Edmund Wyndham

Sir Edmund Wyndham (1601 – 2 March 1681) was an Somerset landowner, and Member of Parliament on different occasions between 1625 and 1679. He supported the Parliamentary opposition to Charles I, until 1630, when his wife was appointed wet-nurse to the Prince of Wales.

Sir Edmund Wyndham

St Decuman's, Wyndham Chapel
Knight Marshal
In office
1667 – 1681  
MP for Bridgwater
In office
April 1661 – January 1679
Deputy Lieutenant of Somerset
In office
1660 – 1681  
MonarchCharles II
MP for Minehead
In office
March 1628 – June 1629
Personal details
Borncirca 1600
Kentsford House,[a] Somerset
DiedMarch 2, 1681(1681-03-02) (aged 80)
Whitehall, London
Resting placeSt Decuman's Church, Watchet
Spouse(s)Christabella Pyne (d.1658)
Elizabeth Savage
RelationsSir Francis Wyndham
ChildrenThree sons, one daughter
ParentsSir Thomas Wyndham, Elizabeth Coningsby (died 1635)
Alma materWadham College, Oxford
Military service
Allegiance Royalist 1642-1646
CommandsGovernor of Bridgwater 1643-1645
Battles/warsFirst English Civil War
Taunton Bridgwater

Thereafter, he was given a number of government pensions, and was expelled from the Long Parliament in 1641 as a monopolist. When the First English Civil War began in 1642, he was a prominent leader of the Royalists in the West Country, and appointed Commissioner of Array for Somerset.

He served as governor of Bridgwater from 1643, until its surrender to Parliamentarian forces in July 1645. He was held in custody until 1649, when he escaped to join Charles II in exile, returning only after the 1660 Restoration.

Although he was elected to the Cavalier Parliament in 1661, and appointed Knight Marshal in 1667, he failed to obtain what he considered adequate reimbursement for his losses in the civil war.

He died in March 1681.


Remains of Kentsford House, now farm; Edmund was the last Wyndham to live here

Edmund Wyndham was born around 1600, eldest son of Sir Thomas Wyndham (1570-1631), and his wife Elizabeth Coningsby (died 1635). His father came from the Kentsford Wyndhams, a cadet branch of the Orchard Wyndhams, a numerous and powerful grouping within the Somerset gentry. He was one of five sons, including Sir Francis Wyndham (1612-1676); the other three died during the 1638 to 1651 Wars of the Three Kingdoms.[2]

In 1623, he married Christabella Pyne, who was appointed nurse to the Prince of Wales in 1631. They had four surviving children; Hugh (1624-1671), Thomas (1628-1713), Carolina (1634-1721), and Charles (1638-1706).[2] In 1667, he married Elizabeth Savage; they had no children.[3]



He was educated at Wadham College, Oxford and entered Lincoln's Inn to study law in 1620, then considered part of the education required for a gentleman. He sat as Member of Parliament for Minehead in the 1625 and 1628 Parliaments, when supported the Parliamentary opposition to Charles I.[4]

This changed when his wife was appointed wet-nurse to the infant prince in 1630, and he received various government posts and pensions. From 1629 to 1640, Charles ruled without Parliament, leading to a constant search for new sources of revenue; the most famous was ship money, others included the right to manufacture soap. Wyndham was appointed a 'soap searcher', a monopoly resented for various reasons, one being the right of 'searchers' to enter private houses, and remove 'illicit' materials.[5]

Wyndham's political opponent, the Earl of Clarendon, ca 1653

Like Charles, Wyndham invested heavily in fenland reclamation, an undertaking that caused considerable local unrest, constant legal challenges, vast expense, and not completed until the 1650s.[6] These losses forced him to mortgage his estates; in April 1640, he was returned as MP for Bridgwater in the Short Parliament. Elected again in November 1640 to the Long Parliament, he was expelled in January 1641 as a monopolist.[3]

1642 to 1646Edit

When the First English Civil War began in August 1642, Charles appointed him a Commissioner of Array for Somerset. He became a Colonel in the Royalist army, and recruited two regiments from the Somerset Trained Bands, the second commanded by his son, Sir Hugh.[7] He became governor of Bridgwater in 1643, and supervised the blockade of the Parliamentarian stronghold of Taunton in September 1644. After attempts to storm the town failed, he tried to starve the defenders out; in December, a Parliamentarian force under James Holborne reinforced the town, and Wyndham withdrew to Bridgwater.[8]

