MANWOOD, Peter (1571-1625), of Hackington, nr. Canterbury, Kent.
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Family and Education
b. 1571,1 1st s. of Roger Manwood of Hackington by his 1st w. Dorothy, da. of John Theobald of Seal. educ. I. Temple Nov. 1583. m. Jan. 1588, Frances, da. of Sir George Hart of Lullingstone, at least 7s. 4da. suc. fa. 1592. Kntd. 1603.
J.p.q. Kent from c.1593, dep. lt. from 31 Dec. 1601, sheriff 1602-3; commr. Dover haven by 1591, grain 1596, musters by 1597.2
Member, Antiq. Soc. c.1591.
Manwood inherited his father’s wealth but not his ambition, being content to remain at Hackington, rebuilt by his father, living the life of a country gentleman. He played a part in the administration of the county, and sat in Parliament, but preferred the company of writers and scholars. Camden spoke highly of him in his Britannia, and a letter survives from Manwood to Robert Cotton† asking for information about his library and, in particular, requesting the loan of a life of Henry VIII. The chapter house library at Canterbury preserves a copy which Manwood made of an ancient manuscript recording the claim of the Kings of England to the French crown. In a note, describing the state of the original, he lamented that ‘the seams were partly consumed, and the letters dimmed and almost worn out by time, the devourer of all things’. His years spent at the Inner Temple, of which his father was a distinguished member, and the licence he was granted in 1598 to travel abroad ‘for his increase in good knowledge and learning’, provided a sound basis for his later academic pursuits. He in fact maintained a connexion with his old inn all his life, though he was never called to the bar. He served as steward of the Christmas feast five times between 1615 and 1623, and four of his sons were specially admitted.3
As well as the manors which Manwood inherited from his father, including Hackington, Chislet and Ash in Kent, and other lands in Essex, he leased land from the archbishop of Canterbury, made several purchases himself, and was granted by the Crown the manor of Raynehurst at Chalk, Kent. The family still owned houses in their home town of Sandwich, including two of the principal properties, known as the King’s Lodging and the Castle of Flint. Roger Manwood’s bequests to his son were accompanied by the advice to ‘keep a good house within the proportion of his living’. He felt it necessary to give both his wife and son lessons in household management, as they were ‘but young and raw housekeepers’. Manwood also owned a London house in the parish of St. Bartholomew, Farringdon Without, valued at £40 for the purposes of a shipmoney assessment in 1596; he refused to contribute, stating that he had paid his subsidy elsewhere.4
It may be that Manwood’s father had wished him to pursue a similar career to his own. He was sent to the Inner Temple as soon as possible, and, just before the 1586 election, when Peter was still only 15, his father wrote to the Sandwich corporation asking for him to be elected to Parliament. This they did not do, but at the next election he became the senior Sandwich MP at the age of 18, and continued to occupy the seat for the rest of this period. He was never paid for his services and his name does not appear in the records of the House, although as a Member for Sandwich he was appointed to committees concerning the explanation of statutes (28 Mar. 1593), brewers (3 Apr.), the Severn harbour (21 Nov. 1601) and the main business committee (23 Nov.).5
Manwood was made a deputy lieutenant at the special request of the 11th Lord Cobham, and when Sandwich wished to oblige Cobham as lord warden in 1601, they did so by returning Manwood at his suggestion. His connexion with the school his father founded continued, but by the early 1620s he was heavily in debt, and had to go abroad. After making an arrangement with his creditors he returned to England in time to serve as steward of the Inner Temple Christmas feast in 1623. He died in 1625. The family fortunes were revived by his son John, courtier and lieutenant of Dover castle, who sat for Sandwich in 1640.6