William Waller, MP (1598 - 1668)

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Birthplace: Osterley
Death: Died
Managed by: Shelley Chrystal Mactyre
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About William Waller, MP

Family and Education bap. 3 Dec. 1598, 1st s. of Sir Thomas Waller† of Groombridge, Kent by Margaret, da. of Sampson Lennard† of Knole, Kent. educ. Magdalen Hall, Oxf. 1612; travelled abroad (France, Italy). m. (1) 12 Aug. 1622, Jane (d. May 1633), da. and h. of Sir Richard Reynell of Ford House, Newton Abbot, Devon, 1s. d.v.p. 1da.; (2) May 1638, Lady Anne Finch (d.1652), da. of Thomas Finch, 2nd Earl of Winchilsea, 1s. 1da.; (3) 13 Apr. 1652, Anne (d. Oct. 1661), da. of William, 5th Lord Paget. wid. of Sir Simon Harcourt of Stanton Harcourt, Oxon., 1s. suc. fa. 1613; kntd. 30 June 1622.2

Offices Held

Prizer and butler of wine imports 1619-52, Sept. 1660-d.; member, committee of both kingdoms 1644-8; trustee for the Elector Palatine 1645; commr. for exclusion from sacrament 1646, foreign plantations 1646-8, indemnity 1647-8, scandalous offences 1648; Councillor of State 25 Feb.-31 May 1660.3

Col. of horse (parliamentary) 1642-3, maj.-gen. 1643-5.4

J.p. Devon 1625-33, Hants by 1647-?48, Mdx. Westminster and Oxon. Mar. 1660-d.; commr. for levying money, Hants 1643, courts martial, London 1644; freeman, Portsmouth 1644, Winchester by 1647; commr. for execution of ordinances, Hants 1645, assessment, Hants 1647, Mdx., Westminster and Oxon, Aug. 1660-d., militia, Hants 1648, Hants, Mdx., Westminster and Oxon. Mar. 1660, oyer and terminer, Mdx. July 1660; dep. lt. Mdx. c. Aug. 1660-d.5

Biography Waller’s family acquired Groombridge in the reign of Henry IV and produced several Members of Parliament in the fifteenth century. They failed to weather the economic storms of Tudor times, and by 1608 Groombridge had been sold to the Earl of Dorset. Waller inherited nothing but a lease of the prizage and butlerage at an annual rent of £500, and became a soldier of fortune, first in the Venetian service and then under Sir Horace Vere. He married a Devonshire heiress, and obtained a grant of Winchester Castle, representing Andover in both the Short and Long Parliaments. A zealous Puritan, he took up arms against the King in the Civil War, and achieved early successes over inexperienced opponents. But his army disintegrated after two crushing defeats, and he was removed from command by the self-denying ordinance. One of the leading Presbyterians in the House, he was imprisoned after Pride’s Purge. He vigorously denied charges of making a fortune out of the war, claiming that he had lost £30,000 by the destruction of Winchester Castle and otherwise; but in 1654 he was able to buy Osterley.6

Waller was in touch with the Royalists as early as 1655, and was imprisoned again in 1659 for complicity in the rising of Sir George Booth. Appointed to the Council of State on the return of the secluded Members, he stood for Middlesex at the general election. He was described to Sir Edward Hyde as ‘most cordial and active for the King, ... and makes no doubt but that the King will be recalled upon honourable conditions’. He was returned after a contest, marked as a friend by Lord Wharton, and doubtless voted with the Presbyterian Opposition. A moderately active Member of the Convention, he was named to 16 committees, including the committee of elections and privileges and the drafting committee. He was among those ordered to prepare instructions for the messengers to the King, to confer with the Lords about his reception, and to make recommendations for the disposal of the wounded soldiers in Ely House and the Savoy. After the Restoration he helped to administer the oaths to Members. He was appointed to the committee to consider the petition from the intruded dons at Oxford, and on 30 July to those for settling ecclesiastical livings and enabling Booth to sever the entail on his estate. He was also among those who were instructed to assess the effect of the Lords’ amendments to the indemnity bill (17 Aug.) and to consider the bill for disbanding the army (1 Sept.). He was not recorded as speaking, and took no known part in the second session.7

Waller recovered his lease of the prizage, with arrears from 1652, but received no other reward. He stood for Honiton in 1661 on the interest of his son-in-law Sir William Courtenay, but without success. He was reported among the congregation of a fashionable London conventicle in January 1664. He died on 19 Sept. 1668, and was buried at Tothill Street Chapel in Westminster.8

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690 Authors: M. W. Helms / Eveline Cruickshanks / Basil Duke Henning Notes 1. Disabled 27 Jan. 1648, readmitted 8 June, secluded at Pride’s Purge 6 Dec. 1648 and readmitted 21 Feb. 1660. 2. J. Adair, Roundhead General, 18, 26, 31, 32, 204, 205, 218. 3. Ibid. 40, 54; Cal. Treas. Bks. i. 37. 4. Adair, 40, 54. 5. Ibid. 227; R. East, Portsmouth Recs. 353; Winchester corp. order bk. 6. Hasted, Kent, iii. 289-91; Adair, 19-25, 191-204; Waller, Vindication, 207-8. 7. D. Underdown, Royalist Conspiracy 4, 117, 136, 221, 224, 236, 309; Cal. Cl. SP, iv. 615; CJ, viii. 26. 8. Devon RO, Q. Sess. Recs. 6 Apr. 1661; CSP Dom. 1663-4, p. 484; Adair, 223.

