PASTON, Hon. Robert (c.1657-1705), of Oxnead, Norf.

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.1657, 2nd s. of Robert Paston, 1st Earl of Yarmouth, and bro. of Hon. William Paston. educ. Trinity Coll. Camb. 1672-4; travelled abroad (France, Holland) 1674-7. m. (1) Hester, da. of Sir William Mainwaring of Chester, wid. of Sir Thomas Grobham Howe of Kempley, Glos., s.p.; (2) lic. 10 Dec. 1689, ‘aged 26’, Anne, da. and coh. of Philip Harbord of Besthorpe, Norf., s.p.1

Offices Held

Freeman, Norwich 1678, King’s Lynn 1679, Gt. Yarmouth 1687.2


After leaving Cambridge, Paston travelled abroad in the company of the Earl of Plymouth, Charles II’s illegitimate son. He spent about a year at Saumur, seat of a famous Protestant university, and in 1677 served as a volunteer in the Dutch army. During his absence, no doubt at the instance of Lord Treasurer Danby, his mother’s kinsman, he was given a reversion to the passport office. He had returned home by November 1677, and was active in helping his brother in his election campaign at Norwich, seven miles from Oxnead, in February 1678. At about the same time he asked his cousin, Peregrine Bertie I, to help him to a commission in the Guards; but nothing came of it, nor was he elected for Castle Rising in 1679 as his father hoped. He was returned for Norwich in 1685 after a contest, and sat as a Tory in James II’s Parliament. An active Member, he was appointed to 14 committees, including those to estimate the yield of tax on new buildings, to prevent clandestine marriages, to encourage the cloth trade and ship-building, and to consider the bill for the general naturalization of Huguenot refugees. He acted as teller against continuing the tax on coal for the benefit of London widows and orphans, and was named to the committee for the substitute bill. After the purge of the Norwich corporation in March 1688, the royal electoral agents expected the city to elect the dissenter John Barnham, and, ‘if left to themselves’, another alderman called Cooke; ‘but if your Majesty interpose for Mr Robert Paston, ’tis presumed they will choose him instead’. A canvass in October revealed to him ‘so great a change I can hardly think myself in Norwich’. His connexion with the Court and the report that he would be for the repeal of the Test Act and Penal Laws had lost him all his friends, and those who remained loyal to the Paston interest declared themselves unable to help. The Duke of Norfolk, ‘finding I am like to be run down, has reserved a place for me at Rising’; but he is unlikely to have stood again. Arrested as a Jacobite suspect in 1692, he died childless in 1705.3

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: Paula Watson


  • 1. Norf. Arch. iv. 51; Ormerod, Cheshire, i. 293; London Mar. Lic. ed. Foster, 1026.
  • 2. Reg. Norwich Freemen ed. Millican, 210; Lynn Freemen, 190; Add. 36988, f. 152.
  • 3. HMC 6th Rep. 370, 371, 375, 382, 385; CSP Dom. 1677-8, p. 192; CJ, ix. 748; Add. 27447, ff. 494-5; 27448, f. 304; 28621, f. 39; Duckett, Penal Laws (1882), 313; Luttrell, iii. 453, 458-9; R. W. Ketton-Cremer, Norf. Portraits, 49.