BAYNTUN, Sir Edward (1593-1657), of Bromham House, Bromham, Wilts.; later of Avebury and Spye Park, Wilts.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



1640 (Apr.)
1640 (Nov.)

Family and Education

bap. 5 Sept. 1593,1o.s. of Sir Henry Bayntun* and Lucy, da. of Sir John Danvers† of Dauntsey, Wilts.2 educ. Christ Church, Oxf. 1610.3 m.(1) by 1616 (with £2,000),4Elizabeth (d. 30 Mar. 1635),5da. of Sir Henry Maynard† of Easton, Essex, 4s. incl. Edward† and Henry†, 2da.;6(2) Mary, sis. of Nicholas Bowell of Cokethorpe, Oxon., 2s. incl. Nicholas†, 1da.;7 1s. and 1 other ch. illegit. with Katherine Gerrard, 1s. illegit. with Anne Hardy.8 suc. fa. 1616;9kntd. 22 Oct. 1613.10 d.18 Dec. 1657.11 sig. Ed[ward] Baynton/Bayntun

Offices Held

Burgess, Devizes, Wilts. Mar. 1614, member of the Twelve, Sept. 1614, common councilman by 1621-at least 1626;12j.p. Wilts. 1619-1642, by 1650,13Devizes 1640-d.;14commr. subsidy, Wilts. 1621, 1624, 1626, 1629,15to survey lands of Wotton-under-Edge sch., Glos. 1629,16 knighthood fines, Wilts. 1630-2,17repair of St. Paul’s Cathedral 1633;18dep. lt. Wilts. by 1626-at least 1631, col. militia horse by 1626;19sheriff 1637-8.20

Cdr. (parl.) Oct.1642-Jan. 1643.21


On succeeding to his father’s estates in 1616, Bayntun became one of the wealthiest members of Wiltshire’s landed gentry.22His 1629 tax assessment (£30 in lands) was among the highest in the county, and he kept 1,000 sheep on one manor alone.23 During the late 1650s and early 1660s the Wiltshire estate yielded the Bayntuns an annual income of between £1,800 and £2,000.24 Bayntun’s principal manors of Bromham and Bromham Battle, with 91 tenant families between them, were located in north-west Wiltshire.25Bromham house was palatial, and reputedly cost £15,000 to build. Not surprisingly, it received several royal visits during the late 1610s and early 1620s while James I was on summer progress.26

The Bayntuns’ landholdings generally ensured that each generation could represent the county in Parliament, but failing the availability of this honour they were guaranteed a seat at one of several nearby boroughs. Bayntun began his parliamentary career in 1614 when, despite being technically under-age, he entered the Commons for Devizes. His sole committee appointment in this Parliament was to confirm letters patent made to his cousin Sir John Danvers* for property in Gloucestershire (31 May).27 Bayntun was subsequently elected knight of the shire in 1621, when he probably also used his influence to secure a seat at Chippenham for his brother-in-law John Maynard.28 Once again, he was named to just one committee. This was to consider a measure to permit the building of a bridge crossing the Avon at Tewksbury (19 May), the cost of which was estimated at £3,000. His only other contribution to the proceedings of the House was to move for ‘the bill of the Palatine’ (15 Feb.), a reference, perhaps to the bill to naturalize the Elector Palatine, which had successfully completed its passage through both Houses in 1614 but had not been enacted.29 His contribution to the work of later parliaments was no more pronounced. In 1624 he was again named to a single committee. Dominated by Wiltshiremen, it was appointed to consider the bill to confirm the lands of Thomas Redferne (17 March).30 He and his parliamentary colleague John Kent were paid a total of £28 towards their expenses following this Parliament.31 Bayntun is not mentioned in the records of the 1625 Parliament. Three days into the 1626 Parliament he was granted leave, apparently in respect of his duties as a deputy lieutenant for Wiltshire. He evidently failed to return as expected, however, for on 2 June he was listed as absent without excuse.32

Outside Parliament, Bayntun’s private life was a catalogue of litigation, self-interest and dissoluteness. His claims to the right of common in the royal Wiltshire forests of Pewsham and Blackmore led to him being summoned in 1613 before the Exchequer Court for trespass.33As a result of an argument with one Mr. Duns in January 1620 it was rumoured that the pair would attempt to ‘cross the seas to fight’. News of the intended duel reached the duke of Lennox, who ordered them to be stopped if they tried to pass through the Cinque Ports.34 Bayntun’s intention to fight was not merely the product of youthful exuberance: as late as August 1641 he duelled with a fellow Member, Richard Rogers, and received ‘so dangerous a hurt in his body that it was reported he was dead’.35 In July 1623 he and a tenant were accused of supplying a London poulterer with rotten conies and of refusing to return an advance payment for them.36 Two years later he was charged before the High Commission with having seduced his wife’s 15 year-old maid. He subsequently fathered two illegitimate children by her, having promised marriage when his wife should die. Bayntun deserted the girl in 1629, and at least one other child and several mistresses were brought to light after her father petitioned for relief, but he secured a royal pardon for these adulteries in the following December.37

