HENLEY, Henry (1669-1733), of Leigh, Som. and Colway, Lyme Regis, 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



1690 - 1700
1702 - 1705
1710 - 1715

Family and Education

bap. 6 Feb. 1669[?-70], 1st surv. s. of Henry Henley (d.v.p. 1683, s. of Henry Henley†) of Colway by Mary, da. of John Bulkeley† of Nether Burgate, Hants.  educ. travelled abroad (Holland), 1686.  m. by 1701, Catherine, da. of Richard Holt*, 1s.  suc. fa. 1683, gdfa. 1696.1

Offices Held

V.-adm. Som. and Bristol 1696–1702; freeman, Lyme Regis 1700, mayor 1711–12, 1722–3, 1730–1.2

Gent. of privy chamber 1715–d.


Henley was related distantly to Sir Robert* and Anthony Henley*, and was a second cousin of Robert Henley*. His own family had been seated in Somerset since the mid-16th century and owned property in Lyme Regis, which his grandfather had represented between 1660 and 1681. Henley was returned for the borough on his family’s interest in 1690, Lord Carmarthen (Sir Thomas Osborne†) classifying him as a Whig in the list of the new Parliament. Although Henley was to accumulate some 18 years of parliamentary service, his activity was minimal throughout. In December 1690 he was listed again by Carmarthen as a probable ally of the latter in the Commons, and in April 1691 he was listed by Robert Harley* as a Country supporter. In Grascome’s list of this Parliament he was incorrectly classed as a placeman, no doubt having been confused with Robert Henley, a commissioner of transports.3

The presence of Robert Henley in the Commons during the 1695 and 1698 Parliaments makes their parliamentary activity difficult to distinguish. Henley was forecast as likely to support the Court in the division of 31 Jan. 1696 on the proposed council of trade, signed the Association early and voted in March for fixing the price of guineas at 22s. He also voted on 25 Nov. 1696 for the attainder of Sir John Fenwick†.

After the 1698 election Henley was listed as a Court supporter in a comparative analysis of the old and new Parliaments, and voted on 18 Jan. 1699 against the disbanding bill. Again it is impossible to distinguish whether the little activity recorded for ‘Mr Henley’ belongs to this Member rather than to Robert or another Henley (Anthony) who entered the Commons at this election. However, on 11 Dec. 1699 Henley was ordered into custody for unauthorized absence from the House. Early the next year an analysis of the Commons classed him as being in Charles Montagu’s* interest.

Henley did not stand at the next two general elections, but returned to the Commons in 1702. He voted on 13 Feb. 1703 for agreeing with the Lords’ amendments to the bill for enlarging the time for taking the Abjuration. Five tellerships in this Parliament were undertaken by a ‘Mr Henley’ for the Whigs, but most of this activity should probably be attributed to Anthony Henley, who was much the more active of the two. Henley apparently did not stand in 1705, but unsuccessfully contested Lyme Regis in 1708. Returned again in 1710, he was rather surprisingly classed as ‘doubtful’ in the ‘Hanover list’ of that Parliament. The remainder of his political career was as undistinguished as before. As with Anthony, Henley’s name appears, but is crossed out, on a list of those who voted against the Court amendment to the South Sea bill on 25 May 1711. His lack of activity may explain why he was erroneously listed as a Tory in a comparative analysis of the 1713 and 1715 Parliaments. Henry did not sit again after 1715, apparently retiring in favour of his kinsman John Henley†. He died on 9 Aug. 1733, and was succeeded by his son, Henry Holt Henley†.4

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Authors: Paula Watson / Sonya Wynne


  • 1. Hutchins, Dorset, ii. 72; iii. 742; Vis. Glos. ed. Fenwick and Metcalfe, 90; Dorset RO, Lane mss (Trenchard) D60/F56, Sir John* to Henry Trenchard†, 26 Aug. N.S. 1686; PCC 76 Pyne.
  • 2. Luttrell, Brief Relation, iv. 156; Dorset RO, Lyme Regis corp. mss B6/4, 13 July 1700; G. Roberts, Hist. and Antiq. Lyme Regis (1834), 383; Hutchins, ii. 49.
  • 3. Vis. Glos. 90.
  • 4. Gent. Mag. 1733, p. 438.