MASTER, Sir Edward (1610-91), of Canterbury, Kent.

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. 2 Aug. 1610, 2nd but 1st surv. s. of Giles Master of Henshurst, Woodchurch by 1st w. Mary, da. and coh. of Edward Hales of Chilham. m. 11 Sept. 1635, Dorcas (d. 14 Dec. 1670), da. of Sir Hugh Hammersley, Haberdasher, of London, ld. mayor 1627-8, at least 4s., 16 other ch. suc. fa. 1643, kntd. ?18 June 1660.1

Offices Held

J.p. Kent July 1660-89, commr. for assessment, Kent Aug. 1660-9, Canterbury 1661-80; freeman, Canterbury 1661; commr. for recusants, Kent 1675.2


Master came from one of the obscurer branches of a family established in Kent since Tudor times. One of them sat for Sandwich in 1554, and a namesake and distant cousin represented Canterbury in the Long Parliament. Master’s father died early in the Civil War, and Master himself probably remained neutral till the Kentish rising against Parliament in 1648, after which he compounded with the county committee for a £400 fine. He was knighted shortly after the Restoration, being so styled as an assessment commissioner in August 1660.3

Master apparently preferred to live in Canterbury rather than on his own estate. Returned at the general election of 1661, he was an active Member of the Cavalier Parliament with 211 committees. He was named to only one committee in the first session, to eight in the second, and to 12 in the third, including those for the conventicles and additional corporations bills. He continued to take part in the routine work of the House and on 26 Sept. 1666 was named to the committee on the bill to prohibit the import of foreign cattle. A country Cavalier, he welcomed the fall of Clarendon, asserting that he was guilty of peculation under the Corporations Act, and had ‘procured the bills of settlement for Ireland and received great sums of money for the same in most corrupt and unlawful manner’. He was appointed to the committees to consider the public accounts bill and to inquire into the miscarriages of the war.4

On 20 Feb. 1668, Master, ‘having been lately sick of a fever, and still indisposed’, was given leave to go into the country. It was probably about this time that he wrote to the Speaker, (Sir) Edward Turnor, asking that, because of old age and bodily infirmities, he should be allowed to resign his seat. He was not named to another committee until 7 Nov. 1670, but after the long prorogation he again became active. He was sent to ask the broad churchman Tillotson, then dean of Canterbury, to preach to the House in February 1674. He proposed an amendment to the habeas corpus bill after the third reading, a motion which was disallowed by the Speaker. On 22 Apr. 1675 he was teller against the second reading of the place bill. In May he was named to the committees on the bills for hindering Papists from sitting in Parliament and preventing the growth of Popery. He received the government whip for the autumn session, but replied to Secretary Coventry that old age and ill health might prevent his appearance at Westminster. He did, however, attend, being named to the committee of elections and privileges and to that for the bill appropriating the customs to the use of the navy. On 8 Nov. he urged the House to accept the unsigned petition of Thomas Howard, who had been sent to the Tower as a consequence of his challenge to William Cavendish, Lord Cavendish.5

Master was a member of the court party during the Danby administration. His name appeared on the working lists and in Wiseman’s account, and in 1677 Shaftesbury marked him as ‘doubly vile’. He was on the opposition list of the ‘unanimous club’ and in A Seasonable Argument he was described as ‘a great wittol’. The absence of his name from the court party list of 1678 was probably due to his irregular attendance; his last committee appointment was on 14 June and he did not stand again. In December 1687 he gave affirmative answers on the repeal of the Test Act and Penal Laws, and was recommended for retention on the commission of the peace. Probably a non-juror after the Revolution, he died on 22 Jan. 1691, and was buried in St. Paul’s, Canterbury, the last of the Kentish family to sit in Parliament.6

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: Basil Duke Henning


  • 1. Vis. Kent (Harl. Soc. xliv), 109; Le Neve’s Knights (Harl. Soc. viii), 513-14; St. George’s Canterbury Par. Reg. 188; Wards 7/99/102.
  • 2. Kent AO, Q/JC/19; Roll of Freemen ed. Cowper, 322.
  • 3. Vis. Kent (Harl. Soc. xliii), 12; Cal. Comm. Comp. 458; Statutes, v. 284.
  • 4. Add. 35865, f. 18v; Grey, i. 35.
  • 5. Bath mss, Coventry pprs. 4, f. 335; CJ, ix. 297; Grey, ii. 446; iii. 419.
  • 6. St. Paul’s Canterbury Par. Reg. 243.