MARKHAM, Sir Robert, 2nd Bt. (1644-90), of Sedgebrook, Lincs.

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



12 Mar. 1678
Mar. 1679
Oct. 1679

Family and Education

b. 10 Dec. 1644, 1st s. of Sir Robert Markham, 1st Bt., of Sedgebrook by 2nd w. Rebecca, da. of Sir Edward Hussey, 1st Bt., of Honington, educ. Wadham, Oxf. 1660. m. 31 Aug. 1665, Mary (d. 7 Apr. 1683), da. and coh, of Sir Thomas Widdrington of Cheeseburn Grange, Northumb., 2s. 1da. suc. fa. 2 Feb. 1667.1

Offices Held

Dep. lt. Lincs. 1669-79, commr. for assessment 1673-80, 1689, recusants 1675; freeman, Grantham 1677; j.p. Lincs. (Kesteven) by 1680-Feb. 1688, Oct. 1688-?d.; commr, for inquiry into recusancy fines, Lincs., Notts. and Derbys. Mar. 1688.2


Markham’s family originated in Nottinghamshire, which they first represented in 1467. They achieved distinction in the legal profession in the later middle ages, and the Sedgebrook branch was founded by the younger son of John Markham, judge of common pleas from 1396 to 1408, who married a Lincolnshire heiress. Markham’s father, who was given a baronetcy in 1642, was nominated to the commission of array, but never acted, though by living in the royalist garrison of Lincoln he became a technical delinquent and was fined £1,000. During the Protectorate, however, he manifested ‘his good affection to God’s people and the present Government’.3

Markham, the eldest of 23 children, inherited an estate of £1,600 p.a. heavily encumbered with debt. Joseph Williamson considered him a hopeful young man at the time of his marriage, and in April 1677 Danby encouraged him to stand for Newark. But he withdrew before the poll, for which the other court candidate, Henry Savile, expressed himself ‘most handsomely obliged’. A vacancy at Grantham had already been created by the death of Sir William Thorold, and Markham immediately qualified himself to represent the borough by taking out his freedom. His candidature remained a well-kept secret until three days before the poll, when, with the aid of the Earl of Lindsey (Robert Bertie I) he defeated a strong country candidate, Sir William Ellys. After a bitter struggle in the House and the King’s personal intervention, Ellys’s petition was rejected, a result regarded as a major triumph for the Court. Marked ‘doubly vile’ on Shaftesbury’s list, Markham was moderately active in the closing sessions of the Cavalier Parliament. He twice acted as teller, and was appointed to 11 committees, of which the most important was on the bill to exclude Papists from Parliament. But he supported the Lords’ proviso to exempt the Duke of York, arguing that ‘if the Duke’s relation to the crown be considered, there is a difference between him and other subjects’. A loyal supporter of Danby to the end, he acted as teller against his impeachment.4

Markham sat for Newark in the Exclusion Parliament on the Savile interest. An active Member in 1679, he was appointed to 18 committees and spoke twice. On 27 Apr. he reminded the House of the Elizabethan Act of Association passed when the Queen was threatened with assassination by the Roman Catholics, and he was chairman of the committee which drafted an address in similar terms. On 3 May he was sent to the Lords to desire a conference on habeas corpus, and he carried up the leather export bill which he had chaired. In the debate on exclusion, he said:

Surely there is something the Duke affects more than the crown of England; and you can do nothing more favourable to him than by a bill that he should not return into England without the consent of the King, Lords and Commons.

Although classed as ‘vile’ by Shaftesbury and included in the ‘unanimous club’ of court supporters, Markham was the only Nottinghamshire Member to vote for the bill, and he was removed from the lieutenancy.5

In the second Exclusion Parliament Markham was very active. He made five speeches, and was appointed to 19 committees, including those to receive information about the Popish Plot and to inquire into abhorring. He acted as teller for the bill to prevent the import of Scottish cattle, and for the addition of (Sir) Christopher Musgrave to the committee for the impeachment of Edward Seymour. No doubt under the influence of Savile’s brother, he had become a trimmer on exclusion, and the Duke of York appreciated his change of attitude. On 11 Nov. 1680 he suggested a proviso that the bill should apply only so long as the Duke remained a Roman Catholic ‘that so we may not leave him without some temptation to return to the Protestant religion’. In the same speech he also argued against excluding the Duke’s future issue, whether male or female, and he later urged that Princess Anne should be married to a Protestant prince. When the King made it clear that he would never agree to altering the succession, Markham proposed an expedient:

In case the Duke should outlive the King, I think, if by an Act of Parliament, the Prince of Orange were appointed to administer the government jointly with him, with such powers and limitations as might be thought convenient upon a serious debate, it might give great satisfaction and probably secure the Protestant religion.

However, by this point, his policy of moderation and expedients was distinctly out of favour, and his suggestion that the prince as regent might be ‘an ornament’ was greeted with laughter by the House.6

Markham was foreman of the Lincolnshire grand jury which presented a loyal address abhorring Shaftesbury’s purported ‘Association’, but his vote for exclusion in 1679 was not forgotten. Although Savile supported his candidature for Grantham in 1685, Lindsey was so eager for ‘the exclusion of the excluder’ that he was forced to withdraw. To Lindsey’s questions on the repeal of the Test Act and Penal Laws he returned the same negative answers as (Sir) Henry Monson and was removed from the commission of the peace. His appointment to the local commission of inquiry into recusancy fines may have been due to confusion with the Nottinghamshire family, who were Roman Catholics. His attitude to the Revolution is not known. He died on 27 Oct. 1690 and was buried at Sedgebrook. His son, the third baronet, sat for Newark from 1695 to 1698.7

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: J. S. Crossette


  • 1. C. Markham, Markham Mems. i. 159.
  • 2. CSP Dom. 1668-9, p. 582; Grantham minute bk. 1, f. 656; Cal. Treas. Bks. viii. 1806.
  • 3. Markham, 154; HMC Buccleuch, i. 528; Cal. Comm. Comp. 1044; Thurloe, iv. 509.
  • 4. Her. and Gen. ii. 123; Add. 18721; Savile Corresp. (Cam. Soc. lxxi), 45, 47; HMC Rutland, ii. 48; HMC Ormonde, n.s. iv. 429, 431; CSP Dom. 1678, p. 205; Grey, vi. 240; CJ, ix. 560.
  • 5. Grey, vii. 142, 239; CJ, ix. 621, 625.
  • 6. CJ, ix. 657, 660; HMC Dartmouth, i. 53; Exact Coll. Debates, 88-89, 246; HMC 12th Rep. IX, 100; Grey, viii. 266.
  • 7. CSP Dom. 1682, p. 138; HMC Rutland, ii. 85-88; Her. and Gen. iii. 516.