Bayntun quarrelled frequently with members of his family, the local gentry and his own estate workers. In 1628 he was involved in a drawn out dispute over the settlement of Bremhill manor, worth £700 p.a., together with other properties in which his mother, Lucy, had been granted a life interest by his father. After her death in 1621 Bayntun claimed that Lucy, being ‘sickly, feeble and weak’, had been induced to move in with her nephew Sir John Danvers, who had subsequently tricked out of her personal estate worth £6,000. In his defence, Sir John and his uncle Charles Danvers* claimed that Lucy had transferred her estate to them while still living in Bremhill because Bayntun had treated her cruelly in her widowhood and had stripped the manor house of all its furnishings.38Bayntun proved only partly successful in pressing his claims, as Charles Danvers possessed some of these disputed properties at his death in 1626.39 His treatment of tenants was similarly disreputable. He evicted a leaseholder from Bromham farm in 1630 for being two weeks late in paying rent, then refused to acknowledge the claims of other creditors who might have been satisfied by the sale of the tenant’s confiscated farm equipment and produce. Writs were issued against Bayntun although the plaintiffs feared his ‘displeasure’, but on this occasion judgment went against him and he was forced to pay £24 to one of the claimants.40 Another suit involved his estate manager, Robert Chivers, who had borrowed £500 from him even though the money had been spent on Bayntun’s own estate. Chivers was forced to borrow £550 to repay the loan, and when, soon after, he left Bayntun’s employ the latter broke into his house and removed 22 hundredweight of hops and other goods. On being sued for the recovery of these goods, Bayntun convinced the local justices to imprison Chivers for debt. At the ensuing trial he also ensured that several of his tenants served on the jury, which appraised Chivers’s estate at £200 even though the court was told it was worth over £500.41 In 1629 Bayntun was sued by the family of the deceased rector of Rodbourne Cheney over 26 years’ worth of unpaid tithes.42

Bayntun displayed a marked lack of respect for authority. In 1627 he agreed to pay the Forced Loan only if he could deduct from his assessment £100, which he claimed the Crown owed him. In 1631 the sheriff of Wiltshire ordered him to muster at Warminster with 100 pike and muskets to help evict farmers from Selwood Forest, an engagement that erupted into a week-long riot which was suppressed only after cannon was brought up from Bristol. Although a deputy lieutenant, Bayntun refused, claiming that ‘he did not much fancy that work’.43 Later that same year he obstructed the work of a government agent, Anthony Wither, sent to the western counties to examine the manufacture and sale of cloths.44 Wither’s recommendations led to increased competition in the local clothing market, which did not suit Bayntun, whose estates produced large quantities of wool, and in 1632 he was among those accused of throwing Wither into the Avon at Bradford. The Privy Council was so appalled that it encouraged Wither to proceed against Bayntun in Star Chamber.45The outcome of this suit, which was pending as late as 1637, is unknown, but the vindictive Bayntun was among the justices who found against Wither when the latter’s own conduct was questioned at the quarter sessions in July 1633.46In 1639 Bayntun refused to contribute towards the cost of the First Bishops’ War.47 His reputation as a litigious and unco-operative individual may have weighed against him in his unsuccessful bid to purchase the knight marshal’s office in 1629. On this occasion his wife perceptively commented that ‘you love such places of command for then you can command anywhere’.48

As sheriff of Wiltshire in 1637-8 Bayntun behaved with his customary heavy-handedness. When Sir Edward Hungerford* challenged his Ship Money assessment, Bayntun took four of his horses. Hungerford forcibly recovered them and had Bayntun’s bailiff sent to Sir Francis Seymour* to explain his actions.49In 1639, after his commission had expired, Bayntun pretended authority from the Privy Council to distrain a horse from Seymour. He also fell out with Sir Walter Long II* after the latter was over-assessed for Ship Money by the constable of Melksham hundred. Long had the constable sent to the Fleet, and Bayntun’s petition to the Council was unable to secure his release.50 While suing for redress, Long stated of Bayntun that ‘there is not anything which malice can suggest but will be put in practice by him’.51 Yet, despite his best efforts, Bayntun was only able to collect £1,254 of the £2,200 demanded.52 Following his election for Chippenham to the Long Parliament, Bayntun’s conduct in collecting ShipMoney was debated by the committee for privileges, while the legitimacy of his return was disputed by Sir Francis Seymour. Bayntun’s under-sheriff, bailiff and two collectors were sent for as delinquents, but Bayntun himself was allowed to retain his place even though he had reportedly interfered with witnesses brought up from Wiltshire.53

