HONYWOOD, Sir William, 2nd Bt. (c.1654-1748), of Evington Place, Elmsted and Canterbury, 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



1685 - 1687
1689 - 1698

Family and Education

b. c.1654, 1st s. of Sir Edward Honywood, 1st Bt., of Evington Place by Elizabeth, da. of Sir John Maynard*.  educ. Jesus, Oxf. matric. 29 Mar. 1672, aged 17.  m. 15 July 1675, Anna Christiana (d. 1736), da. of Richard Newman of Tothill Street, Westminster and Fifehead Magdalen, Dorset, 2s. d.v.p. 4da. (3 d.v.p.).  suc. fa. as 2nd Bt. 1670.1

Offices Held

Freeman, Canterbury [?1685], alderman 1684–7, mayor 1685–6; commr. Dover harbour by 1706.2

Commr. appeals in excise May 1689–Dec. 1714.3


After having played a significant part in the Revolution in Kent, Honywood found no difficulty in retaining his seat at Canterbury in the elections to the Convention of 1689. Honywood was an important figure in east Kent, being called to a gathering of gentry in September 1688 in order to consider candidates for the surrounding boroughs, and attending meetings on 23 Jan. 1689 over the manner of delivering the Kentish association to the King and on 3 Mar. 1690 over the eastern Kent militia regiment. In July 1689 he received a reward for the capture of the Jacobites Sir Adam Blair and Dr Robert Grey and he was also active in the summer of 1690 in apprehending suspected opponents of the new regime and in commanding the militia regiment sent to guard the Kentish coast against incursions by the French. Returned unopposed at the 1690 election, Honywood was generally supportive of the Court. On a list of the 1690 Parliament he was classed as a Whig by the Marquess of Carmarthen (Sir Thomas Osborne†). May 1690 saw his appointment as a commissioner of excise appeals at a salary of £200 p.a. In April 1691 Robert Harley* classed him as ‘d[oubtful]’ on an analysis of parties in the House, but only after having erased an initial mark indicative of support for the Court. On 10 Nov. 1692, Honywood proposed a motion of thanks to Dr Thomas Manningham (the Commons’ chaplain and future bishop of Chichester) for a sermon delivered to the House on 5 Nov. at St. Margaret’s, Westminster. This was agreed by the Commons and Honywood himself was ordered to give Manningham the thanks of the House. On the following day Honywood presented a petition from the weavers of London and Canterbury praying for a suspension of the prohibition on the import of thrown silk. Three parliamentary lists from 1693 class Honywood as a placeman, one of them (compiled by Grascome and extending to 1695) classing him additionally as a Court supporter. On 5 Apr. 1694 he acted as a teller on the poll tax bill, successfully opposing a proviso at third reading to exempt some day-labourers in husbandry from liability for the tax. The following session he was a teller again, on 8 Feb. 1695 in favour of giving a first reading to the bill relaxing the navigation laws slightly in relation to the import of wines from Portugal, Spain and Italy, provided the ships were English-built and the crews were natives of the same country as the produce.4

Returned after a contest for Canterbury in 1695, Honywood managed a private estate bill through the Commons on behalf of one Thomas Biggs, relating to an estate at Chislet, six miles from Canterbury. His voting record was broadly consistent: in January 1696 he was forecast as likely to support the Court in any division over the proposed council of trade, and in February he signed the Association. Evidence from 1696 suggests that Honywood was the premier appeals commissioner, as on 4 Jan. he wrote to encourage John Locke to attend important hearings the following week, and in June we find him acting as the spokesman for the commissioners at the Treasury. In the 1696–7 session he voted on 25 Nov. for the attainder of Sir John Fenwick†. Honywood’s name also appears in 1698 on a comparative analysis of the old and new Parliaments, as a Court placeman.5

Honywood appears not to have contested Canterbury at the 1698 election, standing unsuccessfully for Hythe instead. In July 1699, James Vernon I* informed the King that Honywood ‘being lately dead, there is a commissioner of appeals place vacant’. This was not true, nor was Luttrell’s report of Honywood’s death in the following October. In early January 1700 Honywood was in Canterbury when thieves broke into his house (variously described as being ‘near the Cockpit in St. James’s Park’ and ‘joining the park wall at Westminster’), bound and gagged his wife and took off with either £2,000 or £500 worth of goods, according to different accounts. He had sufficient funds to invest in the Bank of England, holding in 1710 over £500 worth of stock. Honywood split his votes between the parties at the 1713 county election, which may help to explain why he was able to retain his place as an excise appeals commissioner until December 1714. In retirement, he continued to act as a justice, being active in petty sessions in 1719 and remaining on the bench until his death, ‘in his 94th year’, on 8 June 1748. Both his sons having predeceased him, Honywood left the bulk of his estates to his grandson, John, one of whose sons, Filmer Honywood†, was the next member of the family to sit in the Commons.6

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Authors: Basil Duke Henning / Stuart Handley


  • 1. Vis. Kent (Harl. Soc. liv.), 82; Berry, Kent Gens. 226; IGI, London; P. Parsons, Monuments and Painted Glass of E. Kent, 56; Add. 33920, f. 34.
  • 2. Canterbury Freemen Roll ed. Cowper, 319; Add. 42650, f. 102.
  • 3. Cal. Treas. Bks. ix. 110; xxix. 193.
  • 4. N. and Q. ser. 3, vi. 2, 22–23; Add. 33923, ff. 434, 462, 478; 42586, f. 92; Cal Treas. Bks. xvii. 526; ix. 110, 684; CSP Dom. 1690–1, pp. 56, 61, 63; Luttrell Diary, 217, 220.
  • 5. Locke Corresp. ed. de Beer, v. 502, 644–5; vi. 34; Cal. Treas. Bks. xi. 32.
  • 6. Add. 42587, ff. 34–36; 40774, f. 87; 43783 S5; Luttrell, Brief Relation, iv. 575, 580, 601; London Post, 8–10 Jan. 1700; Egerton 3359; Centre Kentish Stud. Q/RPe1, pollbk.; N. Landau, JPs, 233; info. from Prof. N. Landau; Parsons, 58; PCC 204 Strahan.