LOVE, William (c.1620-89), of St. Mary Axe, London.

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
9 Jan. - 26 Apr. 1689

Family and Education

b. c.1620, 1st s. of William Love of Aynho, Northants. by Mary, da. of John Uvedale of Linford, Bucks. m. lic. 1 Feb. 1651, Elizabeth (bur. 3 Aug. 1694), da. of Sir John Burgoyne, 1st Bt., of Sutton, Beds., 3s. 1da. suc. fa. by 1662.2

Offices Held

Member, Drapers’ Co. 1650, master 1660-1; asst. Levant Co. 1653-70, dep. gov. 1661-2; committee, E.I. Co. 1657-62; commr. for militia, London 1659, alderman 1659-62, sheriff 1659-60, commr. for assessment Jan. 1660, 1673-80, 1689, recusants 1675, dep. lt. 1689-d.3

Councillor of State 2 Jan.-25 Feb. 1660; member, corp. for propagation of the Gospel in New England 1661; commr. for trade 1668-72.4


Love came from a minor gentry family which acquired property in Aynho in Elizabeth’s reign. He spent many years of his early life in the Mediterranean, returning with ‘a very great estate’ during the Interregnum, and becoming a leading light in the Levant Company and an alderman of London in 1659. In this capacity he opposed the appeal to George Monck from the militia officers as ‘inimical to the government of the Commonwealth’. But on the second return of the Rump he was appointed to the Council of State and the board of customs, though from this post he immediately resigned as ‘having other great employment upon him’. He did not sign the petition of the common council for the return of the secluded Members, though he served on the delegation that presented it to the Rump. As sheriff of London he was ineligible at the general election of 1660. He was unable to prevent the return of four Royalists, but according to Edmund Ludlow the selection of a jury for the regicides had to be deferred until his term of office had expired.5

Love was among those accused with John Wildman I of attending republican conclaves where candidates for the general election of 1661 were approved. His own return for London was greeted with consternation at Court, since he was ‘esteemed rather inclined to the Levellers than monarchical government’. In religion he was considered a Congregationalist, and Lord Wharton listed him among his friends in the Cavalier Parliament, though he accepted the 39 Articles and seems to have been anxious to achieve comprehension. When he refused to attend the corporate communion of 26 May, Thomas Clifford ‘fell on’ him, alleging that he had contracted ‘Popish principles’ during his long residence abroad, a charge to which his reminiscences of religious colloquy with the Jesuits at Rome certainly gave some colour. He was suspended from the House until he should produce a sacrament certificate. He was one of the two London aldermen removed by the commissioners for corporations as having been ‘faulty in the late troubles’. On 5 Mar. 1663 the Commons gave him a month to produce his certificate, and further pressure was put on him by nominating him to a committee on a bill to restore the clerk of the London chamber to office. He probably absented himself, however, for this was his only committee during the Clarendon administration, and in 1667 Daniel Finch wrote that he had never taken the Anglican sacrament. In 1668 it was represented to Lord Winchilsea, who had been appointed ambassador to Constantinople by the Levant Company on the King’s recommendation, that Love was ‘a traitor and a schismatic’, who ‘either doth or would rule the whole company’, that he had been responsible for sending a nonconformist as chaplain to the factory at Smyrna, and that he opposed granting Winchilsea unlimited use of company money. Love wrote to Winchilsea

I am more puzzled to guess at the accusations than to justify myself. Was it that I am a nonconformist? If by that term they mean one who concurs not in every point of church government (for in doctrinals I am a Protestant throughout), I dare not disown it.

Winchilsea urged the Government that Love should be

removed on this occasion out of the company, where his factious disposition gives more disturbance than assistance to their affairs, though perchance that may be too light a punishment for one who hath formerly expressed so great a dislike, and now so great a contempt for monarchy.

Love, however, retained his influence in the court of the company, and it was Winchilsea who had to make peace with him.6

After the dismissal of Clarendon, Love resumed attendance in the House, and later claimed that he ‘could produce the very speeches I then took in shorthand, both those against him and those for him’. These notes probably formed the basis for Proceedings in the House of Commons touching the Impeachment of Edward, Earl of Clarendon, published in 1700. On 16 Oct. 1667 Love imputed ‘the sinking of trade to the severity of proceedings in the oath of renouncing the Covenant’. He was appointed to the committees to consider the bill for preventing the growth of Popery and to continue the inquiry into the affairs of the merchants trading with France. With Thomas Bludworth and Samuel Sandys I he was ordered on 26 Nov. to examine a witness who accused Edward Backwell of defrauding the revenue. He was among those to whom the bill for naturalizing prize ships was committed, and he helped to draft a proviso to the public accounts bill, and to inquire into taxes unpaid by office-holders in London and Middlesex. After the Christmas recess he was appointed to an accounts committee. Although he disclaimed parliamentary wages ‘because he thinks he never deserved any’, he was in fact an active constituency Member under the Cabal. He was named to the committee to investigate proposals for bringing down the price of the timber, and to consider the bill to regulate the rebuilding of London after the Great Fire. In grand committee on 29 Feb. 1668 he told the House that he regarded taxing retailers as a Spanish inquisition and encouraging a black economy; and he was twice appointed to committees to estimate the yield of additional customs duties. On 22 Apr. he opposed a bill for lowering the rate of interest because

