DUNCOMBE, Anthony (aft.1650-1708), of Barford, Wilts.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1698 - 1702
23 Nov. 1702 - 4 Apr. 1708

Family and Education

b. aft. 1650, 4th s. of Alexander Duncombe of Drayton Beauchamp, Bucks. by Mary, da. of Richard Paulye of Whitchurch, Bucks.; bro. of Charles Duncombe*.  m. Jane, da. and coh. of Hon. Frederick Cornwallis (2nd s. of Frederick Cornwallis†, 1st Baron Cornwallis), 1s.

Offices Held

Q.m. Earl of Oxford’s horse gds. 1683–?90; capt. 2nd marine regt. 1690–?2; commr. transports 1695–9, prizes 1702–7; gov. Scarborough castle 1702–d.1


Duncombe boasted an impressive Buckinghamshire pedigree, his ancestors having been settled in the county since at least the early 16th century. As a younger son, he entered the army, and in that capacity demonstrated his support for the Revolution, reportedly being ‘very instrumental in bringing over several of my Lord Oxford’s regiment to the King [William] at Exeter’. He was subsequently ‘very useful’ in raising a regiment of marines, and gained a captaincy under the Earl of Pembroke (Arthur Herbert†). However, he failed to win higher promotion, despite recommendations from Lords Nottingham (Daniel Finch*) and Pembroke. The ministerial connexions of his wealthy brother Charles later secured him a commission at the transport office, for Anthony’s candidacy was endorsed by such influential figures as the Earl of Sunderland and Henry Guy*, the latter of whom praised Duncombe as ‘in every way well qualified . . . both in integrity and understanding’.2

Duncombe’s advancement was further aided by his brother in 1698, since it was Charles’s proprietorial interest at the Yorkshire borough of Hedon which procured a seat for Anthony. At this time the politics of the younger Duncombe were a source of some conjecture, and in spite of his government office, a parliamentary list classed him as a likely opponent of the Court on the standing army issue, while another queried his allegiance. For certain, he had ample cause to feel aggrieved towards the ministry following the attack which Charles Montagu* had launched on his brother during the preceding Parliament. However, his removal as commissioner in 1699 may not have been politically motivated, since several other officers lost their places as the department’s operations were scaled down during peacetime. Indeed, he was in all probability the ‘Mr Duncomb’ who on 26 Jan. 1700 presented a paper from the transport office to the House. His Tory allegiance was more in evidence in the second session, since he was listed as adhering to the interest of the Old East India Company. At the first election of 1701 he enjoyed an unopposed return at Hedon, and was listed in February 1701 as likely to support the Court in agreeing with the committee of supply to continue the ‘Great Mortgage’. He was subsequently blacklisted for having opposed the preparations for war, but at the end of the year had no difficulty in securing his seat. In December Robert Harley* bracketed him with the Tories, and the following February he duly supported the motion to vindicate the Commons’ proceedings during the impeachment of William III’s ministers.3

Duncombe’s association with the Tories brought him ample reward on the accession of Anne, for he was appointed a commissioner for prizes, as well as governor of Scarborough Castle. He initially declined to stand for Hedon in 1702, in deference to his brother, but after Sir Charles had opted to sit for Downton, Anthony carried the Hedon by-election without opposition. He remained inactive during this Parliament, but his loyalties seem to have wavered in the course of the last session. In November 1704 Robert Harley included Duncombe on his lobbying list in preparation for the division on the Tack, and may well have influenced Duncombe to become one of the ‘Sneakers’ who on 28 Nov. absented themselves before the crucial vote on the measure.

Such apostasy did not affect Duncombe’s return at Hedon in 1705, and at the outset of the next Parliament he was prepared to put place before party, supporting on 25 Oct. the Court candidate for the Speakership. The passage of the Regency Act subsequently forced him to choose between his office and his seat, and in November 1707 he resigned his post at the prize office. He had no apparent difficulty in securing his return at the ensuing by-election, and in early 1708 two parliamentary lists identified him as a Tory. However, he did not live to see the end of the session, dying on 4 Apr. He was succeeded by his only son Anthony†, who, having inherited part of the vast estate of Sir Charles Duncombe, later became a Member for Downton, and in 1747 was created Lord Feversham.4

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Authors: Paula Watson / Perry Gauci


  • 1. Yorks. Peds. ed. Foster, ii (unpag.); CSP Dom. 1695, p. 80; 1702–3, p. 370; Cal. Treas. Bks. xvii. 250.
  • 2. Hoare, Wilts. Downton, 45; Nottingham Univ. Lib. Portland (Bentinck) mss PwA 502–3, Guy to [Ld. Portland], 31 May, 14 June 1695; PwA 1245, 1248, Sunderland to same, 29 May, 29 July 1695; HMC Finch, iii. 253–4.
  • 3. Watson thesis, 261.
  • 4. Hoare, 45.