THYNNE, James (1644-1709), of Buckland, Glos.

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



Feb. - Nov. 1701

Family and Education

bap. 3 Feb. 1644, 2nd s. of Sir Henry Frederick Thynne, 1st Bt., of Caus Castle, Salop, and Kempsford, Glos. by Mary, da. of Thomas Coventry†, 1st Baron Coventry of Aylesborough; bro. of Thomas Thynne†, 1st Visct. Weymouth.  educ. Oxford Univ. DCL 1677.  unm.1

Offices Held

Jt. keeper of King’s library 1677–88.

Dir. Mine Adventurers’ Co. 1708–9.2


The holder (under a life patent) of a minor office in the royal household, which he surrendered at the Revolution, Thynne was put forward by his brother, Lord Weymouth, as a possible Court candidate for James II’s abortive Parliament in 1688, and approved by the Duke of Beaufort (Henry Somerset†) as ‘a very honest gentleman’. He did not stand in the election to the Convention, but was persuaded by Weymouth to contest Gloucestershire in 1690 in order to ‘serve the Church’. He later claimed that he had allowed his candidature to go forward ‘more on the account of the Church and monarchy than to please myself’. To begin with, his prospects seemed good: Beaufort and the Earl of Berkeley gave him their support, as did the local clergy, with some exceptions, such as the parson who advised his congregation against voting for Thynne because he was ‘a papist’. But as the campaign wore on, these Tory allies began to desert. Beaufort’s backing became lukewarm, ‘whether from a suspicion of my principles or want of interest’, as Thynne himself wrote; and even the clergy slackened their exertions. He was comfortably out-polled by two Whigs.3

There is no record of Thynne contesting any further election until January 1701, when he came in unopposed on the Tory interest at Cirencester. In this, his only Parliament, he is not known to have spoken. He was blacklisted among those who had opposed the preparations for war, and his name was one of a number subscribed to a Tory riposte to the black list, the Vine Tavern Queries. The strength of his Tory principles may be inferred from the difficulties he appears to have experienced subsequently over the abjuration oath, though, like Lord Weymouth, he may have been able to overcome his philosophical scruples.4

Illness prevented Thynne from seeking re-election. As early as January 1702 he wrote to his brother that ‘my body cannot endure any sort of purging, vomiting or searching physic’. Henceforth he was laid low by a chronic abdominal disorder, diagnosed as gout in the stomach. But although no longer able to pursue a parliamentary career he continued to assist the Church in a local capacity through the foundation of charity schools in Buckland and at Chipping Campden. He was connected with the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge through Lord Weymouth, and through his acquaintance with Sir Humphrey Mackworth*. Mackworth also inveigled him into investing in the Mine Adventurers’ Company, and swindled him out of a substantial sum of money.5

‘Very ill’ in February 1709, Thynne died on 15 Mar. following, and was buried at Buckland. Aside from ‘some legacies to his relations’, he bequeathed ‘his whole large personal estate’ to ‘pious uses’ and his landed property to his nephew Thomas Thynne, who erected a monument which proclaimed James to have been ‘a man of exemplary virtue and charity, beloved and valued by his equals, blessed and prayed for by the poor’. Within a year, however, Thomas Thynne was dead, leaving the property in turn to his own posthumously-born son, later 2nd Viscount Weymouth, who thereby reunited the family estates.6

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: D. W. Hayton


  • 1. B. Botfield, Stemmata Botevilliana (1858), 42–43, 60; Wood, Life and Times, ii. 387.
  • 2. S. Evans, ‘Sir Humphrey Mackworth’s Industrial Activities . . .’ (Wales Univ. M.A. thesis, 1953), 286.
  • 3. Bath mss at Longleat House, Thynne pprs. 13, ff. 244, 246, 254, 259, 263, 265, 360; 15, ff. 109–10; 24, ff. 182, 184; Add. 33589, f. 315.
  • 4. An Answer to the Black-List: Or, the Vine-Tavern Queries (1701), 4; Divided Soc. ed. Holmes and Speck, 101.
  • 5. Thynne pprs. 13, ff. 291, 293, 299, 303, 337, 341; Bagot mss at Levens Hall, Weymouth to James Grahme*, 9 Apr. 1705; Rudder, Glos. 317; Trans. Bristol and Glos. Arch. Soc. xxiv. 257; CJ, xvi. 362, 365.
  • 6. Thynne pprs. 25, f. 479; Boyer, Anne Annals, viii. 374; Rudder, 316.