YARBURGH, Sir Thomas (1637-c.1716), of Snaith, Yorks.

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. 19 Aug. 1637, 1st s. of Nicholas Yarburgh of Snaith by Faith, da. of John Dawnay of Cowick. educ. Jesus, Camb. 1653; I. Temple 1655; travelled abroad (France) 1659. m. Feb. 1664, Henrietta Maria, da. and coh. of Thomas Blagge of Horningsheath, Suff., 8s. (5 d.v.p.) 6da. suc. fa. 1655; kntd. 8 May 1663.1

Offices Held

J.p. Yorks (W. Riding) June 1660-Sept. 1688, Nov. 1688-?96; commr. for sewers, Hatfield chase Aug. 1660, assessment (W. Riding) 1661-80, 1689-90, dep. lt. 1664-77, sheriff, Yorks. 1673-4, commr. for recusants 1675; maj. of militia ft. (W. Riding) by 1677; freeman, Preston 1682; capt. of militia horse (W. Riding) by 1684-Sept. 1688.2


Yarburgh was descended from a knight of the shire for Lincolnshire in 1325, but they were not a regular parliamentary family. His grandfather settled in Yorkshire in Elizabethan times, and his father, a royalist commissioner of array in the Civil War, compounded for £600 on an estate estimated at £292 p.a. After travelling on the Continent with his cousin Sir John Reresby, he returned to Yorkshire before the Restoration, signing the declaration for a free Parliament in February 1660. His marriage to the sister-in-law of Sidney Godolphin I enabled him to place his son and daughter at Court, and as early as October 1681 he was seeking support for his candidature at Pontefract, about twelve miles from his home, as a man ‘of true principles of loyalty to our good King and fidelity to the established Church’. Lord Halifax (Sir George Savile) was apparently unable to obtain for him a grant of the crown property in York; but his name was used for the fictitious ‘farm’ of the hearth-tax that enabled collection to continue without parliamentary authority after the death of Charles II, and it was reported locally several months later that he had ‘got a great place, worth about £1,000 a year’. He wrote to William Lowther:

Our sorrows are much abated by the great assurances King James hath given his Council to govern by the laws to maintain the Protestant religion and to follow the steps of his worthy brother as the best pattern.3

With the assistance, no doubt, of Halifax Yarburgh was returned unopposed for Pontefract at the general election of 1685 together with his uncle Lord Downe (John Dawnay). A moderately active Member of James II’s Parliament, he was appointed to the committees for the bills to suppress hawkers and pedlars and to prevent the import of gunpowder and for a naturalization bill. In August 1688 he gave negative replies to the questions concerning the repeal of the Test Act and Penal Laws, although the King’s agents reported in September that he and his uncle would be returned for Pontefract, and ‘’tis concluded they will comply with your Majesty, though they were cautious in discovering their opinions to some gentlemen, being strangers to them’. Evidently the King did not agree, since Yarburgh was among those dismissed from the West Riding commission of the peace in September. When Sir Henry Goodricke proposed to a meeting of the Yorkshire gentry on 22 Nov. to petition for a free Parliament, Yarburgh was among those who wished to moderate some of the expressions, and to include an assurance ‘to stand by the King in these dangers which threatened both him and his kingdom with our lives and fortunes’. He was re-elected to the Convention, presumably as a Tory, although he did not vote to agree with the Lords that the throne was not vacant. He made no recorded speeches, and was not appointed to any committees. He did not stand again, and his will was proved at York on 12 Apr. 1716. No later member of the family entered Parliament.4

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Authors: Paula Watson / Basil Duke Henning


  • 1. Clay, Dugdale’s Vis. Yorks. iii. 65-66; HMC Heathcote, 144; Evelyn Diary, iv. 64.
  • 2. C181/7/20; Add. 29674 f. 160; Yale Lib. Osborn mss; Preston Guild Rolls (Lancs. and Cheshire Rec. Soc. ix), 198.
  • 3. Royalist Composition Pprs. (Yorks. Arch. Soc. rec. ser. xx), 1; Reresby Mems. 27, 245, 345; CSP Dom. July-Sept. 1683, p. 225; 1684-5, p. 187; Yorks. Arch. Soc. Lib. Skaife mss 371 (1), f. 144; Leeds Central Lib., Mexborough mss 18/33, 50, 52; Cal. Treas. Bks. vii. 1523; viii. 11; information from Prof. C. D. Chandaman.
  • 4. Reresby Mems. 528, 584; Stowe 746, f. 94; Clay, 65; Mexborough mss 18/23.