ANNESLEY, James (c. 1645-90)

ANNESLEY, James (c. 1645–90)

styled 1661-86 Ld. Annesley; suc. fa. 6 Apr. 1686 as 3rd Visct. Valentia [I] and 2nd earl of ANGLESEY

First sat 10 May 1686; last sat 21 Jan. 1690

MP Waterford [I] 1666, Winchester 1679 (Mar.)-1681.

b. c.1645, 1st s. of Arthur Annesley, earl of Anglesey, and Elizabeth Altham. educ. Christ Church Oxf; matric. 4 Dec. 1661; travelled abroad (Italy) 1665. m. (settlement 17 Sept. 1669, with £9,000)1 Elizabeth (d.1700), da. of John Manners, 8th earl of Rutland, and Frances da. of Edward Montagu, 2nd Bar. Montagu of Boughton, 3s. 2da. d. 1 Apr. 1690; admon. 6 June 1690.2

Capt. of horse [I] 1666-72;3 col. militia ft. Hants ?1675-81.

Custos rot. Hants 1676-81; freeman, Portsmouth 1676,4 Winchester 1677,5 Oxford 1681;6 dep. lt. Hants by 1680-1.7

FRS 1663-82.8

Associated with: Farnborough, Hants.

Annesley was born in Dublin, probably in 1645, as he was 16 when he matriculated at Oxford in December 1661. By this date his father was a prominent politician having played a significant role in the restoration of Charles II, for which he received an English earldom. Annesley’s initial public role seems to have been in Ireland, where for a few months in 1666, before its prorogation, he sat as member for Waterford in the only Irish Restoration parliament. At some point around this date he received a commission in the Irish army ‘by resignation of his father,’ which had been disposed of by 1672. In 1667 he was undertaking commissions for his father in Ireland.9 According to Lady Elizabeth Livingston he had courted her for three years before his father’s opposition to the match forced him to withdraw his affection.10 In 1669 he married Lady Elizabeth Manners, who brought with her a substantial portion, although there appears to have been a problem in securing maintenance for the couple. In 1670 Annesley seems to have been granted £1,400 p.a. by his father, but money still seems to have been a problem as he was seeking to sell his troop of horse in April 1670.11 At some point Annesley was settled on his father’s estate in Farnborough, becoming a justice of the peace for Hampshire in 1674, a militia colonel, deputy lieutenant, and custos in April 1676 (for which he had lobbied Gilbert Sheldon, archbishop of Canterbury in March promising that ‘I shall ever be a most faithful subject to my king, and a most obedient son of the Church’).12

After several vain attempts to find a seat in the Cavalier Parliament, including the possibility of standing for Leicester and Radnorshire in 1677, Annesley was returned to the Exclusion Parliaments for Winchester.13 His political fortunes in the Commons were wrapped up with those of his father, and as those declined so did Annesley’s.

Following his father’s death in April 1686, Anglesey was introduced in the Lords at the prorogation on 10 May 1686. In July 1687 Anglesey’s house at Farnborough was destroyed by fire.14 It had not been rebuilt by September 1689 when, in response to a letter about self-assessment for taxation purposes, it was noted that ‘he hath no personal estate, not having so much as either coach or horse. And that his own house being burnt down his Lordship is obliged to remain at a neighbour’s till the same be rebuilt.’15 While Parliament stood prorogued Anglesey’s name appeared on four lists compiled in 1687, all of which classed him as an opponent of James II’s policies, and, more specifically, of his attempts to repeal the Tests. Anglesey, like his father, was probably particularly opposed to the Irish policies promoted by Richard Talbot, earl of Tyrconnell [I]. Anglesey subscribed the petition for a free Parliament presented to the king on 17 Nov. 1688, and his name appears on two lists as so doing.16 During the crisis caused by the flight of James II, Anglesey attended the assembly of peers which acted as a provisional government on 12-15 Dec. and again on 25 Dec. and was even a signatory to some orders to the English navy.17

Anglesey was absent from the beginning of the Convention, and was excused attendance for sickness on 25 Jan. 1689 (he seems to have inherited his father’s affliction of the gout). He first attended the Lords on 4 Feb., whereupon he was appointed one of the managers of a conference with the Commons to discuss the wording of the bill formally establishing the reign of William and Mary. The Lords could not agree with the wording proposed by the Commons and Anglesey voted against using the word ‘abdicated’ rather than ‘deserted’ with reference to James II’s actions. On 5 Feb. the same managers were appointed to the conference when the Lords set out the reasons why they could not agree with the Commons. Crucially, he stayed away from the Lords on 6 Feb. and was listed as absent when the Lords voted to agree with the Commons that the king had ‘abdicated’ and that the throne was therefore ‘vacant.’ He took the oaths on 5 March.

