SAMWELL, Sir Thomas, 1st Bt. (c.1654-94), of Upton, Northants.

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



13 June 1689
1690 - Feb. 1694

Family and Education

b. c.1645, 3rd but o. surv. s. of Richard Samwell (d.1662) of Upton by Frances, da. and coh. of Thomas Wenman, 2nd Visct. Wenman of Tuam [I]. m. (1) lic. 1 Apr. 1673, aged 19, Elizabeth, da. and h. of George Gooday of Bower Hall, Pentlow, Essex, 2s. d.v.p. 2da.; (2) 7 July 1685, Anne, da. and h. of Sir John Godschalk of Atherstone, Warws., 1s. 1da. suc. gdfa. 1668; cr. Bt. 22 Dec. 1675.1

Offices Held

Commr. for assessment, Northants. 1677-80, 1689-90, Warws. 1690; j.p. Northants. 1678-?83, 1687-d.; commr. for inquiry, Whittlewood and Salcey Forests 1679; dep. lt. Northants. 1687-d.2

Commr. for preventing export of wool 1689-92.


Samwell’s ancestors were of Cornish origin, but became servants of the crown under the Tudors and settled in Northamptonshire, purchasing Upton in 1600. Samwell’s grandfather was the uncle of Harrington, the republican theorist, who was born at Upton; he supported Parliament in the Civil War and held local office throughout the Interregnum. His father was notably severe on delinquents, but does not seem to have commanded much respect in the county. Samwell followed the political traditions of his family, though his chaplain was an Anglican. At the Northamptonshire election of 1681 he presented Miles Fleetwood with a strongly exclusionist address which was read aloud from the hustings. Later in the year he was reported to be among the ‘cabalistical men’ consulted by the Earl of Manchester (Robert Montagu) on his visit to Northampton. He was listed among the local Whigs in 1682 with an income of £2,000 p.a. He went abroad in 1684, probably to obtain medical treatment for his wife. When he returned he was prosecuted by Sir Roger Norwich for publishing a seditious libel, the 1681 address, but he was pardoned in April 1686, and restored to local office at the end of the following year, though Danby reckoned him hostile to James II. He became the first of his family to enter Parliament when he was returned for the county at a by-election in 1689, but he was not active in the Convention. He was named to only five committees, of which the most important were for the attainder of Jacobites beyond the seas and for drawing up the declaration of rights and settling the succession, to which he was added on 1 July. He also seems to have taken an interest in the affairs of the East India Company. After supporting the disabling clause in the bill to restore corporations, he had to be content with a borough seat in the next Parliament. He was reported dead of the smallpox on 27 Feb. 1694. His son was returned for Coventry as a Whig in 1715.3

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: E. R. Edwards


  • 1. Vis. Northants. (Harl. Soc. lxxxvii), 187-9; Morant, Essex, ii. 308, 324; VCH Warws. v. 3.
  • 2. Cal. Treas. Bks. vi. 184.
  • 3. Baker, Northants. i. 224-5; Q. Sess. Recs. (Northants. Rec. Soc. i), 134, 249; R. Morrice, Entering Bk. 1, pp. 450-1, 466; CSP Dom. 1680-1, p. 535; 1684-5, p. 270; 1686-7, p. 85; SP29/421/216; Luttrell, i. 325; iii. 276; Cal. Treas. Bks. vii. 1525; HMC Lords, ii. 305.