SPENCER, Hon. Richard (1593-1661), of Orpington, Kent.

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



6 May - 1 Nov. 1661

Family and Education

bap. 21 Oct. 1593, 3rd but 2nd surv. s. of Robert Spencer, 1st Baron Spencer of Wormleighton, by Margaret, da. and coh. of Sir Francis Willoughby of Wollaton, Notts.; bro. of Sir Edward Spencer and William Spencer, and Baron Spencer. educ. Corpus, Oxf. 1609, BA 1612; G. Inn 1624. m. 1628, Mary, da. of Sir Edwin Sandys of Northbourne, Kent, 4s. d.v.p. 2da.1

Offices Held

Gent. of the bedchamber 1626.2

J.p. Kent by 1636-42, July 1660-d., commr. of array 1642, dep. lt. July 1660-d.; commr. for oyer and terminer, Home circuit July 1660; col. of militia, Kent by Aug. 1660-d., commr. for assessment Aug. 1660-d., sewers, N. Kent Sept. 1660.3

Col. of horse (royalist) 1642-3.4


Spencer’s family cannot be traced back before the 15th century, when they were successful graziers in Warwickshire. Early in the 16th century they migrated to Northampton, and became gentry. Prudent land-management greatly increased their wealth, and Spencer, though a younger son, received a portion of £2,500. A leading Arminian in Charles I’s early Parliaments, he was regarded as a follower of the 1st Duke of Buckingham in 1626. On his marriage he moved to Kent, and stood for the county at the second election in 1640, but withdrew before the poll. As one of the promoters of the moderate Kentish petition of 1642, he was twice imprisoned by the Long Parliament. He helped to raise two regiments of horse for the King, which he commanded at Edgehill, and stood security for loans totalling £60,000. Although he soon laid down his command, he was able to claim the benefit of the Oxford Articles, and, on settling £40 p.a. on the minister of Orpington, he was allowed to compound for a mere £300. But his financial condition was precarious, partly owing to his involvement in the canal schemes of William Sandys. In 1651 he obtained, and later renewed, a pass to France for himself, his wife, four children and six servants; but actually he settled in Brussels, where, together with Sir Ralph Verney and the first Lord Gorges, he supported an Anglican chaplaincy. Returning to England about 1653, he was imprisoned and compelled to pay his debts.5

At the Restoration Spencer petitioned unsuccessfully for the provostship of Eton and the vice-treasurership of Ireland, which had been promised him in reversion many years before. The Duke of York nominated him as court candidate for Rye in 1661. Spencer owned property in Walland Marsh, a few miles across the Kent Ditch, but the corporation wrote to him: ‘Although you are a stranger to us, yet we presume His Highness would present none to us ... but a person of honour and merit’. During the three months that Spencer sat in the Cavalier Parliament, he may have been moderately active. He was certainly appointed to three committees, and probably, as ‘an ancient Parliament man’, to most of the eight others where he cannot be distinguished from his nephew Robert Spencer He may therefore have served on the committees for the uniformity bill and the bill of pains and penalties, helped to draw up the list of fees ‘anciently due to the several clerks and officers of this House’, and acted as teller against the adjournment of the debate on the corporations bill on 24 July. Both in and out of Parliament he assiduously promoted the interests of his constituency; but he died on 1 Nov. during the recess and was buried at Orpington.6

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: Basil Duke Henning


  • 1. Baker, Northants. i. 109; M. E. Finch, Wealth of Five Northants. Fams. (Northants. Rec. Soc. xix), 58.
  • 2. Information from Lady de Villiers.
  • 3. Foedera, viii. pt. 2, p. 145; HMC 5th Rep. 24; Twysden Ltcy. Pprs. (Kent Arch. Soc. recs. br. x), 13; Evelyn Diary, iii. 254; C181/7/46.
  • 4. P. Young, Edgehill, 188; SP23/193/367; W. H. Black, Docquets of Letters Patent, 61.
  • 5. Finch, 38-39, 58; information from N. Tyacke; HMC Coke , i. 350, 352; CSP Dom. 1651, p. 528; 1652-3, p. 17; 1660-1, p. 238; 1661-2, p. 313; A. M. Everitt, Kent and the Great Rebellion , 76; SP23/193/367-75; C5/61/68; HMC 7th Rep. 458, 459; Verney Mems. i. 488, 492.
  • 6. CSP Dom. 1660-1, pp. 16, 238; SP23/193/375; HMC 13th Rep. IV , 237-8, 241-2.