-------------------- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Waller

Sir William Waller (c. 1597 – 19 September 1668) was an English soldier during the English Civil War. He received his education at Magdalen Hall, Oxford, and served in the Venetian army and in the Thirty Years' War. He received a knighthood in 1622 after taking part in Vere's expedition to the Palatinate.

Origins and Early Commercial Ventures

William Waller was born to an influential Kentish family in Knole, Sevenoaks, Kent, about 1598. He was a cousin of the Parliamentarian and regicide Hardress Waller. Waller's father was Sir Thomas Waller, constable of Dover Castle and member of parliament for Dover, a descendant of the Waller family of Groombridge Place, Kent, and his mother was Margaret Lennard, the daughter of Lord and Lady Dacre. William Waller attended Magdalen College, Oxford, but did not graduate.

As from 1636 Waller owned a quarter-share in the Providence Island Company.

Election to Parliament and early military career

In 1640 Waller was elected Member of Parliament for Andover in the Short Parliament. He was elected MP for Andover for the Long Parliament on 3 May 1642.

As a strict Presbyterian by religion, and a member of the opposition in politics, he became a prominent supporter of the cause of Parliament when the Civil War broke out in 1642. He immediately received an appointment as a colonel, and successfully concluded the Siege of Portsmouth in September 1642; later in the year he commanded the forces that captured Farnham, Winchester and other key locations in the south-west of England. At the beginning of 1643 Waller was promoted to major-general and placed in charge of operations in the region of Gloucester and Bristol. He concluded his first campaign in this theatre with a victory at Highnam and the capture of Hereford.

He was then called upon to oppose the advance of Sir Ralph Hopton and the Royalist western army, and though more or less defeated in the hard-fought battle of Lansdowne (near Bath) he was able to encircle Hopton in Devizes. However, Hopton and a relieving force from Oxford inflicted a crushing defeat upon Waller's army at the Battle of Roundway Down (13 July 1643). Hopton was Waller's intimate personal friend, and some correspondence passed between the opposing generals, a quotation from which (Gardiner, Civil War, i. 168) is given as illustrative of "the temper in which the nobler spirits on either side had entered on the war". Waller wrote:

That great God who is the searcher of my heart knows with what a sad sense I go upon this service, and with what a perfect hatred I detest this war without an enemy; but I look upon it as sent from God . . . God in his good time send us the blessing of peace and in the meantime assist us to receive it! We are both upon the stage and must act such parts as are assigned us in this tragedy, let us do it in a way of honour and without personal animosities. 

The destruction of his army at Roundway scarcely affected Waller's military reputation, many reproaching Essex, the commander-in-chief, for allowing the Oxford royalists to turn against Waller. The Londoners, who had called him "William the Conqueror", recognized his skill and energy so far as willingly to raise a new army for him in London and the south-eastern counties. But from this point Waller's career is one of gradual disillusionment. His new forces were distinctively local, and, like other local troops on both sides, resented long marches and hard work far from their own counties. Only at moments of imminent danger could they be trusted to do their duty. At ordinary times, such as at the first siege of Basing House, they mutinied in face of the enemy, deserted and even marched home in formed bodies under their own officers, and their gallantry at critical moments, such as the surprise of Alton and the skirmish at the Church of St Lawrence in December 1643 and the recapture of Arundel in January 1644, only partially redeemed their general bad conduct.

Waller himself, a general of the highest skill — "the best shifter and chooser of ground" on either side - was, like Turenne, at his best at the head of a small and highly-disciplined regular army. Only a Condé or a Cromwell could have enforced discipline and soldierly spirit in such men, ill-clad and unpaid as they were, and the only military quality lacking to Waller was precisely this supreme personal magnetism.

In these circumstances affairs went from bad to worse. Though successful in stopping Hopton's second advance at Cheriton in March 1644, he was defeated by Charles I in the war of manoeuvre which ended with the action of Cropredy Bridge (June 1644), and at the Second Battle of Newbury in October his tactical success at the village of Speen led to nothing. His last expeditions were made into the west for the relief of Taunton, and in these he had Cromwell as his lieutenant-general.

The New Model Army and later career

By this time the confusion in all the armed forces of the parliament had reached such a height that reforms were at last taken in hand. The original suggestion of the celebrated "New Model Army" came from Waller, who wrote to the Committee of Both Kingdoms on 2 July 1644 that "an army compounded of these men will never go through with your service, and till you have an army merely your own that you may command, it is in a manner impossible to do anything of importance."

Simultaneously with the New Model came the Self-denying Ordinance, which required all members of parliament to lay down their military commands. As he had already requested to be relieved, Waller did so gladly and his active military career came to an end. But the events of 1643 - 1644 had done more than embitter him. They had combined with his Presbyterianism to make him intolerant of all that he conceived to be licence in church, state or army, and after he ceased to exercise command himself he was constantly engaged, in and out of parliament, in opposing the Independents and the army politicians, and supporting the cause of his own religious system, and later that of the Presbyterian-Royalist opposition to the Commonwealth and Protectorate régime. He was several times imprisoned between 1648 and 1659.

Postwar career and death

In the latter year Waller worked actively in promoting the final negotiations for the restoration of Charles II and reappeared in the House of Commons. He sat in the Convention Parliament, but soon retired from political life. He died on 19 September 1668.

He had married twice; firstly Jane Reynell, who died in 1633 after giving birth to a son and daughter and secondly Anne Finch, daughter of Thomas Finch, 2nd Earl of Winchilsea with whom he had four children. His son Sir William Waller also became MP for Westminster in 1680.

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Sir William Waller, MP's Timeline

December 2, 1598
August 12, 1622
Age 23
Age 40
August 23, 1644
Age 45
Heston, Middlesex, Connecticut, USA
Age 45
Age 46
September 19, 1668
Age 69