MILDMAY, Henry (1619-92), of Graces, Little Baddow, Essex

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



1654 - 1655
1656 - 1658
27 Apr. - 14 May 1660
Mar. 1679 - Mar. 1681
1689 - 13 Dec. 1692

Family and Education

b. 25 Nov. 1619, 1st s. of Sir Henry Mildmay of Graces by 2nd w. Amy, da. of Brampton Gurdon† of Assington, Suff. educ. Felsted sch.; G. Inn 1638.  m. (1) c.1651, Cicely, da. and coh. of Walter Barker of Haughmond, Salop, 2da.; (2) 30 June 1657, Mary (d. 1715), da. of Robert Mildmay of Moulsham, Essex, 4s. d.v.p. 5da.  suc. fa. 1639.2

Offices Held

Capt. of horse (parliamentary) 1642, col. 1643; gov. Cambridge Castle 1645.

Commr. defence, Eastern Assoc. 1643, execution of ordinances 1643.3


Mildmay was ‘a rebel as soon as a man almost’, entering the Parliamentarian army when only 23, having been

bred a Puritan in blood and education too . . . from his mother’s womb and his master’s tuition he sucked in such principles of disloyalty and rebellion, and he proved so good a proficient, that he became a colonel of the horse, and was made governor of Cambridge Castle.

This somewhat jaundiced description was written by Sir John Bramston†, who was accused by the colonel in 1672 of being a papist. The charge, perhaps motivated by dislike for Bramston’s leading part in promoting the second conventicle bill, as well as a host of personal and local considerations, was dismissed by the Privy Council which investigated the matter, but the incident highlights Mildmay’s strong sympathy for the Dissenters and zeal against papists. These characteristics ensured his election to the three Parliaments of 1679–81, where he supported the Exclusion bills. At the time of the Rye House Plot he was accused of being ‘for a commonwealth’, and was defeated at the 1685 election. In 1687 he was listed among the opponents to James II, despite his strong support for the Dissenters, and was elected to the Convention, where one of his speeches on 15 Mar. 1689 was a strong plea in favour of raising the militia against the army mutiny at Ipswich.

In March 1690 he again stood for Essex in what became a ‘trial of skill’ with candidates representing the Church party. One favourable broadsheet observed that the county’s gentry, nobility and freeholders had ‘for several years looked upon the colonel as the fittest person to represent them in Parliament, for his experience, prudence, courage, and unshaken fidelity to his country and to the crown too’. Described as being ‘as forward as any gentleman in England to place the crown upon our present sovereign’s head’, he had the support of the lord lieutenant of Essex, the Earl of Oxford, and the Earl of Manchester, a coalition said to have been ‘to a man . . . for our present King and Queen, that is for Protestantcy against popery, England against France’. It was even asserted that Mildmay and his partner, Sir Francis Masham, 3rd Bt.*, ‘were as true Church of England men’ as the vicar who was supposed to have written the pamphlet. Mildmay headed the poll, and was classed as a Whig by Lord Carmarthen (Sir Thomas Osborne†) in March 1690. On 14 Oct. 1690 his electoral supporter, Lord Manchester, reported that Mildmay and John Birch I* had intervened during a debate on the size of the army, declaring ‘that nothing but a vigorous war against France the next year would obtain an advantageous peace’, and had carried the House in this opinion. On 27 Oct. he requested leave to bring in a bill to enable him to sell land to repay debts which he was otherwise incapable of discharging. The bill was read a second time on 27 Dec., but the prorogation soon after prevented its further passage, and Mildmay was left unaided to cope with his financial difficulties.4

Mildmay was listed by Robert Harley* as a possible Country supporter in April 1691, and in the third session of the Parliament he supported the inquiry into William Fuller’s promised disclosures about Jacobite intrigues. He was responsible for adding a clause to an address on 4 Jan. 1692 requesting safe conduct for Fuller’s witnesses whether from abroad or elsewhere, ‘many believing they are already in England’. On the opening day of the fourth session, Mildmay, who had been in favour of printing the resolutions of the Oxford Parliament in 1681, seconded a motion that the House’s votes be printed. Carmarthen marked him as a Court supporter on his working list of March–December 1692, noting him as being under the influence of the lord chamberlain, the Earl of Dorset (Charles Sackville†), though he does not seem to have held any place at court. Mildmay died in December 1692, John Verney* (later Lord Fermanagh) reporting this as a recent event on the 14th. Mildmay’s estate eventually passed to the offspring of his daughter Frances, who had married Christopher Fowler, a London merchant.5

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: Mark Knights


  • 1. Excluded.
  • 2. Vis. Essex ed. Howard, 66; Morant, Essex, ii. 24–25; IGI, Essex.
  • 3. Firth and Rait, Acts and Ordinances of the Interregnum, i. 169–70, 292.
  • 4. Circular Letter to the Clergy of Essex (1690); Tryal of Skil, Performed in Essex (1690); Portledge Pprs. 67; PRO NI, De Ros mss D638/5A/1, Manchester to Thomas Coningsby*, 14 Oct. 1690.
  • 5. Cheshire RO, Earwaker mss CR 63/2/691/102, Sir Willoughby Aston, to Sir John Crewe, 7 Jan. 1692; A. Browning, Danby, iii. 182; BL, Verney mss mic. 636/46, John* to Sir Ralph Verney, 1st Bt.†, 14 Dec. 1692; Morant, i. 370; ii. 25.