This text was copied from Wikipedia on 14 June 2024 at 5:11AM.

Sir Thomas Littleton, 2nd Baronet (c. 1621 – 14 April 1681) was an English politician from the extended Littleton/Lyttelton family who sat in the House of Commons variously between 1640 and 1681.

Littleton was the son of Sir Adam Littleton, 1st Baronet of Stoke St. Milborough, Shropshire and his wife Audrey Poyntz daughter of Thomas Poyntz.[1] He studied at Jesus College, Oxford, but did not graduate.

Littleton was elected Member of Parliament for the borough of Wenlock in April 1640 for the Short Parliament and was re-elected for the borough in November 1640 for the Long Parliament. As a Royalist, he was disabled from sitting in 1644.[2] He inherited the baronetcy on the death of his father in 1647. In 1652 he sold the Stoke St. Milborough estate to Henry Bernard.[3]

After the Restoration, Littleton sat for Wenlock again in the Cavalier Parliament from 1661 to 1679.[4] He was subsequently elected MP for East Grinstead in 1679[5] and MP for Yarmouth (Isle of Wight) in 1681, a month before he died.[6]

In October 1637, Littleton married his cousin Anne, daughter of Edward Littleton, 1st Baron Lyttleton of Mounslow. Their son and heir, Sir Thomas Littleton, 3rd Baronet, became Speaker of the House of Commons.[1]


3 Annotations

Second Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Thomas Littleton was a colorful character, so I suggest you read his entire biography as a member of parliament. For our purposes I've narrowed it down to mostly his Navy activities.

He was born around 1621, the first son of Sir Adam Littleton, 1st Bt., of Stoke St. Milborough by Etheldreda, daughter and heir of Thomas Poyntz of North Ockenden, Essex.

Littleton's marriage license is dated 6 Oct. 1637 when, aged 17, he wed Anne Littleton, daughter and heir of Edward Littleton, 1st Baron Lyttelton of Mounslow. Perhaps they were cousins?

Sir Adam Littleton was apparently neutral in the Civil War. Under the influence of his father-in-law, the lord keeper Edward Littleton, 1st Baron Lyttelton of Mounslow, Thomas became an active Royalist, succeeding his father in Sept. 1647 as the 2nd Bart.

Sir Thomas Littleton MP signed the Cavalier declaration of 1660 disclaiming animosity towards their former enemies, and as a very active Member of the Cavalier Parliament, Littleton was appointed to 381 committees, in nine of which he took the chair, acted as teller in 18 divisions, and made 304 speeches.

On the outbreak of the second Anglo-Dutch war, Littleton would have granted only one-fifth of the £2,500,000 demanded by the Government.

Littleton reported a deficiency of £5,000 in the accounts of the loyal and indigent officers fund on 20 Dec. 1664.

In pursuit of office in 1665, Littleton attached himself to Secretary of State, Sir Henry Bennet, Lord Arlington.

In 1666 Littleton acted as teller for a bill for the preservation of naval stores, but resisted the government proposals for the additional excise, both in debate and division, earning from Andrew Marvell the sobriquet of ‘great Littleton’.

The fall of Chancellor Clarendon opened up new vistas for the ambitious, and Littleton took a leading part in the next session. He helped draft the address of thanks for the Chancellor’s dismissal, and served on all the principal committees of inquiry into the late administration, saying ‘... being chief minister of state, and taking upon him the sole management of the Government, must either be guilty, or be able to clear himself by laying it justly upon others’.

Despite his Cavalier background, Littleton was one of the leaders of the ‘Presbyterian’ party in Parliament.

Littleton helped to prepare Adm. Sir William Penn’s impeachment.

