GOLDWELL, Henry (c.1653-1694), of Tuddenham, Suff.

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



1690 - Mar. 1694

Family and Education

b. c.1653. educ. ?Bury St. Edmunds g.s.  m. lic. 8 May 1681, Frances (d. 1712), da. and h. of Thomas Shelley (d. 1680) of Bury St. Edmunds and Tuddenham.1

Offices Held

Freeman, Bury St. Edmunds 1690.2


Goldwell may have been related to Francis Goldwell, rector of Bridgham, Norfolk 1663–91: at his marriage he described himself as ‘of Norwich’. His wife’s family home at Tuddenham was only nine miles from Bury St. Edmunds, and Goldwell was returned for Bury in 1690 with Sir Robert Davers, 2nd Bt.*, on his own and his partner’s interest. He was listed as a Tory supporter of the Court in March 1690 by Lord Carmarthen (Sir Thomas Osborne†). In April 1691 Robert Harley* classed him as a doubtful supporter of the Country party. He spoke in the committee of supply on 18 Jan. 1692, proposing an excise on specific commodities, to be collected at the respective manufacturers or importers. There was, he claimed, ‘no tax more equal than an excise’, and in this way it could be gathered ‘without the officers coming into your houses’, but the scheme was condemned as a ‘downright excise’ and was not pursued. On the same day he was ordered to bring in a bill to prevent the keeping of large quantities of gunpowder in ‘storehouses’ near the Tower, having sponsored a petition from local inhabitants against this practice. He spoke again on 19 Jan. in support of the proposal made by Sir John Lowther, 2nd Bt. II, to raise money by ‘a fund for perpetual interest . . . settled on trustees’, and on 20 Jan. made yet another intervention on the supply, with a suggestion for ‘an equal land tax’, which met with criticism from Court Whigs. He told on 23 Jan. against the bill to reduce interest charges, and on 25 Jan. against ‘the Court party’ on a motion to adjourn the debate on the Lords’ amendments to the treason trials bill. He was a teller four more times this session: on 6 Feb., on an amendment to the order for an address about the East Indies trade, in favour of the East India Company; on 12 Feb., against adding a clause to the Irish forfeitures bill to allow ‘affirmation’ by Quakers; on 15 Feb., against an additional clause to the poll tax bill; and on 22 Feb., against a Court Whig motion to adjourn. On 15 Feb. he had spoken in favour of tacking to the poll tax bill the clause renewing the commission of accounts. He also assisted in the management of two private bills during this session.3

Although a teller with ‘Mr Montagu’ in the debate of 1 Dec. 1692 on the treason trials bill, on the question of the date on which the bill was to come into effect, Goldwell opposed one of the key provisions, the clause making it treason to publish any statement that William and Mary were not ‘rightful’ King and Queen. The following day he moved in committee of supply that the naval estimates should be voted, and on 5 Dec. had another chance to express his opposition to the notion of permitting Quakers to affirm oaths, when a Quaker petition was heard. On 13 Dec., in committee of supply, he harked back to a speech of his the previous session. According to Luttrell he

spoke very well and largely of the justice of equal taxing, and how fitting it was that all persons should pay their share, and not some to pay so much over others, as in their counties of Norfolk and Suffolk, where they paid 6s., 7s., 8s. and 10s. in the pound to the last land tax . . . and therefore he desired there might be a land tax by way of a pound rate of 4s. in the pound.

He also told for this motion. On 16 Dec. he introduced a bill ‘for making a right disposition of offices’. He was especially active in the proceedings on the land tax bill. In debate in committee on 28 Dec., on the vexed question of the appointment of commissioners, he put forward a compromise solution, that the King ‘appoint them out of the last land tax’. On 3 Jan. 1693 he opposed an amendment to the ‘double taxing’ clause in the bill, that Catholics prepared to take the oath of allegiance be excused that of supremacy, and subsequently ‘tendered a clause to make those that were underrated before to come up to the full on this Act’. He spoke again in committee on 6 Jan., in favour of modifying the qualification for membership of the commission in boroughs, to include merchants as well as landowners, and was a teller on 9 Jan. for leaving in the bill the clause to exempt university property. A teller on 4 Jan. for the bill to prohibit the importing of buttons, he reported the bill to promote imports of Italian silk on 11 Jan., urging that

it would much encourage the woollen manufacture, for with this fine silk and our wool they make very good stuffs . . . This bill if it be thrown out will ruin several thousand poor workmen who depend on this trade and will drive them out of the nation.

He was a teller that the bill be engrossed, and later that day also told against the motion that the King be advised to set up ‘a commission of the Admiralty’. In committee on the Million bill on 17 Jan. he successfully proposed a clause ‘to exempt the money put in hereon from paying taxes’. Two days later he spoke, and served as a teller, against a clause in the woollen bill to preserve the monopoly of the Hamburg Company. On 20 Jan. a complaint was made against Charles Blount’s King William and Queen Mary Conquerors and Goldwell was one of those who called for ‘the licenser and printer’ to be summoned, but this turned out to be a fellow Suffolk Tory, Edmund Bohun, and when the agitation focused itself into a campaign against Bohun, Goldwell leapt to the licenser’s defence. On 27 Jan. he presented Bohun’s petition for release from detention, arguing, according to Bohun, ‘that I did it of good intention; that I had found the opinion established by others, and greater men, and that I was only the sufferer of the book, and not the author’. Goldwell told Bohun that he had been ‘reproached for procuring my discharge’ and hinted at the circumstances which had induced him to take up the case: ‘he said I had no friend to speak for me, and I was known to few in the House, and . . . was run down by the passion of the opposite party’. Subsequently, Goldwell told on 20 Feb. on an amendment to the bill for reviving expiring laws, relating to the Licensing Act. Meanwhile he had told on 23 Jan., against a Tory and Country-inspired move to denounce Bishop Burnet’s Pastoral Letter. Also during this month he assisted in the management of two private estate bills. Perhaps his most important speech was delivered on 28 Jan., an attack on the triennial bill, against which he was also a teller. His main intention was to stir up resentment against the Upper House, where the bill had originated. ‘The Lords assume much’, he declared, ‘in dissolving the Commons’, and he asked the House to consider

