AUCHER (AGAR, ARCHER), Sir Anthony (c.1586-1637), of Bishopsbourne, Kent
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Family and Education
b. c.1586,1 1st. s. of Anthony Aucher of Bishopsbourne and Margaret, da. of Edwin Sandys, abp. of York. m. 18 June 1605, Hester (bur. 4 Dec. 1637), da. and coh. of Peter Collett, Merchant Taylor of Loughton, Essex and London, 1s. 2da. kntd. 4 July 1604; suc. fa. 1610. d. 3 July 1637.2 sig. Ant[hony] Aucher.
Freeman, Rochester, Kent 1614;5 j.p. Kent by 1619-at least 1624,6 sheriff 1613-14;7 commr. sewers, Havering and Dagenham, Essex 1612, E. Kent by 1619-at least 1621,8 Kent 1625,9 subsidy, Canterbury, Kent 1621.10
The Auchers were supposedly descended from Ealcher, the first Saxon earl of Kent.11 Aucher’s paternal great-grandfather was a commissioner for suppressing Kent’s chantries under Edward VI and master of the Jewel House under Mary; his paternal grandfather acquired the family seat at Bishopsbourne, four miles south east of Canterbury.12 Aucher himself should be distinguished from his cousins of Westwell.13 Knighted in 1604, he accompanied the earl of Northampton to Windsor in the following year for Northampton’s investiture as a knight of the Garter.14 He also married the coheir of a wealthy Merchant Taylor, whereby he later acquired a manor in Edmonton, Middlesex, and another in Hornchurch, Essex.15 On the death of his father in January 1610, he inherited Bishopsbourne and three other Kent manors, and later purchased from his younger brother Kingston manor, near Barham, for £1,400.16 In 1624 his Kent estate was valued by his creditors at £1,300 p.a.17
Aucher invested a modest sum in the Virginian plantation of his fellow Kentishman, Sir Samuel Argall,18 and attracted the attention of a writer on the colony, who dedicated a book to him in 1612.19 His colonial interests also included the developing trade with West Africa.20 In 1624 he and his neighbour Sir Thomas Hardres of Upper Hardres were said to own shares in the East India Company worth a combined total of £2,000. Aucher was closely associated with Hardres, to whom he was distantly related by marriage.21 In July 1610 the two men paid £144 into the Exchequer to confirm their title to various properties.22
Aucher became sheriff of Kent in November 1613 and consequently served as returning officer in the parliamentary elections of the following year. On 26 Mar. 1614 he was himself elected for Rochester, having obtained the city’s freedom in the previous month, but as sheriff he was prevented from serving. On the morning of 3 Apr. he therefore sent a message to the corporation nominating in his stead his friend Hardres, who had obtained the support of the mayor and two aldermen. He also announced that his uncle Sir Edwin Sandys*, whose letter of recommendation from the earl of Somerset had arrived at Rochester the day after the March election, had been returned elsewhere, and he advised that, as Parliament was about to meet, the new election be held that afternoon. However, his plan was thwarted by the local worthy Sir John Leveson*, who demanded that the vote be postponed until the following morning to allow his nephew, who also wished to stand, to come to the city. The delay made it possible to contact Sandys, who had not in fact secured another seat, and by the next morning Aucher and Hardres discovered that if they contested the election ‘they were in danger to lose it’. Faced with this humiliating prospect, they initially threw their weight behind Sandys, but at the last moment Aucher announced that he would, after all, return himself. ‘After better advice’ he relented, and was also forced to disavow the messenger who had earlier claimed that Sandys had been elected elsewhere.23
Aucher’s financial affairs were in disarray by at least 1621. Eleven or 12 years earlier he had sold half of Newhall to the London scrivener Thomas Frith, but though he had received a down-payment of £600 at the sealing of the conveyance he had never received the remainder of the purchase price of £2,300. Frith, who later committed suicide in gaol, perpetrated a similar fraud when he acquired another Essex manor, Upminster, from Aucher’s brother-in-law, Sir Roger James*. Aucher and James, along with the widow of Sir Erasmus de la Fontaine, whose husband had lent money to Frith, therefore preferred a bill to the third Jacobean Parliament which aimed to recover Upminster manor and also thwart a separate bill introduced by several of Frith’s other creditors. Although it received two readings it was not enacted, and therefore Aucher and his associates were forced to resume litigation.24 Frith’s was not the only substantial debt Aucher proved unable to collect. Sometime before 1627 he and Hardres lent £4,000 to their neighbour John Bargrave, who subsequently obtained royal protection against his creditors.25
