LONG, Sir James, 2nd Bt. (1616-92), of Draycot Cerne, Wilts.

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



Mar. 1679
Oct. 1679
1690 - 22 Jan. 1692

Family and Education

b. c. Sept. 1616, o.s. of Sir Walter Long of Draycot Cerne by Lady Anne Ley, da. of James Ley, 1st Earl of Marlborough. educ. L. Inn 1634. m. by 1640, Dorothy (d.1710), da. of Sir Edward Leach of Shipley, Derbys., 1s. d.v.p. 5da. suc. fa. 1637, uncle (Sir) Robert Long as 2nd Bt. and in Yorks. estate 13 July 1673.1

Offices Held

Capt. of horse (royalist) 1642, col. 1644-6.2

Sheriff, Wilts. (royalist) 1644-5; commr. for assessment, Wilts. 1664-80, 1689-90, Yorks. (W. and N. Ridings) 1679-80; j.p. Wilts. 1671-d., dep. lt. 1675-?d., commr. for recusants 1675.3

Gent. of privy chamber 1673-85.4

FRS 1663.


Long’s ancestors had regularly represented Wiltshire constituencies since 1414, and purchased Draycot Cerne in 1438. Aubrey called Long his ‘honoured friend’ and ‘a gentleman absolute in all numbers’, including specifically the handling of horse and sword; but his career as a royalist cavalry commander was far from glorious. He compounded for £810 on the Oxford articles, and was reported to be in France with his uncle. But in 1650 he was described as ‘a very active man formerly’, and during the Interregnum he abandoned politics for entomology and falconry. A ‘great historian and romancer’, he told Aubrey how

Oliver Protector, hawking at Hounslow Heath, discoursing with him, fell in love with his company, and commanded him to wear his sword and to meet him a-hawking, which made the strict Cavaliers look on him with an evil eye.5

Although Long was not in the commission of the peace during the second Dutch war he was asked to inquire into reports of military activity in the Chippenham area. He had ‘more interest than anyone upon the Avon’, and was named as a commissioner in two navigation bills; but he informed John Vaughan that this was without his consent, and they were both dropped. The Yorkshire estate to which he succeeded in 1673 included property near Boroughbridge, which he twice contested unsuccessfully in by-elections to the Cavalier Parliament. At the general election, however, he returned to his native county, and represented Malmesbury in all three Exclusion Parliaments. Shaftesbury marked him ‘vile’, but he was probably less interested in party politics than in social and economic issues. On 10 Apr. 1679 he was added to the committee of inquiry into the pamphlets issued in defence of Danby, and later he was among those ordered to search for precedents for punishing false returns. But most of his committees were of more direct interest to his constituents, dealing with such subjects as the poor law, the decay of the woollen industry, and abuses in the collection of the hearth-tax and the excise. Altogether he was a moderately active Member of the first Exclusion Parliament, with 11 committees. But he made no speeches, although Aubrey thought him an ‘admirable extempore orator’, and he was absent from the division on the first exclusion bill.6

Again moderately active in the second Exclusion Parliament, Long was named to six committees, of which the most important were on the bills to regulate parliamentary elections and to remove Papists from the London area. In the Oxford Parliament he was named only to the committee of elections and privileges. By now clearly an opponent of exclusion, he gave evidence in 1682 at the trial of Edward Whittaker, ‘the true Protestant attorney’, of treasonable words.7

Long seems not to have stood in 1685. When questioned by the lord lieutenant in 1688, he declared that he was

of opinion that toleration is best, and is for taking away the Penal Laws provided there be a clause inserted against atheism [and] blasphemy; and for the repealing the Tests he totally relies upon the King’s sense in Parliament.

In April 1688 James II’s agents reported that he would be chosen knight of the shire, with strong nonconformist support, described him as ‘right’, and recommended that he should be continued in the lieutenancy. In September Thomas Freke II reported that there was ‘discourse of’ him for Wiltshire, but it is unlikely that he stood at the general election of 1689, either for county or borough, though he strongly supported the new regime. He was, however, returned for Malmesbury in 1690, and was regarded as ‘doubtful’ by the Government. He died suddenly ‘of an apoplexy’ on 23 Jan. 1692 and was buried at Draycot Cerne. His grandson, the 5th baronet, sat for Chippenham under Queen Anne and for Wootton Bassett and Wiltshire after the Hanoverian succession as a high Tory.8

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: Basil Duke Henning


  • 1. Wilts. Inquisitions (Index Lib. xxiii), 241; Misc. Gen. et Her. n.s. iii. 58.
  • 2. Army Lists ed. Peacock, 12; Ludlow Mems. i. 470.
  • 3. Wilts. Arch. Mag. iii. 220.
  • 4. Carlisle, Privy Chamber, 191.
  • 5. Wilts. Arch. Mag. iii. 179; Ludlow Mems. i. 470-1, 474-5; Clarendon, Rebellion, iv. 12; Cal. Comm. Comp. 1457; HMC Pepys, 207; HMC Portland, i. 589; Aubrey, Brief Lives, ii. 36.
  • 6. CSP Dom. 1666-7, pp. 182, 230, 465, 488; Eg. 2231, ff. 209-10; VCH Yorks. N. Riding, i. 365, 367; ii. 102; CJ, ix. 290; Aubrey, ii. 36.
  • 7. Luttrell, i. 233.
  • 8. Bath mss, Thynne pprs. 24, f. 39; CSP Dom. 1689-90, pp. 178, 352; HMC Hastings, ii. 339.