TANCRED, Christopher (1659-1705), of Whixley, nr. Aldborough, Yorks.

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



1689 - 1690
17 May 1690 - 1698

Family and Education

bap. 8 Apr. 1659, 1st s. of Charles Tancred, of Whixley by Dorothy, da. of Sir Christopher Wyvill, 3rd Bt.†, of Constable Burton, Yorks.  m. (1) 19 Nov. 1679, Catherine, da. of Sir John Armytage, 2nd Bt., of Kirklees, Yorks., 3s. (2 d.v.p.) 7da.; (2) da. of Sir Walter Clarges, 1st Bt.*, sis. of Sir Thomas Clarges, 2nd Bt.*, half-sis. of Robert Clarges*, s.psuc. fa. 1669.1

Offices Held

Capt., Sir Henry Goodricke’s [2nd Bt.*] ft. 1678–9; master of the harriers 1689–1701.2

Sheriff, Yorks. 1684–6; gamekeeper, Newmarket 1689–c.1701.3


An adherent of the Earl of Danby (Sir Thomas Osborne†), Tancred had played a minor part in bringing York over to the Prince of Orange in 1688. In August of that year he joined with other Protestant Yorkshire gentlemen in a concerted negative response to James II’s agents, and signed a statement declaring themselves under ‘no obligations’ to answer the questions on the Penal Laws and Test Act. He was also one of the Tory Members who voted against the transfer of the crown in 1689. In March of that year he was given the place of master of the harriers, or buck hounds, with a salary of £500 plus an extra £300 p.a. in lieu of perquisites, while in June he was made gamekeeper of Newmarket. Following a double return for Aldborough, where he stood with assistance from the Wentworth family, he was seated on petition on 17 May 1690. On a printed list of Members after the election, he had been classed as a Tory by Danby (now Lord Carmarthen). In December he was listed among those thought likely to defend Carmarthen in case of a parliamentary attack on him, while in April 1691 he was noted by Robert Harley* as a Court supporter. He was included in several lists during 1692–5 as a placeman. Tancred was not particularly active in Parliament, though he did act as a teller on several occasions. On 22 Jan. 1692 he was teller against a motion that the Tory Sir Basil Firebrace* was guilty of bribery at the Chippenham election (22 Jan. 1692). During the 1693–4 session he acted four times as a teller, twice, on 2 Feb. 1694, on motions favouring the Tory candidate in proceedings on the Clitheroe election; on 28 Feb., in favour of granting a supply of £600,000 over and above the anticipated yield from the land tax; and on 17 Apr., once more against declaring Hon. Fitton Gerard* duly elected for Clitheroe.4

Standing once again assisted by the Wentworth interest, Tancred was returned unopposed for Aldborough in the 1695 election. In the forecast in January 1696 on the proposed council of trade he was listed as likely to oppose the government. This stance was consistent with the views of his patron Carmarthen (now Duke of Leeds) with regard to such a council. However, Tancred was prompt in signing the Association. In the 1696–7 session he was one of several Members not excused from absence on 2 Nov. 1696, all of whom were to be ordered into custody if absent from a call of the House a week later. He was nevertheless absent from the division on the attainder of Sir John Fenwick† on the 25th, possibly on account of his presence at a by-election in Aldborough in which he took an active interest. He was attending the House by 21 Dec., when he told in favour of declaring the Tory (Sir) Arthur Kaye (3rd Bt.*) elected in this election. During 1697 Tancred’s state of health was such that James Vernon I*, writing on 29 June, was unsure whether he was dead or alive, and began making plans to appoint a successor as master of the harriers. By January 1698 Tancred had recovered sufficiently to complain of a breach of privilege against the vicar of Aldborough, Edward Morris, for intercepting letters sent to Tancred concerning the Aldborough election. The case was heard on 14 Feb., when the House found no grounds for the complaint, and ordered Tancred to pay Morris’ costs. On 31 Mar. Tancred was granted leave of absence.5

Tancred was defeated at Aldborough in the 1698 election, having lost the support of the Wentworths on account of his claim that he had previously been elected on his own interest. Following the election he was classed as a Court placeman left out of the new Parliament. He petitioned against the return on 12 Dec. 1698, and again on 16 Nov. 1699, but was unsuccessful. Although he did not sit in Parliament again, he tried unsuccessfully during 1699–1700 to develop an interest in Boroughbridge, having sold ‘his all’ in Aldborough for a reputed £16,000. Despite the King’s approval of Tancred for appointment as a deputy-lieutenant for the West Riding in 1700–1, Tancred seems to have fallen out of favour around this time, as in August 1701 he was removed from his position as master of the harriers. He appears to have retired from public life after this date, though in the autumn of 1705 he differed with the Duke of Newcastle (John Holles†) over the choice of candidates at Boroughbridge. Refusing to quarrel with the Duke, he resolved to ‘sit still, till it please God to send me health’. Unfortunately he was not to get his wish, and died shortly afterwards, on 22 Nov. 1705. He was buried at Whixley the following day.6

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Authors: Eveline Cruickshanks / Ivar McGrath


  • 1. Dugdale’s Vis. Yorks. ed. Clay, i. 73–74; Kimber and Johnson, Baronetage, ii. 384.
  • 2. Cal. Treas. Bks. ix. 351; xvi. 355.
  • 3. Clay, 74; CSP Dom. 1685, pp. 2–3; 1686–7, p. 10; 1689–90, p. 148; Cal. Treas. Bks. xx. 598.
  • 4. A. Browning, Danby, i. 397, 429; iii. 157; Cumbria RO (Carlisle), Lonsdale mss D/Lons/L1/1/34, Sir William Lowther* to Sir John Lowther, 2nd Bt. II*, 22 Aug. 1688; K. Feiling, Tory Party, 498; CSP Dom. 1689–90, pp. 47, 145, 148; Luttrell Diary, 149.
  • 5. Vernon–Shrewsbury Letters, i. 295–6; N. Yorks. RO, Swinton mss, Danby pprs. ZS, Edward Morris’ case, 1698; Chandler, iii. 356.
  • 6. Swinton mss, Danby pprs. ZS, John Wentworth to Sir Abstrupus Danby*, 12 May 1698, Edward Morris to same, 1, 9, 17 Dec. 1699, 26 July, 4 Aug., 17 Oct. 1700; CSP Dom. 1700–2, pp. 31, 249; Cal. Treas. Bks. xvi. 355; Nottingham Univ. Lib. Portland (Holles) mss Pw2 238a, Tancred to [Newcastle], 14 Oct. 1705; Clay, 74.