POLEY, Sir Edmund (1619-1971), of Badley, Suff.

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



1661 - Oct. 1671

Family and Education

bap. 16 Dec. 1619, and but 1st surv. s. of Edmund Poley of Badley by 1st w. Dorothy, da. of Anthony Warner of Stradbroke, Suff. educ. Pembroke, Camb. 1635, BA 1638; G. Inn 1638. m. c.1651, Esther (d. 22 June 1714), da. of Sir Henry Crofts of Little Saxham, Suff., 8s (4 d.v.p.) 7da. suc. fa. 1640, kntd. 11 Apr. 1646.1

Offices Held

J.p. Suff. 1643-6, July 1660-d., Sudbury 1664; commr. for oyer and terminer, Norfolk circuit July 1660, assessment, Suff. and Bury St. Edmunds Aug. 1660-9; dep. lt. Suff. c. Aug. 1660-d., commr. for loyal and indigent officers 1662, complaints, Bedford level 1663; sub-commr. for prizes, London 1665-7; searcher of customs, Kent 1667-?d.; receiver of taxes, Norf. and Hunts. 1667-9; commr. for appeals, Bedford level 1668.2

Clerk extraordinary to PC by 1667-?d.; commr. for union with Scotland 1670-1.


Poley’s family had been in Suffolk since the end of the 14th century, and represented Suffolk constituencies since 1554. Poley himself was a Royalist during the Civil War and fought in the King’s army. In September 1646 he petitioned to compound on the Oxford articles, and was fined £728. During the rest of the Interregnum he seems to have remained inactive.3

Poley’s name appeared on the list of proposed knights of the Royal Oak, with an income estimated at £1,000 p.a. He was returned for Bury at the general election of 1661 on his father-in-law’s interest, and listed by Lord Wharton as a friend. An active Member of the Cavalier Parliament, he was appointed to 169 committees, including the committee of elections and privileges in eight sessions, and acted as a teller in seven divisions. In the first session he was appointed to the committees on the uniformity bill, the bill of pains and penalties, and the militia bill. His name appeared on the list of court dependents in 1664, and he acted as teller in divisions on provisos to the repeal of the Triennial Act and to the conventicles bill. He served on the committee for the latter measure, and was sent to desire a conference on the privilege claimed by the Lords under it. In the autumn he was teller for putting the question on a grant of £250,000 for the Dutch war, which then passed without a division. Nevertheless Samuel Pepys discerned him to be ‘one of the discontented Cavaliers that think their loyalty is not considered’, and he attached himself to Lord Arlington (Sir Henry Bennet), to whom he was related by marriage. He was made a prize commissioner and recommended to the Earl of Sandwich (Edward Montagu I) as deputy swan-master; but the office was not in Sandwich’s gift. He remained a court supporter in the House, acting as teller for reading an estimate of the yield of the proposed stamp duty on 12 Dec. 1666. On the advent of his fellow-Member, Sir John Duncombe, to the Treasury, Poley was recommended to the King for one of the first places under the Exchequer that should fall vacant. In July 1667, he was authorized to act as receiver of revenue in Norfolk and Huntingdonshire during the suspension of Christopher Jay. Nothing came of a proposal to appoint him a commissioner of alienations, but in September he was given a post in the customs.4

On the fall of Clarendon Poley was named to the committees to inquire into the miscarriages of the war and to inspect the militia laws. He was granted £3,000 as royal bounty in 1668, but nothing was paid during his lifetime. Nevertheless an opposition writer, who incidentally accused him of being ‘a pimp once to his own sister’, alleged that he had had £5,000 given to him. His name was included on both lists of the court party in 1669-71 among those who had usually voted for supply. On 28 Mar. 1670 he reported from committee the bill for repairing Yarmouth pier. In a supply debate on 3 Nov. he urged the grant of ‘such a fund as may considerably abate the interest’ which the Government was then paying on its debts. He expressed surprise at objections to a tax of 6% on merchants’ stocks, remarking that ‘your trade these thirty years has not found these objections’. When John Birch objected to the renewal of the Conventicles Act as divisive, and described the points at issue as minor matters of form and ceremony, Poley replied that such an argument encroached upon the royal supremacy:

All prefaces to the liturgy tell you ceremonies are indifferent, but cease to be so when commanded. Does not this carry rebellion in the face?

He took a leading role in the bill to prevent frauds in the sale of cattle, helping to prepare reasons for a conference on 14 Apr. 1671 and reporting six days later that the lords had acknowledged an error in procedure. He died during the following recess, and was buried at Badley on 22 Oct.5

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: Paula Watson


  • 1. Howard, Vis. Suff. i. 303-4.
  • 2. Nat. Maritime Mus., Southwell mss 17, p. 15; CSP Dom. 1667, p. 122; Cal. Treas. Bks. ii. 24, 42, 76, 80.
  • 3. Copinger, Suff. Manors, ii. 238-40; Cal. Comm. Comp. 1475.
  • 4. CJ, viii. 538, 565, 568; Pepys Diary, 19 Nov. 1665; Arlington Letters, ii. 198; Cal. Treas. Bks. ii. 3, 24, 60, 80.
  • 5. Cal. Treas. Bks. ii. 368, 445; iv. 37; Harl. 7020, f. 39v; Grey, i. 273, 359, 417.