On 15 Apr. 1689 Anglesey was ordered to attend the Lords the following day in order to hear the petition of his wife concerning the non-payment of a rent charge to her on lands at Bletchingdon. The question of whether she had breached the earl’s privilege in writing to one of the tenants concerning these rentals was referred to the committee of privileges on 16 April. The report from the committee on 18 Apr. left the issue of privilege to the House itself, which opted to appoint a group of peers to mediate between Anglesey and his wife. He again received leave of absence for ill health on 22 May, having only attended on one occasion between 18 Apr. and 29 July. On 30 July Anglesey voted to agree with the Lords proposal to reverse the judgments of perjury against Titus Oates. In total, he attended on 27 days of the session, 17 per cent of sittings of the House, and was named to three committees. Neither Anglesey, nor his brother, Altham Annesley, Viscount Altham [I], attended James II’s Irish parliament in May 1689.18

Reckoned an opponent of the court in a list drawn up by Thomas Osborne, marquess of Carmarthen, between October 1689 and February 1690, in the second session of the Convention Anglesey attended on 12 occasions, 16 per cent of the sittings, and was named to three committees. Anglesey was absent from the opening session of the 1690 Parliament and was excused attendance on grounds of ill health on 31 March. He died the following day on 1 Apr. 1690, reportedly of an apoplexy.19 At the time of his death Anglesey’s English and Irish estate was estimated at £4,000 p.a.20 He left three sons who all inherited the peerage: James Annesley, 3rd earl of Anglesey; John Annesley, 4th earl of Anglesey; and Arthur Annesley, 5th earl of Anglesey, and a daughter, Elizabeth (1673-1725) who married Robert Gayer of Stoke Park, Buckinghamshire. His widow died on 7 Dec. 1700, leaving the bulk of her estate to her second son John, whom she made her executor. In a codicil of November 1700 she also bequeathed to John, Irish lands lately conveyed to her by her brothers-in-law Richard Annesley, 2nd Baron Altham [I] and Arthur Annesley, possibly following the death of Altham’s heir, James George Annesley.21


  • 1 TNA, C9/179/19.
  • 2 CP, i. 134.
  • 3 Dalton, Irish Army Lists 1661-85, pp. 61, 72.
  • 4 R. East, Portsmouth Recs. 362.
  • 5 HP Commons, 1660-90, i. 538.
  • 6 Add. 18730, f. 88.
  • 7 HP Commons, 1660-90, i. 538.
  • 8 M. Hunter, Royal Society and its Fellows 1660-1700, pp. 182-3.
  • 9 HMC Ormonde, i. 355, 46-47; Bodl. Carte 228, f. 33.
  • 10 English Family Life, 1576-1716, ed. R. Houlbrooke, 29-32.
  • 11 Belvoir, Rutland mss, xviii. f. 137; HMC Rutland, ii. 14.
  • 12 Bodl. Tanner 42, f. 225.
  • 13 Add. 70128, Sir E. Harley to [?Lady Harley], 27 Feb. [1677].
  • 14 Longleat, Bath mss, Thynne pprs. 42, f. 242.
  • 15 Chatsworth, Halifax Collection B.50.
  • 16 CSP Dom. 1687-9, p. 356.
  • 17 Kingdom without a King, 74, 79, 85, 92, 98, 105, 115, 165; Add. 22183, ff. 139, 141.
  • 18 CP, iii. 631.
  • 19 Morrice, Ent’ring Bk. v. 419.
  • 20 HP Commons, 1660-90, i. 539.
  • 21 TNA, PROB 11/459.