WYNDHAM, William (c.1632-83), of Orchard Wyndham, St. Decuman's, Som.

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. c.1632, 1st s. of John Wyndham of Orchard Wyndham by Catherine, da. of Robert Hopton of Witham Friary, and coh. to her bro. Sir Ralph Hopton, 1st Baron Hopton of Stratton; bro. of Thomas Wyndham II. educ. L. Inn 1649; travelled abroad 1650-3. m. 8 June 1653, Frances, da. of Anthony Hungerford of Farleigh Castle, Som., 5s. (3 d.v.p.) 6da. suc. fa. 1649; kntd. by 24 Aug. 1660; cr. Bt. 9 Dec. 1661.1

Offices Held

J.p. Som. 1657-d., commr. for assessment 1657, Jan. 1660-80, militia Mar. 1660, capt. of militia horse Mar. 1660, commr. for sewers Aug., Dec. 1660, corporations 1662-3, oyer and terminer, Home circuit 1665; dep. lt. Som. 1666-d., commr. for recusants 1675, sheriff 1679-80.2


Wyndham’s ancestors took their name from the Norfolk town of Wymondham, and represented their native county intermittently from the 15th 5th century. The senior branch migrated to Somerset in the reign of Henry VIII after a marriage to the heiress of Orchard Sydenham, which was renamed after its new owners. Neither Wyndham’s octogenarian grandfather, nor his father, a sickly student, took any part in the Civil War, though they were nominated to the commission of array. Wyndham himself subscribed to the engagement of loyalty to the Commonwealth when he went on his travels in 1650, held local office and sat in Parliament under the Protectorate, and secured a ‘baronetcy’ from Cromwell in 1658. Re-elected for Taunton in 1660, Wyndham was regarded by Lord Wharton as a friend, but his anxiety about his title will not have allowed him to offend the Court. ‘Good morrow, Mr Wyndham’, said the King, according to family tradition, ‘but you shall not lose your baronetcy.’ For the present, however, he had to content himself with a knighthood, which at least ensured that he was called ‘Sir William Wyndham’ when appointed to three unimportant committees in the Convention, two on private bills and the third on official fees. He made no recorded speeches.3

Wyndham was again inactive in the Cavalier Parliament, serving on only 26 committees in 18 years. Restored to his baronetcy towards the end of the first session, he remained a lukewarm supporter of the Court. In 1667 he served on the inquiries into restraints on juries and the miscarriages of the war, but these are his only committees of political significance. He was listed by Sir Thomas Osborne in 1669 as one of the Members who usually voted for supply. In the debate on London streets and sewers on 27 Mar. 1673 he twice acted as teller, apparently in order to secure the rebuilding of All Hallows, Fenchurch Street; but the reason for his interest in one of the many churches destroyed in the Great Fire is not known. Wyndham suffered a very dangerous stroke at the Somerset assizes in 1675, and there is no positive evidence that he ever attended Parliament again. Sir Richard Wiseman noted him as absent from the autumn session, and in 1677 he was marked ‘doubly vile’ by Shaftesbury, but his name is missing from the government list of 1678. Blacklisted in the ‘unanimous club’ of court supporters circulated by the Opposition, at the general election he stood down at Taunton after receiving only six votes, and fared even worse at Minehead. As sheriff he was technically responsible for the escape of Thomas Dare from Ilchester gaol, and it was considered desirable to send the local parson to him to ensure that he returned a trustworthy jury for the trial of George Speke; and he was one of the Somerset justices who were said to require ‘two words from above’ before they would take action against the Taunton conventicles. He stood for the county as a court supporter in 1681, but finished bottom of the poll. After the Rye House Plot he was active against the disaffected, but he died shortly afterwards on 28 Oct. 1683, aged 50. His funeral service at St. Decuman’s was taken by the bishop of Bath and Wells and attended by a great concourse of gentry. On his monument it was claimed that he had ‘devoted himself and his very weighty interest to the closing of the dreadful breach of the late monstrous divisions’.4

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Authors: M. W. Helms / Irene Cassidy


  • 1. H. A. Wyndham, Fam. Hist. i. 258; CSP Dom. 1650, p. 565; Trans. Oxf. Arch. Soc. xliii. 64.
  • 2. Q. Sess. Recs. (Som. Rec. Soc. xxviii), p. xxii; (xxxiv), p. xxi; Wells corp. act bk. 1662-5; Som. RO, Popham mss 167.
  • 3. Collinson, Som. iii. 489; Wyndham, 258.
  • 4. HMC Portland, iii. 352; Som. RO, Sanford mss, Wm. to Edward Clarke, 14, 26 Feb. 1679; CSP Dom. 1679-80, p. 471; 1682, p. 97; July-Sept. 1683 pp. 228, 399; 1683-4, p. 124; Smith’s Prot. Intell. 14 Mar. 1681; Collinson, 495.