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 high sheriff of Wiltshire during 1647, and displayed much vigour in this office.
He sat for Wiltshire in the Barebones parliament, of which he was a leading member, and where he supported Cromwell's views against the extreme section.
In the first parliament elected under this "Instrument" he sat for Wiltshire, having been elected also for Poole and Tewkesbury, and was one of the commissioners for the ejection of unworthy ministers.