it would be a means to obstruct the bringing in of silver, for whereas other commodities yield ten in the hundred bullion and silver will not yield above four, which will take away the chiefest means to make money plentiful. He said in Turkey money was generally at ten in the hundred, sometimes at forty in the hundred, and in Turkey there was a great store (if not greater) as in any other country whatsoever. He also said that whereas it was alleged that money was so plentiful in Turkey because interest was low, it was clean contrary, for the interest there was low because money was plentiful.

He was one of the dissenters appointed to the remodelled council of trade in October, probably at the instance of Lord Ashley (Sir Anthony Ashley Cooper), with whom he had been associated before the Restoration. He did not directly oppose the extension of the Conventicles Act in 1669, but when the House was reminded of the rejoicings in Rome at the execution of Laud, he insisted that the Jesuits had regarded him as their greatest rival in the introduction of Popery: ‘what we bring about in an age, he would do in a year or two’. He supported the suspension of Sir George Carteret: ‘the consequence of his negligence and ignorance is such that the King may have the ill effects when he shall set out his fleet again’. In the debate on brandy on 1 Mar. 1670 he agreed with John Jones that prohibition would only lead to bootlegging, especially in the colonies. He was named to the committee for the bill to strengthen habeas corpus by forbidding transportation of English subjects overseas. He offered a proviso to the second conventicles bill to allow nonconformists to teach in schools provided that they took the oaths, subscribed to the 39 Articles, and obtained a licence from a magistrate. He was appointed to the committees to consider a bill to recover arrears of money given for the London poor (31 Mar. 1670), to inspect the naval accounts (31 Oct.), and to hear a petition from London artificers (9 Dec.). He was one of five Members instructed to amend the penal clause in the additional imposition bill (15 Mar. 1671) so that persons in possession of prohibited goods would have to prove their innocence. On 27 Mar. he introduced a bill to perpetuate the paving and draining powers granted to the corporation under the Rebuilding of London Acts, and was named to the committee.7

When the proposal to relieve Protestant dissenters was under debate in February 1673 it was asked, doubtless by arrangement, whether anybody could explain what they desired. Many of their previous demands were abandoned to facilitate the passing of the test bill and the definitive exclusion of Roman Catholics from public life.

Alderman Love stood up, and said that he was acquainted with many of them; that he knew they did not desire to be admitted to any offices of honour or profit in the church or kingdom, which was not reasonable to expect without being entirely conformable to the established church, that they did not desire to be exempted from any offices of charge or burden, nor from any taxes or payment of parish duties, nor from tithes, but only from the penalties of the laws made against them, and that they might have leave to worship God in public places to be appointed by the magistrate with the doors open, and, if the House thought fit, in public churches at such times as no other worship or service was there.

The House ‘heard him very well’, apart from the last proposal. The next day he moved ‘for a general indulgence by way of comprehension’, and he was named to the committee on the bill of ease. He opposed the bill for the general naturalization of foreign Protestants, however. Like most dissenters, he supported Arlington in January 1674, but wished to ask Buckingham ‘who advised that the army should be appointed to draw up towards London to awe this House, to make us vote what they pleased’. He was named to a committee to bring in an electoral reform bill in the same session. On 26 Oct. 1675 he supported the motion that the money voted for the navy should be paid into the chamber of London rather than into Exchequer:

You must put it into the City’s, or some secure hands, or you are never like to have it rightly employed. Merchants’ ships are built cheaper than the King’s ships, because they may get their money how they can. ’Tis well known that it can be done for seven or eight pounds per ton, if the carpenters be assured of their money. The merchants pay not the third penny of what the King gives now, and there is no reason but the King’s money should go as far as another man’s money, if the workmen were paid as they ought to be.

