 guineas in specie, enabling him to retire from trade, take out a grant of arms and purchase property in his native village.3

Frewen sat for Rye in the Exclusion Parliaments. Shaftesbury was uncertain about his politics. He listed him first as ‘base’, then as ‘doubtful’, and finally as ‘honest’. Frewen was absent from the division on the first exclusion bill, though his subsequent activities and attitudes were those of a Tory. He was named only to a naturalization bill committee in the first Exclusion Parliament, and to none in its two successors. According to a correspondent of Sir Leoline Jenkins he was ‘as honest a gentleman as any in the county, and of a plentiful estate’. His own letters to Jenkins clearly reveal his dislike of the powerful Whig faction in his constituency. Before the 1685 election the corporation of Rye accepted the lord warden’s claim to nominate one Member, but begged that either Frewen or John Shales, to whose industry and expense they owed their ‘present established unity and freedom from malcontents’, should be selected. In fact the nomination went to Sir Thomas Jenner, and Frewen was returned on his own interest. He was again inactive, being named only to the committee for the maintenance of Great Yarmouth pier and harbour. His answers to the lord lieutenant of Sussex on the repeal of the Tests and Penal Laws were flatly negative. He was re-elected to the Convention but unseated on petition by the Whig Sir John Austen without leaving any trace on its records. He again sat for Rye from 1694 to 1698, when he signed the Association, but voted consistently against the Court. He died on 8 Sept. 1702, the only member of his family to sit in the Commons before the 19th century.4

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: Basil Duke Henning


  • 1. VCH Yorks. N. Riding, i. 132; London Mar. Lic. ed. Foster, 515; C. J. Feret Fulham Old and New, ii. 171.
  • 2. CSP Dom. 1685, p. 185; R. East, Portsmouth Recs. 361.
  • 3. DNB; Grantees of Arms (Harl. Soc. lxvi), 95; J. R. Woodhead, Rulers of London, 74.
  • 4. CSP Dom. 1680-1, p. 210; 1682, pp. 229, 350, 367; 1685, p. 24.