KING, Edward (c.1606-81), of Ashby de la Launde, Lincs.

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. c.1606, 2nd but 1st surv. s. of Richard King of Ashby by Elizabeth, da. of Anthony Colly of Glaston, Rutland. educ. G. Inn 1623, called 1646, ancient 1650. m. Anne, da. of Sir Edward Ayscough of Stallingborough, Lincs., 2s. 4da. suc. fa. 1653.1

Offices Held

Capt. of ft. (parliamentary) 1643, col. by 1644-5; gov. Boston 1643-5.2

Sheriff, Lincs. 1643-4, commr. for levying money 1643, defence, eastern assoc. 1643, assessment, Lincs. 1644, 1661-3, (Kesteven) Aug. 1660-1, 1663-4; dep. lt. Lincs. 1644-5; freeman, Grimsby 1645, recorder 1646-d.; commr. for sewers, Lincs. 1658, Aug. 1660, militia Mar. 1660; j.p. Kesteven Mar. 1660-3; col. of militia ft. Lincs. Apr. 1660.3

Commr. for disbandment Sept. 1660-1, maimed soldiers Dec. 1660-1.4


King’s grandfather, a Londoner of Suffolk origin, bought Ashby in 1580. His father avoided commitment in the Civil War, but King was in arms for Parliament. He took part in the first attack on Newark, and was indicted for treason at the Lincolnshire assizes in 1643. Although a rigid Presbyterian, he quarrelled with Lord Willoughby of Parham, but was regarded with suspicion by Cromwell, and in 1645 his commissions were cancelled at the request of the county committee. Later in the year he stood unsuccessfully for Grimsby against (Sir) William Wray, and he became recorder of the borough in succession to a Royalist. In 1647 he was in trouble for obstructing the collection of taxes; he held no further county office until the eve of the Restoration, and in 1659 Gervase Holles included him among the Lincolnshire Royalists.5

King was returned for Grimsby on his corporation interest at the general election of 1660, and became one of the most active Members of the Convention, with special interest in the indemnity proceedings, the religious settlement, and the disbandment of the army. He was named to 83 committees, in eight of which he took the chair, acted as teller in 24 divisions, and made 45 recorded speeches. ‘Factious and fanatical enough’, he was marked by Lord Wharton as a friend, but won over to the Court a few days before the opening of Parliament by a leading London Royalist, who was soon able to report with satisfaction that ‘none act more vigorously for the King in the House than [William] Prynne and King’, who were ‘resolved to drive on as fast as possible’. On 26 Apr. he proposed in barely veiled language that they should render unto Caesar the things that were Caesar’s, ‘which was acclaimed as a good motion’, though not by George Monck, who told King that ‘he could not promise to keep the people quiet if such motions were made’. But on Mordaunt’s advice he moved on the following day ‘the stopping all private business till the public was settled, and to adjourn for a day or two’. He was seconded by Heneage Finch, anxious to secure time for the Declaration of Breda to arrive before the elections committee could question the return of Cavaliers and their sons, contrary to the Long Parliament ordinance. On 15 May he was named to the committees to examine John Thurloe and to consider the indemnity bill. As chairman of the committee to prepare measures against recusants he reported a proclamation against Jesuits and seminary priests and carried it to the Lords on 29 May.6

After the Restoration King was among those ordered to draft clauses of exception to the indemnity bill and to administer the oaths of allegiance and supremacy to his fellow-Members. On 8 June he was appointed to the committees to prepare a proviso about those regicides who had obeyed the proclamation to give themselves up and to establish the names of those who had sat in judgment on Charles I without signing the death sentence. He was teller against allowing a full pardon to William Lenthall and Sir William Roberts and for the soldiers William Sydenham, William Boteler and Richard Creed. But he favoured excepting all members of the high court of justice and spoke against reading a petition from Oliver St. John. On 22 June he acted as teller against reading the bill to confirm land purchases, though at a later stage he spoke for committing it. He favoured referring the petition from the intruded dons at Oxford and the unauthorized issue of Anglican publications to special committees, on both of which he served. As chairman of the committee for the impropriate rectories surrendered by Royalists as part of their compositions, he desired to prevent their immediate return, and was empowered to take over their management from the trustees for the maintenance of ministers. He was named to the committees to consider the surest and speediest way to satisfy Monck’s claim on the revenue and to recommend an establishment for Dunkirk. On 29 June he was ordered to bring in a naturalization bill.7

