KILLIGREW, Henry (c.1652-1712), of St. Julians, nr. St. Albans, Herts.

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



1702 - 1705
24 Nov. 1705 - 1708

Family and Education

b. c.1652, s. of Henry Killigrew, DD, canon of Westminster, master of the Savoy Hosp., London by his w. Judith.  m. lic. 9 Feb. 1692 (aged 40), Lucy, da. of Thomas Jervoise of Herriard, Hants, sis. of Thomas Jervoise*, 1s. 3da.1

Offices Held

Lt. RN 1666, capt. 1672, v.-adm. 1689, adm. 1690; jt. adm. of the fleet 6 Aug.–7 Dec. 1690, 24 Jan.–6 Nov. 1693; gov. Languard Fort June 1689–Apr. 1694; col. 2nd marine regt. 1691–4; commr. for reprisals, Barbados 1693.2

Ld. of Admiralty 1693–4.


Killigrew came from a Royalist family, with a long tradition of service to the Stuarts. His father, who had been chaplain to the King’s army during the Civil War, was for many years chaplain and almoner to James, Duke of York when in exile, and after the Restoration became master of the Savoy Hospital. Killigrew himself was said to have owed his career to the Duke. He joined the Royal Navy as a volunteer, was commissioned in 1666, and thereafter pursued an active and successful career. But whatever his personal sense of obligation to James II, he accepted the Revolution and the new regime.3

Killigrew found himself in great favour with Lord Nottingham (Daniel Finch†), the secretary of state with reponsibility for the navy. In 1689 he was made vice-admiral of the Blue, and a full admiral the following year. During the summer of 1690 there was a considerable dispute about the command of the fleet and it was decided to place it under a commission of three. The Queen wrote to William III on 22 July that ‘Lord Nottingham and Mr Russell [Edward*] had severally wished to me alone that Killigrew might be one’. Despite objections to Killigrew from the Duke of Bolton (Charles Powlett†) and the Earl of Devonshire (William Cavendish†), he was appointed to the commission. Admiral Russell supported the choice, telling the Queen he believed it would not be ‘reasonable to venture at this time the losing such a man as Killigrew’. However, it was reported in August that some people were displeased with the appointment, as Killigrew and his fellow admiral Sir Richard Haddock were considered to be Jacobites.4

In December 1690, however, Russell was put in overall command of the fleet. Killigrew was given command of a regiment of marines in compensation. This change appears to have initiated a conflict between the two men, as in December 1691 it was reported that Russell ‘has his commission’, which appeared to cause Killigrew to refuse to go to sea. Robert Price’s* opinion of both men was that ‘I am in great dread these officers will serve the son-in-law [William] as they did the father [James II]’. On 5 Jan. 1692 it was reported that Killigrew had agreed to go to sea, as the two men had ‘made up’, although the same source later noted that Russell had agreed to go to sea that year only because Killigrew had declined. The upshot was that Killigrew spent 1692 on shore with full pay, during which time he was appointed as a deputy-lieutenant for Hertfordshire. However, Russell’s victory at La Hogue in May, although pleasing to Killigrew in relation to ‘the good of the nation’, was also displeasing to him because

I see myself rendered by it not only useless at present but perhaps for my whole life, which must be accompanied with contempt and loss. I see my adversary raised to a capacity to insult over me and to cross all my pretences, whose malice will let no opportunity slip by which it can express itself.

However, despite Nottingham’s efforts to secure for Killigrew the command of the winter squadron in the Mediterranean, the latter declined it, regarding it as ‘much inferior’ to the command he had previously held. However, at the end of 1692 Killigrew was once again appointed to command the fleet, on this occasion with Sir Ralph Delaval* and Sir Clowdesley Shovell*. At the same time, Lord Ailesbury (Thomas Bruce†) began secret negotiations with Delaval, who undertook to secure Killigrew’s co-operation in a plan whereby the two admirals would pretend to have secret orders for taking the fleet 200 leagues out to sea, leaving the coast clear for King James to land with an army at Portsmouth. Ailesbury commented that Killigrew ‘had obligations to King Charles and King James and preserved a high respect for the latter’. These secret negotiations bespoke the truth of Bishop Burnet’s observation on the appointment of Killigrew and Delaval, when he noted that the two men ‘were thought so inclinable to King James’s interests, that it made some insinuate, that the King was in the hands of those who intended to betray him to his enemies’. These fears could not have lessened when, in March, the two admirals were made lords of the Admiralty.5

The naval actions in the summer of 1693 were dominated by the loss of the Smyrna convoy, which had been under the protection of Sir George Rooke*. While Shovell and Rooke escaped censure, Killigrew and Delaval were made to take the blame. The arrest of their secretary, Abraham Anselme, on a charge of high treason, reinforced public complaints that ‘our councils were betrayed’. Killigrew, hampered by the fall of Nottingham, suspended from acting in office and forbidden the court, was questioned at the bar of the Commons in November, faced by a hostile Lord Falkland (Anthony Carey*) as first lord of the Admiralty. The House voted that there had been a ‘notorious and treacherous mismanagement of the fleet this year’. However, the chief witness against Killigrew was later prosecuted for perjury. On 6 Dec. a motion that ‘by not gaining such intelligence as they might have done, of the Brest fleet, and not sending into Brest for intelligence, before they left the Straits squadron’, the admirals were guilty of a high breach of trust, to the ‘great loss and dishonour of the nation’, was defeated by 10 votes. The Lords, in an inquiry from 11 Dec. 1693 to 10 Jan. 1694, exonerated the two admirals and voted that they had ‘done well in the execution of the orders’ sent to them.6

