WINCHCOMBE, Sir Henry, 2nd Bt. (1659-1703), of Bucklebury, Berks.

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 - 1695

Family and Education

b. 16 June 1659, 1st s. of Sir Henry Winchcombe, 1st Bt., of Bucklebury by Frances, da. and event. h. of Thomas Howard†, 3rd Earl of Berkshire.  m. (1) 25 Jan. 1676, Elizabeth (d. 1685), da. of Francis Hungerford, physician, of Reading, Berks., 2s. d.v.p. 4da. (1 d.v.p.); (2) bef. 1689, Elizabeth (d. 1719), da. of Hugh Rolle of Great Torrington, Devon, 1da.  suc. fa. as 2nd Bt. 2 Dec. 1667.1

Offices Held

Freeman and bailiff, Oxford 1689.2


Although blind, Winchcombe was obviously a force to be reckoned with in Berkshire politics. James II’s election agents believed that he could ‘influence the election if he could be gained’, but there is no evidence that he was a Whig ‘collaborator’. After sitting in the Convention of 1689, he was re-elected in 1690 at the top of the poll. Lord Carmarthen (Sir Thomas Osborne†) classed him as a Whig on his analysis of the 1690 Parliament. Robert Harley* thought him a Country supporter in April 1691, but Samuel Grascome, in his list of the spring of 1693, extended to 1695, perceived him to be a Court supporter. Such a switch in position is probably best explained by the growing Whig influence in the ministry. Winchcombe appears to have been much afflicted by ill-health, receiving leave of absence four times in the years 1693–5. Probably because of this, he declined to stand at the 1695 election, bestowing his interest on his erstwhile partner, Richard Neville*, and, secondly, on Sir Humphrey Forster, 2nd Bt.*, his Tory fellow Member, ‘to whom’, he wrote on 15 Sept. 1695, ‘I am engaged by promise (some time since) to serve him’. Winchcombe’s support for Forster was conditional upon his joining Neville, with the aim apparently of avoiding a contest. Despite much discontent over Winchcombe’s actions, his plan seems to have worked since no contest resulted.3

In March 1698, Winchcombe lost an appeal to the Lords against a Chancery decree over some estates he claimed as the heir of his great-grandfather. This may have been preparatory to settling his estates in order to provide for his four daughters, which he accomplished in March of the following year. His will, made in 1702, confirmed this settlement, by which Bucklebury went to his eldest daughter, Frances (wife of Henry St. John II*), and Thatcham to his second daughter, Elizabeth (who died unmarried in 1705). The ultimate beneficiary, however, was his third daughter, Mary (wife of Robert Packer*), and her son Winchcombe Howard Packer†. Winchcombe’s only daughter by his second marriage, Henrietta (d. 1705), was to obtain a portion of £4,000 and £90 p.a. for maintenance and education. By the date of his will, he was obviously in very poor health: in August 1701, Sir William Trumbull* had noted that he had ‘had such fits last winter as were believed very dangerous, and indeed his course of life makes people very unwilling to go so far’. Although he attended the county election in August 1702, he died on 5 Nov. 1703, leaving St. John well placed to inherit the political influence derived from his property.4

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: Stuart Handley


  • 1. IGI, Berks.; A. L. Humphreys, Bucklebury, 310; VCH Berks. iii. 443; PCC 238 Pyne.
  • 2. Oxford Council Acts (Oxf. Hist. Soc. n.s. ii), 206.
  • 3. Duckett, Penal Laws and Test Act (1883), 235; HMC Downshire, i. 549–50.
  • 4. HMC Lords, n.s. iii. 142–3; Add. 36149, f. 295; PCC 54 Ash; VCH Berks. 312–13; S. Barfield, Thatcham, i. 328–9; HMC Downshire, 805; BL, Trumbull Add. mss 133, Trumbull to St. John, 16 Aug. 1702 (draft).