GLANVILLE, William (1618-1702), of Wonford, Devon and Greenwich, Kent.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer



8 Jan. 1681

Family and Education

bap. 13 Sept. 1618, 1st s. of William Glanville, merchant, of Heavitree, Devon by w. Anstace. educ. Exeter, Oxf. 1634; M. Temple 1635, called 1642, steward 1677. m. c.1647, Jane (bur. 19 Dec. 1651), da. of Richard Evelyn of Wootton, Surr., 1s. suc. fa. c.1648.1

Offices Held

Commr. for alienations 1689-d.2


Glanville, according to his brother-in-law John Evelyn, came ‘of an ancient family in Devonshire’, though presumably of a cadet branch. Nothing is known of his activities during the Civil Wars and Interregnum. It is not clear whether he was a practising lawyer, though ‘by his prudent parsimony’ he ‘much improved his fortune’. By 1665 he was in possession of a house at Greenwich, where Samuel Pepys concealed some of his prize goods, but two years later, when his son was admitted to the Middle Temple, his address was given as Wonford. He emerges from the pages of his brother-in-law’s diary as a strong personality:

a great friend when he took a fancy, and as great an enemy when he took displeasure; subject to great passions, positive, well-spoken, of good natural parts. ... In person handsome; very temperate.

He probably stood for Queenborough on the interest of Edward Hales I, whose daughter was later to marry his son. At the second election of 1679 he was defeated by the court candidate James Herbert, but seated on petition two days before the dissolution, whereupon he promised the corporation to ‘forget all unkindness showed me at the last election’, and took up residence in the house of a notorious local Whig. He was apparently re-elected unopposed, but was appointed to no committees in his brief parliamentary career. A friend of Locke’s since at least 1666, he was given minor government office at the Revolution. He was ‘not a little proud’ that Locke, as well as Sir Walter Yonge and Edward Clarke, called him ‘father’.3

On 7 Aug. 1701 Glanville was given permission, because of ill health, to appoint a deputy for his post in the alienations office, and under date of 12 Apr. 1702 Evelyn wrote in his diary that

this night died my brother-in-law Glanville, after a very tedious illness, in the 84th year of his age, and willed his body to be wrapped in lead and carried down to Greenwich, where it was put on board in a yacht, and buried in the sea ... which made much discourse, he having no relation at all to the sea.

No doubt this eccentric disposition of his remains was due to his adoption of Socinian principles, which occasioned a quarrel with the diarist, who nevertheless considered that ‘he might have been an extraordinary man, had he cultivated his parts’. His son was the last male of the family, but his granddaughter married another Evelyn, who assumed the name of Glanville and sat for Hythe as a government supporter from 1728 to 1766.4

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: Basil Duke Henning


  • 1. Devon RO, Heavitree par. reg.; Evelyn Diary, ii. 539; Misc. Gen. et Her. (ser. 2), v. 209; PCC 74 Essex.
  • 2. Cal. Treas. Bks. ix. 137; LS13/231/8.
  • 3. Evelyn Diary, v. 497; Pepys Diary, 13 June 1667; Mar. Lic. (Harl. Soc. xxxi), 204; Arch. Cant. xxii. 184; CSP Dom. July-Sept. 1683, p. 411; Bodl. Locke c10, ff. 12-13; c17, f. 20; Locke-Clarke Corresp. ed. Rand, 398; information from Dr. E. S. de Beer.
  • 4. Cal. Treas. Bks. xvi. 349; Evelyn Diary, v. 497-8.