The loss of the Smyrna convoy put an end to Killigrew’s naval career. He was deprived of an income of between £3,000 and £4,000 a year arising from his offices as a lord of the Admiralty, his colonelcy of a regiment of marines and his governorship of Languard Fort. His being allowed to kiss the King’s hand in December 1694 was not, Shrewsbury hastened to assure Russell, a sign of any return to favour. Sir John Fenwick’s† confession in November 1696 also implicated Killigrew, but nothing came of it. In 1699 it was rumoured, erroneously, that he would command the Blue squadron in the Baltic. On 8 Jan. 1700 he petitioned for half-pay as an admiral, which was granted to him from 1 Oct. 1697, but he failed to obtain arrears for 1694–7. On 14 May 1702 he was granted a pension of £700 a year ‘in consideration of his good service at sea’.7

Killigrew briefly considered standing for St. Albans at the second 1701 election, but in the end waited until the 1702 election, when he was returned for Stockbridge on the interest of his brother-in-law, Thomas Jervoise. However, he was not an active Member, though in early 1704 he was listed as a supporter of Nottingham over the Scotch Plot. In the 1704–5 session Killigrew did not vote for the Tack on 28 Nov. 1704. It was reported in February 1704 that ‘everybody intended to have Admiral Killigrew’ returned for Stockbridge at the next election, though as yet they had not heard from him if he would stand. In August Killigrew asked Jervoise if it would be possible for him to stand in that borough without attending the election, as he was also planning on standing for St. Albans on the interest of the Duchess of Marlborough. However, at the general election in 1705 Killigrew made way for another candidate at Stockbridge and stood instead at St. Albans. He was defeated in a contest, but following his petition to Parliament he was seated by the House on 24 Nov. Classed as a placeman, presumably because of his pension, he was listed as voting on 25 Oct. for the Court candidate as Speaker, though he was not then in the House. He was noted as a Whig in an analysis of Parliament in early 1708. He did not stand for Parliament again and died at his seat near St. Albans on 9 Nov. 1712.8

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Authors: Eveline Cruickshanks / Paula Watson / Ivar McGrath


  • 1. Vivian, Vis. Cornw. 270–1; Clutterbuck, Herts. i. 230; The Ancestor, iii. 7.
  • 2. Charnock, Biog. Navalis, i. 338–47; CSP Dom. 1689–90, p. 157; 1693, p. 426.
  • 3. Orig. Pprs. ed. Macpherson, i. 457, 460; HMC Downshire, i. 246, 251; Charnock, i. 338–47; CSP Dom. 1687–89, pp. 282–3; ADM 10/15, pp. 76–77; Bodl. Rawl. C.255 (ex inf. Dr D. Davies).
  • 4. CSP Dom. 1689–90, pp. 419, 443; 1690–1, pp. 38, 77; HMC Finch, ii. 323, 382, 384, 398–9, 405; HMC Ormonde, n.s. viii. 130; Add. 51335, f. 26.
  • 5. Bodl. Carte 130, ff. 335–6; PRO NI, De Ros mss D638/13/6, 94, John Pulteney* to Thomas Coningsby*, 5, 12 Jan. 1692; HMC 7th Rep. 206; Centre Kentish Stud. Stanhope mss U1590/059/1, Robert Yard* to Alexander Stanhope, 19 Jan. 1692; H. Horwitz, Revolution Politicks, 132, 139; H. Horwitz, Parl. and Pol. Wm. III, 71, 77, 109; CSP Dom. 1691–2, pp. 151, 163, 211; Luttrell, Brief Relation, ii. 340; Ailesbury Mems. 312–15, 333; HMC Finch, iv. 192, 387, 441, 446, 448, 459, 466; Nat. Archs. Ire. Wych mss 1/67, William Ball to Sir Cyril Wyche*, 24 Jan. 1693; Hopkins thesis, 344–6; Grey, x. 318; Burnet, iv. 186.
  • 6. Add. 35855, f. 12; 35598, ff. 65–88; 17677 NN, ff. 296–7; CSP Dom. 1693, pp. 127–8, 135–6; Grey, 318–19, 322, 333–4, 347; Cobbett, Parlty. Hist. v. 779–80, 782, 800, 827; HMC Lords, n.s. i. 295–7; DZA, Bonet despatches 7/17 Nov., 12/22 Dec. 1693; Horwitz, Revolution Politicks, 147–8; Horwitz, Parl. and Pol. Wm. III, 118, 125; Hopkins, 118, 217.
  • 7. Stanhope mss U1590/059/3, Yard to Stanhope, 8 May 1694; CSP Dom. 1694–5, pp. 13, 134; 1699–1700, pp. 347, 356; 1702–3, pp. 60, 502; Shrewsbury Corresp. 213–14; Chandler, iii. 31; Cobbett, 999; HMC Ormonde, n.s. viii. 30, 215–16, 324; Cal. Treas. Bks. xii. 185.
  • 8. Hants RO, Jervoise mss, Killigrew to [Jervoise], 6 Mar. 1701, 8 Aug. 1704, [–] to same, [n.d.], Frederick Tylney* to same, 11 May 1702, Ellis to same, 21 Feb. [1704]; Add. 61474, f. 131; Speck thesis, 188; Cobbett, vi. 456; Cam. Misc. xxiii. 38; Luttrell, v. 613, 616.