FOWNES, Richard (1652-1714), of Steepleton Iwerne, Dorset

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



Mar. 1681
1685 - 1687
1689 - 1698
26 Apr. 1699 - July 1714

Family and Education

bap. 25 Aug. 1652, 1st s. of Thomas Fownes of Steepleton Iwerne by Alice, da. of John Mynne of Woodcote, Epsom, Surr.  educ. Oriel, Oxf. 1668.  m. (1) aft. 1677, Elizabeth, da. of Gabriel Armstrong of Rempstone, Notts., 2s. (1 d.v.p.) 1da.; (2) settlement 21 Nov. 1693, Elizabeth, da. of William Aysh of South Petherton, Som., wid. of Samuel Cabell of Buckfastleigh, Devon, s.psuc. fa. 1670.1

Offices Held

Freeman, Poole 1691.2

Steward of crown estates, Som. 1705–8.3


Fownes, who had represented Corfe Castle since 1681, was returned again for the borough in 1690. In March he was listed as a Tory by Lord Carmarthen (Sir Thomas Osborne†), who also forecast in December that Fownes would probably support him in the event of an attack in the Commons. Robert Harley* marked him as a member of the Country party in April 1691, and Fownes told on the Tory side in the Arundel election case on 22 Feb. 1694. He obtained a fortnight’s leave of absence on 21 Dec. Forecast as likely to oppose the Court in the division of 31 Jan. 1696 on the proposed council of trade, he refused to sign the Association at first. He voted in March against fixing the price of guineas at 22s. and likewise voted on 25 Nov. against the attainder of Sir John Fenwick†. He obtained another leave of absence on 5 Mar. 1698, and later that year stood unsuccessfully at Corfe Castle and Poole and was consequently listed as a Country Member who had failed to secure re-election. He petitioned at Corfe Castle and succeeded in having his opponent’s return declared void; he then carried the ensuing by-election. In February 1701 he was listed as likely to support the Court over the ‘Great Mortgage’, and in December 1701 Harley listed him as a Tory.

Fownes continued to represent Corfe Castle throughout Anne’s reign, voting consistently with the Tories. He divided on 13 Feb. 1703 against agreeing to the Lords’ amendments to the bill for enlarging the time for taking the oath of abjuration. In March 1704 he was forecast as a supporter of Lord Nottingham (Daniel Finch†) over the Scotch Plot. Forecast as a supporter of the Tack, he duly voted for it on 28 Nov. 1704. Classified as ‘True Church’ in an analysis of the 1705 Parliament, Fownes voted on 25 Oct. against the Court candidate for Speaker. During the summer of 1706 he petitioned the Treasury for leave to surrender to his deputy the stewardship of certain crown lands in Somerset, which was eventually allowed in June 1708. Classed as a Tory both before and after the 1708 election, he duly voted against the impeachment of Dr Sacheverell. Likewise noted as a Tory in the ‘Hanover list’ of the 1710 Parliament, Fownes appears both among the ‘Tory patriots’ who opposed the continuance of the war and the ‘worthy patriots’ who detected the mismanagements of the previous administration. On 18 June 1713 he supported the Oxford ministry over the French commerce bill. He stood for Ashburton and Corfe Castle in 1713, but only succeeded in carrying his old seat, and nothing is known about his voting in his final Parliament. His death was reported on 20 July 1714. Although his son, Richard, initially attempted to maintain the family interest at Corfe, he failed to secure his own election in 1715 and made no subsequent attempt to win back the seat.4

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: Paula Watson


  • 1. Hutchins, Dorset, i. 299; F. Brown, Som. Wills, iv. 98–99.
  • 2. Poole Archs. B17.
  • 3. Cal. Treas. Bks. v. 1204; xxii. 270.
  • 4. Ibid. xx. 736; xxii. 270; HMC Portland, v. 473.