Although Love no longer held office in the Levant Company, he still identified himself with their interests, and in particular their resentment at the competition of the East India Company. On 9 Nov. he was among those instructed to consider a complaint against their over-successful rivals. Four days later he probably introduced a petition from the London weavers complaining of foreign imports and the introduction of machinery, since he was the first Member named to the committee. Sir Richard Wiseman, as government whip, was unable to answer for him in 1676.8

After the long prorogation Love was appointed to the committees for the bills to recall British subjects from the French service and to prevent illegal exactions (22 Feb. 1677). In the debate on the liability of corporations for parliamentary wages, he proudly declared that ‘he never received any wages from the City, nor demanded any’. In the grand committee of grievances he seconded the attack of John Knight on the cost of passes to secure merchantmen against the Barbary corsairs. He estimated that ten or twelve thousand pounds was given annually ‘to private persons’, and complained that passes had to be renewed every year. A select committee on which Love served was appointed to consider how to remedy these complaints. He admitted that it would be irregular to receive a petition from the brewers of his constituency against the additional excise while the supply bill was under discussion, but ‘he thought it fitter for this House to reject it than himself’. One-third of the 240 brewers in London, he said, had failed in the last six years. When the bill for building 30 warships was reported, Love and Sir William Thompson acted as tellers for a successful motion to reduce the assessment of London. Ashley, now Earl of Shaftesbury, classed him as ‘doubly worthy’. On 19 Feb. 1678 he was named to a committee to estimate the yield of a tax on new buildings in the suburbs. When it was alleged that Quakers had been convicted of recusancy and subjected to the same penalties as Roman Catholics, Love said:

They may come under the notion of Papists to have the better quarters. I have had some Quakers that would renounce according to the Test, etc., and there are thousands that will. I would not have them be encouraged to seek better quarters by being under the notion of Romanists.

He was appointed to the committee of inquiry. On 30 May, on the second reading of the bill to encourage the wearing of woollens, a petition from the Levant Company was presented and referred to a select committee, of which Love was a member. He was also named to the committee to consider the bill for reforming the hearth-tax, but on the report stage he and Thompson acted as tellers for recommitting it. He was reported about this time as attending a great Presbyterian conventicle in Cutlers’ Hall. After the Popish Plot he was named to the committee of inquiry, and also to those to consider the bill to prevent Roman Catholics from sitting in Parliament and to investigate the mistranslation of the Gazette.9

Re-elected to the Exclusion Parliaments, Love was marked ‘worthy’ on Shaftesbury’s list. A very active Member in 1679, he was named to 28 committees and made three recorded speeches. He was appointed to the committees to examine the disbandment accounts, and to consider the bills for the speedier conviction of recusants and for regulating elections. On 7 Apr. 1679 he was one of a small committee ordered to bring in a bill annexing Tangier to the crown. Two days later, heedful of the rumour that the King intended to sell the outpost to the French, he said

If the French have that, they will have as good an advantage as they that have the Sound. If Tangier were under water I should be glad of it, but seeing we have it, it is not for us to say that it is of no matter if it were gone. If it were in the hands of the Dutch or the Spanish galleys, your trade is gone. ... It may be worth millions to the French; they may then put what impositions upon our trade they please.

He was appointed to the committees to bring in a bill banishing Papists from the London area, to examine naval miscarriages, to draw up the address for the dismissal of Lauderdale, and to consider the bill to secure the better attendance of Members. On 13 May he was added to the committee to bring in an address promising revenge if the King should meet a violent death. He was named to the committees to inquire into the excise laws, and, as might be expected, to consider the bill for the export of cloth to Turkey. He voted for exclusion.10

Love was again very active in the second Exclusion Parliament, being appointed to 34 committees and making ten recorded speeches. On 27 Oct. 1680 he was among those appointed to the committee to inquire into abhorring, and presented a petition for the removal of Sir George Jeffreys as recorder of London for threatening petitioners and jurors, declaring:

I was some years past in that Parliament (which, I thank God, we are rid of) where a man was still a Presbyterian, or this, or that, if he spoke plainly of miscarriages. The Act passed in that Parliament for regulating corporations sets us all together by the ears. These petitioners in the City for the sitting of Parliament were constrained; ... till a common hall was called they could do nothing. Now, I thank God, we are in a Protestant Parliament, and both those of this or that persuasion will spend their blood for the Protestant religion. The whole body of the City of London are of the same mind, and will join heart and hand with you, as these gentlemen that serve with me will attest.

He was named to the committees to bring in a comprehension bill and to repeal the Elizabethan law against Protestant dissenters. He led the attack on the East India Company, now increasingly unpopular with the country party because of the close links formed with the crown under the guidance of (Sir) Josiah Child.

The East India Company have been very industrious to promote their own trade, but therein have given a great blow to the trade of the nation. The Indians knew little of dyeing goods, or ordering them so as to be fit for our European markets, until the company sent from hence Englishmen to teach them. For the cheapness of wages and materials in the Indies must enable the Indians to afford their manufactured goods cheaper than any we can make here, and therefore it is probable the trade will increase prodigiously. ... They have already spoiled the Italian and Flanders trade with their silks and calicoes; now they will endeavour to spoil the Turks’ trade by bringing abundance of raw silk from the Indies, so that ere long we shall have no need of having silk from Turkey, and, if not, I am sure we shall not be able to send any cloths or other goods there.

