REEVE (REVE), George (c.1618-78), of Thwaite, Suff.

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



1661 - 21 Oct. 1678

Family and Education

b. c.1618, 2nd but 1st surv. s. of Robert Wright alias Reeve of Thwaite by Mary, da. of Everard Digby of Stoke Dry, Rutland. educ. Trinity Coll. Camb. 1633; G. Inn 1637. m. (1) by 1652, Philippa, da. of Robert Bacon of Redgrave, Suff., 2s. 2da.; (2) c.1660, Anne, da. of Ambrose Copinger, DD, rector of Lavenham, Suff., wid. of Isaac Crane of Lavenham and Stephen Soame of Thurlow, Suff., 1s. suc. fa. 1642; kntd. 28 May 1660; cr. Bt. 22 Jan. 1663.2

Offices Held

Commr. for assessment, Suff. 1657, Aug. 1660-d., maj. of militia ft. Apr. 1660-d., j.p. July 1660-d., commr. for loyal and indigent officers 1662, complaints, Bedford level 1663; dep. lt. Suff. 1666-d., commr. for recusants 1675.3

Gent. of privy chamber by 1663-?d.4


Reeve’s ancestors had held the manor of Thwaite since the reign of Edward VI. His father died on the eve of the Civil War, but his uncle, Sir Henry Reeve, was a Household official who was mortally wounded at Edgehill. Reeve also claimed to have fought for the monarchy, but he was never called on to compound, and seems to have been living peacefully in London in 1644. Assessed at £500 by the committee for the advance of money, he proved that he had already paid £125 to the Suffolk committee, and was discharged. There is no evidence that he took part in royalist conspiracy during the Interregnum, and he was appointed to county office under the Protectorate.5

Reeve’s candidature at the general election of 1660 was thus unexceptionable, and he became the first of the family to sit in Parliament when he was returned for Eye, four miles from his home. A moderately active Member of the Convention, he was appointed to 26 committees, including the committee of elections and privileges, and those for confirming parliamentary privilege and recovering the queen mother’s jointure. Knighted at Rochester on the King’s journey to London, he was a court supporter. He spoke in favour of excluding from the indemnity bill those who had sat in the high court of justice or refused to take the oaths to the restored monarchy. In the debate of 6 July on the bill for the religious settlement he thought that ‘the business did not become us’, but agreed that the preamble should be amended. He later agreed to committing the bill ‘provided there were care taken against the factious’, and was included among those to whom it was entrusted. He supported the usual proviso to the poll bill imposing double rates on recusants, and was also named to the committees to settle the revenue and the Dunkirk establishment. After the recess he spoke in favour of regulating the court of wards rather than ‘burden the people with taxes’, and against the bill to give statutory force to the Worcester House declaration for modified episcopacy.6

Re-elected in 1661, Reeve was an active Member of the Cavalier Parliament, with 217 committees, including the committee of elections and privileges in eleven sessions, and nine recorded speeches. In the opening session he was among those ordered to take note of Members who received the sacrament at the corporate communion and to manage a conference on a message from the Scots Parliament. He was appointed to the committees for the security, corporations and uniformity bills, and to those for restoring the bishops to the House of Lords and preventing tumultuary petitioning and mischief from Quakers. He helped to manage a conference on compensation to the Marquess of Winchester. After the autumn recess he was among those sent to ask the King to return Sir Henry Vane, General John Lambert and Sir Hardress Waller to London for their trials, and appointed to consider the bill for executing all those remaining under attainder. He took over the chairmanship of the bill for draining the Bedford level from Henry North, but his report on the additional clauses on 12 May 1662 was not accepted by the House, and it fell to Sir Thomas Gower to complete its passage. He reported an explanatory bill in 1663, and was appointed to the committee on the bill to restrain abuses in the sale of offices and titles. In August he petitioned the King for the £1,000 due to his uncle from Charles I, which as executor he had paid to the creditors, adding that he had himself

served your Majesty in the late wars and supplied your Majesty’s father and self with such sums of money as to his ability he could and been instrumental to your happy Restoration besides his service in both the Parliaments.

A privy seal was ordered for £500 out of the arrears of excise, but the next year he petitioned that the money might be paid to him in some other way since, although he had paid £26 for a warrant, he had not yet received any of the £500. Here the matter rested for some years. He probably introduced the bill for the abolition of the legal charges known as ‘damage clere’ in 1664, since he was the first Member named to the committee. He reported the bill on 2 May, but this was his last chairmanship. He also served on the committee for the conventicles bill. On 25 Nov. he was among those sent to thank the King and the City for defending the nation against the Dutch. In October 1666 he again listed those who received the sacrament, and was among those appointed to receive information about the insolence of Popish priests and Jesuits, and after the Christmas recess he was named to the committee for illegitimizing Lady Roos’s children.7

