TWYSDEN, Sir William, 3rd Bt. (1635-97), of Roydon Hall, East Peckham, Kent.

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



1695 - 27 Nov. 1697

Family and Education

b. 11 Dec. 1635, 1st s. of Sir Roger Twysden, 2nd Bt., of Roydon Hall by Isabella, da. of Sir Nicholas Saunders of Ewell, Surr. educ. privately in France 1643-7. m. 13 June 1665, Frances (d.1731), da. and h. of Josias Crosse, merchant, of Southwark, Surr., 9s. (3 d.v.p.) 6da.; 2 other ch. suc. fa. 27 June 1672.

Offices Held

J.p. Kent 1665-Feb. 1688, Oct. 1688-d., dep. lt. 1673-Feb. 1688, 1689-?d., commr. for assessment 1673-80, 1689-90, recusants 1675; asst. Rochester Bridge 1680-d., warden 1681, 1688, 1695; freeman, Maidstone 1683.1


Twysden came of a family settled in Kent since the 13th century, though his grandfather, who was returned for Clitheroe in 1593, was the first to enter Parliament. His father, the well-known antiquary, opposed ship-money, but could not bring himself to support either side in the Civil War. ‘For preferring a most seditious petition’ to the Long Parliament in favour of an accommodation with the King he was imprisoned, and later sequestrated on trumped-up charges of delinquency. He compounded with a fine of £1,300, and by careful management of his estate made good his losses. He was cool towards the Restoration, and was described by the lord lieutenant in 1668 as troublesome, unreliable and disaffected.2

Twysden succeeded to a property of £2,000 p.a. and stood unsuccessfully for the county at both elections of 1679 as a court supporter. In 1685 he and Sir John Knatchbull were specially recommended to the local customs officials and returned unopposed. Nevertheless Danby listed him among the Opposition. A very active Member of James II’s Parliament, he was named to 21 committees, including the committee of elections and privileges, and those charged with reporting on expiring laws, recommending expunctions from the Journals, and inspecting the accounts of the disbandment commissioners. As a landowner, he was naturally interested in such measures as those for encouraging woollen manufactures, improving tillage, and maintaining the prices of wool and corn. On 1 July he was named to the committee for the bill for the general naturalization of Protestant refugees. He was appointed to no committees in the short second session, but he made two speeches, recording their substance ‘as near as I can remember it’. On 12 Nov. he argued against a standing army, saying:

There seems now to be as little need of an army as can be at any time, and truly, when it is not wanted, I think the kingdom as safe without it as can be by it. The truth is, armies have often done more hurt to governments as good. ... That therefore, which I shall humbly move is that we may first consider if a standing army be necessary before we do of a supply for the maintaining it.

On 16 Nov., in the debate on supply, he spoke again.

It hath generally been the prudence of this House, that in cases that are new and are of great importance, to make their first Acts temporary and of probation only. ... Let us not, therefore, conclude ourselves neither so as to leave no room for a succeeding Parliament or sessions of Parliament to alter or amend what by experience may be found necessary. That, therefore, which I shall humbly move is that we proportion our gift so as that the [sum] established may not exceed two years, which £400,000 will fully do.3

To the lord lieutenant’s questions on the Test Act and Penal Laws Twysden replied on 15 Jan. 1688 that ‘until he hears the debates in Parliament, he cannot give a resolution. ... He shall assist to the election of such as he believes to be honest and loyal men.’ He was removed from local office, and refused to accept a new commission as deputy lieutenant in September on grounds of infirmity. But the King’s agents found him moderate, like Knatchbull, and considered that they would ‘consent to repeal the Penal Laws, but [are] reserved as to the Test’. Their interest in the county, it was reported, could not be opposed; but at the election Twysden’s refusal to sign the association for William of Orange lost him so much support that he withdrew before the poll. He came to accept the Revolution de facto, and was returned for both New Romney and Appleby in 1695. He signed the Association in 1696 only under compulsion in the King’s bench, but died on 27 Nov. 1697, and was buried at East Peckham, the last of the Roydon family to sit in Parliament.4

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: Basil Duke Henning


  • 1. Information from Mr P. F. Cooper, Bridge Clerk, Rochester Bridge Trust; W. R. James, Charters of Maidstone, 164.
  • 2. A. M. Everitt, Community of Kent and the Gt. Rebellion, 64, 98 121, 142, 153, 169, 222-3, 322-3; SP23/173/179.
  • 3. Dom. Intell. 23 Sept. 1679; CJ, x. 238; Add. 34173, ff. 37, 39.
  • 4. Add. 33923, ff. 458-62; Luttrell, iv. 460.