In November, 1668 Secretary of State Sir Henry Bennet, Lord Arlington obtained the lucrative post of Treasurer of the Navy for Littleton, although he had to share the office with the Duke of Buckingham’s candidate, Sir Thomas Osborne.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

When Parliament met in the autumn of 1669, a pamphlet, The Alarum, was distributed to Members in which Littleton was described as ‘an angry man against the Court until silenced by a good place, and is now content that everything should be let alone, having got what he grumbled for’.

Co-Treasurer of the Navy Sir Thomas Littleton MP repeatedly spoke for supply in 1670, declaring that the money granted two years before had proved quite inadequate to the needs of the navy, and took the chair on the bill to preserve naval stores in April 1671.

But during the recess of 1671, his co-Treasurer, Sir Thomas Osborne succeeded in evicting Littleton from his office on charges of corruption. He received a valuable victualling contract as compensation.

For the remainder of the Cavalier Parliament Littleton was in opposition. Gilbert Burnet judged Sir Thomas Littleton MP and Henry Powle MP were ‘the men that laid the matters in the House with the greatest care’.

Next, at a meeting at the Admiralty to consider renewing the contract for victualling the navy, Treasurer Sir Thomas Osborne (later Earl of Danby) used the words ‘a cheat upon the King’ to describe the last contract. Littleton retorted ‘no more cheat than he that said it’, and Osborne told Littleton that ‘he would deal with him elsewhere, that he was a cheat or knave, and he would prove it’.
Littleton lost the victualling contract.

Sir Thomas Littleton MP’s accounts as Treasurer and as Victualler were never cleared, although the Lord Treasurer, Thomas Osborne, now Earl of Danby, began proceedings.

In 1674 Sir Thomas Littleton MP reported reasons for a conference on the address accepting peace with Holland, but failed to substantiate the charge of Popery against Samuel Pepys.

Before the next session Thomas Osborne, Earl of Danby wrote to Charles II: “Sir Thomas Littleton, who besides the great knaveries already known to his Majesty both in Parliament and his offices, and near £90,000 brought in post abstracts to his accounts, sets himself industriously, not only to traduce me in all kinds, but is in perpetual cabals against his Majesty to prepare fuel for the Parliament, and that nothing should be believed which his Majesty does say.”

It was even alleged Littleton had resorted to bribery to procure evidence against his former colleague, Samuel Pepys, although the witness denied it.

At the end of April 1674, when Littleton was pressing for Danby’s impeachment, Giles Strangways observed: ‘I am not for a general accusation, when I have heard some gentlemen speak one way when they have offices, and another when they have none, and fall out when they cannot agree about sharing the revenue among them’.

Littleton suspected an allusion to himself, but eventually agreed to let the matter drop, while continuing to press for Danby’s impeachment.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Classed as ‘worthy’ by Anthony Ashley-Cooper, Earl of Shaftesbury in 1677, Littleton feared the bill for educating the royal children as Protestants under the bishops’ supervision would ‘rather promote than hinder Popery’.

In the closing session of 1679, Littleton was named to the committee to inquire into the Popish Plot and helped to draw up reasons for believing in it. On 14 Nov., 1679, Littleton reported an address for administering the oaths to the servants of Queen Catherine and the duchess of York, Mary of Modena.

Littleton again helped to draw up Danby’s impeachment, although he agreeing to Denzil Holles' proposal that it would be dropped if Parliament were dissolved, and Danby dismissed.

Littleton then helped to prepare reasons for disallowing Danby’s pardon.

Unable to find a seat at the next election, Littleton was given a place on the board of Admiralty.

In 1681 Sir Leoline Jenkins instructed Sir Robert Holmes to find Littleton a seat in the Isle of Wight, and he was returned for Yarmouth.

As an ‘expedient’ to break the deadlock on exclusion, Sir Thomas Littleton MP proposed that, on the death of Charles II, his authority should devolve on his niece, Mary, Princess of Orange.

Sir Thomas Littleton MP died on 14 April, 1681.

Log in to post an annotation.

If you don't have an account, then register here.


Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.



  • May
  • Jun
  • Jul