Thynne, Sir Thomas, first Viscount Weymouth 1640-1714, born in 1640, was the eldest son of Sir Henry Frederick Thynne (1615-1681), first baronet of Kempsford, Gloucestershire (son of Sir Thomas of Longleat, by his second wife, Katharine Howard). His mother was Mary, daughter of Thomas, lord Coventry, the lord-keeper [qv.]. His younger brother, Henry Frederick, sometime under-secretary of state, keeper of the royal library at St. James's, and treasurer to Catherine, queen of Charles II, died in 1705.
Thomas matriculated from Christ Church, Oxford, on 21 April 1657. He there became possessed of the manuscripts and coins collected by William Burton (1609-1657) [qv.] (Wood, Athenę Oxon. iii. 1140), and formed a friendship with Thomas Ken [qv.]. When Ken as a nonjuror lost his see of Bath and Wells, Thynne gave him apartments at Longleat, to which at his death he left his library (Macaulay, Hist. iv. 40). Thynne left Oxford without graduating, and in November 1666 went as envoy to Sweden (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1666-7, pp. 173, 268).
After his return Thynne entered parliament, representing Oxford University from 1674 to 1678, and Tamworth from the latter year till his elevation to the peerage. In 1681 he succeeded his father as second baronet, and in 1682, on the murder of his cousin, Thomas Thynne (1648-1682) [qv.], came into possession of Longleat. On 11 Dec. in the same year he was created Baron Thynne and Viscount Weymouth. He did not take his seat in the House of Lords until 19 May 1685. Towards the end of 1688 he was in consultation with Halifax, Nottingham, and other peers and bishops opposed to the measures of James II, and was one of the four temporal and spiritual lords who were sent to convey to the Prince of Orange the invitation to take the government that had been drawn up at the Guildhall (Echard, Hist. p. 1130). On 13 Dec. they waited on him at Henley. According to Lord Dartmouth, Weymouth was displeased at the reception he met with, and afterwards intrigued with King James.
Weymouth was among the lords who voted for a regency, but he took the oaths to William and Mary, although he was a great patron of the nonjurors. Throughout the reign he was strongly opposed to the government, though on 8 July 1689 he had been named custos rotulorum of Wiltshire. When Peterborough was impeached in the following year, Weymouth was one of his sureties. He protested against the Triennial Act, the rejection of the place bill of 1693, and that for regulating elections in 1697, the attainder of Sir John Fenwick, and the resolution of 1700 condemning the Darien colony. On 31 March 1696 letters from Weymouth and the Duke of Beaufort were read in the House of Lords, stating that they did abhor the design against the king, but could not sign the association (Luttrell). On the accession of Anne, Weymouth was made a privy councillor, and was on 12 June 1702 appointed joint commissioner of the board of trade and plantations. He retained the office till 25 April 1707. He associated himself with the chief measures of the high tory party, and even signed the protest against the act of union with Scotland. He was, however, a member of the first privy council of Great Britain. In July 1711 he was reappointed custos rotulorum of Wiltshire, from which office he had been displaced by the whigs in 1706, and on 12 March 1712 he was named keeper of the Forest of Dean.
Weymouth died on 28 July 1714, and was buried at Longbridge Deverill. He lived much at Longleat, where he laid out gardens in the Dutch style, made a terrace, and finished the chapel. The new English larch, introduced into England in 1705, was named after him the Weymouth pine. According to Dartmouth, his colleague at the board of trade, Weymouth was a weak proud man, and did not deserve the reputation for piety which he acquired by his association with the bishops. This, however, was not the general opinion. A portrait of him with his wife, by Lely, is at Longleat.
Weymouth married Frances, daughter of Heneage Finch, second earl of Winchilsea [qv.]. His only son, Henry Thynne, predeceased him, and he was succeeded as second viscount by Thomas Thynne (1710-1751), grandson of his younger brother, Henry Frederick. The second viscount was father of Thomas Thynne, third viscount Weymouth and first marquis of Bath [qv.].
Doyle's Official Baronage
G. E. C[okayne]'s Peerage
Collins's Peerage, ed. Brydges, vol. ii.
Hoare's Modern Wilts, vol. i.
Diary of Henry, second Lord Clarendon, ed. Singer, ii. 195, 203, 224, 256 n.
Luttrell's Brief Hist. Rel. passim
Rogers's Protests of the Lords
Burnet's Hist. of his Own Time (Oxf. edit.), iii. 331 n. v. 10
Plumptre's Life of Ken, 1888.
Weymouth's correspondence with Halifax and other contemporary statesmen, with some letters to Prior, is at Longleat (Hist. MSS. Comm. 3rd Rep. xiv.). Others are among the Hatton and Spencer collections (1st Rep. xiii. 229, 2nd Rep. ii. 17).
See also Mrs. Delany's Autobiogr. and Correspondence, vols. i. ii. passim, and iii. 10, 11 (will), 25.
Contributor: G. Le G. N. [Gerald le Grys Norgate]