King opposed requiring the beneficiaries of the indemnity bill to go through the expensive process of suing out a pardon under the great seal, but he supported a wide measure of political disablement: ‘’Twas not prudence to set up those in power that now lie under our feet, nor that any in the House that are guilty of such crimes should plead their own causes’. His speeches are not normally remarkable for colourful expressions, but on the proposal to compel Protectorate officials to refund their salaries he observed succinctly that ‘’twas fit such sponges should be squeezed’, and he acted as teller for the proviso. He was among those ordered to prepare reasons for a conference on three orders issued by the Upper House and to consider two provisos to the indemnity bill on 7 July. Four days later he reported that John Hutchinson should be compelled to refund the rewards granted to him by the Long Parliament at the expense of the Newark Royalists, and the proviso was added to the bill. He urged that religious doctrine and ecclesiastical discipline should be discussed separately, saying that ‘no man could tell what the discipline according to law was’, and he supported Prynne’s motion that the grand committee on religion should not meet again until further orders. On 21 July he introduced a petition from divers ministers in sequestrated livings, for which he obtained a reading only by a narrow majority. Together with Sir Anthony Irby and Matthew Hale he was ordered to bring in a bill for nominating commissioners of sewers. His speech of 27 July suggests that his honeymoon with the restored monarchy was nearing its end: ‘though he could not but admire his Majesty’s goodness, yet he desired to hasten the bill of indemnity’. He was named to the committee for the bill to enable Wray to sell land for payment of debts and to the revenue committee.8

After urging the House ‘to remove all scandalous ministers, but not to press the 39 Articles’, King took the chair in the committee for settling ecclesiastical livings. There appears to have been a small Anglican majority on this committee, but by adroit use of his powers he was able to ensure that only constant refusal of the sacraments should be deemed a disqualification. On 4 Aug. he reported a bill to set up a disbandment commission. He was teller against the Lords’ amendment to the disablement clause of the indemnity bill, and helped to manage a conference; but when it was objected that the Commons were obliged in honour to defend the lives of those regicides who had come in on the proclamation, he declared unanswerably that ‘God had infatuated them to bring them to justice’. On 16 Aug. he carried an order to the Lords appointing a new treasurer for the maimed soldiers in Ely House and the Savoy. But for most of the month his prime concern was the ecclesiastical livings bill; he reported it on 14 Aug., and after long debate warded off a renewed Anglican attempt on the floor of the House to prevent denial of the sacrament to those who were not scandalous or ignorant. He brought in a bill for a temporary restraint on ecclesiastical leases, and opposed an inquiry into presentations to crown livings. On the last day of the month the main bill was ordered to be engrossed, and King was among those entrusted with directing the clerk of the Commons over any difficulties that might arise in the process, and with managing a conference. On 6 Sept. he obtained an order from the House empowering the disbandment commissioners to obtain assistance from the civil authorities, and was nominated to the commission. He was among those ordered to amend the instructions so that the garrisons should be disbanded last, and helped to manage a conference.9

