CHIFFINCH, William (d.1691), of Whitehall and Philberts, Bray, Berks.

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

?2nd s. of Thomas Chiffinch, innholder, of Salisbury, Wilts. m. by 1662, Barbara Nunn, 1da.1

Offices Held

Page of the backstairs to Queen Catherine of Braganza 1662; page of the bedchamber and keeper of the closet 1666-85; jt. master of the hawks by 1675-d.2

Commr. for assessment, Berks. 1673-80; freeman, New Windsor 1677, chamberlain 1681, alderman 1681-9, mayor 1685-6; j.p. Berks. by 1680-d.; keeper, Hyde Park by 1681-d.; master, Cutlers’ Co. 1685-6.3


Chiffinch was probably born in Salisbury like his brother, Thomas, who had entered the royal service as page of the bedchamber by 1644, joined the exiled Court, and was granted arms in 1664. Two years later he died, and Chiffinch succeeded to most of his offices. Over the years he made himself indispensable to both Charles II and James II in their secret dealings. On the death of William Willoughby he was granted a joint lease of Bestwood Park ‘as a mark of the King’s favour and bounty in consideration of many and faithful services’. An adept at backstairs intrigue, he handled payments under the secret treaty of Dover. His wife was a Roman Catholic and their only child was brought up in the same religion, but Chiffinch willingly undertook that she should become a Protestant when an advantageous match with Sir William Clifton was proposed.4

Chiffinch owned property in the Windsor neighbourhood, and had held municipal office since 1681. He was returned unopposed in 1685, and became a moderately active Member of James II’s Parliament, serving on seven committees, including those to recommend expunctions in the Journals, to inspect expiring laws and to regulate hackney coaches. In 1688 the King’s electoral agents reported that he was proposed as candidate for the borough by the corporation, but he did not stand again. Presumably he accepted the Revolution, for he continued in local office, retained his position as master of the hawks, and was confirmed in his appointment as keeper of Hyde Park, but he was replaced on the Windsor corporation in August 1689. Chiffinch was buried at Bray on 26 Nov. 1691. His daughter married the first Earl of Jersey of the Villiers family and became an active Jacobite.5

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Authors: Leonard Naylor / Geoffrey Jaggar


  • 1. Add. 5520, f. 4; Wilts. Par. Reg. ix. 25; Salisbury Mar. Lic. 1615-82, p. 163.
  • 2. CSP Dom. 1661-2, p. 498; 1665-6, p. 354; Cal. Treas. Bks. iv. 326; ix. 1733.
  • 3. First Hall Bk. (Windsor Hist. Recs. i), 30, 37, 48, 74, 178; HMC Finch, ii, 123; CSP Dom. 1685, pp. 46, 69, 102; 1689-90, p. 76.
  • 4. Add. 5520, f. 4; Hoare, Wilts. Salisbury, 473, 595; Grantees of Arms (Harl. Soc. lxvi), 51; Cal. Treas. Bks. iv. 185, 386; v. 1317-23; HMC Finch, ii. 81, 83.
  • 5. PCC 5 Fane; J. M. Dalton, Cal. of St. George’s George’s Chapel, Windsor, 147, 411-12; First Hall Bk. 13, 74; Berks. RO, Bray par. reg.