THYNNE, Thomas I (1640-1714), of Drayton Bassett, Staffs.
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Family and Education
bap. 8 Sept. 1640, 1st s. of Sir Henry Frederick Thynne, 1st Bt. of Caus Castle, Salop and Kempsford, Glos. by Mary, da. of Sir Thomas Coventry, 1st Baron Coventry of Aylesborough; bro. of James Thynne. educ. Kingston-on-Thames g.s., Surr.; Hayes, Mdx. (Dr Thomas Triplett); Christ Church, Oxf. 1657. m. by 1673, Lady Frances Finch (d. 17 Apr. 1712), da. of Heneage, 3rd Earl of Winchilsea, 3s. d.v.p. 1da. suc. fa. as 2nd Bt. 6 Mar. 1680, cos. Thomas Thynne I in his Wiltshire estates 1682; cr. Visct. Weymouth 11 Dec. 1682.1
Groom of the bedchamber to the Duke of York 1666-72; envoy to Sweden 1666-9; member, Society for the Propagation of the Gospel 1701; PC 18 June 1702-May 1707, 8 Mar. 1712-d.; first ld. of trade and plantations 1702-7.2
J.p. Glos. Salop and Staffs. by 1680-96, Wilts. 1682-96, Som. 1684-96, Som. and Wilts. 1700-d.; commr. for assessment, Glos. and Salop 1673-80, Oxf. Univ. 1677-9, Herefs., Staffs. and Warws. 1677-80, recusants, Oxon. 1675; dep. lt. Staffs. 1678-?87, Som. and Wilts. 1682-3; steward of Sutton Coldfield honour, Warws. 1679-d.; high steward, Tamworth 1681-d., Lichfield 1712-d.; custos rot. Wilts. 1683-96, 1700-6 1711-d.; warden, Forest of Dean and constable of St. Briavels Castle 1712-d.3
Thynne’s father inherited an estate of £4,000 p.a., not very much less than his uncle (by the half-blood) Sir James Thynne, and the two families were soon engaged in a bitter lawsuit. Nevertheless, both were Royalists in the Civil War. The first baronet led his tenants in an attack on the parliamentary garrison of Nantwich, and was sentenced to pay a fine of £7,160. Thynne was recommended by the Duke of York to the Salisbury corporation for a by-election in 1664, but is unlikely to have gone to the poll against the Hon. Edward Hyde. He was appointed to the Duke’s bedchamber in 1666, but later, according to Anthony Ã Wood, he was ‘turned from his service for baseness and ingratitude’. Soon after his marriage, the promotion of his wife’s cousin, Heneage Finch, to the wool-sack caused a vacancy in the parliamentary representation of Oxford University. Thynne stood in the country interest against Sir Christopher Wren. Although as a collector of coins and manuscripts he had been made a fellow of the Royal Society, he was never awarded a degree, even honoris causa; but his devotion to the Church was acceptable to the electors. Wood described him as a hothead and ‘a person much against the King’s interest in Parliament’, but zealous canvassing and an open table for the electors won him the seat. His politics in the Cavalier Parliament were so similar to his cousin’s that their careers at this juncture can hardly be distinguished, but he was probably less active, being marked only ‘worthy’ on Shaftesbury’s list. After the debate on foreign policy on 24 May 1677, he wrote with pleasure to Lord Halifax (Sir George Savile) that ‘several of the Court went with us’ over naming the United Provinces as an ally.4
Thynne was judged to stand little chance of re-election for the university, but his marriage had brought him a strong interest at Weobley, Lichfield and Tamworth, and he served for the latter in the Exclusion Parliaments, making good use of his ‘old stock of mutiny’ with the electors. ‘The elections in the countries are generally good’, he wrote, and Shaftesbury again marked him ‘worthy’; but like Halifax he parted company with the country party over exclusion, acting as teller against the committal of the bill on 21 May 1679. His only committee in the first Exclusion Parliament was to inquire into the shipping of artillery. ‘I have sat in two Parliaments’, he wrote in July, ‘and have had the hard fortune in the first to displease the Court, in the second the country.’ He failed to secure the nomination of the Levant Company for the embassy to Turkey, but when the second Exclusion Parliament met he was moderately active. When Halifax was accused by ‘common fame’ of advising the prorogation of the previous Parliament, he pointed out that ‘common fame’ also reported him to have been out of town at the time. ‘Let common fame be for him as well as against him.’ He acted as teller for the adjournment of the debate, and was appointed to four committees, including those for the removal of Papists from the metropolitan area and the comprehension bill. At the general election of 1681 he was involved in an unresolved double return at Tamworth, and never sat at Oxford.5
Thynne was rewarded for his opposition to exclusion with the peerage that had eluded his cousin, on whose death he inherited a vast estate. He was created Viscount Weymouth, with a special remainder to his brothers and their issue, but his support for the Government was not uncritical. ‘We subsist only by the mercy of France’, he wrote, ‘who have now all Europe in vassalage.’ He was out of the county when the lord lieutenant assembled the Wiltshire justices to give their answers on the repeal of the Test Act and Penal Laws, but does not seem to have been dismissed. He was one of the four peers sent on 11 Dec. 1688 to ask William of Orange to summon a free Parliament. Although he voted for a regency, he took the oaths to the new regime. But he protected non-jurors, ‘who cried him up for a very religious man, which pleased him extremely’. A Tory and a Jacobite suspect under William, he took office under Anne. He died on 28 July 1714 and was buried at Longbridge Deverill. His son Henry, who sat for Weymouth and Tamworth from 1701, had died in 1708, and his heir was his great-nephew. The next member of the family to enter the Lower House was Henry Frederick Thynne, who was returned for Staffordshire in 1757.6
Ref Volumes: 1660-1690
Author: Leonard Naylor
- 1. Mems. St. Margaret’s Westminster, 167.
- 2. Savile Corresp. (Cam. Soc. lxxi), 13, 32; CSP Dom. 1672, p. 655; 1700-2, p. 358.
- 3. CSP Dom. 1679-80, p. 273; 1680-1, p. 653; 1682, p. 356; Luttrell, vi. 46; HMC Portland, iv. 694; Cal. Treas. Bks. xxvi. 340; T. Harwood, Hist. and Antiqs. Lichfield, 438.
- 4. Cal. Comm. Comp. 910-12; Adm. 1745, f. 104; Wood’s Life and Times (Oxf. Hist. Soc. xxi), 279; Williamson Letters (Cam. Soc. n.s. ix), 77; Foxcroft, Halifax, i. 129.
- 5. HMC Le Fleming, 155; HMC Finch, ii. 54-55, 76; iii. 420; Foxcroft, 141, 175; HMC 7th Rep. 478; Grey, viii. 29; CJ, ix. 655.
- 6. Foxcroft, 361; CSP Dom. 1687-9, p. 379; Burnet ed. Routh, iii. 349.