THYNNE, Sir James (c.1605-70), of Longbridge Deverill, Wilts.

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



Nov. 1640 - 15 Feb. 1643
27 Dec. 1664 - 12 Oct. 1670

Family and Education

b. c.1605, 2nd but 1st surv. s. of Sir Thomas Thynne of Longleat, by 1st w. Mary, da. of George, 11th Lord Audley; bro. of Sir Thomas Thynne. educ. Magdalen Coll. Oxf. matric. 28 June 1620, aged 15; Padua 1632. m. 4 June 1640, Lady Isabel Rich, da. of Henry Rich, 1st Earl of Holland, s.p. Kntd. 23 June 1639; suc. fa. 1639.1

Offices Held

Gent. of the privy chamber 1640-6.2

Commr. of array, Wilts. 1642, oyer and terminer, Western circuit July 1660, j.p. Som. and Wilts. July 1660-d.; dep. lt. Wilts. c. Aug. 1660-d., Som. 1662-d.; commr. for assessment Wilts. Aug. 1660-d., sheriff Nov. 1660-1, commr. for loyal and indigent officers 1662.3


Thynne’s ancestors were of small account in their native Shropshire, but his great-grandfather bought the former priory of St. Radegund in 1541, built the magnificent house of Longleat on the site and represented Wiltshire in the first Parliament of Elizabeth. Shortly before the Civil War, Thynne inherited an estate worth about £6,000 p.a., but no ready money, owing to the influence of his stepmother. He sat in the Oxford Parliament, but, claiming the benefit of the Exeter articles, escaped with the moderate fine of £4,034. To his natural regret, his marriage was childless. His wife, an Anglican, was living in exile on the Continent in 1650, and subsequently attended Queen Henrietta Maria in Paris; but Thynne in his later years resided chiefly with his brother at Richmond. When visiting Wiltshire he preferred his modest manor house of Longbridge Deverill to the palatial Longleat. He took no part in royalist activities during the Interregnum, and complied with the exclusion of Cavaliers from the general election of 1660. As Sheriff, it fell to him to supervise the first free elections in Wiltshire for over 20 years; there was no contest for the county in 1661, but his carefully docketed correspondence shows his scrupulous care in the despatch of precepts to the boroughs. The expenses of his shrievalty totalled £1,576, which he could easily afford, for by 1663 it was estimated that he had doubled his income. Wiltshire was the only conceivable constituency for such a magnate, and when a vacancy occurred in 1664 he was duly elected, presumably unopposed. He was an active committeeman, with 70 committees in seven sessions of the Cavalier Parliament, a good record for an elderly county Member. He was among those ordered to attend the King in 1666 with the resolutions of both Houses against imports from France. He was named to the committees for the public accounts bill and the impeachment of Lord Mordaunt in 1667, but took no part in the proceedings against Clarendon. In the next session he was appointed to the committee to consider the militia laws, and was again one of the Members ordered to attend the King with a parliamentary resolution, this time in favour of wearing English cloth, of which Wiltshire was still the largest producer. In 1669 Sir Thomas Osborne noted him as one of the independent Members who had for the most part voted for supply. He died on 12 Oct. 1670, and was succeeded both in his estates and in the representation of the county by his nephew Thomas Thynne II.4

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: John. P. Ferris


  • 1. Mdx. Par. Regs. i. 8.
  • 2. Keeler, Long Parl. 360-1.
  • 3. Q. Sess. Recs. (Som. Rec. Soc. xxxiv), p. xix.
  • 4. HMC Var. viii. 51; Cal. Cl. SP, ii. 59; Nicholas Pprs. (Cam. Soc. n.s. xl), 208; Hoare, Wilts. Heytesbury, 42; Bath mss, Thynne pprs. 10, passim; 16, f. 139; HMC Hastings, ii. 143.