Aucher’s inability to call in two large debts exacerbated the problem of his own indebtedness. By 1629 he had borrowed £20,000 from various individuals, among them (Sir) Robert Heath*, while also acting as surety for his friend Hardres, who obtained a further £12,000 on his own credit.26 In 1617 Aucher sold Willoughbies for £1,480,27 and in 1622 he and Hardres borrowed £2,600 from Sir William Selby of Ightham Mote, Kent, son of the former Commons’ Member, to help settle their loans.28 However, by September 1623 matters remained so serious that they conveyed their estates to a group of feoffees, including Sir Dudley Digges* and (Sir) Robert Hatton*, and fled abroad to escape arrest.29 They soon returned, and in February 1624, finding that Selby had extended their estates, complained to lord treasurer Middlesex (Sir Lionel Cranfield*) that Selby had thereby contravened ‘the true intent and meaning’ of a statute of 1610. Selby retorted that the extent gave them the perfect excuse for not paying their other creditors, and he asserted that ‘their estates are better in value by £20,000 than their pretended debts’. Middlesex responded to these conflicting overtures by temporarily lifting the extent while requiring the parties to resolve their differences out of court. However, at a meeting at Gray’s Inn Aucher proved so unreasonable - he expected Selby to wait a further four years while foregoing payment of interest - that Selby walked out.30
Selby almost certainly joined the creditors of Aucher and Hardres who petitioned the 1624 Parliament. The two men were accused of living ‘in great pomp and ostentation’ with the money they had borrowed, and the petitioners urged that their estates be sold by ten commissioners, including Sir Charles Montagu and Sir Eubule Thelwall, both then sitting in Parliament.31 A bill encapsulating this proposal was subsequently laid before the Commons, but was lost in committee. Among the committee’s members were Sir Robert Hatton and Lady Aucher’s brother-in-law, Sir Peter Heyman. Their inclusion suggests that Aucher and Hardres were not without allies in the House.32
Aucher’s financial difficulties became ever more complex as time wore on. In 1627 he and Hardres were involved in a Chancery dispute with their own feoffees over the settlement of their debts.33 Two years later, Aucher petitioned the king to complain that it was unfair that he alone should be expected to settle the debts of Hardres, who had recently died, as Hardres’s estate was worth £6,000 more than its debts.34 While the Privy Council considered the matter, Aucher’s lands were again extended, this time by a creditor who demanded payment of £900 and by the Court of Wards, which sought to recover £60 that Aucher had levied as sheriff 16 years earlier.35 At the end of May 1631 Aucher was granted a temporary reprieve in the form of a royal protection.36 He then set about applying pressure on his own debtors, including the widow of his cousin Sir William Lovelace (son of the former Member of the Commons), who denied any such debt.37
Aucher attempted to renew his letters of protection in 1633, but his request may have been denied, and in April 1635 he was outlawed for debt.38 Among those properties seized by the king was Lyminge rectory, which the Auchers had controlled since 1546. Aucher had earlier been successfully prosecuted for denying the king’s right of advowson to the rectory, but despite his subsequent outlawry he persisted in obstructing the new incumbent until February 1637.39 The cause of Aucher’s defiance is uncertain, but in 1639-40 Richard Hardres, son of Sir Thomas, showed that in 1625 Lyminge’s previous rector, Jonas Taylor, had leased out the rectory and its profits of £300 p.a. for a token sum to two trustees acting for Aucher.40 In defending his right of advowson, Aucher may have been trying to protect a valuable source of income.
