CHAFIN (CHAFFIN), Thomas (1650-91), of Chettle, Dorset.

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



Mar. 1679
Oct. 1679
9 Dec. 1689
1690 - 17 Jan. 1691

Family and Education

b. 15 July 1650, 2nd surv. s. of Thomas Chafin of Chettle by 2nd w. Amphillis, da. of Laurence Hyde of Heale, Wilts. and coh. to her gt.-gdfa. Richard White of Alton, Hants. educ. Magdalen Hall, Oxf. 1666. m. 23 Jan. 1674, Anne, da. of John Penruddock of Compton Chamberlayne, Wilts., 5s. (2 d.v.p.) 6da. suc. bro. 1660.1

Offices Held

J.p. Dorset 1678-June 1688, Nov. 1688-d., capt. of militia ft. by 1679-Feb. 1688, major Oct. 1688-d.; freeman, Poole 1679, Salisbury 1683; commr. for assessment, Dorset, Poole, Wilts. and Salisbury 1679-80, Dorset and Som. 1689-90; dep. lt. Dorset 1680-Feb. 1688, Oct. 1688-d.2

Commr. for drowned lands 1690.3


Chafin’s family was of Wiltshire origin, producing a Member for Salisbury in 1475. The Dorset branch was established in Elizabethan times, and Chafin’s grandfather was elected for Bridport in 1628. His father, a royalist commissioner, valued his estate in his composition at £500 p.a. By his marriage, incidentally a very happy one, to the daughter of the leader of the Cavalier rising in 1655, Chafin strengthened his royalist background and his family connexions.4

Chafin was recommended to the corporation of Poole by Thomas Strangways and sat in the three Exclusion Parliaments. Shaftesbury regarded his political attitude as doubtful, but he was marked as a country Member on Huntingdon’s list. In 1679 he was named only to the committee of elections and privileges, but he voted for the exclusion bill. After re-election to the second Exclusion Parliament he was one of the Members appointed to receive information about the Popish Plot on 13 Nov. 1680, but on 8 Jan. 1681 he was granted leave of absence. He left no trace on the records of the Oxford Parliament or James II’s Parliament.5

Chafin’s regiment was not involved in the rout of the Dorset militia at Bridport in 1685, but Chafin and his friend Thomas Erle fought as volunteers at Sedgemoor. After the battle they were presented to the King by John Churchill II, but no tangible acknowledgment of their services was offered. He gave negative answers on the repeal of the Test Act and Penal Laws, lost office, and probably assisted Erle in the Revolution.6

Chafin’s electoral expenses in 1689 must have been heavy. He first stood for Poole, where he was involved in a double return with Sir Nathaniel Napier. The elections committee found in Chafin’s favour, but their recommendation was reversed by the House, to whom ‘Mr Chafin was obnoxious ... being a notorious Tory’. Then in December Chafin stood for Dorchester at a by-election, and defeated Nathaniel Bond. His opponent petitioned, but the committee made no report before the dissolution of the Convention. Chafin was allowed to sit, though he was not named to any committee. On 29 Jan. 1690 he wrote to his wife:

The Parliament is prorogued, and most are of the opinion it will be dissolved. ... Mr Freke [Thomas Freke I] went down this day; I shall stay here till next week, partly by his direction, and partly by my own inclination. ... The prick-eared party are much troubled at this prorogation; things seem of better complexion here than formerly.

Chafin sat for Hindon in the next Parliament, but died on 17 Jan. 1691, and was buried at Chettle. Two of his sons sat for the county as Tories.7

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: John. P. Ferris


  • 1. VCH Hants, ii. 477; Hutchins, Dorset, iii. 570; St. Andrew Undershaft par. reg.
  • 2. CSP Dom. 1679-80, p. 61; Hoare, Wilts. Salisbury, 478; Hutchins, i. 24; Poole archives, B17; Churchill College, Cambridge, Erle-Drax mss.
  • 3. Cal. Treas. Bks. ix. 794.
  • 4. SP23/179/264-274.
  • 5. Dorset RO, D124, Strangways to Poole corp. 29 Jan. 1679.
  • 6. Hutchins, iii. 566.
  • 7. J. Sydenham, Hist. Poole, 263; CJ, x. 13, 24; Hutchins, iii. 566.