THYNNE, Thomas II (c.1648-82), of Longleat, Wilts.
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Family and Education
b. c.1648, o. surv. s. of Sir Thomas Thynne. educ. Christ Church, Oxf. matric. 14 Dec. 1666, aged 18; M. Temple 1669. m. July 1681, Lady Elizabeth Percy, da. and h. of Joceline, 11th Earl of Northumberland, wid. of Henry, Earl of Ogle, s.p. suc. fa. c.1669, uncle Sir James Thynne in Longleat estate 1670.1
Dep. lt. Wilts. 1672-3, 1673-81; commr. for assessment, Wilts. and Westminster 1673-80, Som. 1677-80; col. of militia, Wilts. to 1681.2
Thynne succeeded to his uncle’s seat, probably unopposed, as well as to his estate. His immense wealth, and lack of any other distinction, earned him the nick-name of ‘Tom of Ten Thousand’. Most of his parliamentary career coincides with that of his cousin Thomas Thynne I, and it is only by their geographical interests that they can be separated. He was probably moderately active in the Cavalier Parliament, serving on at least three committees and possibly 30 more. On his first taking his seat, he was regarded by the Opposition as a member of the court party, and as late as 1673 the King was insisting that the Duke of Somerset (Lord John Seymour) should restore him to the lieutenancy. According to Flagellum Parliamentarium, he had been ‘cullied for leave to hunt in New Park’. But it was not long before he went into opposition. In 1674 he probably served on the committees for the impeachment of Arlington, for Irish affairs and for the appropriation of the customs to the use of the navy. In the next session he acted as teller for the adjournment of the debate on the King’s speech. In the brawl which developed in grand committee on 10 May 1675 over the division on the recall of British subjects from French service, he was one of the ‘young gallants’ who leapt over the benches to the assistance of William, Lord Cavendish. With his brother-in-law John Hall he acted as teller against the adjournment of the supply debate on 6 Nov., and in the same session was appointed to the committee for the liberty of the subject. In 1677 he may have served on the committee for educating the royal family as Protestants, and was noted by Shaftesbury as ‘doubly worthy’. A bill to enable him to make a jointure was reported by (Sir) John Malet on 22 Feb. 1678. He was probably appointed to the committee to draw up the address for the removal of counsellors, and his activity increased with the Popish Plot; he was one of the Members to attend the King on 19 Nov. with an address against the release of Secretary Williamson, and he was twice employed as a messenger to the Lords, once to desire a conference on the safety of the King and kingdom, and again to carry up the impeachment of Lord Belasyse.3
Thynne was re-elected for Wiltshire to the three Exclusion Parliaments. He was marked ‘worthy’ by Shaftesbury. He was probably active in the first Exclusion Parliament, and may have sat on as many as 17 committees, including those on the bill for security against Popery and the habeas corpus amendment bill. He was sent to the Upper House to desire the peers to continue sitting on 5 May 1679, and six days later to ask for a free conference on the trial of the lords in the Tower. He voted for exclusion. With Sir Walter St. John and (Sir) Edward Hungerford he presented a Wiltshire petition for the sitting of Parliament on 22 Jan. 1680, to which the King replied ‘that he did not think a gentleman of his fortune and estate would have concerned himself in anything that looked so like rebellion’. He was one of Monmouth’s hosts during his western progress in the summer. When the second Exclusion Parliament met. Thynne was less active, with only three committees. He made his only recorded speech in the debate on abhorring:
It was the bishop’s influence which caused several to set their hands to the petition of abhorrency in the county of Somerset, and to give the King thanks for the return of the Duke: which, in plain English, is to thank him for Popery. I would have these Abhorrers declared enemies to their King and country.
He was appointed to the committee to inquire into abhorring, and also to that to prepare the address for the removal of Halifax, having acted as teller against the adjournment of the debate. He seconded the exclusion bill. Nevertheless he belonged to the group of opportunists associated with Ralph Montagu who were hoping for office at this time; despite his notorious lack of intellectual capacity, Thynne demanded a secretaryship of state. He took no ascertainable part in the proceedings of the third Exclusion Parliament, and spent the summer in pursuit of a bride suitable to his wealth. One of the chief attractions of Lady Ogle, it was said, was that she would bring him Northumberland House, ‘so convenient a place ... to entertain his brother Members in’. In the end he virtually bought the 14-year-old widow from Richard Brett and her other attendants, but the marriage was never consummated, and she left him after a few months. Perhaps his private difficulties affected his political stance, for it was rumoured that he was becoming a convert and drinking the Duke of York’s health. On 12 Feb. 1682, however, he was sensationally murdered in Pall Mall at the instigation of another of Lady Ogle’s admirers, and his estates passed to his Tory cousin. Any hope on the part of the Whigs of making his death more useful than his life was quickly extinguished by the speedy arrest and conviction of the assassins, and the bombastic inscription intended for his tomb in Westminster Abbey was vetoed by the dean.4
Ref Volumes: 1660-1690
Author: John. P. Ferris
- 1. HMC Ormonde, n.s. vi. 223.
- 2. CSP Dom. 1671-2, p. 540; 1672-3, p. 108; 1680-1, p. 209.
- 3. CJ, ix. 315, 369, 549, 553; Grey, iii. 129.
- 4. CJ, ix. 613, 619, 640, 655; CSP Dom. 1679-80, pp. 376, 570; 1680-1, p. 515; Grey, vii. 371; HMC Ormonde, n.s. v. 475; vi. 208; HMC Rutland, ii. 58, 60; HMC Hastings, ii. 173; HMC 8th Rep. pt. 1 (1881), 51.