His parents died before he was ten years of age, and he inherited extensive estates in Hampshire, Wiltshire, Dorsetshire and Somersetshire, much reduced, however, by litigation in Chancery.
For the Long Parliament, which met on the 3rd of November 16 4 0, he was elected for Downton in Wiltshire, but the return was disputed, and he did not take his seat - his election not being declared valid until the last days of the Rump. He was present as a spectator at the setting up of the king's standard at Nottingham on the 25th of August 1642; and in 1643 he appeared openly on Charles's side in Dorsetshire, where he raised at his own expense a regiment of foot and a troop of horse, of both of which he took the command.
He was also appointed governor of Weymouth, sheriff of Dorsetshire for the king and president of the king's council of war in the county.
In July 1644 he went to Dorsetshire on military service, and on the 3rd of August received a commission as field-marshal general.
On the 25th of October he was made commander-in-chief in Dorsetshire, and in November he took by storm Abbotsbury, the house of Sir John Strangways - an affair in which he appears to have shown considerable personal gallantry.
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