HELYAR (HILLYARD), William (1662-1742), of East Coker, Som.

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



Family and Education

b. 10 July 1662, 1st s. of William Helyar of East Coker by Rachel, da. and coh. of Sir Hugh Wyndham, 1st Bt., of Pilsdon, Dorset. educ.Trinity, Oxf. 1680; L. Inn 1683. m. 9 June 1690, Joanna (d. 11 Oct. 1714), da. and coh. of Robert Hole of South Tawton, Devon, 2s. 3da.; (2) 1719, Anne, da. of William Harbin of Newton Surmaville, Som., s.p. suc. fa. 1697.1

Offices Held

Commr. for assessment, Som. 1689-90, j.p. 1691-?d., capt. of militia ft. by 1697, dep. lt. 1700-?d., sheriff 1700-2.2


Helyar’s family was founded by his great-grandfather, a notable ecclesiastical pluralist who became archdeacon of Barnstaple in 1605 and bought the manor of East Coker in 1616. His father, a royalist colonel, compounded at £1,522 16s. on the Exeter articles. After the Restoration he hunted down seditious conventicles, and in 1681 brought to the notice of Secretary Jenkins a book in support of Monmouth’s claim to the throne. In 1685 he was in action against Monmouth, and he gave affirmative answers on the repeal of the Test Act and Penal Laws.3

Presumably it was Helyar and not his father who signed the declaration of support for William of Orange on 15 Nov. 1688. As ‘William Helyar, junior’ he was returned as a Tory for Ilchester, seven miles from his home, after a contest at the general election of 1689. He voted to agree with the Lords that the throne was not vacant. An inactive Member of the Convention, he was appointed to six committees, including both of those for the easier recovery of tithe, and that for reversing the attainder of Sir Thomas Armstrong. He did not speak, but reported, presumably with approval, an anti-Dutch tirade of Edward Seymour in December. Although still a Tory, he had no wish to sit in 1690, and persuaded John Hunt to take his place. He was buried at East Coker on 8 Oct. 1742, the only member of his family to sit in Parliament.4

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: Irene Cassidy


  • 1. Harbin, Som. Members, 190.
  • 2. Som. RO, QJC103; Eg. 1626, f. 39.
  • 3. Som. RO, Helyer mss 53, 77; A.G. Matthews, Walker Revised, 114; Cal. Comm. Comp. 125, 562, 1665; J. Batten, South Som. 159-62; Collinson, Som. ii. 341; CSP Dom. 1680-1, pp. 440-1; 1682, p. 97; HMC 3rd Rep. 97, 98, 100.
  • 4. E. Green, March of Wm. of Orange through Som. 57-58; Wood’s Life and Times (Oxf. Hist. Soc. xxvi), 316; Bodl. Ballard mss 38, f. 128; Som. Wills, iii. 21.