SLINGSBY, Sir William (1563-1638), of Scriven, nr. Knaresborough, Yorks. and The Strand, Westminster; later of Kippax, Yorks.

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



Family and Education

b. 29 Jan. 1563, 7th but 3rd surv. s. of Francis Slingsby† of Scriven and his 2nd w. Mary, da. of Sir Thomas Percy of Prudhoe, Northumb.;1 bro. of Sir Henry*. educ. Barnard’s Inn; G. Inn 1582; travelled abroad (Italy) 1594; vol. Islands Voyage 1597.2 m. 13 May 1616, Elizabeth, da. of Sir Stephen Boord of Boord Hill, Cuckfield, Suss., 3s. (2 d.v.p.), 2da. (1 d.v.p.).3 kntd. 23 July 1603.4 bur. 13 June 1638. sig. W[illiam] Slyngisbie.

Offices Held

Commissary-gen. of munitions, Cadiz expedition 1596.5

Carver, Anne of Denmark’s Household 1603-19.6

J.p. Yorks. (W. Riding) 1603-16, Mdx. 1615-d., Westminster 1634-d.;7 commr. inquiry, Mdx. 1616, 1622, new bldgs., 1617, 1624, musters, 1617-20, survey, L. Inn Fields, Mdx. 1618, Westminster 1634, subsidy, Westminster and Mdx. 1621-2, 1624-5, nuisances, Mdx. 1624-5, recusants, Northern parts 1628-d., assizes, co. Dur. 1632-d., sewers, Westminster 1634, Mdx. 1637, porters, London 1638.8

Patentee, furnaces for smelting glass and metal with coal 1610-11.9

Commr. poor prisoners 1624, exacted fees 1627, 1630.10


Something of a dilettante, Slingsby appears to have begun training for a legal career, but by 1594 he was travelling in Italy, where the Spanish authorities arrested him. On returning to England he sought military adventure, serving under the 2nd earl of Essex at Cadiz in 1596 and on the Islands voyage the following year, before hastening home with his ‘dearest friend’ Sir George Carew II* to take up the parliamentary seat his father had arranged for him before his departure.11

Slingsby was knighted at James’s coronation and given a position as carver to Queen Anne of Denmark. Despite lord president Sheffield’s efforts to secure a parliamentary nomination at Knaresborough, Slingsby and his elder brother were returned there in 1604, although, as usual, Slingsby left little trace on the Commons’ records. During the first session, he was one of the large delegation ordered to attend the conference with the Lords at which the king laid out his initial proposals for the Union with Scotland (14 Apr.) and he was also named to the committee for the bill confirming the charter of Berwick-upon-Tweed (16 May). In the 1605-6 session he was named to the committee for three estate bills, one of which enabled (Sir) John Hotham* to make a jointure for any wife he might marry while still underage (25 Jan. 1606), and in the following session, he was named to a committee for a bill intended to void the ecclesiastical Canons of 1604 (11 Dec. 1606). On 15 Feb. 1610 he was ordered to attend the conference with the Lords at which lord treasurer Salisbury (Robert Cecil†) unveiled his plans for the Great Contract, but he played no further part in the important debates that ensued.12

While Slingsby gave no perceptible assistance to Salisbury’s plans, he clearly avoided causing the lord treasurer any offence, as only five days into the summer recess he and a number of others were granted a 21-year monopoly of the smelting of glass and metals in coal-fired furnaces. Prospects for this patent looked good, as Slingsby had personal experience of mining in the Northumberland coalfields, and numbered a Mint official among his partners. However, he soon discovered that ‘our business hath as yet but slow progressions’, and six months later, with a new glass patent about to be granted to Sir Robert Mansell*, he passed his interest to Carew.13 Slingsby did not stand at the 1614 general election, when the Knaresborough seat went instead to the diplomat William Beecher, whose father had handled Slingsby’s finances during his continental travels. Although by now well into middle age, he suddenly decided to marry. At first he approached Richard Wynn* for a match with Wynn’s widowed sister-in-law, before marrying into a Sussex family. He presumably received a substantial dowry, which served to purchase a Crown lease of Kippax manor from Sir Francis Baildon*, where his investment in coal mines raised the annual revenues to £600.14

Slingsby was returned to the Commons one last time in 1626, for Appleby, where he was doubtless nominated by Lord Henry Clifford* at the behest of his brother’s ally Sir Thomas Wentworth*. In a session dominated by Buckingham’s impeachment, most Members kept a low profile. Slingsby was no exception, as he received only two committee appointments, the first to consider a bill for the better preservation of Crown revenues (7 Mar.), and the second to draft legislation to prevent the spread of infectious diseases (29 April). On 25 Mar. he attended the second reading of the Aire and Calder navigation bill, but went home to his house in the Strand after it had been rejected. In his absence, a complaint was made against him as a Middlesex justice, in which capacity he had released a Jesuit named Godfrey from arrest. Fetched by the serjeant-at-arms, he declared that Godfrey, a supporter of the Oath of Allegiance, had produced a safe conduct from secretary of state Sir Edward Conway I*, which explanation satisfied the Commons.15 He does not appear to have stood for re-election in 1628.

Slingsby devoted himself to genealogical research in his later years, commissioning a splendid series of monuments for the family chapel in Knaresborough parish church. He drafted his will on 7 Apr. 1638, and was buried at St. Martin-in-the-Fields on 13 June. His daughter Elizabeth inherited a portion of £2,000, while his estates went to his son Henry, who became master of the Mint after the Restoration. No later member of the Kippax branch of the family entered Parliament.16

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: Karen Bishop / Simon Healy


  • 1. Clay, Dugdale’s Vis. Yorks. i. 67.
  • 2. GI Admiss.; Slingsby Diary ed. D. Parsons, 403.
  • 3. Soc. Gen., St. Mary Abchurch par. reg.; Slingsby Diary, 404; CSP Dom. 1611-18, p. 425.
  • 4. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 119.
  • 5. Naval Misc. ed. J.K. Laughton (Navy Recs. Soc. xx), 42.
  • 6. LR6/154/9, unfol.; LC2/5, f. 32.
  • 7. C231/4, ff. 3, 13;
  • 8. C181/2, f. 258; 181/3, ff. 41v, 157; 181/4, ff. 122v, 191; 181/5, ff. 80-1; T. Rymer, Foedera, vii. pt. 3, p. 82; pt. 4, pp. 96, 135; APC, 1616-17, p. 207; 1628-9, p. 205; C212/22/20-3; E115/298/70; CSP Dom. 1637-8, p. 319.
  • 9. CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 625; HMC Hatfield, xxi. 292.
  • 10. Rymer, vii. pt. 4, p. 135; APC, 1627-8, p. 168; 1629-31, p. 179.
  • 11. GI Admiss.; Slingsby Diary, 243-7, 250-4; HMC Hatfield, vii. 382.
  • 12. Yorks. Arch. Soc. DD56/M2/21; CJ, i. 172a, 212a, 258a, 260a, 329b, 393b.
  • 13. CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 625; 1611-18, p. 13; HMC Hatfield, xxi. 292; E.S. Godfrey, Development of Eng. Glassmaking, 59.
  • 14. NLW, 9055E/686; Slingsby Diary, 243, 247, 253; J.T. Cliffe, Yorks Gentry, 60-2; CSP Dom. 1611-18, p. 425.
  • 15. Procs. 1626, ii. 214, 366-7, 369; iii. 97.
  • 16. G.R. Smith, Without Touch of Dishonour, 36; PROB 11/177, ff. 218v-19v.