THOMPSON, William (1629-92), of Scarborough, Yorks.

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



21 June 1660
Mar. 1679
Oct. 1679
16 Feb. 1689
1690 - Feb. 1692

Family and Education

b. 25 Aug. 1629, 1st s. of Stephen Thompson of Humbleton by Mary, da. of Henry Blakiston of Archdeacon-Newton, co. Dur. educ. Merchant Taylors 1646, M. Temple 1648. m. 28 Aug. 1654, Frances, da. of Henry Barnard, merchant, of Kingston-upon-Hull, Yorks., 5s. 6da. suc. fa. 1677.1

Offices Held

Commr. for assessment, Yorks. (N. Riding) Aug. 1660-80, Hull 1661-3, (E. Riding) 1663-80, (W. and E. Ridings and York) 1689-90, corporations, Yorks. 1662-3; j.p. (E. Riding) ?1689-d., (N. Riding) by 1690-d.; dep. lt. (E. Riding) 1689-d.2


Thompson’s great-grandfather acquired the exmonastic estate of Humbleton in Holderness in 1614, and sat for Scarborough in 1625. His grandfather leased the castle from the crown in 1630 and acquired other property in the town, including the rectory; but he resided chiefly at Humbleton. During the Civil War he was forced by the cruelty of Sir John Hotham to take refuge with Thompson’s father in Scarborough, then a royalist garrison. But they rendered considerable services to the parliamentary cause both before and after this episode, and were allowed to compound for £337. As his father had not been in arms, Thompson was eligible under the Long Parliament ordinance at the general election of 1660, in which he was defeated by John Legard. Seated in the Convention on petition, he was given leave of absence on 31 July, and played no known part in the business of the House. After re-election in 1661 he joined with his father in exchanging the lease of the castle for the fee-farm rent due on their manor of Humbleton, and was described by Lord Treasurer Southampton as ‘an honest, loyal gentleman’.3

During the first session of the Cavalier Parliament, Thompson was appointed to the committee for the uniformity bill and to four others of less importance. He helped to consider the conventicles bill in 1664; but shortly afterwards he abducted the heiress of an Essex baronet, taking her to France to marry her to his son as soon as they were old enough. Her guardian, (Sir) William Jones, had Thompson’s father imprisoned in the Tower as an accomplice; but local opinion, as represented by (Sir) John Bramston, was rather surprisingly on the abductor’s side, and Thompson himself escaped punishment. He was never active in Parliament again, however, defaulting three times on calls of the House. He was added to the committee on the state of Ireland on 23 Feb. 1674, but his total for the whole Parliament was only thirteen. On the working lists he was entrusted to the personal management of Lord Treasurer Danby, but this cannot have been successful, for Shaftesbury marked him ‘doubly worthy’ in 1677.4

Thompson shared the representation of Scarborough with his son Francis in the Exclusion Parliaments, but was probably the less active of the two. Shaftesbury classed him as ‘worthy’ in 1679, but his only certain committee was to inquire into the abuses of the Post Office, and he was absent from the division on the exclusion bill. With his old enemy Jones prominent on the opposition benches, he probably took no part in the second and third Exclusion Parliaments. After the Rye House Plot he was suspected of complicity in the escape of Wade, though Sir Hugh Cholmley argued that ‘considering the man’s nature, his wealth ... should make him more wary than to be guilty of such a fact’. It was probably his son who stood unsuccessfully for Scarborough in 1685, but both were taken into custody on Monmouth’s invasion. He may have been a Whig collaborator, since he was recommended by the regulators for the commission of the peace in March 1688, and he did not stand at the general election of 1689, when his son was elected for Scarborough with William Harbord, the prominent Whig exile. When Harbord chose to sit for Launceston, however, Thompson was returned at a by-election. Doubtless an inactive Member of the Convention, he may have served on six committees, of which the most important were for restoring corporations (2 May) and considering the scandalous reports about Harbord (8 July). After the Christmas recess he was named to the committee on the private bill promoted by Sidney Wortley Montagu, and may thus have attended the debate on the disabling clause two days later; but like his son he was not listed among its supporters. Re-elected in 1690, he died in February 1692.5

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Authors: P. A. Bolton / Paula Watson


  • 1. Clay, Dugdale’s Vis. Yorks. iii. 42.
  • 2. HMC 8th Rep. pt. 1 (1881), 275; SP44/165/278; Add. 29674, f. 161.
  • 3. G. Poulson, Holderness, i. 63; VCH N. Riding ii. 542; Royalist Comp. Pprs. (Yorks. Arch. Soc. rec. ser. xv), 3-10; Cal. Treas. Bks. vii. 1600.
  • 4. PC2/59/18, 60, 211; Bramston Autobiog. (Cam. Soc. xxxii), 154-5.
  • 5. CSP Dom. July-Sept. 1683, p. 143; 1685, p. 228; Luttrell, ii. 372.