Aucher died intestate on 3 July 1637 at Bishopsbourne, and was buried there later that month.41 He was succeeded by his son Anthony, his administrator, who represented Canterbury in 1660.
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Author: Andrew Thrush
- 1. C142/329/182.
- 2. Vis. Kent (Harl. Soc. xlii), 181; Canterbury Cathedral Archives, U3/93/1/1, unfol.; C142/544/59; Cent. Kent Stud. PRC 32/52, f. 49; Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 134.
- 3. A. Brown, Genesis of US, i. 212; ii. 770, 796; Recs. Virg. Co. ed. S.M. Kingsbury, iv. 363.
- 4. Cent. Kent Stud. U269/1/OE652; CSP Col. E.I. 1625-9, p. 316.
- 5. Rochester, Guildhall Mus. customal, new f. 31.
- 6. Cal. Assize Recs. Kent Indictments, Jas. I ed. J.S. Cockburn, 134, 153, 158.
- 7. List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 69.
- 8. C181/2, f. 168; 181/3, ff. 3v, 40; Cent. Kent Stud. S/EK/SO2, pp. 374-5, 393.
- 9. C181/3, f. 157v.
- 10. C212/22/20.
- 11. E. Hasted, Kent, vii. 167.
- 12. Vis. Kent (Harl. Soc. xlii), 181; Arch. Cant. x. 325; xxx. 150.
- 13. For this fam., see C142/299/146(1); Canterbury Mar. Lics. 1568-1618 ed. J.M. Cowper, 15.
- 14. Add. 34218, f. 87.
- 15. PROB 11/111, f. 25; C54/2354/17; C2/Jas.I/A3/15.
- 16. PROB 11/115, f. 187v; C2/Chas.I/A7/61.
- 17. Harl. 6847, f. 35v.
- 18. Recs. Virg. Co. iii. 58, 317.
- 19. W. Strachey, Virginea Britannia: STC, 23350.
- 20. CSP Dom. 1611-18, p. 523.
- 21. Vis. Kent (Harl. Soc. xlii), 181; lxxxv. 130.
- 22. SO3/7, unfol. July 1610.
- 23. Staffs. RO, D593/S4/60/13.
- 24. CJ, i. 598b, 628a; CD, 1621, v. 331, 357; vi. 170-1; C2/Jas.I/A3/15.
- 25. CSP Dom. 1629-31, p. 137.
- 26. Ibid. 1628-9, p. 545.
- 27. C54/2354/17.
- 28. Cent. Kent Stud. U269/1/OE30.
- 29. C2/Chas.I/A19/1; Harl. 6847, ff. 35v-6.
- 30. Cent. Kent Stud. U269/1/L27, OE30, OE652.
- 31. Harl. 6847, ff. 35v-6.
- 32. CJ, i. 755a, 757a.
- 33. C2/Chas.I/A19/1.
- 34. CSP Dom. 1628-9, p. 545.
- 35. WARD 9/624, ff. 2v, 8.
- 36. CSP Dom. 1631-3, p. 40. See also WARD 9/624, f. 8.
- 37. C2/Chas.I/H66/60.
- 38. CSP Dom. 1633-4, pp. 38-9; E178/5376.
- 39. CSP Dom. 1635, p. 450; TNA, Institution Bks. ser. A, f. 5v; R.C. Jenkins, Chartulary of Monastery of Lyminge, 15-16. Jenkins incorrectly states that the Aucher fam. held the advowson until 1646: ibid. 50.
- 40. C2/Chas.I/H23/18. See also E125/17, f. 162r-v. Taylor enjoyed a separate income as vicar of Lyminge: TNA, Institution Bks. ser. A, v, f. 4v.
- 41. C2/Chas.I/A10/69; W. Berry, Kentish Genealogies, 223; Canterbury Cathedral Archives, U3/93/1/1, unfol.