DONATT, Humphrey (d.1593), of Orpington, Kent.
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Family and Education
educ. L. Inn 1575. m. Elizabeth, 2s. 2da.
A Chancery official by 1593.
On his admission to Lincoln’s Inn Donatt was described as ‘of Devon’. No Donatt family has been found in that county, but in 1565 Joan Donatt and her son Humphrey were being sued for certain copyhold lands in Weston, Somerset; it is possible that the MP was this Humphrey, or perhaps a son. There was, however, a family of this name widespread in Kent in the sixteenth century, and it may be that his links were with this county, where he died.
Almost nothing is known of Donatt’s life. He probably became a servant of Sir John Puckering, a bencher of the Inn at the time of his admission, and was given a job in Chancery when Puckering became lord keeper in 1592. On 31 Jan. 1593 the town council of Reading, after agreeing to let the Earl of Essex have the nomination of one of their burgesses to the following Parliament, chose, at the instance of the lord keeper, ‘Humphrey Donatt, gentleman, an officer of the Chancery, to be one of the burgesses for the next Parliament’, Puckering having ‘promised to discharge the town of any charges to be demanded and also for the honesty and sufficiency of the said Humphrey Donatt’.
Only a few days later, on 12 Feb., Donatt made his will, being already sick, so it is probable that he did not take his seat in Parliament. He left £100 to his eldest son, £50 to his second son and £200 to his surviving daughter. His wife Elizabeth was made sole executrix. The will was proved 6 July 1593.
Reg. All Saints, Orpington, ed. Kirby, 8; Req. 2/193/54; Reading Recs. i. 416; PCC 59 Nevell.