On the fall of Clarendon Reeve was appointed to the committees to inquire into the sale of Dunkirk, to consider the public accounts bill, and to prevent the growth of Popery. On 16 Nov. 1667, he proposed sending reasons to the Upper House to justify proceeding against the fallen minister, ‘and if the Lords would not be satisfied with them, then to send up the article of impeachment’. A month later he commented that the Lords ‘would not sequester him without special cause, and yet they would banish him without special matter’. He moved that Clarendon might have a day assigned to appear, but was nevertheless appointed to the committee to consider the Lords’ bill to banish and disable him. Though he was named to the committee for the second conventicles bill, his activity at Westminster declined under the Cabal, and he was not listed among the court party in 1669-71; but he helped Joseph Williamson to find a seat at Thetford, and was rewarded with the grant of two fairs a year on his property at Thwaite.8

It is not known whether Reeve’s application for office in the local prize commission during the third Dutch war was successful, but thenceforward he began again to intervene from time to time as a court speaker. When the Opposition showed reluctance to initiate the debate arranged for 10 Feb. 1673 on the Declaration of Indulgence,

Sir George Reeve stood up and said he perceived that those gentlemen that were so warm for the debate on Saturday were now grown cool in it, and therefore desired the House would proceed to something else.

He was named as a court supporter on the Paston list, and defended the Duke of Buckingham in 1674, saying

there is no reason in the preamble of the address for his removal, which the King will look for. Would either have the preamble mended or go by way of the Lords, and not like the Long Parliament defame a great man without reason.

On 26 April 1675 he spoke in favour of Danby and in June was given a warrant for £500. After the prorogation of the next session he returned to Suffolk, whence he wrote to Williamson on 13 Dec.:

Before I left London, I showed you some conceptions of my own on this long prorogation, setting forth the dangerous consequences in dissolving this Parliament before the King had strengthened his arms by making some strong allies abroad, and securing the City of London sure to him, and other considerations which you seemed not to dislike. I am since confirmed in that opinion by discourse of several sober persons of quality who have honoured me with their company since I came into the country, who tell me they would have contributed most cheerfully to a tax of £500,000 to be paid in 12 months for the building of 20 ships and expected no less to be granted this last session. This last week our fears were renewed by a general report that a proclamation was coming for a dissolution, which I left his Majesty and most of his great officers of state much averse to. If there be any tendency to any such purpose, let me have the honour of two lines from you.

His name appeared on the working lists, and both Sir Richard Wiseman and the Opposition put him down as a court supporter. When Parliament reassembled on 15 Feb. 1677 Reeve introduced a bill for regulating elections. Shaftesbury classed him as ‘thrice vile’ and the author of A Seasonable Argument wrote of him:

Though possessed of a great estate, yet content with a small pension, and promises that he shall be paid a great sum of money he had in the banker’s hands; of no religion.

The pension probably refers to a grant of £2,000 made to Reeve in June 1677, for which payment was ordered at the rate of £200 every half year. This bounty was at least partly in compensation for the earlier grant which had never been paid.9

On 5 Mar. 1678 Reeve suggested amending a proposed appropriation clause for the poll bill by inserting the words ‘for and towards a war with the French king’. During the debate of 15 Mar. on the address for the recall of the English envoys from Nymwegen, he said:

That which calls me up is that I know not what steps or progress is made in the peace at Nymwegen. It has cost the King fifty or sixty thousand pounds to maintain his ambassadors there, £ and as for proclaiming the war, ’tis in effect done already by our sending men into Flanders to assist the Spaniards.

On 12 June he was appointed to the committee on the bill to disable Papists from sitting in either House. He died during the recess, a new writ being issued on 21 Oct. 1678, although he was posthumously included in the opposition list of the ‘unanimous club’.10

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Authors: M. W. Helms / Paula Watson


  • 1. New writ.
  • 2. C142/778/129; Vis. Suff. (Harl. Soc. lxi), 19.
  • 3. Merc. Pub. 26 Apr. 1660; Add. 39246, ff. 17, 23, 30.
  • 4. CSP Dom. 1663-4, p. 227.
  • 5. Copinger, Suff. Manors, iii. 231, 322, 331; Cal. Comm. Adv. Money, 357; CSP Dom. 1662-3, p. 227; 1664-5, p. 155; 1668-9, p. 124.
  • 6. Bowman diary, ff. 5, 52v, 60; Old Parl. Hist. xxiii. 18, 27, 32, 37, 40-41.
  • 7. CJ, viii. 255, 314, 427, 484, 554; CSP Dom. 1663-4, p. 227; 1664-5, 155; 1668-9, p. 124; SP29/109/149, 251/19; Cal. Treas. Bks. i. 547; iv. 314.
  • 8. Milward, 129; Grey, i. 66; CSP Dom. 1667-8, p. 588; 1668-9, p. 490; 1671, p. 570; 1671-2, pp. 8, 146; 1672, p. 669.
  • 9. Grey, ii. 13, 382; iii. 417; iv. 72; Dering, 114; CSP Dom. 1675-6, p. 444; Cal. Treas. Bks. iv. 314; v. 452, 657; SP29/375/209; Browning, Danby, i. 157.
  • 10. Grey, v. 219, 248.