VINCENT, William (c.1615-61), of London.

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. c.1615, 1st s. of Francis Vincent, chapman, of Weedon, Northants. by Elizabeth, da. of Edward Langham of Guilsborough, Northants. m. (1) lic. 7 June 1644, aged 29, Rebecca, da. of Thomas Ferrers, merchant, of London, (2) Rebecca, da. of Richard Chambers, Girdler, of London; 2s. 4da. Kntd. May 1660.1

Offices Held

Member, Grocers’ Co. c.1639, warden 1661-d.; member, Hon. Artillery Co. 1640, v.-pres. 1661-d.; asst. Levant Co. 1645-50, husband 1650-9, dep.-gov. 1659-d.; committee, E.I. Co. 1654-d., commr. for assessment, London 1657, Jan. 1660-d., common councilman 1657-8, 1661-d., alderman 1658-9, commr. for militia 1659, Mar. 1660, col. blue regt. of militia ft. Mar. 1661-d.2

Treas. of poll-tax Sept. 1660-1.


Vincent would hardly have figured among the Northamptonshire gentry in 1619 if the herald responsible for the visitation had not been his uncle, Augustine Vincent. But his mercantile career owed more to the other side of the family. John Langham was his mother’s brother, and in 1631 he was apprenticed to another kinsman, Thomas Langham, a London Grocer. He set up in business as a linen-draper before the Civil War, and first became a stockholder in the East India Company in 1640. He was also one of the most influential members of the Levant Company, an active member of the court of common council, and a member of the committees administering the city lands and the Ulster plantation. On 23 Sept. 1659 Vincent was deputed by the common council to confer with General Charles Fleetwood and William Lenthall about the safety of the City and the settlement of the nation ‘in a way of a free Parliament’. He signed the petition for a free Parliament and was one of those chosen to present it to the Rump. In January 1660 he was one of the three commissioners empowered to treat with George Monck in the name of the City. The Council of State on 6 Feb. 1660 ordered his arrest on suspicion of high treason together with Thomas Bludworth, but he was released from the Tower on the return of the secluded Members.3

On 2 Mar. Vincent was appointed to the committee to prepare the London petition against the excise, and he was returned unopposed later in the month. Even before the Convention met, he helped to obtain an order to the customs officials for stricter enforcement of the Levant Company’s monopoly. He was one of the four London aldermen who advanced half of the £50,000 to be presented to the King in Holland, and was knighted as one of the commissioners who presented the City’s reply to the Declaration of Breda. He appears in Lord Wharton’s list of friends. A moderately active Member of the Convention, he was appointed to 18 committees, most of them dealing with the imposition or better collection of taxes. He acted as teller in three divisions, and made five recorded speeches. On 18 June, in a debate on the bill of indemnity, he seconded a motion that all Members who had sat on the high court of justice should withdraw. Three days later he supported the plea of William Wilde for mitigation of the poll-tax on the corporation and companies of London. On 14 July he was appointed one of the treasurers of the tax. He was teller on 21 July against receiving a petition from intruded ministers, and five days later for granting the King tunnage and poundage for life instead of for the continuance of the Act only. On 18 Aug. he reported to the House that the lord mayor and common council had agreed to lend £100,000 for the disbandment of the army. After the recess he was appointed to the committee for the militia bill. On 19 Nov. he seconded a motion that the King’s loss of revenue through the abolition of the court of wards should be made up by way of a land tax rather than by an excise on beer and ale. He proposed a bill to prevent inconveniences from smuggling, but it was not reported. He supported the proposal on 10 Dec. to reimburse the city of London for the expenses of the sitting of Parliament and for that of the King’s entry into London.4

Vincent was congratulated by Lord Winchilsea, newly elected ambassador to Turkey on his ‘vigilance and success’ in the suppression of the Fifth Monarchist rising in January 1661; but he did not stand for re-election. He died later in the same year as warden-elect of the Grocers’ Company, his will being proved on 23 Sept. His sons died unmarried without making any mark in politics or commerce.5

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Authors: M. W. Helms / Eveline Cruickshanks


  • 1. Vis. Northants. ed. Metcalfe, 150; Le Neve’s Knights (Harl. Soc. viii), 48; Guildhall RO, 10091/24; B. Wilkinson, Antique Rems. of St. Martin Outwich, plate xi.
  • 2. J. R. Woodhead, Rulers of London, 168; Ancient Vellum Bk. ed. Raikes 58; G. A. Raikes, Hist. Hon Artillery Co. ii. 475; Merc. Pol. 29 Mar. 1660.
  • 3. Cal. Ct. Mins. E.I. Co. ed. Sainsbury, ii. 33-34, 68; Guildhall RO, common council jnl.; CSP Dom. 1659-60, p. 417.
  • 4. CSP Dom. 1659-60, p. 570; Add. 1660-85, p. 16; CJ, viii. 20, 97, 191; R. R. Sharpe, London and the Kingdom, ii. 379; Bowman diary, ff. 4v, 20, 149v; Old Parl. Hist. xxiii. 12, 18, 21, 46.
  • 5. HMC Finch, i. 113; PCC 146 May.