TANCRED, Christopher (1659-1705), of Whixley, nr. Aldborough, Yorks.

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



17 May 1690

Family and Education

bap. 8 Apr. 1659, 1st s. of Charles Tancred of Whixley by Dorothy, da. of Sir Christopher Wyvill, 3rd Bt. of Constable Burton. m. (1) 19 Nov. 1679, Catherine, da. of Sir John Armytage, 2nd Bt., of Kirklees, Yorks., 3s. (2 d.v.p.) 7da.; (2) da. of Sir Walter Clarges, 1st Bt. of Piccadilly, Westminster, s.p. suc. fa. 1669.1

Offices Held

Commr. for assessment, Yorks. (W. Riding) 1677-80, 1689-90, j.p. 1680-Sept. 1688, 1689-d.; sheriff, Yorks. 1684-6; dep. lt. (W. Riding) Oct. 1688-d.; gamekeeper, Newmarket 1689-1701.2

Capt. of ft. regt. of Sir Henry Goodricke 1678-9.

Master of the harriers 1689-1701.3


Tancred’s ancestors had lived in Boroughbridge in the 15th century and represented it in Tudor Parliaments. His grandfather was in arms for the King in the first Civil War, compounding on a fine of £346 and a settlement of £40 p.a. on the living of Whixley; but his father was too young to take part. Tancred himself served briefly in a Yorkshire regiment in Flanders in 1678. ‘An honest gentleman and much disposed to his [Majesty’s] service’, he enjoyed a useful interest at Aldborough on the wider franchise, since several of the inhabitants were his own tenants. He considered standing at the second general election of 1679, but gave way to another opponent of exclusion, Sir John Reresby, who reciprocated the compliment by recommending him for the commission of the peace. In November 1680 Sir John Kaye wrote that he and Tancred had been ‘mightily wronged by malicious reports’, alleging that they were both Roman Catholics. As sheriff of Yorkshire Tancred assured Sunderland on 10 Mar. 1685: ‘I question not but to send the King a greater number of loyal men to Parliament than ever was known from this county’. Though included in Danby’s list of the Opposition, he was continued as sheriff for a second year through the influence of Judge Jeffreys.4

As James II’s reign progressed Tancred, an Anglican, who had been reported in 1686 as drinking ‘prosperity to the Church of England’, became disillusioned with the King’s religious policies, and in 1687 his name appeared on a list of those opposed to the King. By 1688 he was acting as one of Danby’s agents in Yorkshire, sending him reports on the state of opinion in the county and lists of the militia. He presumably opposed the repeal of the Test Act and Penal Laws, since his name was omitted from the new commission of the peace. Shortly afterwards he took an active part in Danby’s plot to secure the county for the Prince of Orange. A meeting of the deputy lieutenants and leading gentry had been arranged to take place at York on 22 Nov. originally to pledge loyalty to King James in the face of William’s invasion. But the meeting was used by Goodricke, formerly Tancred’s commanding officer in Flanders, to propose a petition for a free Parliament. The petition was still being signed when Tancred rushed into the hall, shouting that ‘the Papists were risen and had fired at the militia troops’. Thereupon all left the hall, and took over the castle with the help of the militia. After unsuccessfully urging Reresby, the governor, to join the revolt, Tancred marched on Leeds with a party of horse, and seized £314 of the hearth-tax from the collectors for the forces at York.5

Tancred was returned as a Tory to the 1689 Convention for Aldborough, about five miles from Whixley. According to Anthony Rowe, he voted to agree with the Lords that the throne was not vacant; but he was appointed to no committees and made no recorded speeches. He was appointed master of the harriers in March, with a salary of £500 p.a. and a further £300 p.a. in lieu of perquisites, and game-keeper of Newmarket. After 1690 he usually voted with the Tories, but he signed the Association in 1696. He died on 23 Nov. 1705, and was buried at Whixley, the last member of his family to enter Parliament.6

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: Paula Watson


  • 1. Clay, Dugdale’s Vis. Yorks. i. 73-74.
  • 2. CSP Dom. 1687-9, p. 315; 1689-90, p. 148; Add. 29674, f. 160.
  • 3. CSP Dom. 1689-90, p. 47; Cal. Treas. Bks. xvi. 355.
  • 4. Clay, i. 69; Royalist Comp. Pprs. (Yorks. Arch. Soc. rec. ser. xv), 65-73; Reresby Mems. 213-14, 400; CSP Dom. 1685, p. 81; Leeds Central Lib. Mexborough mss. 12/59; 15/78, 89; 16/14; 25/26.
  • 5. HMC Le Fleming , 200; Reresby Mems. 528-9, 533, 584; HMC 7th Rep. 415, 420; Yorks. Arch. Jnl. x. 162; xxix. 264-5.
  • 6. CSP Dom. 1689-90, pp. 47, 145, 148; Clay, i. 74.