GREENHILL, Henry (1646-1708), of Portsmouth, Hants.

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



9 Jan. 1699 - 1700
3 Mar. - 11 Nov. 1701

Family and Education

b. 21. June 1646, 2nd s. of John Greenhill of Salisbury, Wilts. by Penelope, da. of Richard Champneys of Orchardleigh, Som.  m. Dorothy, 2da.1

Offices Held

Agent-gen. for R. African Co. 1680–c.83; elder brother Trinity House 1687–d.; commr. transports 1689–91, navy, Plymouth 1691–5, 1704–d., Portsmouth 1695–1702, comptroller of stores 1702–4.2


The Greenhills had been substantial yeomen at Steeple Ashton in Wiltshire since at least 1561. Greenhill’s father was registrar of the diocese of Salisbury and his elder brother, John, became a portrait painter and a pupil of Lely. Greenhill himself entered the merchant navy and rose to the rank of captain. He made many trading voyages to the West Indies, and on one occasion in 1676 narrowly escaped with his life from a French colony in Hispaniola. In 1680 he left the merchant navy for the equally hazardous post of Royal African Company agent on the Gold Coast, remaining there until at least 1683. He was back in England by 1687 when elected a brother of Trinity House, and in 1689 was appointed to the newly established transports commission, from which he was promoted two years later to be commissioner of the navy, first at Plymouth and then at Portsmouth. It was while at this latter station that he successfully contested a by-election at Newport, Isle of Wight, against the candidate of the governor, Lord Cutts (John*), though he proved an inactive Member. He was granted leave of absence three times: on 28 Feb. 1699 (for 21 days), 23 Mar. the same year, and 21 Feb. 1700 (for 21 days). The last occasion was probably in order to investigate embezzlement at Portsmouth for the Navy Board.3

Greenhill contested Newport unsuccessfully in the first general election of 1701, but was returned at a by-election soon afterwards. He was granted leave of absence again on 16 Apr. He did not stand in November 1701 and during that winter was engaged in trying to clear his accounts for transports in 1689–90. Twice a stay of process against him was ordered. In 1702 he was promoted to the Navy Board in London as comptroller of storekeeper’s accounts, but he only stayed there for two years. By 1704 he was back at Plymouth, where he remained till his death on 24 May 1708. He was buried at Stockton in Wiltshire, where his grandmother’s family lived.4

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: Paula Watson


  • 1. Hoare, Wilts. Heytesbury, i. 247; Wilts. Arch. Mag. xii. 119; PCC 237 Barrett.
  • 2. K. G. Davies, R. African Co. 236, 245, 266; Cal. Treas. Bks. ix. 274, 547; G. Duckett, Commrs. of Navy, 6, 78.
  • 3. Wilts. Arch. Mag. 119; DNB (Greenhill, John); CSP Dom. 1676–7, p. 367; Cal. Treas. Bks. vii. 1444; viii. 1843; ADM 1/3588, Greenhill to Navy Board, 1 Jan. 1700 (ex inf. Dr P. J. Le Fevre).
  • 4. Cal. Treas. Bks. xvi. 409, 429; xvii. 114; Hoare, 247.