GUISE (GUYSE), Sir John, 2nd Bt. (c.1654-95), of Elmore, Glos.

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
13 Nov. - 19 Nov. 1695

Family and Education

b. c.1654, o.s. of Sir Christopher Guise, 1st Bt., of Elmore by 2nd w. Rachel, da. of Lucas Corsellis, merchant, of London. educ. Christ Church, Oxf. matric. 3 Dec. 1669, aged 15; travelled abroad (France) c.1675. m. settlement 10 July 1674, Elizabeth, da. of John Grobham Howe I of Little Compton, Withington, Glos., 1s. 2da. suc. fa. Oct. 1670.1

Offices Held

Commr. for assessment, Glos. 1673-80, 1689-90, j.p. 1674-80, 1689-d., dep. lt. ?1674-81, 1689-d.; freeman, Gloucester 1675-84, 1686-?d., mayor 1690-1; v.-adm. Glos. 1691-d.2

Col. of ft. Nov. 1688-9.


Guise’s ancestors had held Elmore since 1274, and one of them represented the county as early as 1328. His father took no part in the Civil War, but was returned for Gloucestershire in 1654 and 1656, and accepted a baronetcy at the Restoration. Guise himself, according to his son,

of all things loved popularity, and had an excellent way of managing the common people to obtain it. He was very healthy, of a robust make, an open countenance and cheerful, not displeased with the company of the meanest, nor unfit for that of the best, yet he was never so acceptable either to his equals or superiors as to those of less rank than himself. He was liberal and kind to his friends, stout and unrelenting to his enemies, yet very ready to forgive offences upon acknowledgment made.

In his youth, indeed, he was clearly of a quarrelsome and even violent disposition. He was returned for the county without a contest in the first election of 1679, and marked ‘honest’ on Shaftesbury’s list. A moderately active Member of the first Exclusion Parliament, he was appointed to four committees, but did not speak. On 24 Mar. he was sent to ask for the Lords’ concurrence to the resolution affirming the existence of ‘a horrid and treasonable plot’. He served on the committees to examine the disbandment accounts, to consider the bill for the better discovery of recusants and to consider the complaint against John Robinson I. He was teller for the unsuccessful motion that all who came to the committee for the continuance of the Irish Cattle Act should be allowed to vote. In view of his later Whig record, his last two mentions in this Parliament are surprising; he voted against exclusion and acted as teller against the election petition of Philip Foley for Bewdley. He was re-elected in the autumn, though not without opposition, and was again moderately active as a committeeman in the second Exclusion Parliament, being appointed to five committees. He told the House on 17 Nov. 1680 that ‘two of University College are Papists, and in the Plot’. He probably proposed the repeal of the Severn Fishery Act on 29 Nov., since his was the first name on the committee to bring in a bill for that purpose. On 20 Dec. he claimed privilege, on grounds unspecified, against a colleague on the Gloucester corporation. He spoke three times in the debate on 7 Jan. 1681, wishing to postpone action against Laurence Hyde but hoping that, if the House continued sitting, ‘he will help us to a Privy Councillor or two’, and moving against the Duchess of Portsmouth. There was opposition to his re-election in 1681 from the radicals, but he was again successful. Although he left no trace on the records of the Oxford Parliament, he was now clearly an exclusionist, and in June 1681 he and Sir Duncombe Colchester were ordered to be removed from the lieutenancy.3

Guise was defeated in the general election of 1685 by the Court candidates. He was sent for in custody during Monmouth’s invasion, and withdrew his election petition. After an affray in Gloucester with a hussar officer he took refuge in Holland, a country for which he always acknowledged gratitude and respect. He was noted in Danby’s list among the Gloucestershire opponents of James II, and in October 1688 Richard Howe found the county ‘unanimous for Guise’. The Government was wrongly informed that he had returned there and was engaged in ‘dangerous practices’. In fact he landed at Torbay with William of Orange in the following month, and was given a commission to raise an infantry regiment, with which he helped to secure Bristol. He was anxious to secure help from the dissenters, but was told that ‘if they appeared, for one friend they made the Prince, they would make him twenty enemies’.4

Guise regained his seat in the Convention, in which he was a very active Member. He was appointed to 66 committees, from which he presented 11 reports, acted as teller in six divisions, and made 48 recorded speeches. He helped to draw up reasons for, as well as to manage, the conference on the state of the throne. He was among those appointed to inquire into the authors and advisers of grievances and to bring in the first mutiny bill. He was sent to Marshal Schomberg to ask for a guard for Members attending the coronation, and to the Lords to desire a conference on the oaths of allegiance. He was chairman of the committee for the bill to annul the attainder of Algernon Sidney, which he carried to the Upper House on 8 May. He also took the chair for the petition from the Gloucestershire clothiers against alnage, and was given special responsibility for a bill to remedy the abuses, although when he presented it on 29 June it was ordered to lie on the table. He gave information to the House about the dispersal of Jacobite propaganda at Cambridge University and the arrest of Peregrine Osborne. ‘I am much concerned that this by a general silence should be passed over’, he said. ‘The breach of privilege seems plain; is it not a thing to be mended?’ His remarks were clearly aimed at (Sir) Robert Sawyer, as Member for the University, and the Earl of Nottingham (Daniel Finch) as secretary of state. He made no secret of his objective of driving all Tories out of public life:

Upon this maxim of policy I cannot agree to employ those I cannot trust, or put them in a capacity to do more mischief. What will all the people ruined by these men say to us? Pray, what have they deserved your favour for? For breaking all your laws?

