BOKENHAM, William (d. 1702), of St. Margaret’s by Rochester, Kent

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Dec. 1701 - 1702

Family and Education

m. Frances, s.p.1

Offices Held

Lt. RN 1681, capt. 1689; ?ensign, Q. Dowager’s Ft. 1685; capt. 2nd marine regt. 1691–8.


Nothing has come to light about Bokenham prior to his entry into the navy. His surname was common in East Anglia but he cannot be linked with any of the branches of the family there. It is noteworthy, however, that on one occasion in November 1701, in his role as a Kentish justice, he referred to a prisoner as a ‘Suffolk or Norfolk man’ whom he had known before the Revolution. Bokenham served under Admiral Arthur Herbert† in Tangier, being commissioned as a lieutenant in 1681 and commanding a ship in 1683 which was sent back to England. As he received captain’s pay for this voyage it was counted as part of his commission when he was appointed to the rank of captain after the Revolution. Admiral Edward Russell* clearly entertained a favourable opinion of Bokenham’s ability, informing Secretary Nottingham (Daniel Finch†) in May 1691, ‘a better man I do not know in the fleet’. Between 1695 and 1697 Bokenham served as first captain to Admiral Sir George Rooke*, a post that was usually the precursor of a flag office. His landed estate was based in Rochester where, in 1693, he purchased Restoration House from the executors of Francis Clerke I*. In March 1699 he was appointed to the bench and the following year bought an estate at Westwell, near Ashford. Thus, when Bokenham was returned for Rochester in December 1701 he could point to his local property as well as his naval interest. The fact that at the poll he defeated a Tory, William Cage*, and in Parliament was not listed as voting on 26 Feb. 1702 for the motion vindicating the proceedings of the Commons in their impeachments of the Whig ministers, suggests that he was a Whig. He certainly attended the House, his name being rendered as ‘Bockman’ on 3 Feb. when the clerks recorded his appointment to a committee following a petition relating to nautical inventions.2

Bokenham did not contest the general election of 1702, being back at sea by June. That he was dropped from the new commission of the peace sealed in July 1702 is perhaps further evidence of Whiggish views. He died at sea on 10 Nov. 1702 Rooke recording in his journal on that date that ‘Captain Bokenham died, and Captain Foulkes ordered to command the ship to Chatham’. His will, drawn up in May 1692, before his property acquisitions, left to his wife Frances all the money due to him for service at sea or on land. His property in Rochester may have descended at first to his brother Robert, another naval captain, but in the long run it passed to his brother Harry, whose daughter Anne, and her husband, John Dumaresque, sold it in 1719.3

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: Stuart Handley


  • 1. Prob. 10/1359, unreg. will.
  • 2. CSP Dom. 1700–2, p. 442; Mariner’s Mirror, lxxvi. 245; HMC Finch, iii. 71; J. Ehrman, Navy in War of Wm. III, 649; H. Maudslay, Buckenham Fam. 182; J. D. Davies, Gents. and Tarpaulins, 167; info. from Prof. N. Landau; Arch. Cant. xv. 114, 119; Hasted, Kent, vii. 422.
  • 3. Info. from Prof. Landau; Navy Rec. Soc. ix. 162, 238; Prob. 10/1359; Maudslay, 207; Arch. Cant. 126.