WHITE, Walter (1667-1705), of the Manor House, Grittleton, Wilts.

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



1695 - 1702
11 May - 21 July 1705

Family and Education

b. 13 Aug. 1667, 1st s. of Walter White of Grittleton by Priscilla, da. of John Eyles, woolstapler, of Devizes, Wilts., sis. of (Sir) John Eyles†.  educ. M. Temple 1684. unmsuc. fa. 1678.1

Offices Held


‘Watt’ White came from Puritan stock. His grandfather had commanded the Parliamentarian garrison at Bristol in the early stages of the Civil War, and his father, who had abetted the conventicles of the Presbyterian minister Henry Stubbes, insisted on a Nonconformist minister to preach at his own funeral, on the grounds that he had ‘always hated’ the ‘Common Prayer’. White himself was described by King James’s agents in April 1688 as ‘a thorough right man’, who would be elected at Malmesbury ‘if the regulation be passed’. After assisting Thomas Tollemache* at a by-election in 1691, he was chosen at Chippenham in 1695 on the Whig interest. In this Parliament the Journals do not differentiate between Walter and his fellow Whig John White. Forecast as likely to vote with the Court in the division of 31 Jan. 1696 on the proposed council of trade, he also signed the Association. In the second session White voted on 25 Nov. 1696 for Sir John Fenwick’s† attainder. In April 1697 White approached his electoral patron Lord Wharton (Hon. Thomas*) with a request to have the troops quartered at Chippenham removed and their debts honoured, and later in the year he appears to have acted as a go-between for Wharton in a business transaction.2

Re-elected unopposed in 1698, White had then no namesakes in the House. He was listed as a member of the Court party in a comparative analysis of the old and new Parliaments, but was thought a probable supporter of the disbanding bill. Whether he in fact voted for or against, or was absent, has not been ascertained: although he figured on a ‘black list’ circulated in Wiltshire of those who had opposed the bill, to the surprise of at least one local Whig he was not included in any of the published lists. He was still in Wiltshire in mid-December 1698, when his Chippenham colleague Edward Montagu promised to warn him of any forthcoming call of the House, and may have returned by 2 Jan. 1699 when he was named to a committee. On 22 Apr. he reported from the committee which had considered the bill to make the Hope a free ship, which he carried to the Lords two days later. On 26 Apr. he and his friend Henry Blaake were tellers against receiving the report of the committee to investigate a petition alleging corruption against the agent for the Spanish packet-boats at Falmouth. The final session of the 1698 Parliament witnessed a flurry of activity on White’s part. He was a teller on 8 and 15 Jan. 1700, against a motion to excuse the absence of Ralph Freman II, and against adjourning debate on the book An Inquiry into the Miscarriages . . . at Darien, and on 22 Mar. against an additional clause to the Irish forfeitures resumption and land tax bill, to safeguard the Irish grant to the children of Sir Charles Porter*. On 8 Jan. he was named in first place to the drafting committee for the bill to curtail the coining of farthings and half pennies, which he presented on the 18th. He also helped to manage a naturalization bill through the House. His last contribution to the work of this Parliament was on 2 Apr. when he reported from the committee considering the bill to relieve the London poor. On an analysis from early 1700 he was classed as a member of the Junto interest.3

White was less active in the 1701 Parliament. He was busy in the second general election of that year, working with Blaake and others under the supervision of Wharton to further the interest of the Whig candidates for the county. He was classed with the Whigs in Robert Harley’s* list of this Parliament, but, with Thomas White II now in the House, it is difficult to be sure of his parliamentary activities. A ‘Mr White’ was a teller on two occasions during the session. He stood down at Chippenham in 1702 in favour of James Montagu II*, and in November 1703 was able to call upon several powerful friends, including Wharton, the Duke of Somerset and Bishop Burnet, to help him avoid being pricked as sheriff of Wiltshire. His last surviving correspondence with Wharton took place in April 1705, when his support was requested for Wharton’s nominees at Malmesbury.4

Returned in 1705, White was classed, curiously, as a ‘Churchman’ in a list of the new Parliament. He died intestate on 21 July 1705, and was buried at Grittleton. His only brother, a Bilbao merchant, had predeceased him, and so his two sisters became his coheirs, the elder obtaining Grittleton and the younger his property in Essex and Worcestershire, as well as the manor of Easton Piercy, in the vicinity of Chippenham, which he had bought for a little over £3,000 only a year before.5

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Authors: D. W. Hayton / Henry Lancaster


  • 1. J. E. Jackson, Hist. Grittleton, 8.
  • 2. PCC 76 King; Defoe Letters, 103; G. L. Turner, Original Recs. v. 1, pp. 107, 133; Wilts. Arch. Mag. xii. 315; xlvi. 68, 70, 84; Jackson, 7, 9; Duckett, Penal Laws and Test Act (1882), 226; CJ, x. 637–8; Add. 70118, Edward* to Sir Edward Harley*, 23 Nov., 18 Dec. 1697.
  • 3. Wilts. Arch. Mag. xlvi. 72–74, 77.
  • 4. Ibid. 79–80, 82–85.
  • 5. Jackson, 8, 23; PROB 6/81, f. 169; Wilts. RO, 1620/1.