STRANGWAYS, Sir John (1585-1666), of Melbury Sampford, Dorset.

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. 27 Sept. 1585, 3rd but 2nd surv. s. of John Strangways of Melbury Sampford by Dorothy, da. of Sir John Thynne of Longleat, Wilts. educ. Queen’s, Oxf. 1601; M. Temple 1611. m. (1) by 1607, Grace (d.1652), da. of Sir George Trenchard of Wolveton, Charminster, Dorset, 3s. (2 d.v.p.) 3da.; (2) 8 June 1653, Judith, da. of Francis Throckmorton of Wootton Wawen, Warws., wid. of Thomas Edwards, Mercer, of London and Wadhurst, Suss., s.p. suc. bro. 1596; kntd. by 19 June 1608.1

Offices Held

Freeman, Lyme Regis 1608, Weymouth 1625; sheriff, Dorset 1612-13, j.p. by 1614-26, 1628-45, July 1660-d., commr. for pressing seamen 1620-6, dep. lt. to 1625, c. Aug 1660-3; steward, manors of Fordington and Ryme by 1629-?45, 1661-d.; commr. for sewers, Dorset 1638, oyer and terminer, Western circuit 1640, July 1660, assessment, Dorset 1640-1, Aug. 1660-d., array 1642, foreshore 1662.2

Commr. for trade 1622, 1625.3


Strangways’s ancestor, a north countryman by birth, established himself in Dorset in the 15th century and sat for Bedwyn in 1472. The estate was greatly enlarged after the dissolution of the monasteries, and again in 1609 when Strangways succeeded to one-third of the lands of Nicholas Wadham. In his prime he was described as ‘a potent opponent, both for wealth and wit’, and Sir Anthony Ashley Cooper recalled him as ‘very considerable, both for estate and family; a wise, crafty, experienced man, but extremely narrow in his expenses’. In his politics he followed the 1st Earl of Bristol. A strong opponent of the Court in the early years of Charles I, when he was imprisoned for refusing the forced loan, he changed sides with Lord Digby (George Digby) in 1641. He sat at Oxford during the Civil War, and gave himself up to the parliamentary commander in South Wales in October 1645. After a long imprisonment, he and his son were allowed to compound for their delinquency in 1648 at the maximum rate of £10,000. He gave no trouble during the Interregnum, occupying his leisure with the composition of poetry, though with the contemplation of his estates as his source of inspiration his output was necessarily limited. He presided at the Restoration ceremonies in Sherborne in 1660, though his voice was so enfeebled with age that he had to depute the proclamation of Charles II to another.4

At the general election of 1661 Strangways gave way to his son for the county seat, but was returned for Weymouth for the fifth time, finishing top of the poll. He was included in Lord Wharton’s list of moderates, and became moderately active in the Cavalier Parliament, in which he was named to 32 committees, including the committee of elections and privileges in the first four sessions. He was appointed to the committee for restoring bishops to the House of Lords, and probably brought in the bill for reparation to the Marquess of Winchester, since he was the first Member named to the committee. His most important committees were for the corporations bill, for preventing mischief from Quakers, for the uniformity bill, and for the bill of pains and penalties. On 20 July he was appointed to the committee on the bill to enable a Cavalier neighbour to recover £3,000 from the estate of the regicide, Sir John Danvers; but two days later he was given leave to go into the country. He was absent from Westminster for at least the first month of the next session, and was named to his last legislative committee on 19 May 1663. If he attended later sessions, it was probably as a country Cavalier. His correspondence ends early in 1665. He died on 30 Dec. 1666, and was buried at Melbury Sampford.5

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: John. P. Ferris


  • 1. Dorset RO, D124 (Ilchester v. Raishley, plaintiff’s docs.; letters and pprs. 1/12); Hutchins, Dorset, ii. 679-80; Vis. Warws. (Harl. Soc. xii), 111.
  • 2. Lyme Regis mss. B6/11; Hutchins, ii. 452; APC , 1619-21, p. 248; 1621-3, p. 436; 1623-5, p. 499; 1625-6, p. 180; 1626, p. 14; Eg. 784, ff. 50, 59v, 72v; Dorset RO, Q. Sess. order bk. 1625-37; Cal. Treas. Bks. i. 186; iv. 864; C181/5/225, 377; E112/174/66.
  • 3. Foedera, vii. pt. 4, p. 11; viii. pt. 1, p. 59.
  • 4. Keeler, Long Parl. 353-4; HMC Cowper, ii. 89; Christie, Shaftesbury, i. p. xix; HMC Portland, i. 293; Harl. 158, f. 270; SP23/120/575; Dorset RO, D124; Som. and Dorset N. and Q. xiii. 179.
  • 5. Dorset RO, D124 (letter of Giles Strangways, 10 Mar. 1663); Hutchins, ii. 662.