PASTON, Hon. William (c.1654-1732), of Oxnead, Norf. and Turnham Green, Chiswick, Mdx.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer



18 Feb. 1678
Mar. 1679
Oct. 1679

Family and Education

b. c.1654, 1st s. of Robert Paston, 1st Earl of Yarmouth, and bro. of Hon. Robert Paston. educ. Trinity Coll. Camb. 1669; travelled abroad (France) 1671. m. (1) 17 July 1672, Charlotte (d. 29 July 1684), illegit. da. of Charles II, wid. of James Howard of Turnham Green, 3s. d.v.p. 2da.; (2) 10 Mar. 1687, Elizabeth (d. 23 Jan. 1730), da. of Sir Dudley North I, 4th Lord North, wid. of Sir Robert Wiseman, dean of the arches, s.p. styled Lord Paston 30 July 1679; suc. fa. as 2nd Earl of Yarmouth 8 Mar. 1683.

Offices Held

J.p. and dep. lt. Norf. 1676-89, col. of militia horse 1676-Oct. 1688; commr. for assessment, Norf. 1677-80, Norwich 1679-80; freeman, Norwich 1678, recorder 1683-9; high steward, Gt. Yarmouth 1683-9; jt. ld. lt. Wilts. Mar.-Dec. 1688, custos rot. June 1688-90; v.-adm. Norf. Jan.-Apr. 1719.

Capt. indep. tp. 1685.

Treasurer of the Household 1687-9.

FRS 1722.


Described by his father as a ‘very solid young blade’ who ‘understands matters with a quick intelligence’, Paston married an illegitimate daughter of Charles II, who with the Duke of York acted as godfather to his eldest son. His wife received a pension of £500 p.a. In February 1678 he successfully contested a by-election at Norwich. Shaftesbury marked him ‘thrice vile’, and his name was included in both government and opposition lists of court supporters. An inactive Member he was appointed to six committees, including those on the bills to reform the collection of the hearth-tax and to prevent the export of wool. The friendship between his family and Danby, whose wife was his mother’s cousin, doubtless helped him to procure a patent to print all briefs, publications, mandates, indentures and bonds in May 1678, and in September he was granted a pension of £1,000 p.a. for ten years out of the rent paid by his father for the wood farm. In the final session of the Cavalier Parliament he was named to the committee of elections and privileges and to the inquiry into the knocking heard in Old Palace Yard.1

Paston was re-elected to the Exclusion Parliaments, classed as ‘vile’ by Shaftesbury, and included in the ‘unanimous club’. He remained inactive in 1679, with only three committees, those for reforming the collection of hearth-tax, for continuing the ban on Irish cattle, and for investigating the Post Office. He voted against exclusion, and was denounced as an Abhorrer in November 1680. Later in the second Exclusion Parliament he defaulted on a call of the House, and he was probably also absent from the Oxford Parliament.2

In 1682 Paston assisted his father in efforts to secure the surrender of the Norwich charter. Despite opposition from some members of the corporation he was appointed recorder, which involved him in a long dispute with the citizens. As high steward of Yarmouth he was also active in supporting the attempts to secure the surrender of its charter, and he was appointed lord lieutenant of Wiltshire in order to overcome the resistance of Lord Pembroke (Thomas Herbert) to the regulators. Initially a non-juror after the Revolution, he was twice imprisoned, but in 1696 he made his peace with the new regime and took his place in the Upper House. His son Charles was returned for Thetford in 1699, but died before him. He himself died on Christmas Day 1732, aged 78, when all his titles became extinct, and his heavily encumbered estates had to be sold.3

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Authors: Paula Watson / Basil Duke Henning


  • 1. R. W. Ketton-Cremer, Norf. Portraits, 37, 50-51; Lysons, Environs, ii. 203; HMC 6th Rep. 390; Cal. Treas. Bks. v. 1117; CSP Dom. 1678, pp. 156, 188-9; Add. 27447, f. 384.
  • 2. Add. 36988, ff. 149-50; 27447, f. 425; HMC Lothian, 127.
  • 3. CSP Dom. July-Sept. 1683, pp. 104-5, 150, 292; 1683-4, pp. 171, 325, 363; Add. 27447, ff. 137, 262-3; H. Swinden, Hist. Yarmouth, 317, 329; Ketton-Cremer, 53-56; Luttrell, iv. 144; Prideaux Corresp. (Cam. Soc. n.s. xv), 200.