what offence we have given the Lords, that it should be upon us to dissolve ourselves . . . whether it was not the asserting ours, and the rights of our ancestors, by the Bill of Rights? Whether they are not offended at the supply we have given for our necessary support. If this bill pass, the Lords will have great advantage over the Commons, and be able to top upon you.

The measure was divisive; it struck at the prerogative and at the rights of the Commons; in short, it was ‘ill-timed as well as ill-designed’. Other speeches reported in this session were on 18 Feb., when he failed in proposing a clause for the bill of impositions on merchandizing, ‘to import Italian silks in foreign bottoms’, an echo of another bill with which he had previously been concerned; on 25 Feb., against an address for the dissolution of the East India Company; and on 27 Feb., in favour of the bill indemnifying those who had ‘acted for their Majesties’ service in defence of the kingdom’. Other tellerships included those on an amendment to the report of the committee of supply (26 Jan.); in favour of the introduction of the Salwarpe navigation bill (28 Jan.); against a new clause proposed for the bill against hawkers and pedlars, a measure he had supported in debate (2 Feb.); for the bill to preserve timber in the New Forest (8 Feb.); against a rider to the game bill, which he had chaired in committee, permitting any Protestant to keep a musket in his own house (23 Feb.); against admitting the corporation of London to be heard by counsel against the London orphans bill (27 Feb.); and against a clause to be added to the bill continuing the Act to prohibit trade with France (2 Mar.). He was responsible for the bill ‘for delivering declarations to prisoners in the country’, and also chaired the committee on the militia bill.4

It was probably in the autumn of 1693 that Goldwell received the bribe of £1,000 which some two years later (after Goldwell’s death) Richard Acton testified to having paid him on behalf of Sir Thomas Cooke* and the East India Company. Twice during the following session Goldwell acted as a teller in support of the company’s interests: on 8 Jan. 1694, to recommit a report on the Redbridge incident; and two days later, to adjourn proceedings on the petition for a new company. He reintroduced the bill to encourage the importing of Italian silks, and was active in other business concerning the woollen industry, telling on 12 Dec. 1693 against leave for a bill to continue the 1689 Woollen Act, in response to a petition from west-country clothiers, and on 14 Feb. 1694 in favour of a resolution denouncing abuses by the Weavers’ Company of Norwich. He also presented a bill to improve legislation relating to the manufacturing of leather. He was a teller eight more times: against following up a claim by Sir Thomas Miller of breach of privilege (18 Dec. 1693); against an amendment to the land tax bill, touching university property (16 Jan. 1694); on an amendment to an additional clause in the land tax bill (18 Jan.); against giving Nathaniel Palmer leave of absence (3 Feb.); against Charles Cocks* in a disputed election for Worcester (7 Feb.); for an opposition move to postpone the committee of ways and means (14 Feb.); for Lord Walden (Henry Howard*), in the election at Arundel (22 Feb.); and in favour of a renewed bill against hawkers and pedlars (26 Feb.). He was actively involved in the affair of the London orphans, work for which he was later alleged to have been bribed. ‘He ought to be taken notice of’, wrote one pamphleteer, ‘and well rewarded for this eminent piece of service, as without doubt he was; for he would never do this for nothing, who had £1,000 . . . on the East India score.’ Goldwell, having chaired the committee on the petition from the City about the orphans’ case, was first-named on 17 Feb. to the drafting committee for a bill on the subject, and five days later himself introduced the bill.5

The last mention of Goldwell’s name in the Journals occurs on 28 Feb. 1694, when he was named to two minor committees. On 20 Mar. a new writ was issued for Bury St. Edmunds following his death. He was buried at Tuddenham.6

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: D. W. Hayton


  • 1. Copinger, Suff. Manors, iv. 204; Bury St. Edmunds G.S. List (Suff. Green Bks. xiii), 161; London Mar. Lic. ed. Foster, 561; Vis. Suff. (Harl. Soc. lxi), 178.
  • 2. Suff. RO (Bury St. Edmunds), Bury St. Edmunds bor. recs. EE500/D/4/1/2, f. 245.
  • 3. London Mar. Lic. 561; Luttrell Diary, 138, 141, 145, 155, 187.
  • 4. Luttrell Diary, 281–2, 293–4, 311, 338, 349, 353, 361, 369, 374, 376–7, 389–90, 396, 432, 449–50; Diary of Edmund Bohun ed. Wilton Rix, 119; Grey, x. 299.
  • 5. Debates and Procs. 1694–5, pp. 38, 94–95.
  • 6. Copinger, 204.