On the outbreak of war Bayntun became commander of the parliamentary forces in Wiltshire.54 He quarrelled again with Sir Edward Hungerford, his fellow parliamentarian, and in 1642 each man successively arrested and escaped from the other. Hungerford subsequently accused Bayntun of negligence for not relieving the Cirencester garrison and in turn was accused of cowardice. In an anonymous open letter it was suggested that Bayntun ‘has lorded it with such an exquisite tyranny that he has converted more to the king’s side by persecution than I have been able to win either by my rhetoric or reason; so that many of our inhabitants whom his cruelty found rebellious, it has rendered royal’.55Parliament supported Hungerford in this dispute, appointing him commander in Bayntun’s place in January 1643.56 Disgraced, Bayntun retired in the following July to the Isle of Wight, where one observer was so appalled by his coarse behaviour that he declared that ‘no man has a fouler mouth or worse tongue’.57 Having first solicited the help of Sir Lewis Dyve* and Robert Long, he made overtures to Edward Hyde†to secure a pardon for himself and his son-in-law Hugh Rogers†.58Regarded with suspicion by his own side, Bayntun was arrested in August and sent to the Tower for a month.59 His attempts to find favour with the king failed to prevent the royalist soldiers billeted there from setting fire to Bromham House in 1645 to forestall its future use as a parliamentarian base.60

After the loss of Bromham House Bayntun’s place of residence is uncertain, for his other main house, at Bremhill, had also been destroyed by royalist forces.61 By 1651 he had settled in nearby Avebury, where he had bought the manor house.62 Bayntun lived here until his death while overseeing the building of Bromham House’s replacement, Spye Park.63In his will, made on 31 Oct. 1657, he confirmed a grant of £200 p.a. which had earlier been made to his son Henry from the profits of Bromham, the deeds having been destroyed in the 1645 fire. Nicholas, his son from his second marriage, was left £500 while another son, Robert, inherited Avebury manor, having already been assigned other lands.64Bayntun’s wife Mary evidently shared an interest in this property for she was described in her widowhood as the largest landowner in the parish.65 Although his will made few concessions to his puritanism, he had ensured that a Presbyterian minister was settled in Bremhill, while the minister installed at Bromham was a Congregationalist.66Bayntun died on 18 Dec. following and was buried in the family vault at Bromham, where an effigy was erected to his memory. Three of his sons succeeded him in Parliament, all of whom sat for either Chippenham or Devizes. Most prominent of these was Sir Edward, who had assisted Bayntun during the Civil War as a colonel of the local mounted militia and was considered among the more radical Members of the Long Parliament.67

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: Henry Lancaster / Andrew Thrush