For the Ecclesiastical Commission he blamed the then Privy Council, remarking that ‘whoever does own such a Commission is never fit to serve the nation in any public capacity’. In July he took a prominent part in the consideration of Irish affairs, acting as chairman of three committees, those to inspect the Admiralty books, to ask for permission to inspect the Privy Council registers and to propose measures of relief for Protestant refugees. He brought the King’s answer on 13 July, and on the same day reported from the committee of inquiry into the delays in relieving Londonderry, to which he was not formally appointed till nine days later. Together with William Sacheverell and William Williams he was ordered to inspect the minutes of the Irish committee on 17 July. He acted as teller against the exculpation of William Harbord for the miscarriages in Ireland and for the adjournment of a debate on free trade in wool. He helped to manage the conference on the attainder bill, and on 2 Aug. proposed an address for the dismissal of Lord Halifax.5

During the recess Guise resigned his commission because of a quarrel with his second-in-command, the King remarking that ‘he would by that prevent him from taking it away, which he was resolved to do’. He was also disappointed of the governorship of Portsmouth, which the Duke of Bolton (Charles Powlett I) wanted for Richard Norton. In the second session of the Convention he was a country Whig, openly critical of the Government as a whole. He was appointed to the committees of inquiry into the expenditure and miscarriages of the war, presenting four reports from the former. He was given special responsibility for the militia bill. He told the House on 11 Nov.: ‘I do not doubt but it is absolutely necessary for your service to know the numbers of your forces in Ireland, the army here, and the fleet’. He helped to draw up the address for an inquiry, with which he attended the King. On 16 Nov. he said:

I now hear what I have seen a good while. You give money for the war, and you know not whither it goes. ... The best you can do is not to see your money diverted. I hope you will ... appoint a committee to know the state of account of the nation, and you will see those that are honest.

(Sir) Henry Capel questioned Guise’s abilities in accounts, to which he retorted: ‘I am as capable of reckoning 1, 2, 3 as another man’. He rejected the allegation of (Sir) Thomas Clarges that the dissenters were republicans:

I suppose the gentleman was not upon the spot when the charge was [made], but, I assure you, the Church of England ran away from us, and the dissenters stayed. I hear the word monarchy named; I would know who is against monarchy?

He was appointed to the committees for stating the condition of the revenue and restoring corporations, but obtained leave to go into the country on 23 Dec. because his wife was ill. He returned in time to act as teller for a proviso to the bill, and supported the disabling clause. He took the chair in the committee for the bill to indemnify those who had acted in the Revolution, which he twice carried to the Lords. In the debate on the condemnation of Sir Thomas Armstrong, he expressed surprise ‘that the House is not of the same opinion they were formerly of.... Did I think I sat in the House with a murderer, I would not sit till I had thrown him out.’ In a further allusion to Sawyer, he exclaimed: ‘The most abominable part of an attorney-general he has acted!’.6

Guise remained a country Whig in the next Parliament and was chosen one of the commissioners of public accounts. He died of smallpox immediately after his re-election in 1695. His son sat for Gloucestershire as a Whig under Queen Anne.7

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: John. P. Ferris


  • 1. Bristol and Glos. Arch. Soc. Trans. iii. 72; Raymond and Guise Mems. (Cam. Soc. ser. 3, xxviii), 134.
  • 2. Gloucester corp. council bk. 1656-86, pp. 645, 870, 918; 1690-1700, p. 12.
  • 3. Bristol and Glos. Arch. Soc. Trans. ii. 260; iii. 50; Raymond and Guise Mems. 137-8; HMC Portland, iii. 352; CJ, ix. 621, 634; Grey, viii. 18; Gloucester corp. council bk. 1656-86, p. 870; HMC 12th Rep. IX, 113-15; CSP Dom. 1680-1, p. 350.
  • 4. Raymond and Guise Mems. 135; HMC 12th Rep. IX, 89; R. Morrice, Entering Bk. 2, p. 42; 3, p. 47; CJ, ix. 721, 759; Grey, ix. 148, 358; 440; Bath mss. Thynne pprs. 18, f. 192; CSP Dom. 1687-9, pp. 303, 316; Luttrell, i. 482; Univ. Intell. 11 Dec. 1688.
  • 5. CJ, x. 18, 20, 85, 98, 125, 166, 176, 190, 196, 204, 206, 212, 244, 245, 246; Grey, ix. 361, 369; Clarendon Corresp. ii. 284.
  • 6. Foxcroft, Halifax, ii. 232; HMC Portland, iii. 431; CSP Dom. 1689-90, p. 278; CJ, x. 279, 282, 284, 286, 288, 304, 329, 330, 332, 338; Grey, ix. 406, 425-6, 427, 483, 526, 535.
  • 7. Raymond and Guise Mems. 137; Luttrell, iii. 553.