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Robert Wynne

Member From: 1658 - 1674

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  • Death Date: 1675
  • Gender: Male Race: Caucasian
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  • Bio: ROBERT WYNNE (or Winn) was elected Speaker of the House of Burgesses in March 1662 to fill the vacancy caused by Henry Soane's death. Speaker Wynne had represented Charles City County in the assembly of 1658, but not that of 1659. Indeed, in September of the latter year he had been fined 300 pounds of tobacco for "absence and nonattendance" at county court meetings. He returned to the House of Burgesses in March and October 1660 and March 1661. The assembly begun in 1661 continued for seventeen sessions until dissolved by Governor Sir William Berkeley on 10 May 1676, but Wynne last presided at the September 1674 session. His will is dated 1 July 1675, the year in which he died.
    Baptized at Canterbury in December 1622, Speaker Wynne was born into a prominent family; his grandfather Robert Wynne had been mayor of Canterbury in 1599, and other relatives had represented Canterbury in Parliament. Neither the date of his arrival in Virginia nor the total acreage of his Virginia estates is known. He settled in the part of Charles City County that lay south of the James River and was sworn to the county court on 3 April 1656. His will shows that he owned considerable property in England-five houses, a farm, and a mill-but wanted to be buried in Virginia "in Jordans Church as near as possible to my son Robert.''
    During his tenure as Speaker, the second longest in colonial Virginia's history, the assembly continued to develop its internal structure. An eight-point list of "Orders to be observed in the house," was adopted in 1663. During Speaker Wynne's tenure the House relied heavily on committees. The public committee that assisted the governor "in the Intervall of the Assembly" was continued in 1663, and frequently ad hoc committees were named to confer with the governor and Council on specific matters, especially Indian affairs and propositions and grievances. Other committees regulated ordinary prices, examined by-election returns and auditors' accounts, and handled the assembly's appellate jurisdiction in civil cases. In 1666 Wynne and a commission of three councillors and five other burgesses traveled to meet with Maryland representatives in an unsuccessful attempt to raise the price of tobacco by prohibiting planting during 1667 in both colonies. In general, during Speaker Wynne's tenure the House of Burgesses advised on and participated in details of executive administration that before 1650 had been the domain of the governor and Council alone.
    Several documents reveal the enhanced stature of the House. For half a century messages to England from the governor, Council, and burgesses, usually had been sent over the signature of the governor. On a 1663 message to the king, however, the signatures of Governor Berkeley and ''Robert Wynne Speaker" appear, and three years later when the House of Burgesses asked Berkeley to arrange a gift of 300 pounds of silk for Charles II, it ordered ''that the Speaker be impowered in the behalfe of this house to signe the addresse.'' Two 1672 letters to Charles II, signed by Governor Berkeley and ''for the Councell Tho[mas] Ludwell Secr[etary, and] for the Burgesses Robert Wynne Speaker,'' reveal the full partnership in government that the burgesses had achieved. The place of the so-called long assembly in the coming of Bacon's Rebellion is a matter upon which historians disagree. Speaker Wynne died a year before Bacon's Rebellion, which was led by a newcomer and a councillor.
Session District District Number Party Leadership Committees
1658 Charles City
1660 Charles City
1661-1676 Charles City Speaker of the House

*The information within this interactive and searchable application has been researched extensively by the House Clerk’s Office. As with any historical records of this age and breadth, there may be discrepancies and/or inconsistencies within records obtained from a variety of credible sources. Any feedback is encouraged at history@house.virginia.gov.

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