  • 1. Burke LG, ii. 1293.
  • 2. Vis. Wilts. (Harl. Soc. cv-cvi), 8; H. Bayntun-Coward, Fam. of Bayntun, ped. We are grateful for the kind hospitality given by Mr. Bayntun-Coward while this biography was being researched.
  • 3. Al. Ox.
  • 4. SP16/151/41; PROB 11/115, f. 312v.
  • 5. Burke Dorm. and Extinct Baronetcies, 453.
  • 6. Vis. Wilts. 8.
  • 7. HP Commons 1660-90, i. 610; C5/125/7.
  • 8. SP16/151/41.
  • 9. PROB 11/128, f. 399v.
  • 10. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 153.
  • 11. MI, Bromham church.
  • 12. Wilts. RO, G20/1/16, ff. 272, 275; G20/1/17, ff. 1v, 41.
  • 13. C231/4, f. 87; 231/5, f. 529; The Names of the JPs ... Michaelmas Terme 1650, p. 61.
  • 14. Wilts. RO, G20/1/17, f. 139v; C231/5, f. 460.
  • 15. C212/22/21, 23; E115/237/126; Add. 34566, f. 132.
  • 16. LJ, iv. 18a.
  • 17. E178/5702, ff. 4, 8, 12; 178/7154, f. 185v.
  • 18. GL, ms 25475/1, f. 11v.
  • 19. Procs. 1626, ii. 339-40; SP16/91/84; CSP Dom. 1631-3, p. 193.
  • 20. List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 154.
  • 21. VCH Wilts. x. 228.
  • 22. PROB 11/128, f. 399v; STAC 8/75/12.
  • 23. E179/199/401; VCH Wilts. vii. 195.
  • 24. Wilts. RO, 754/156.
  • 25. Wilts. RO, 122.
  • 26. Harl. 1580, f. 316; Wilts. N and Q, iii. 131; CSP Dom. 1619-23, pp. 169-70; 1623-5, pp. 37-9; G.P.V. Akrigg, Letters of Jas. VI and I, 418-20; Shaw, ii. 169.
  • 27. Procs. 1614 (Commons), 395.
  • 28. J. Gruenfelder, Early Stuart Elections, 95.
  • 29. CJ, i. 521b, 609b.
  • 30. Ibid. 688a.
  • 31. Wilts. RO, G20/1/17, f. 29.
  • 32. Procs. 1626, ii. 339-40; iii. 346.
  • 33. SP14/198/21; 14/195/2; CSP Dom. 1623-25, p. 575.
  • 34. CSP Dom. 1619-23, p. 114.
  • 35. Nicholas Papers ed. G.F. Warner (Cam. Soc. n.s. xl), i. 5-6.
  • 36. C3/335/73.
  • 37. SP16/151/40-1; 16/153/27.
  • 38. Reg. St. Martin-in-the-Fields ed. J.V. Kitto, 166; C2/Chas.I/B126/60; 2/Chas.I/B53/50; 2/Chas.I/B111/59; PROB 11/139, ff. 25-6.
  • 39. PROB 11/152, f.114.
  • 40. C2/Chas.I/D14/37; 2/Chas.I/D62/80; 2/Chas.I/S54/51.
  • 41. C2/Chas.I/C9/54.
  • 42. C2/Chas.I/E19/13.
  • 43. CSP Dom. 1631-3, pp. 192-3; VCH Wilts. v. 131; A.G.C. Allen, ‘Rising in the West 1628-31’, EcHR (ser. 2), v. 76-85.
  • 44. SP16/174/94.
  • 45. CSP Dom. 1631-3, pp. 312, 326; VCH Wilts. iv. 154; SP16/206/56; 16/243/23; 216/33; PC2/41, pp. 293, 326-7, 519; 2/42, pp. 29, 37, 229.
  • 46. CSP Dom. 1636-7, p. 429; Wilts. RO, A1/150/5, unfol.
  • 47. Historical Collections ed. J. Rushworth, iii. 912.
  • 48. SP16/151/41.
  • 49. SP16/407/41; Jnl. of Sir Simonds D’Ewes ed. W. Notestein, 141-2, 176-7.
  • 50. SP16/422/45; VCH Wilts. v. 131.
  • 51. SP16/417/45.
  • 52. M.D. Gordon, ‘Collection of Ship Money in the Reign of Chas. I’, TRHS, xx. 161; Wilts. Arch. Mag. lxxxiv. 128; VCH Wilts. v. 133.
  • 53. CJ, ii. 65a, 68a, 81a.
  • 54. Wilts. Arch. Mag. Lib., Devizes, Hungerford ms, ii. 280.
  • 55. Wilts. Arch. Mag. Lib., Devizes, A Letter from Devizes to a Friend in Salisbury, Showing the Condition of the Town, the affliction of the Inhabitants, and the behaviour of Sir Edward Bayntun.
  • 56. Wilts. Arch. Mag. Lib., Devizes, Wilts. Tracts. lxvi. 164; CJ, ii. 928a; LJ, v. 587b; A. and O. i. 60-1, 74-6.
  • 57. Bodl., Tanner 62, f. 313.
  • 58. Bodl., Clarendon 22, f. 1722.
  • 59. CJ, iii. 218a, 247b.
  • 60. CSP Dom. 1654, p. 43.
  • 61. CSP Dom. 1654, p. 43.
  • 62. Wilts. RO, 248/161; 184/4; 473/52.
  • 63. Wilts. RO, 473/52; C.H. Talbot, ‘Notes on Spye Park and Bromham’, Wilts. Arch. Mag. xv. 321-4.
  • 64. Wilts. RO, 248/161.
  • 65. J. Aubrey, Top. Collections, 331.
  • 66. A.G. Matthews, Calamy Revised, 282.
  • 67. G. Yule, Independents in Eng. Civil War, 131.