When the House debated the King’s request for a supply for Tangier, Love reversed his previous attitude. He never shrank from contradicting himself, but in this case he may have reckoned that no power would buy Tangier if it were on offer:

I am a merchant, and all my trade is in the Mediterranean sea. I was bred there. ... I have passed by Tangier. All men have admired the expense of it, for it never was and never will be a place of trade.

He alleged that the proposal for a supply to repair the mole was due to ‘Popish counsels’, and helped to draw up the Commons answer. In the debate on the premature dismissal of the Westminster grand jury to prevent a petition, he urged the broadening of the investigation, and he was named to the committee to examine the proceedings of the judges. When it was proposed to impeach Edward Seymour, Love recalled the record he had made of Clarendon’s impeachment, and argued against the necessity of producing witnesses:

I shall speak only to the question. If I were convinced in the reason and equity of it, I should not be against commitment. I have refreshed my memory ... out of my notes. ... It was then said: ‘Now you have heard the articles read, for the honour of the House you are to know where and when the crimes were committed, and by whom they will be proved’. Says Seymour himself: ‘That is the way to invalidate all your testimony, by publishing the witnesses, who by corruption or menace may be taken off’.

He was among those appointed to bring in bills for security against arbitrary power on 17 Dec., and a week later he said: ‘I hope we shall now take all dissenters in to save the nation with heart, hand and shoulder to unite against Popery. Let the House make it their interest to bring all in.’ On the same day he was named to the committees to bring in the repeal of the Corporations Act. In the Oxford Parliament Love was appointed to the committee of elections and privileges and to the committee to prepare for a conference with the Lords on the failure of the bill of ease for Protestant dissenters to receive the royal assent.11

Understandably Love did not stand in 1685. He supported the Revolution, subscribing £500 to the new regime on 8 Jan. 1689. He was returned to the Convention, and in its first three months he was moderately active, with nine committee appointments. On 29 Jan. he was among those ordered to draft an address for stopping shipping to France and to consider reducing trade with France to the level of barter. On 26 Feb. he was appointed to the committee to bring in a bill for regulating elections, and on the next day he expressed the hope that the House would ‘consent to such a revenue as may make the King great to all the world’. It was later remembered that he had attacked the East India Company as bringing the profits of trade to investors, such as country gentlemen, ‘unto which they are not entitled by their education’. He urged an investigation into the shrieval elections in London in 1682, and he was appointed to the committee of inquiry into the authors and advisers of the quo warranto proceedings and other grievances. His last committee, fittingly enough, was on a bill to prevent the export of wool. Shortly thereafter a group of Tory Members attempted unsuccessfully to engineer the expulsion of Love and all other nonconformists from the House. He was buried on 1 May 1689 at St. Andrew Undershaft. None of his descendants entered Parliament.12

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Authors: Eveline Cruickshanks / Basil Duke Henning


  • 1. New writ.
  • 2. London Vis. Peds. (Harl. Soc. xcii), 92, 192; PCC 67 Ent.
  • 3. J. R. Woodhead, Rulers of London, 110.
  • 4. CJ, vii. 798, 801, 802; PC2/55/217.
  • 5. Bridges, Northants. i. 136; Narrative Procs. Militia Officers (1660); Guildhall Lib. mss 507; Guildhall RO, common council jnl. 40, p. 216; Voyce from the Watch Tower, 198.
  • 6. M. Ashley, John Wildman, 178; HMC Finch, i. 120, 356, 377-8, 382, 422; HMC Popham, 166; CJ, viii. 289, 444; Grey, i. 213; viii. 217; Finch diary; D. R. Lacey, Dissent and Parl. Pols. 419-20.
  • 7. Grey, i. 2, 99, 162, 213, 216, 219, 228; iv. 180; viii. 84, 217; Milward, 270-1; K. H. D. Haley, Shaftesbury, 113, 255-6; CJ, ix. 225.
  • 8. Haley, 324-5; Dering, 123; Grey, ii. 48, 260; iii. 358; CJ, ix. 275; A. C. Wood. Hist. Levant Co. 102.
  • 9. Grey, iv. 180, 207-8, 225; v. 254; Add. 28091, f. 41; CJ, ix. 416, 512; CSP Dom. 1678, p. 246.
  • 10. Grey, vii. 100.
  • 11. Grey, vii. 374; viii. 14, 59, 95-96, 216-17; Exact Coll. Debates, 67-68; Wood, 102.
  • 12. Lacey, 224; Grey, ix. 124, 139; Bank of England, Morice mss, Nicholas to Humphrey Morice, 25 Mar. 1709; R. Morrice, Entering Bk. 2, p. 505.