PRIDEAUX, Edmund (1634-1702), of Forde Abbey, Devon.

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



8 Dec. 1680

Family and Education

bap. 4 Dec. 1634, o.s. of Edmund Prideaux of Forde Abbey by 2nd w. Margaret, da. of William Every of Cothays, Som. educ. Exeter, Oxf. 1650; I. Temple 1650. m. 19 Mar. 1656, Amy (d. 8 Jan. 1704), da. of John Fraunceys of Combe Florey, Som., 1s. d.v.p. 4da. suc. fa. 1659.1

Offices Held

Commr. for assessment, Som. 1657, Devon 1673-80, Devon and Mdx. 1689-90; j.p. Devon and Mdx. 1689-d.


Prideaux’s father, a younger son, became a lawyer and a Presbyterian elder. He sat for Lyme Regis in the Long Parliament and under the Protectorate, making a great fortune as commissioner of the great seal for Parliament during the Civil War, as postmaster-general under the Commonwealth, and as attorney-general to the Protector. He bought Forde Abbey in 1649, and was given a Cromwellian baronetcy in 1658. Prideaux, who was said to have inherited £60,000, lost his title at the Restoration, but retained his father’s political and religious outlook. When asked to contribute to a fund for the redemption of Turkish captives, he observed dryly that ‘they were better to live in slavery under the Turk than to come home here, where they must live under Popery’. He maintained a sizeable conventicle in one of his cellars.2

Prideaux stood for Taunton at both elections in 1679, with the support of the ‘fanatic party’, and was marked ‘honest’ on Shaftesbury’s list. His ‘security’ at Lyme in the autumn election proved illusory. Before the second Exclusion Parliament met he entertained Monmouth at Forde. He was seated with John Trenchard on petition, but was totally inactive. He was returned unopposed in 1681, and appointed to the committee of elections and privileges in the Oxford Parliament.3

After the After the dissolution Prideaux continued his association with nonconformist and dissident elements in the county. In 1683 he was alleged to have been involved with Trenchard and his son-in-law, John Speke, in the Rye House Plot, but as he was not then molested there must have been insufficient evidence against him. He contributed money and horses to Monmouth’s army in 1685, and was obliged to buy his pardon from Judge Jeffreys for £14,760. He was mentioned in 1688 as a prospective candidate for Honiton. After the Revolution he repeatedly petitioned Parliament for reparation from Jeffreys’s estate. Francis Gwyn, soon to be his son-in-law, reported from a committee of inquiry on 1 May 1689, and a bill was ordered, but it lapsed after one reading. It was reintroduced by Trenchard on 14 Dec. and committed on 23 Jan. 1690; but counter-petitions were presented by such powerful figures as (Sir) Henry Pollexfen, Jeffreys’s trustee, and Jeffrey Jeffreys, one of his creditors. The bill was again discussed in the next Parliament, but never became law. Prideaux played no further part in politics, and died on 12 Oct. 1702, when Gwyn inherited the estate.4

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: Irene Cassidy


  • 1. Hutchins, Dorset, iv. 528; J. Maclean, Trigg Minor, ii. 211; Vivian, Vis. Devon, 621.
  • 2. Keeler, Long Parl. 315-16; CJ, x. 116; CSP Dom. 1682, p. 26; July-Sept. 1683, pp. 216-18, 369; 1683-4, p. 362; D. R. Lacey, Dissent and Parl. Pols. 433-4.
  • 3. HMC 13th Rep. VI, 13; CJ, ix. 672; Som. RO, Sanford mss 3109, Clarke to Sanford, 28 July 1674.
  • 4. CSP Dom. 1685, pp. 194, 328, 329; 1686-7, p. 66; Ailesbury Mems. i. 122; Dalrymple Mems. ii. 149; J. G. Muddiman, Bloody Assize, 21, 46-47; CJ, x. 113-16, 527.