During the recess Wharton sent King a copy of the case for modified episcopacy, with objections and answers, but he took no part in the debate. On most other matters in the second session he acted with the Opposition. He moved for an inquiry into the present state of the revenue before any additional supply, and on 3 Dec. he was ordered with Nicholas Pedley and John Glyn to take care of an inquiry into obstructions in levying the poll-tax. If London obtained an Act to impose a rate for expenditure on the King’s reception, he argued, ‘they must do the same favour to every city and county that desired it’, and he acted as teller against the bill. He complained of the arbitrary power of the lords lieutenant, and seconded Andrew Marvell in denouncing the fees of £150 extorted from Milton by the serjeant-at-arms. On 18 Dec. he objected that the report by John Birch on the debts of the army and navy had not been authorized by the committee. Though generally unsympathetic to royalist claims for compensation, he obtained an order for the sister of Sir Edward Seymour to recover £3,571 sequestrated from the customs farmers in 1644. Together with Prynne and John Barton he was ordered to bring in a bill to recover £10,000 for charitable purposes from the prize commissioners and maintenance trustees. He was teller against a proviso to the college leases bill precluding fellows and scholars from claiming restoration to their places. He considered that compensation for officials of the court of wards should be left entirely to the King, and was named to the committee to consider the Lords’ amendments to the bill. He was among those ordered to prepare reasons on the bill for confirming marriages. Assisted by Prynne and Birch, he prepared a bill to recover arrears of excise, and steered it successfully through committee. But this did not prevent him from again taking issue with Birch over his proposal for a general excise on all foreign commodities, which, he again claimed, had not been approved by the committee. Although resigned to the celebration of Christmas, he seconded the unsuccessful motion of Robert Shapcote for a session on Boxing Day.10

King did not stand for re-election in 1661, and was described as ‘a great abettor of sectaries and nonconformists’. But his arrest by the deputy lieutenants during the second Dutch war was, he asserted, merely an act of personal revenge on the part of Sir Robert Carr. He was released after three months, but in February 1666 he was committed to the Tower for refusing to give security to the deputy lieutenants for his peaceable demeanour,

by entering into a bond for £2,000 ... to appear where he should be directed by the lord lieutenant or any two deputy lieutenants after 20 hours notice in writing left at his house, to discover all plots, conspiracies etc. and to abstain from all conventicles and seditious meetings.

He claimed such conditions were ‘illegal, infamous and servile’. He bribed his way out of prison, and was defeated by Sir Henry Belasyse in a by-election in 1667, after which he may have moved to London, where two of his daughters were living. In 1670 he was described as appearing ‘daily upon the Exchange, not merely to promote sedition but rebellion and treason also’ in his zeal against the renewal of the Conventicles Act. When a licence was granted for a Presbyterian meeting at his house in Ashby in 1672 it was reported that

for many years he has endeavoured to protect those questioned for non-conformity ... in the ecclesiastical court at Lincoln, where at common law he has counselled or set on above 90 actions.

He died at Ashby in 1681, the only member of his family to sit in Parliament.11

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Authors: M. W. Helms / Paula Watson


  • 1. Lincs. Peds. (Harl. Soc. li), 565-6.
  • 2. Hutchinson Mems. 122; Cal. Comm. Comp. 2308; CJ, iv. 66; Whitelocke Mems. i. 252.
  • 3. E. Gillett, Grimshy, 129; HMC 14th Rep. VIII, 283, 286; C181/6/322, 7/76; Merc. Pub. 19 Apr. 1660.
  • 4. CJ, viii. 154, 213.
  • 5. E. Trollope, Sleaford, 202; Gillett, 129-30, 133; CSP Dom. 1644, p. 295; 1644-5, pp. 307, 595; Eg. 2541, f. 362.
  • 6. Bramston Autobiog. (Cam. Soc. xxxii), 115; Cal. Cl. SP, iv. 680, 682; v. 6, 7, 13; CJ, viii. 48.
  • 7. CJ, viii. 61, 63, 65, 66, 67, 72, 74, 76, 77; Bowman diary, ff. 5, 28, 36.
  • 8. Bowman diary, if. 38v, 44, 50, 74, 82v, 91, 92v, 99; CJ, viii. 81, 86, 99.
  • 9. Bowman diary, if. 109v, 115a, 134, 151v; CJ, viii. 111, 118, 124, 129, 138, 154, 163, 165.
  • 10. Old Parl. Hist. xxiii. 25, 50, 51, 54, 58, 61, 64-65, 67; CJ, viii. 207, 215; 217, 219, 222, 225.
  • 11. J. W. F. Hill, Tudor and Stuart Lincoln, 178-9; C. Holmes, 17th Cent. Lincoln, 223-6; CSP Dom. 1664-5, p. 565; 1665-6, pp. 247, 296; 1668-9, p. 44; 1670, pp. 226, 235; 1671-2, pp. 568, 587; 1672, pp. 536, 538-9; Gillett, 133-4.