THORNTON, Isaac (1615-69), of Snailwell, Cambs.

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. 27 Feb. 1615, 5th s. of Sir Roger Thornton (d.1631) of Soham, Cambs. by his 1st w. Lucy, da. and coh. of Thomas Turner of Blunt’s Hall, Little Wratting, Suff. educ. Corpus, Camb. 1631; L. Inn 1632, called 1640. m. Dorothy, at least 2s. 1da. Kntd. 19 Mar. 1661.1

Offices Held

J.p. Cambs. July 1660-d.; commr. for sewers, Norf. and Wisbech Aug. 1660, assessment, Cambs. Aug. 1660-d.; loyal and indigent officers 1662, corporations 1662-3.2


Thornton’s pedigree can be traced with certainty only from Elizabethan times. His eldest brother Samuel compounded for his delinquency on the Oxford articles in 1646, but nothing is known of Thornton’s attitude to the Civil War, though he was probably a royalist sympathizer. In 1654 he acquired a ‘capital messuage’ at Snailwell from another brother Roger, possibly with the help of Edward Benlowes, a minor poet with whom he seems to have been living at the time. By 1658 he had control of the manor.3

Thornton contested Cambridgeshire in 1660 as one of the candidates standing for ‘the restoration of the King and the Church’, and was returned, according to Samuel Pepys, ‘against all expectations’. But he was inactive in the Convention, in which he was named to only eight committees, of which the most important were those for appointing army commissioners and for settling the militia. He probably did not stand again, but he was not overlooked by the Court, receiving a knighthood and a share in the regicides’ lands. He died on 1 May 1669 and was buried at Snailwell, the only member of his family to sit in Parliament.4

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Authors: M. W. Helms / E. R. Edwards / Geoffrey Jaggar


  • 1. Mon. Inscriptions from Cambs. 150; Vis. Suff. ed. Metcalfe, 170; Howard, Vis. Suff. i. 18; PCC 14 St. John, 153 Penn; Cambs. RO, R55/7/45.
  • 2. Camb. Antiq. Soc. Procs. xvii. 105.
  • 3. Vis. Cambs. (Harl. Soc. xli), 32; Cal. Comm. Comp. 1515; Cal. Comm. Adv. Money, 792; Cambs. RO, R55/7/45.
  • 4. Cal. Cl. SP, iv. 657; Pepys Diary, 20 Apr. 1660; Adm. 1745, f. 69v; Mon. Inscriptions from Cambs. 150.