RYVES, George (1627-89), of Ranston, Shroton, Dorset.

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



10 Jan. - 18 Mar. 1689

Family and Education

b. 18 Oct. 1627, 2nd s. of George Ryves (d.1666) of Ranston, being 1st s. by 2nd w. Elizabeth, sis. of George Ryves of Damory Court, Blandford, educ. M. Temple 1648, called 1654. m. lic. 7 Sept. 1670 Mary, da. of Thomas Chafin of Chettle, wid. of John Prowse, 2da. d.v.p. suc. half-bro. 1667, cos. John Ryves of Damory 1673.1

Offices Held

Commr. for assessment, Dorset 1673-80, 1689, j.p. 1674-June 1688, Nov. 1688-d., commr. for recusants 1675, dep. lt. 1680-Feb. 1688, sheriff 1681-2, commr. for rebels’ estates 1686.2


The Ryves family acquired large but scattered estates in Dorset in Tudor times. Numerous, healthy and gifted, in the 17th century they ranged further afield, producing a warden of New College, a dean of Windsor, an alderman of London and a justice of the King’s bench in Ireland. Ryves came from a cadet branch. His grandfather represented Downton in the Addled Parliament of 1614, and his father, a whole-hearted Royalist and High Churchman, refused the Protestation in 1642. Later in the same year as captain of militia he led his company in an unsuccessful attempt to relieve Sherborne Castle, and in 1645 with Sir John Strangways represented the Dorset Cavaliers at the Bridgwater conference. He seems to have been leniently treated by the committee for compounding; his fine was fixed at £125, equal to one year’s net income from his modest estate of only 800 acres.3

Ryves qualified as a barrister, but little is known of him before he succeeded to the Damory property. He signed the loyal address on the Restoration, and travelled to Ireland in 1666, possibly to recover arrears due to his uncle Richard Ryves. Of his younger brothers, one began the family association with the navy by acting as victualler at Portsmouth during the third Dutch war, while another was a goldsmith who had £22,450 on deposit at the time of the Stop of the Exchequer. Thomas Strangways proposed Ryves as court candidate for Bridport in January 1679, along with his own brother; but he can hardly have expected the corporation to allow him to nominate both Members, and Ryves was not returned. He was very active locally, especially as a deputy lieutenant, in conjunction with Thomas Erle. In 1683 he was commended for his energy in searching the house of Edward Norton. Ryves and Erle employed two brothers of the well-known Purbeck family of Dolling as stewards. He had an estate at Hyde, near Wareham, and doubtless enjoyed Erle’s support in the borough in 1685. Although the climate of London was prejudicial to his health, he was an active Member of James II’s Parliament, in which he was appointed to twelve committees, including the committee of elections and privileges. He was among those ordered to consider bills to prevent the export of wool and to encourage woollen manufactures, and he was the first Member named to the committee on the bill for repairing Bangor cathedral. His most important committee was on the bill for the general naturalization of Huguenot refugees.4

Ryves’s answers on the repeal of the Test Act and Penal Laws followed the standard Dorset negative, and he was removed from local office. Reelected in 1689, he voted, according to the Ailesbury list, to agree with the Lords that the throne was not vacant. But he was clearly a dying man, and within a week Erle was making arrangements for an imminent by-election. In a codicil to his will on 6 Mar., witnessed by the nonjuring Bishop Frampton, Ryves referred gratefully to the ‘troubles and pains’ taken with him in his London lodgings. On 18 Mar. he was named to a committee on preventing the export of wool, a subject that attracted his attention in the previous Parliament, but his death was reported to the House next day. The land went to a nephew; but the testator generously endowed the almshouses which he had built at Blandford in 1681 and appointed Erle and Thomas Chafin as governors. Also remembered in the will were his kinsmen, the Earl of Bristol (John Digby), Ralph Stawel, Edward Berkeley and George Strangways, and among his friends (Sir) John Morton, George Pitt, Thomas Penruddock and Seymour Bowman. He was buried in his parish church on 29 Mar.: in accordance with his wishes, no elaborate memorial was erected to him, but on the floor-slab covering his father’s grave his widow recorded that he was ‘dutiful to his God, faithful to his country, kind to the poor, and generous to all’. No later member of the family entered Parliament.5

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: John. P. Ferris


  • 1. Soc. of Genealogists, Shroton par. reg.; Hutchins, Dorset, iv. 96, 100, 183; London Mar. Lic. ed. Foster, 1172.
  • 2. Cal. Treas. Bks. viii. 546.
  • 3. C142/519/82; SP23/186/226-231; Clarendon, Rebellion, ix. 17; Dorset Protestation Returns ed. Fry, 73.
  • 4. Som. and Dorset N. and Q. v. 67; xviii. 208; Dorset RO, JP389-460; CSP Ire. 1660-2, p. 677; Address of Nobility and Gentry of Dorset; Hutchins, i. 141; Cal. Treas. Bks. i. 424; CSP Dom. 1666-7, p. 39; 1672, p. 277; 1676-7, p. 567;
  • 5. CSP Dom. July-Sept. 1683, pp. 48, 130; Churchill College, Camb., Erle-Drax mss.