TEMPEST, William (1654-1700), of Old Durham, co. Dur.

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



Mar. 1679

Family and Education

bap. 31 Jan. 1654, and but 1st surv. s. of John Tempest. educ. Queen’s, Oxf. 1670; L. Inn 1671. m. 23 Dec. 1677, Elizabeth (bur. 25 June 1728), sis. of Sir John Sudbury, 1st Bt. of Eldon, 7s. (2 d.v.p.) 7da. suc. fa. 1697.1

Offices Held

Capt. of ft. regt. of Henry Cavendish (Earl of Ogle) 1673-4, (Duke of Newcastle) Oct.-Dec. 1688.

Freeman, Durham 1674, commr. for assessment, co. Dur. 1677-80, co. Dur. and Mdx. 1689-90, Westminster 1690; mayor, Hartlepool 1681-2, 1687-8, 1693-4; receiver-gen. of hearth-tax, Northumb., co. Dur., Cumb. and Westmld. 1686-9; j.p. co. Dur. Apr. 1688-?96, dep. lt. July 1688-?96, commr. for superstitious uses 1690.2


Tempest served briefly in the army in the third Dutch war. On his marriage his father seems to have made over Old Durham to him, and he stood for the neighbouring city at the first parliamentary election in March 1678. He was narrowly defeated by John Parkhurst, and petitioned twice without result. However, he was returned to the first Exclusion Parliament at the head of the poll, after spending £239 11s.5d. on the campaign. Shaftesbury marked him ‘base’. A moderately active Member, he was named to six committees, including those to inquire into his father’s election for the county and to inspect the Journals. On 21 Apr. 1679 he acted as teller for the Court on the Norfolk election, and he voted against exclusion. Tempest stood again for the city in the autumn, but was defeated by two votes. He was returned unopposed in 1681, but left no trace on the records of the Oxford Parliament.3

Tempest was replaced by Bishop Crew’s nephew, the Hon Charles Montagu, in James II’s Parliament, and listed by Danby among the country Opposition, although he was made receiver of the hearth-tax in the four northern counties in 1686 and a deputy lieutenant in the summer of 1688. Recalled to the colours when the Dutch landing was imminent, he was given command of a company of foot in the Tynemouth garrison, but he appears to have taken a purely passive part in the Revolution.4

Tempest was decisively defeated for Durham city in 1689, but regained his seat in the following year. Under suspicion as a Jacobite conspirator in 1696, he was buried at St. Giles, Durham on 15 Mar. 1700. His son sat briefly for the county as a Tory in 1707-8.5

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Authors: Gillian Hampson / Geoffrey Jaggar


  • 1. Surtees, Dur. iv. pt. 2, p. 93.
  • 2. Surtees, 23; C. Sharp, Hist. Hartlepool, 74-75; Cal. Treas. Bks. viii. 749; ix. 530, 1849; CSP Dom. 1687-9, p. 233.
  • 3. CJ, ix. 464, 517; C. Sharp, Parl. Rep. Dur. (1831), 32-34; Durham Cathedral Lib. Hunter mss 12/22.
  • 4. Browning, Danby, i. 417; Parl. Rep. Dur., 35.
  • 5. Surtees, pp. 92, 93; HMC Buccleuch, ii. 320; Luttrell, iv. 47.