SYMONDS, Nathaniel (c.1648-1720), of Great Yarmouth, Norf.

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



29 Nov. 1709 - 1710

Family and Education

b. c.1648, 3rd s. of John Symonds, merchant and alderman of Great Yarmouth, by his 2nd w. Mary, da. of Daniel Sheppard of Saxmundham, Suff.  educ. Emmanuel, Camb. 1664.  unm.

Offices Held

Freeman, Great Yarmouth 1670; alderman 1679–84, Oct. 1688–1703; bailiff 1682–3, 1693–4.1


From a Presbyterian family, Symonds had conformed to the Established Church. He was pious and reserved, ‘charitable to the poor, constant and devout in church, very sober in conversation and not altogether unlearned’. A friend of long standing recalled that

his bodily constitution, from his infancy, was very weak and tender, yet the powers of his soul were strong and vigorous, and being blessed with plentiful fortunes, and with a generous and religious education, by the prudent care of his indulgent and pious mother, he so highly improved his natural abilities, as to be capable of doing great service to his country, to his relations and to his friends.

Although ‘through humility, a love of a contemplative life, and an aversion to much business, he was not forward to engage himself in public affairs’, Symonds was one of the leading Whig activists in the party disputes in Yarmouth towards the end of Charles II’s reign, when he was accused of being influenced by a ‘Nonconformist preacher’ and by his own brother ‘with whom he lives, a zealous Presbyterian’. As bailiff, in 1682–3, ‘his actions were agreeable to such counsels . . . suffering conventicles under his nose without the least disturbance’. He appears not to have engaged in politics after the Revolution, giving his time to the charitable works which were his chief preoccupation. The beneficiaries included his old college, various local churches and foreign missions. In 1698 he lent £100 to the government. When the new Yarmouth charter of 1703 obliged him, as one of the seven senior aldermen, to act as a j.p. in the borough, he refused and resigned the office. He was probably elected for Great Yarmouth in 1709 as a compromise candidate. Nothing is known of his parliamentary career, and he may not even have taken his seat: he never stood again for Parliament. In 1716 his nephew and heir, Jonathan Symonds, was appointed a king’s waiter in the port of London, in place of a Tory.2

Symonds died on 20 Sept. 1720, aged 72. His estate, consisting of property in Great Yarmouth and several of the neighbouring villages, was then valued at £50,000, but, as the preacher of his funeral oration remarked:

His annual income, and his ordinary expenses, did not seem to bear a due proportion; and he assured me some time before his death, that he had not much augmented the estate his father left him. The surplus must be laid out in acts of generosity and mercy.

In his will there were many such bequests, including £200 for building a new church at Yarmouth, and £1,000 in South Sea stock to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel.3

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: D. W. Hayton


  • 1. D. Turner, Sepulchral Reminiscences, 82; Cal. Freemen Gt. Yarmouth, 103; Norf. RO, Gt. Yarmouth bor. recs. assembly bks. 1662–80, 1680–1701, 1701–19; C. J. Palmer, Hist. Gt. Yarmouth, 311, 312.
  • 2. B. Love, Funeral Sermon . . . Symonds, 14–20; CSP Dom. 1683 (Jan.–June), pp. 69, 78, 212; 1702–3, p. 604; Gt. Yarmouth bor. recs. assembly bk. 1680–1701, p. 76; 1701–19, p. 32; Cal. Treas. Bks. xiv. 133; xxx. 215.
  • 3. Norf. RO, Dean Prideaux’s diary, 3, f. 75; PCC 242 Shaller; 18 Love.