HARINGTON, John I (by 1517-82), of Stepney, Mdx.; Kelston, Som.; Cheshunt, Herts. and of London.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Family and Education

b. by 1517, s. of Alexander Harington (d.1539) of Stepney. m. (1) by 1554, Audrey (d. by 1559), illegit. da. of John Malte of London, Henry VIII’s tailor, by Joan, da. of Digneley, w. of one Dobson, 1da.; (2) 1559/60, Isabella (d. 20 May 1579), da. of Sir John Markham of Cotham, Notts., 2s.1

Offices Held

Servant of Thomas Seymour, Lord Seymour by 1546-9; constable, Caernarvon castle and ex officio mayor, Caernarvon 1551-d; receiver in the Exchequer for Notts. and Derbys. 29 June 1559-8 Apr. 1561, Som. and Dorset 26 Mar. 1561-7 Apr. 1581; j.p.q. Herts., Mdx. 1569- d. 2


Harington was a descendant of the family of that name of Hornby, Lancashire, and a kinsman of the Haringtons of Exton, Rutland. On coming to court in the last years of the reign of Henry VIII he made a name there as a poet and found favour with the King, who is said to have enjoyed singing his ‘Black Sanctus’. His first marriage brought him valuable manors in Somerset, settled on Audrey by John Malte.3

On Lord Admiral Seymour’s fall Harington entered the service of the Grey family—a connexion which brought him a year’s imprisonment under Mary after Wyatt’s rebellion. He was already known to Princess Elizabeth. In 1560 Elizabeth stood godmother to Harington’s first son, John, the future writer. Further marks of royal favour followed: grants of local offices under the Crown, of lands and, in 1570, the reversion of lands formerly held by the Haringtons of Brierley but then in the hands of Lord Monteagle. This last implied recognition of Harington’s claim as the heir to that family, and involved the cancellation of a previous grant to another branch of the Harington family. Harington’s first wife had settled her estates on her husband and his heirs in 1555, and they remained the basis of his landed wealth, but after his second marriage he acquired land in Nottinghamshire and in Hertfordshire, at Cheshunt, which he later conveyed to William Cecil, 1 May 1570. Harington usually lived in London.4

Harington’s return for Old Sarum to Elizabeth’s first Parliament was presumably secured through the influence of the 1st Earl of Pembroke, godfather to Harington’s son John. In 1563 he was returned for St. Ives, through the influence of William Cecil or the 2nd Earl of Bedford, and also for Caernarvon where, being constable, he was also ex officio mayor of the borough, though probably never resident. He chose to represent Caernarvon, and a new writ was issued for St. Ives. Though his remaining years were probably spent largely in London, he did not sit again. He died intestate 1 July 1582, and was buried at St. Gregory’s by St. Paul’s, London. Letters of administration were granted to his son in the same year.5

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Authors: Roger Virgoe / A. D.K. Hawkyard


  • 1. This biography draws on R. Hughey John Harington of Stepney, The Arundel-Harington ms. and ‘The Harington ms at Arundel castle’, The Library (ser. 4), xv. 388-444; Misc. Gen. et Her. n.s. iii. 17-19; iv. 191-6; I. Grimble, Harington Fam. 77-8, 90-1.
  • 2. E. Breese, Kalendars of Gwynedd , 127; W. O. Williams, Cal. Caern. Q. Sess. Recs. i. 132, 136, 158; CPR , 1558-60, p. 90; 1560-3, p. 155; 1569-72, p. 225; CSP Dom. Add. 1580-1625, p. 424.
  • 3. J. Harington, Nugae Antiquae, i. 184; Grimble, 76-83, 90-2; PCC 39 Alen; LP Hen. VIII, xxi(2), p. 96.
  • 4. Chron. Q. Mary and Q. Jane (Cam. Soc. xlviii), 53, 71; Nugae, i. 63; ii. 332-4 et passim; CSP Dom. 1547-80, p. 57; CPR, 1553 and App. Edw. VI, p. 5; 1555-7, p. 95; 1558-60, pp. 90, 460-1; 1560-3, pp. 155-6, 511; 1569-72, p. 147; Misc. Gen. et. Her. n.s. iii. 270; iv. 191, 207; Grimble, 101-7.
  • 5. CJ, i. 66; Misc. Gen. et Her. n.s. iii. 18-19; Nugae, i. 131; C142/202/155; PCC admon. act bk. 1582, f. 42.