On 14 June 1645, the New Model Army under Sir Thomas Fairfax won a decisive victory over Prince Rupert at Naseby. The New Model linked up with the Western Association Army under Edward Massey, and forced Lord Goring to retreat from Taunton. The next day, Fairfax destroyed the Royalist Western Army at Langport.[9]

Despite being strongly held, Bridgwater surrendered on 213 July 1645; Wyndham was captured, and imprisoned until 1649. He made his way to Jersey, where he joined Charles II, but took no part in the Third English Civil War, although his brother Francis helped Charles escape after the Battle of Worcester in 1651.[10]

1647 to 1681Edit

Charles II in exile

His status with Charles weakened when his wife Christabella died in 1653, while soon after, he fell out with the Earl of Clarendon. Along with Sir Richard Grenville, and other political opponents, he accused him of being a traitor, in the pay of Oliver Cromwell.[11]

As well making Clarendon a confirmed enemy, this incensed Charles, and he was excluded from political office after the Restoration. Although he represented Bridgwater in the 1661 to 1679 Cavalier Parliament, and was appointed Deputy Lieutenant of Somerset, there were too many seeking rewards for Charles to satisfy them all. Despite claiming to have spent over £60,000 in the kings service, Wyndham had to be content with an appointment as Knight Marshal in 1667, which he claimed brought in only £1,200 per annum.[3]

When his son Sir Hugh died in 1671, his tombstone similarly recorded his disappointment at not being properly compensated for his service.[12] Edmund died in London at the age of 80, and was buried in the family vault in St Decuman's Church, Watchet. His grandson Edmund became his heir; in 1690, his second wife, Elizabeth Savage, claimed she was near starvation due to his failure to pay her allowance.[3]


  1. ^ Kentsford Farm lies in a valley beside the Washford river on the extreme western edge of the parish. It is of two storeys with attics on an irregular L- shaped plan. The west wing, facing the river, may retain the plan of a late medieval house. It appears to have been largely rebuilt c. 1600 when it became the cross wing to a hall range running eastwards and entered by opposing doorways with a porch on the south. Further alterations seem to have taken place in the late 17th century when a kitchen fireplace was put into the south room of the cross wing, and the room beyond the entrance passage was made into a parlour.[1]


  1. ^ British History Online.
  2. ^ a b Hughes 1830, pp. 339-342.
  3. ^ a b c d Cassidy 2010.
  4. ^ Yerby 2010.
  5. ^ Cressy 2015, p. 118.
  6. ^ Knittl 2007, pp. 47-50.
  7. ^ Newman 1993, p. 294.
  8. ^ Gibson 2007, p. 55.
  9. ^ Wedgwood 1958, pp. 465-466.
  10. ^ Hughes 1830, p. 65.
  11. ^ Cunningham 2017, pp. 37-38.
  12. ^ Hughes 1830, p. 383.


  • Cassidy, Irene (1983). WYNDHAM, Edmund (c.1600-81), of Kentsford, St. Decuman's, Somerset, and Pall Mall, Westminster in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660–1690 (Online ed.). CUP. ISBN 978-1107002258.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Cressy, David (2015). Charles I and the People of England. OUP. ISBN 978-0198708292.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Cunningham, Jack (2017). James Ussher and John Bramhall: The Theology and Politics of Two Irish Ecclesiastics of the Seventeenth Century. Routledge. ISBN 978-0815389910.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Hughes, John (1830). The Boscobel Tracts; the escape of Charles II after the Battle of Worcester. Blackwood & Cadell.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Knittl, Margaret (2007). "The design for the initial drainage of the Great Level of the Fens: an historical whodunit in three parts". Agricultural History Review. 55 (1).CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Gibson, William (2007). Religion and the Enlightenment: 1600 to 1800 Conflict and the Rise of Civic Humanism in Taunton. Verlag Peter Lang. ISBN 978-3039109227.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Newman, Peter (1993). The Old Service: Royalist Regimental Colonels and the Civil War, 1642-46. Manchester University Press. ISBN 978-0719037528.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • "Parishes; St Decuman, including Watchet and Williton". British History Online. Retrieved 9 May 2020.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Wedgwood, CV (1958). The King's War, 1641-1647 (2001 ed.). Penguin Classics. ISBN 978-0141390727.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Yerby, Irene (2010). Minehead in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629 (Online ed.). CUP. ISBN 978-1107002258.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
Parliament of England
Parliament suspended since 1629
Title last held by
Thomas Smith and Sir Thomas Wroth
Member of Parliament for Bridgwater
With: Robert Blake 1640
Sir Peter Wroth
Succeeded by
Sir Peter Wroth
Thomas Smith