ETTRICK, William (1651-1716), of Holt Lodge, Dorset and the Middle Temple.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Family and Education

b. 15 Nov. 1651, 1st s. of Anthony Ettrick. educ. Trinity, Oxf. 1667; M. Temple 1669, called 1675. m. (1) Elizabeth, da. and coh. of Sir Edmund Bacon, 4th Bt., of Redgrave, Suff., 1da.; (2) Frances, da. of Thomas Wyndham II of Witham Friary, Som., 1da. suc. fa. 1703.1

Offices Held

Freeman, Poole 1684, Salisbury 1685; commr. for assessment, Dorset and Somerset 1689-90, Mdx. 1690, bencher, M. Temple 1699, treas. 1711-12.2

Attorney to Prince George by 1692-1708; counsel to commr. for land bank 1699; counsel to the Admiralty 1711-14.3


While Ettrick’s father concentrated on undermining the ecclesiastical independence of Poole, ten miles from Holt, he was himself at work crushing its administrative autonomy; and it can hardly have been with much joy that the cowed electors returned him to James II’s Parliament. He soon made his mark, with 15 committees, including the committee of elections and privileges and that to recommend expunctions from the Journals. On 11 June he reported the estate bill of Edward Meller, though Roger North claimed the principal credit for its passage. A week later he acted as teller with (Sir) Winston Churchill for the second reading of the bill to prevent clandestine marriages, and was appointed to the committee. On 27 June he reported from a small committee a clause to forbid any proposal in Parliament for altering the succession to the throne; but it was ordered to lie on the table. It is probable that he rode the circuit with Judge Jeffreys on the Bloody Assizes, for he later remembered how ‘it caused compassion in Englishmen when they saw so many men’s quarters hanged up upon the western roads’. A speech on supply attributed to Ettrick in the second session was probably delivered by William Hewer.4

Although Ettrick probably concurred with the King’s ecclesiastical policy, he succeeded his father in the representation of Christchurch in 1689 on the interest of the 2nd Earl of Clarendon (Henry Hyde). A moderately active Member of the Convention, he was appointed to 21 committees, including that which produced the list of essentials for the preservation of religion, law, and liberty. He voted to agree with the Lords that the throne was not vacant, a view he was still maintaining as late as 8 May, for King James’s ‘desertion’ could not affect the rights of his heirs. Nevertheless he was among those appointed to inquire into the authors and advisers of grievances and to draft the new coronation oath.5

Ettrick’s work for the remainder of the Convention was chiefly the prevention of excessive reprisals against James’s supporters, or at any rate the churchmen among them. Against Papist converts, like Sunderland, he did not scruple to call for the full rigours of the law. But in general he insisted that there was nothing better than a reconciliation. He spoke against extending the treason laws, and defended James II’s judges and the ecclesiastical commissioners. He would include all in the indemnity bill except those who were notorious, and he hoped that those who had made atonement by their present services would be buried in oblivion. Stout churchman though he was, he was pepared to make concessions to the dissenters. ‘I am as much for indulgence to tender consciences as anybody’, he said on 17 May. He would let them believe as they pleased, so long as they were not allowed to fill the world with endless controversies and disputes through the medium of the press. In the same spirit he spoke against continuing the suspension of habeas corpus. ‘You are going into the country’, he said on 22 May, ‘and I know not how soon some of us may be sent for again and committed, perhaps till November, to a close prison all this summer.’ The arrest of Peregrine Osborne in the next must have seemed to Ettrick to lend point to this remark.6

In the second session Ettrick was appointed to the committees for restoring corporations and the attainder bill. On 18 Dec. he reported Lord Hereford’s estate bill and carried it to the Lords. He spoke boldly against the disabling clause, and on 10 Jan. 1690 acted as teller for the motion to discuss the indemnity bill in a committee of the whole House. He continued to sit for Christchurch till his death, voting on most issues with the Tories. He died on 5 Dec. 1716 and was buried at Wimborne Minster. His estate descended to his unmarried daughter, but his interest had been based more on his legal ability and his connexion with the Osbornes than on his property.7

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: John. P. Ferris


  • 1. Aubrey, Brief Lives, i. 250; London Vis. Peds. (Harl. Soc. xcii), 12.
  • 2. Poole archives B17; Hoare, Wilts. Salisbury 483.
  • 3. Cal. Treas. Bks. xxiii. 222-3.
  • 4. CSP Dom. July-Sept. 1683, p. 431; 1683-4, p. 215; Grey, ix. 210.
  • 5. R. Morrice, Entering Bk. 2, p. 71; Clarendon Corresp. i. 181-3; Browning, Danby, i. 366, 421, 423, 428-9; Grey, ix. 54-55, 238.
  • 6. Grey, ix. 259-60, 266, 301, 314, 317, 382; J. P. Kenyon, Sunderland, 237.
  • 7. Grey, ix. 518; Burke, Commoners, iii. 16.