VYVYAN, Sir Richard, 3rd Bt. (c.1676-1724), of Trelowarren, nr. Helston, Cornw.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
Available from Boydell and Brewer



20 Mar. 1701 - 1702
8 Dec. 1703 - 1708
20 Feb. 1712 - 1713

Family and Education

b. c.1676, 1st s. of Charles Vyvyan of Merthen, Cornw. by Mary, da. and coh. of Richard Erisey of Trevena, Cornw.  educ. M. Temple 1694; Exeter, Oxf. matric. 7 July 1694, aged 17, fellow 1696–7.  m. 9 Nov. 1697, Mary (d. 1736), da. and h. of Francis Vivian†, 7s. 4da.  suc. fa. 1686; uncle Sir Vyell Vyvyan, 2nd Bt.†, as 3rd Bt. 24 Feb. 1697.1

Offices Held

Stannator, Penwith and Kerrier 1710.2


The son of a younger son, Vyvyan took an Oxford fellowship, which he resigned on succeeding his uncle to a baronetcy and considerable estates in Cornwall. He stood on the family interest for Mitchell in February 1701, being seated on petition. He left little mark on the session, being given leave of absence on 10 May. Subsequently, he was blacklisted as having opposed preparations for war against France. Returned for Mitchell in December 1701, he was classed as a Tory by Robert Harley* and voted on 26 Feb. 1702 for the motion vindicating the Commons’ proceedings over the impeachment of William III’s ministers. He did not stand in 1702, although one list had him voting on 13 Feb. 1703 against the Lords’ amendments to the bill extending the time permitted for taking the abjuration oath. Certainly, Vyvyan was prominent enough to be returned to the Commons in December 1703 in the by-election for the county to replace Hon. John Granville following his elevation to the peerage. In the following session he was forecast by Harley as a probable supporter of the Tack and duly voted for it on 28 Nov. Having been first-named to a committee on a petition relating to a request for a harbour and lighthouse at Land’s End, he duly reported from the committee on 7 Feb. 1705 and an address recommending a survey of the area was duly agreed upon. On 21 Feb. he recorded his only tellership, against proceeding with a clause to be added to the bill prohibiting trade with France.3

No sooner had Vyvyan been re-elected in 1705 for Cornwall than there was a false report that he had ‘died at his seat there after a short indisposition’. This may relate to another report that Vyvyan had broken his leg. Whatever the cause, he was absent from the division on the choice of Speaker on 25 Oct. 1705. He was classed as ‘True Church’ on one list of that year. According to Joseph Addison* he opposed the motion on 7 Jan. 1707 for a settlement to be made on the Duke of Marlborough (John Churchill†) and his heirs to ‘accompany the title and house at Woodstock’. Again, his inactivity was highlighted in his being given leave of absence for six weeks on 16 Dec. 1707. Early in 1708 he was classed as a Tory. At the 1710 convocation of tinners he played a leading part in opposition to Hugh Boscawen II*, the lord warden of the Stannaries.4

Although perceived as ‘a very fit person to serve this county’, Vyvyan stood down at the 1710 election. However, he supported the two Tory candidates for the shire, George Granville* and John Trevanion*, signing the circular letter in their support. When Granville was raised to the peerage as Lord Lansdown, Vyvyan succeeded him as knight of the shire at the by-election in February 1712. In July Lansdown wrote to Lord Oxford (Harley) asking for the place of collector of the customs at Helston for ‘a particular friend of Sir Richard Vyvyan as well as mine, and of great use to us both in that county’. Around this time Trevanion thought Vyvyan able to return three members at the next election, two for Mitchell and one for Helston. In the 1713 session Vyvyan managed through the House a private bill to sell part of the estates of Sir Bourchier Wrey, 5th Bt.* He spoke and voted for the French commerce bill on 18 June. Indeed, one later report attributed the very fact of a division on that day to Vyvyan’s speech wherein he defended the treaty as ‘admirably calculated for the advantage of England’ and thereby provoked a long debate.5

Shortly, after the end of the 1713 session and no doubt with an eye on the impending elections, Lansdown wrote to Oxford on 18 July:

You will give me leave . . . to offer to you the opportunity of obliging Sir Richard Vyvyan in a high degree by giving his brother, who is a very honest and very sensible gentleman, Mr [Richard] Steele’s place in the stamp office which he has resigned. You could not engage him to you at a cheaper rate and it is absolutely necessary at this time that he should appear active in your service. If your lordship would please to make this compliment as from yourself, it would infinitely engage him.

Eventually, Vyvyan’s brother, Charles, was appointed in January 1714. Vyvyan again stood down at the 1713 election, but was active in the Tory campaign. In 1715 he seems to have left his decision to stand rather late and was baulked at Helston by the belief that the sheriff would send the writ to the borough’s Whig mayor. Like Lansdown, Vyvyan was arrested on suspicion of high treason in September 1715, and was sent to Plymouth Fort after the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act. There he was held without trial, without being allowed to see the warrant under which he was committed and was refused bail. In 1721 he was one of those thought likely by Jacobites to assist in the event of a rising. He died on 12 Oct. 1724.6

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Authors: Eveline Cruickshanks / Stuart Handley


  • 1. Vivian, Vis. Cornw. 531.
  • 2. Add. 6713, f. 214.
  • 3. Speck thesis, 63.
  • 4. Folger Shakespeare Lib. Newdigate newsletter 16 June 1705; Bodl. Rawl. D.863, ff. 89–90; Bull. IHR, xxxvii. 24; Lot 455 sold at Sotheby’s, 21 July 1980, Addison to George Stepney, 7 Jan. 1706[–7]; R. Inst. Cornw. Tonkin’s mss hist. ii. 246, 255.
  • 5. Cornw. RO, Buller mss BO/23/63/3, John Buller I* to [–], 23 Oct. 1710; Add. 70099, circular letter; 70314–15, Trevanion’s list; HMC Portland, v. 198; Orig. Pprs. ed. Macpherson, ii. 420.
  • 6. Add. 70229, Lansdown to Oxford, 18 July 1713; Cal. Treas. Bks. xxviii. 79; Bodl. Ballard 18, ff. 71–72; Morice mss at Bank of Eng., Walter Moyle* to Humphry Morice*, 26 Sept. 1715, [Sir Nicholas Morice] to same, 7 Oct. 1715; P. S. Fritz, Ministers and Jacobitism 1715–45, 147.